By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Apr. 25 2008
It wasn't exactly Martin & Lewis, Cheech & Chong, or Hope & Crosby, but as NFL
comedy teams go, Scott Linehan and Billy Devaney had their moments Thursday.
"You going to announce the trade, Billy?" Linehan deadpanned, as the pair sat
down for their pre-draft media briefing at Rams Park.
"I thought it was out already," Devaney replied.
When Devaney mentioned that the front office and coaching staff would "get
away" from draft preparation today, Linehan joked, "We've got a tee time."
And when Linehan, discussing the possibility of drafting a quarterback, said
there were several "very good quarterback evaluators within our staff and
Devaney couldn't resist poking fun at himself.
"This is the 10-year anniversary of Ryan Leaf, so obviously I'm not in that
group," Devaney said.
Devaney, the Rams' executive vice president of player personnel, was San
Diego's director of player personnel in 1998 when the Chargers selected Leaf —
a colossal draft bust — with the No. 2 pick in that draft.
Kidding aside, several nuggets of information came out of Thursday's gathering.
For openers, Linehan and Devaney basically conceded that their options at No. 2
overall are down to Louisiana State defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, Virginia
defensive end Chris Long and Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston.
"You know the players involved," Devaney said. "They're high-rated players.
They're all lumped together. They're very close. At the end of the day, or by
the end of the night (Friday), we just have to come to a conclusion of which
guy fits best for us."
It is believed that of those three, Dorsey is rated first, Long second and
Gholston third by the Rams. But Devaney and Linehan put forth a pretty
convincing argument that no decision has been made and that the three players
are rated fairly closely on the team's draft board.
"Absolutely," Devaney said. "That's why we're still talking about them. If
there was a (wide) gap between one guy and the other two, he would have been
eliminated already. That's why all three, they are right there clumped
When asked what he liked about Dorsey, Long, and Gholston, Linehan replied:
"Can I answer that in one answer for all three? They're all great players.
Honestly, I don't mean to generalize too much. But they're all very effective
at the positions they play and are a handful for the opposing team to block,
whether it's Dorsey at tackle or the other guys at end. Like I said, you can't
go wrong with any of them. You really can't."
In his strongest language yet, Devaney said the Rams aren't concerned about the
stress fracture Dorsey suffered in his right leg in 2006.
"We had Dorsey in about a week ago, and we had him checked one last time,"
Devaney said. "We were at his pro day. We met with three or four trainers and
doctors down in Baton Rouge. And they presented all the tests that had been
done by a variety of experts around the country. We've exhausted everything.
The guy played every game last year. We completely signed off that he's
healthy, and it's not a concern."
As for the possibility of a trade-down out of the No. 2 spot, Devaney said the
team isn't actively shopping the pick.
"It sounds like a broken record, but any of those three guys that we've been
zeroing in on, we would be thrilled (to pick)," Devaney said. "And it would
take something really exciting to get us off of that — let me put it that way."
Thursday appeared to be another quiet day on the phone lines at Rams Park. But
as Linehan pointed out, anything can happen Saturday.
"There's a lot of things that happen," he said. "My first year as a head coach
here (2006), we traded our pick. ... With about four minutes to go when we were
on the clock, there was a trade made. So we're just ready for those scenarios."
The Rams moved from No. 11 overall to No. 15 overall that year, trading down
with Denver and selecting cornerback Tye Hill.
Despite some speculation about drafting Arkansas running back Darren McFadden,
Devaney all but shot down that possibility Thursday.
"We've talked about McFadden, as part of one of the hundreds of scenarios that
we've laid out if certain things happen," Devaney said. "Is he a candidate if
we stay at (No.) 2, if we go back to 5, we go back to 7 — and he's still there?
That's all I can tell you. It's been talked about, and he's still very, very
highly rated on our board."
Devaney also had an interesting answer on draft prospects with off-the-field
issues. When a questioner noted that four players were taken off the Rams' '07
draft board because of character issues, Devaney said this year there were
"more than four. I promise."