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QB factor complicates draft picture

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  • QB factor complicates draft picture

    QB factor complicates draft picture

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    [More columns]By Bryan Burwell

    With only 43 more shopping days remaining before the NFL draft, Rams general manager Billy Devaney and the rest of his personnel entourage have descended on Indianapolis the past few days for the NFL combine with only one purpose in mind: find a way to fix this wretched mess of a franchise in record time.

    When you have been looking up from the bottom of the NFL barrel for as long as the Rams have — and when the entire football world is just waiting to see exactly what you will do with the No. 1 overall pick — that puts an extraordinary amount of expectation on a GM's shoulders. Devaney, a little guy with an oversized competitive streak, privately simmers when he detects even the slightest hint that people look down their noses at his football team and how much disrespect — whether real or imagined — seems to have piled up on this franchise since he arrived here three years ago.

    So now the best way to fix all those slights is to nail this draft. From start to finish, this offseason could be his championship season, a make-or-break shopping spree that could transform the pitiful Rams from embarrassing to competitive almost overnight.

    "Obviously, everybody knows we have the first pick in the draft coming up," Devaney said a few days ago when he met the media in Indianapolis. "And I certainly hope this time next year when we get together, we're not talking about the first pick in the draft. Otherwise (dramatic pause) ... well, I really hope we're not talking about the first pick in the draft next year."

    The dramatic pause with no words told a story as much as the words Devaney spoke. When his voice trailed off after that "otherwise," it sounded like a man who understood that the clock is ticking on his football life. "Otherwise" means that who knows what a prospective new owner might think after he has just invested upwards of $700 million on a team only to see it end up as the worst team in the NFL two years running.

    In talking to plenty of people around NFL circles in Indy last weekend, everyone agreed on one thing:

    Devaney has a huge challenge in front of him — some say it's the equivalent of stocking an expansion franchise — and he shouldn't be even remotely close to knowing for sure what the Rams will do with that No. 1 pick.

    "If they've already made up their minds at this stage of the process, they're crazy," said one longtime NFL executive. "It would be like buying a house and not going inside to see what it's like. You need an inspector to check the pipes, the roof, the electricity."

    Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo have a lot of work to do before they begin to sort out all the possibilities of this massive rebuilding. It's a complicated process that begins with wading through a ton of game footage on defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, then sorting through even more footage of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to decide if he truly is a franchise type athlete.

    If Bradford checks out as some personnel people believe he will, then it makes for the sort of decision that will either make Devaney and Spagnuolo look remarkably smart or unemployed.

    But it is complicated, based largely on the rising regard for Bradford. If he tests out positively through the battery of medical evaluations here and under the examination of independent physicians, then the entire dynamic of the pick changes. As one NFC head coach told me, "I'm a defensive guy all the way, but this is a quarterback-driven league. If Bradford checks out, you almost have to take the quarterback. If he has the stuff to take you to that next level — and you have to do all your homework on that one — then you go for the quarterback every time."

    The NFL rumor mill in Indy was working overtime concerning what the Rams will or should do. There is a school of thought out there that if Bradford doesn't test out medically, or if they believe he is injury prone, or if they don't like what they see on his pro day March 25, the Rams will explore trading for a veteran quarterback. According to more than one well-informed source, the Rams have had intense internal conversations with the Philadelphia Eagles about a trade for Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb.

    The trading period begins next week, and if they can stockpile a few extra high picks (can they get second-round compensation for Alex Barron?), would they have enough to tempt the Eagles with a high second-round pick to go for McNabb? If so, does that mean they won't pursue a QB with the first pick?

    A lot of questions that won't be answered any time soon, but pay close attention to every move the Rams make the next few weeks because they could all be connected. If they are stockpiling picks, does it mean they're preparing to make a big trade? If they are scrutinizing the veteran QBs, does that mean they're going away from Bradford? Does all this Bradford talk really indicate genuine interest or are they simply sending out false signals to drum up trade value for that No. 1 pick?

    "Well, on the days they want to be positive about their life," said former NFL general manager Charley Casserly, "it's like, 'Hey, we can't lose on this decision.'"

    But Devaney and his people have to know better than that. They can indeed lose big time on this monumental decision. When you are first in line with the entire draft class at your disposal and you still pick the wrong guy, that is the sort of shopping spree that has disaster written all over it. The Rams have seen way too many disasters lately. It's time to start compiling draft classes that look like masterpieces.

  • #2
    Re: QB factor complicates draft picture

    Yea, I read that and just don't know how i feel about that. McNabb is a very good QB but does he really want to come to the Rams? One thing i would say, would love Rams to do what Miami did and improve that much.


    • #3
      Re: QB factor complicates draft picture

      If they do get Mcnabb then they should draft Suh in 1st rd and Tebow in 2nd rd and have Tebow learn the same way Aaron Rodgers learned from Favre.


      • #4
        Re: QB factor complicates draft picture

        I'd go for that.
        "I've been saving the Universe for over a thousand years. I figure it owes me just this once."


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          By Jim Corbett, USA TODAY

          INDIANAPOLIS — The St. Louis Rams own the first overall pick and a likely draft-day quarterback quandary.
          The consensus best prospects among evaluators of this draft class are defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma.

          But if healthy, former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is considered the top quarterback and the 1-15 Rams are a franchise without a face.

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          On Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter guaranteed on-air that the Rams will select Bradford first overall in the April 22-24 draft.

          One problem. Bradford, who is rehabilitating his throwing shoulder following Oct. 28 AC joint reconstructive surgery, won't throw for teams until his March 25 personal pro day in Norman, Okla.

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          "That took a lot of pressure off us right away when Dr. Schefter cleared him medically," Rams general manager Billy Devaney cracked Friday. "We feel really good about the health status of Sam Bradford now with Dr. Schefter giving him a clean bill of health and guaranteeing our pick. So we're on to the second round right now."

          Devaney did concede the team is considering Suh, McCoy, Bradford and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. "I think we pretty much know who the potential candidates are," he said.

          He also conceded the organization is still mulling which position can help the team most.

          "Sure," he said. "When you're 1-15, there's a lot of different directions you can go and we're still trying to figure that out. There are four guys that will be given consideration. But we have to be prepared for anything (a trade down).

          "Those four guys, we like everything about them so far."

          The Rams have taken a defensive linemen near the top of the draft in two of the last three years, with defensive tackle Adam Carriker (2007) and defensive end Chris Long (2008).

          No team has called yet with any offers for the top pick. What's more, the Rams have not talked to the Philadelphia Eagles about quarterback Michael Vick.

          "I can tell you this, we have not talked to Philadelphia about any of their players," Devaney said.

          Devaney did insist: The Rams can't overdraft for position.

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          -03-01-2010, 12:36 PM
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          The bolded part is very interesting to me. You read the first part and you think, okay, we're definitely leaning toward taking a DT. Then you read the second part and you have that mentality totally thrown out. Billy is extremely open and you can tell he speaks his mind. I like that he is upfront about everything and lays everything out in the open. This can be attributed to the fact that we are picking first so he has his pick of whoever he likes, but I like it as a fan that he doesn't leave us in the dark. This should be a very interesting 50+ days until April 22nd....
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        • MauiRam
          Rams will have to wait before making first draft pick ..
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          BY BILL COATS Thursday, April 21, 2011 12:00 am

          The St. Louis Rams introduced quarterback Sam Bradford as their selection with the first pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

          For the first time in four years, the Rams will have to cool their heels at the start of the NFL draft.

          They have the 14th overall selection, and if those teams selecting ahead of them generally take the bulk of the 10 minutes permitted between picks in the first round, the Rams will have to wait about two hours before making theirs.

          "In those two hours ... a lot of things can happen," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "A lot of phone calls, guys go off the board. Every time one guy goes off the board, it changes something. Is there a guy there you still want? Is there four guys there you still want?"

          Added general manager Billy Devaney, "There are more scenarios that we're playing with at 14. But we have a decent feel for the possibilities. We'll just be ready to react however it falls."

          The Rams landed the 14th spot by improving to a 7-9 record last season after finishing a league-worst 1-15 in 2009.

          Devaney hasn't ruled out a move up or down in the draft order. "But chances are, we're going to stay right at 14, and we'll be fine," he said. "We have a really good feeling that there will be a couple of guys there that we'll be thrilled to have. It's probably not worth our while to give up picks to make a move to go get a particular guy."

          The Rams kicked off last year's draft, taking Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall selection. The Rams were in the No. 2 slot the previous two years, nabbing Baylor tackle Jason Smith in 2009 and Virginia defensive end Chris Long in '08.

          Those picks all were made within the opening 15 minutes of the draft.

          Selecting so high those three years made it fairly easy on the Rams' talent evaluators. They could narrow their research to just a handful of players. Last year, for example, the Rams quickly zeroed in on Bradford, plus defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy.

          "In this case, there's obviously a lot more than three possibilities. You've got to be ready for all sorts of different scenarios," Devaney said. "The last thing you want to happen is there's a couple of surprises and a guy is there at 14 that we didn't spend enough time researching and talking about.

          "That's a cardinal sin. That's not allowed to happen."

          Other than having more players on their board for consideration with their first-round pick, the Rams are sticking with their usual draft strategy.

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        • RamDez
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          Widely regarded as one of the shrewdest personnel experts in NFL annals, Bobby
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          Before the draft, New York Times columnist Dave Anderson wrote, "Someday these
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          Desperate to guarantee that the Chargers would land one of the two QBs,
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          "You can go five to 10 years without getting a chance to draft a quarterback
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          After Indianapolis took Manning, Beathard selected Leaf, bypassing such future
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          record for a rookie.

          Three years later, Leaf had failed miserably and was out of the league. When
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          Billy Devaney tutored under Beathard. Now as the Rams' general manager, Devaney
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          "You'd better not screw it up," Devaney said, "because there's so much riding
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          through exhaustive background checks. Interviews have been completed, visits
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          Those few considered elite prospects are studied even more meticulously.

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          Said Devaney: "This is everybody's worst nightmare: You turn the card in — no
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        • Azul e Oro
          Devaney/Spags press conference on Bradford
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          (GM Billy Devaney Opening Remarks)
          “Obviously you know we took Sam (Bradford) but what I did want to say…what really on the surface should have been an obvious pick - and maybe to a lot of you it was, that we were taking a quarterback - those other two kids we were thinking about, (Ndamukong) Suh and (Gerald) McCoy, they made this whole process really difficult being the players and the type of people that they are. It really was a tough decision and it shouldn’t have been. Bradford should have been the obvious guy all along and we wrestled with it just because we think those two kids are really going to be special football players. I wanted to throw that out there first of all. Obviously we’re thrilled to have Bradford on board. The whole building (is excited). Believe it or not, I did talk to everybody at some point individually, defensive coaches, the same thing. They are thrilled about having Bradford in the building as our quarterback. That’s pretty much it.”

          (Coach Spagnuolo Opening Remarks)
          “We’re fired up. It’s just like Billy (Devaney) said, this is a special guy. We thought that throughout the whole process. It just grew and grew. We made the final decision when we had to and are looking forward to moving on from here. He’s got all the things you look for in a quarterback. We’re happy that way.”

          (On what they saw in Bradford to make them comfortable with this pick)
          Spagnuolo: “Well there are a lot of different things. I let the experts who know quarterbacking and the technique and whatnot handle that, but I did observe real closely the interaction between coaches - I’m talking about Sam with coaches - and the mental part of it and how he acted around his teammates. All that stuff’s important to me, anything that said ‘team’ or said ‘leader’. I got to know just in sitting with him that he’s a thinker. He’s a listener. He’s got a calmness about him. I thought all those qualities were pretty good in a quarterback. “

          (On when they decided that Bradford was the choice)
          Devaney: “It was probably a couple of days ago. I wanted to get the input from everybody. I kind of had an idea, but it just made me feel that much better when I got the input from the scouts and the coaches, what their true feelings were also, and that just solidified my belief that this was the perfect fit for us.”

          (On what separated Bradford from the other quarterbacks)
          Devaney: “I don’t know. Those guys are going to be really good. I’d just rather talk about Bradford and the positives of him. Believe me, if it wound up for some reason that we didn’t keep this pick, and it was one of those other guys, we think they’re going to be great pros also.”

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