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  • Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

    Sep. 30, 2009
    By Clark Judge Senior Writer

    There are a lot of people in the NFL I would trade places with, but Rams general manager Billy Devaney isn't one of them. The poor guy has to straighten out one of the league's worst teams, and it might be easier trying to fix the economy.

    Each week it's another loss, another injury, another setback of some sort that Devaney must try to overcome and, frankly, the story is getting old.

    'We're getting better,' Billy Devaney says, 'but the fans want to see some results on Sunday.'

    "It's hard," Devaney said by phone. "When we took this thing over we said it was a starting process and that we were going to build from the ground up, and that's what we're doing. But it doesn't make it any easier when you lose. The losing just crushes you. I can say we're getting better, we're getting better, we're getting better, but the fans want to see some results on Sunday."

    So far there have been none. The Rams are 0-3 and lost more than just ballgames to Seattle, Washington and Green Bay. They lost starting quarterback Marc Bulger and their best receiver, too, with Laurent Robinson out the rest of the season.

    Nobody said it would be easy, and it shouldn't be. Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo are suffering the consequences of years of mistakes committed by the club's previous regime, and if you don't believe me you haven't kept score of the team's recent drafts. They weren't just bad; they were horrendous, with the Rams missing on so many picks you wondered if they were listening to scouts or a Ouija board.

    From 2001 through 2007, or the last draft prior to Devaney's arrival, the Rams had nine first-round choices, with four remaining today. Now look a little closer. There is nobody from the 2001 draft, when the Rams had three of the first 29 picks. One is left from 2002. Nobody from 2003. And running back Steven Jackson is the only holdover from the 2004 draft.

    But maybe the worst record of all is the 2006 draft, when the Rams had five of the first 93 picks. Three seasons later, all of them are gone.

    I think you get the picture, and it's dismal. Clubs are built through the draft, with their foundations resting on smart personnel decisions. But there was nothing smart about the way the Rams conducted business prior to Devaney's arrival, and the club is paying for it now.

    Devaney is hopeful that will change, and there are signs. Defensive end Chris Long, last year's first-round pick, doesn't have a sack but is playing well. This year's numero uno, right tackle Jason Smith, looks like the real deal despite an injury that will keep him sidelined another week. And this year's second-round pick, linebacker James Laurinaitis, is among the league's top tacklers.

    It is, as Devaney said, "building from the ground up," and it will take time. But a recovery is in place, with the offensive line that a year ago was depleted and downright dreadful the first to bounce back. Now if there's a weakness it is only left tackle Alex Barron, who -- wouldn't you know it? -- was the team's first-round draft choice in 2005.

    That doesn't mean the Rams are on their way to the top of the NFC West. But it does mean they're getting started. Philadelphia's Andy Reid is a believer in building your team from within, fortifying the offensive and defensive lines first, and the Rams are following that script.

    Sure, they could use an impact wide receiver, a premier pass rusher and a successor to Bulger at quarterback, but give them this: They're making progress repairing the holes that were there when Devaney joined the club in 2008 ... even if it isn't reflected in their record.

    So they got drilled in the opener. Their defense kept Washington out of the end zone in Week 2, and in Week 3 their offense came to life despite the loss of Bulger, with the Rams scoring a season-high 17 points. Yep, I'd call that one small step.

    With Spagnuolo in charge, the hope is that the Rams make it through this season as Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur did in their first seasons with Reid in Philadelphia. That was 1999, when the Eagles dropped the first four starts, then steadied themselves -- winning five of their last 12, including the final two.

    Of course, there was one big difference: The Eagles grew the second half of the season with a rookie quarterback named Donovan McNabb. There is no franchise quarterback on the horizon in St. Louis.

    And that's where Devaney comes in. He's been charged to make the Rams well again, and the way he sees it, it could happen within two years. I don't know how, but that's why I wouldn't want to trade places with the guy. The way he sees it, if the club drafts well, signs the right free agents and keeps its core intact the Rams could be a factor by next season.

    For Devaney's sake, I hope he's right.

    "Two years?" he said. "I couldn't take that. We knew what we were in for, but it can't be another two years. I'd never make it -- literally or figuratively."

  • #2
    Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

    I really enjoyed this article. It shows the great direction that our team is headed in.


    • #3
      Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

      I spoke to Billy on Sunday and he DOES take these losses REALLY bad guys....

      "The breakfast Club":helmet:


      • #4
        Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

        Originally posted by majorram View Post
        I spoke to Billy on Sunday and he DOES take these losses REALLY bad guys....

        C'mon Steve .. Don't hold out on us, what else did he have to say??


        • #5
          Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

          I believe in him and yes we are rebuilding. I can't take the losses either and it's embarrassing but being a true fan I will be patiently waiting. I'm excited for where this team is going. I know good things are ahead of us, unfortunately it probably won't happen this season.
          Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams


          • #6
            Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

            2 years time is likely to be when they can seriously tilt their hat at the play-offs again but that dont mean we cant win some games,restore some pride and generally have some fun watching our new team grow into a better one in the meantime..

            the alternative to waiting two years is next season when the salary cap is dropped..we sign every established vet that becomes available..which may give us a better chance at quicker success (tho the signings in the past of Drew Bennett,Chris Claibourne etc..tells us that doesnt always work) and then we do this re-building from the ground up again in a couple of years...i know its hard but what is goin on now is far more likely to ensure long term sustainable success than the other option.


            • #7
              Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

              Good article, thanks for posting it. It left me feeling optimistic.


              • #8
                Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

                Thanks for the pick me up! Good article, it'll replenish my patience.


                • #9
                  Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

                  I disagree with ONE thing.

                  The fact that Alex Barron is our weakest link on our o-line.

                  He is not. By far, he is not. From watching the games, and re-watching, I can tell his play on the left side is much more improved than when he was on the right side. Barron is solid on the left side. No question about it.

                  If you ask me what I think the weakest link on our o-line is, I would say the guard positions.


                  • #10
                    Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

                    Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
                    I disagree with ONE thing.

                    The fact that Alex Barron is our weakest link on our o-line.

                    He is not. By far, he is not. From watching the games, and re-watching, I can tell his play on the left side is much more improved than when he was on the right side. Barron is solid on the left side. No question about it.

                    If you ask me what I think the weakest link on our o-line is, I would say the guard positions.

                    TOTALLY agree with you RockinRam. IT is the guard positions. Jacob Bell has been totally unimpressive ever since he has got here but yet demands so much money, and richie incognito just cant seem to keep his head on his body. There is little push in the run game and when blitzes come up the middle, they dont pick it up well. They HAVE GOT TO GO!! NOW!!!

                    Meanwhile I feel proud for Barron, making the move from dismal RT because when I watched the rams preseason game the announcer said " Alex Barron is a big name" after talking about the offensive line and its starters.


                    • #11
                      Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

                      Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
                      I disagree with ONE thing.

                      The fact that Alex Barron is our weakest link on our o-line.

                      He is not. By far, he is not. From watching the games, and re-watching, I can tell his play on the left side is much more improved than when he was on the right side. Barron is solid on the left side. No question about it.

                      If you ask me what I think the weakest link on our o-line is, I would say the guard positions.
                      I too completely agree with this. I think Barron is a very good and DURABLE LT, something which seems to go unnoticed to many.


                      • #12
                        Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

                        I'm not going to let our record this season distract me from the fact that the team is moving in the right direction for the first time since 2002. Just remember, Jimmy Johnson was 1-15 in his first season.
                        Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster


                        • #13
                          Re: Erasing legacy of lousy drafts is Ram tough ..

                          If that pass rush would show up we could see changes in a good way . This offense i have heard is a work in progress and that 8-8 may not be to far fetched..........................but there are no roses in these glasses. It looks grim but i hope to sit down and watch a whole game this weekend and just see if we are moving in the right direction. Hey YO...good to see your still alive and kicking. alot of the old guys are extinct.


                          Related Topics


                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Rams In Unfamiliar Spot: Middle Of Draft
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Rams in unfamiliar spot: middle of draft

                            BY JIM THOMAS
                            Thursday, January 6, 2011 12:20 am

                            No matter where the Rams finish in the standings, this always is a busy time and exciting time for general manager Billy Devaney and the personnel department. Even so, after coming so close to a division title and a playoff berth, the season's sudden end was a jolt to the system.

                            "I sit up in my office and I look out on the practice field, and I'm thinking at this time last week we're geeked up, we're playing, we're practicing, guys are joking around," Devaney said Wednesday.

                            And now?

                            "It's awful coming in," he said. "It's quiet. The building's quiet. The silence is deafening."

                            But with the Rams' offseason now underway, the good news is that at least Devaney doesn't have to worry about picking No. 1 or No. 2 as has been the case the past three drafts.

                            "It's great, because you're not going to ask me every day who we're taking," Devaney teased. "Who we're thinking about. Because we don't have any idea."

                            Actually, Devaney already has a little bit of an idea even this early in the pre-draft process. (Not that he's telling.) The Rams held their first round of draft meetings last month, well before the regular season ended.

                            "About 3-4 weeks ago, we put our tentative (draft) board up and started the process," Devaney said. "We're lining up East-West and Senior Bowl (college all-star game) trips. I mean, it is full go. That is the beauty of this thing. There isn't any down time. You just go."

                            That's true even with the uncertainty of the NFL labor situation. Those in the personnel department are proceeding full speed ahead; that's the only way they can approach it.

                            "We go over every draftable player right now by position and what needs to be done (in evaluating that player) between now and the draft," Devaney said. "What concerns there are. We have all sorts of symbols. The guy may have a medical concern. Maybe a character concern. Maybe a learning concern. Work ethic.

                            "Whatever questions that the scouts have picked up. 'Is this guy a bad character guy or did he just mess up a little bit? Is it something that we really need to dig into?' We started that process. Not necessarily putting grades on 'em, but it gives us a plan (as to) what we need to find out about these guys."

                            Just like every other NFL team, the draft list isn't complete because underclassmen still have time to declare for the draft.

                            "The juniors (and third-year sophomores) as they come out now, we have tapes being sent out to our scouts at home," Devaney said. "We haven't done a lot of work on the juniors until they declare."

                            Devaney and the scouting staff also...
                            -01-06-2011, 09:27 PM
                          • MauiRam
                            Rams Finalizing Draft Plans
                            by MauiRam
                            By Nick Wagoner
                            Senior Writer

                            The 2009 NFL Draft will have a different look and feel to it for those in the Rams’ war room on draft day.

                            General manager Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo addressed the media on Monday afternoon and in doing so, they set the tone for the team’s new approach to the draft.

                            Spagnuolo and Devaney answered questions about this weekend’s draft with the scouting department – both professional and collegiate - near the back of the Russell Training Center Auditorium. That was by design as Devaney pointed out that the decisions made on players in this year’s draft will be more of a democracy than it has been in the past.

                            “What we’ve done is we’ve put greater emphasis on their input and their evaluations and it’s worked out tremendous for us, just as we had hoped,” Devaney said. “Between the cooperation, the coaching staff, the college scouts and the pro scouts, they’ve done a great job putting us in a position where, right now, we’re pretty close to ready to go.

                            The draft officially kicks off on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. central from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. But with less than a week until Roger Goodell first strolls to the podium to announce the top draft choice, the Rams are already closing in on completing their draft preparation.

                            The Rams have stacked the board and been locked up in meeting rooms for the better part of the past couple of months. Position by position, Devaney, the scouts and the individual coaches have gone through the available prospects and begun slotting them on the board.

                            “We’re all going to make the call,” Devaney said. “We’ve just gone through that process for the most part where we’ve got guys lined up and slotted. There may be a point when you get down into the third round, things are kind of falling apart at that point and probably three or four picks before your turn comes up, you’ll have a group of names pulled out on the side. There may be four or five guys pulled out and we’ll talk about it one more time. We’ll say okay we haven’t taken a receiver at this point. This is the last chance to get the receiver, the next receiver we have now is not until the fifth or sixth round. We’ll talk it through, get everybody’s opinions. Steve and I will talk it through and then we’ll make a Ram pick.”

                            The Rams completed their pre-draft visits last week with 23 potential NFL draft picks coming to town for a quick two-day stay. Those players are not allowed to work out but the visits allow for the Rams to get to know the players away from the more defined setup of the NFL Scouting Combine or the Senior Bowl.

                            It’s a chance for position coaches to put the prospects to the test and see how they react when their handlers don’t have a chance to coach them up on the many angles that teams generally take.

                            By now, the Rams’ top...
                            -04-21-2009, 12:09 AM
                          • BM_Face
                            Rams have pieces in place to build consistent winner
                            by BM_Face
                            By Pete Prisco
                   Senior Writer

                            Steven Jackson and James Laurinaitis are two of the core leaders the Rams are building around. (AP)
                            EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Sitting at his desk eating a chicken sandwich in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, a NASCAR race on the TV in the background, St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney looks more prepared to use that surfboard leaning against the wall in his office than he is to dive into running a football team.

                            But despite the laid-back, California way about him, Devaney is serious when it comes to football and especially building the Rams into a contender -- not only in their division, but in the league.

                            "We're getting better," Devaney said. "We know we've made progress. But there's a lot to do."

                            In 2009, the Rams were 1-15, the joke of the league, and Devaney was in his first year in charge of turning the Rams around.

                            "I wouldn't wish that on anybody," Devaney said.

                            Here were are two years later and the Rams are considered one of the rising teams in the NFL. Under Devaney's watch, and with coach Steve Spagnoulo ably assisting, the Rams are being built for the long run.

                            We have had countless teams that have popped up over the years to have good seasons, but then fade away. They don't have staying power. If you notice, the really good teams have staying power. They are not the aberration-season teams.

                            The Colts, Patriots, Steelers have all had staying power. The Rams are working to get that.

                            If you study the structure of those good organizations, there are five reasons they have had that sustainable success. They are:

                            • Good general manager

                            • Sharp coach

                            • Franchise quarterback

                            • Good veterans for guidance

                            • A key group of young, core players

                            The Rams look to have the same makeup. It's far too early to think that the Rams are back to the glory days of The Greatest Show on Turf, but after going 7-9 last season and pushing for a division title, the needle is pointing up.

                            "Teams still look at us as the 1-15 Rams of two years ago," veteran running back Steven Jackson.

                            That would be a mistake. They might not be ready for a Super push this year, but starting in 2012 and beyond they will be in the mix for the Lombardi Trophy.

                            They have Devaney and Spagnuolo, two sharp men, even if they are opposites in terms of demeanor, running things. They have the franchise passer in Sam Bradford, the veteran leader in Jackson and a nice group of young core players.

                            Here's a look at each of the Rams five important components in building a sustainable championship contender.

                            • • •

                            The laid-back general manager

                            Can you believe that a guy from...
                            -08-18-2011, 06:59 AM
                          • LA Rammer
                            Yahoo Sports 4-21-09 Draft Article
                            by LA Rammer
                            Rams again have No. 2 pick, this time with new GM

                            By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer 1 hour, 18 minutes ago

                            ST. LOUIS (AP)—The St. Louis Rams have a glaring need at offensive tackle after releasing Orlando Pace, making that position a natural for the second overall pick of the NFL draft.

                            Jason Smith of Baylor or Eugene Monroe of Virginia appear to be the best options to fill that void. The safe picks.

                            Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry also has made an impression. Or they could take a shot at reloading at wide receiver, a position weakened by the release of Torry Holt, with either Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech or Jeremy Maclin of Missouri.

                            “There’s certain times in the draft as it goes on where you want to be like Albert Pujols, you can swing for the fences, you try to hit a home run,” new general manager Billy Devaney said. “There’s other times where it makes sense to try to be a Tony Gwynn, put the ball in play.

                            “Actually, you know what, you can use Albert Pujols at any time I guess. Forget Tony Gwynn.”

                            Devaney, who has 24 years of NFL scouting and front office experience, is in charge on draft day for the first time in his career. Given the Rams have won only five games the last two seasons and their corresponding long list of needs, he seemingly can’t go wrong with the pick.

                            Not that he was willing to discuss individual players much, although he did admit Crabtree’s stress fracture in his left foot was a negative.

                            “There’s no perfect player in this group,” Devaney said. “For Crabtree that’s a red flag, but there’s not many red flags on the guy.”

                            The Rams also had the second pick last year and got a solid rookie season from defensive end Chris Long, with then-coach Scott Linehan making the selection. This year they’re leaning more on those behind the scenes, with Devaney recognizing college and pro scouts seated at the back of the auditorium at Rams Park before the team’s predraft news conference Monday.

                            “You guys, raise your hands,” Devaney said.

                            In past seasons, scouts submitted their reports and then walked away while the coaching staff assembled its draft board. This year, the scouts will prioritize the list.

                            “At the end of the day, that’s what these guys do for a living,” Devaney said. “They know these guys inside out, so we should lean on their opinions.”

                            Borrowing a saying coined by front office gurus of the past, Devaney added: “Coaches coach, scouts scout, players play, and I’m a firm believer in that.”

                            New coach Steve Spagnuolo appears content to take an advisory role on his first draft weekend. Of course, the scouts got a shopping list not long after Spagnuolo was hired in mid-January and know what the coaches want.

                            “The wealth of knowledge these guys gather is amazing,” Spagnuolo said....
                            -04-21-2009, 10:16 AM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Devaney, Scouting Staff Ready For Phase Two
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Devaney, Scouting Staff Ready for Phase Two
                            Friday, December 18, 2009

                            By Nick Wagoner
                            Senior Writer

                            Less than 24 hours after he was named Rams General Manager on Christmas Eve of last year, Billy Devaney found himself asking for some divine intervention.

                            Armed with the arduous task of rebuilding the Rams by bringing in a new coaching staff, starting a roster makeover and generally changing the complexion of the Russell Training Center, Devaney knew he would need some help from somewhere.

                            So it was that on Christmas morning, Devaney went for his usual run, a course he has mapped out that he regularly runs near his home. Along his normal path, Devaney encountered one of the priests at Our Lady of the Pillar church in Ladue, the church where Devaney and his family had attended mass only hours before.

                            Stopping to chat, Devaney made it a point to ask the priest for a little help in his new endeavor.

                            “I said ‘Hey, I have got a favor to ask. I just got this job with the Rams, I need a lot of help, can you keep me in your prayers?’” Devaney said, laughing at the memory. “He said ‘Yeah, I saw that, that’s you, huh?’ I said ‘This is a big one, man. You have got to keep me in your prayers.’”

                            Less than a week from today, Devaney will have hit the one-year mark as the top decision maker in the Rams hierarchy but there’s no doubting that year two will come with less stress than the first one.

                            It would almost have to.

                            THE PROCESS

                            Building a football team doesn’t happen overnight. And though it’s become popular to believe that a major turnaround can happen in a single year, that’s really more of a myth than anything.

                            While a team’s record can certainly dramatically improve in a single year, it takes years of building something with commitment and continuity to get it right.

                            Soon after taking the job, Devaney went on a whirlwind tour along with the rest of his staff that included the hiring of a new coaching staff, evaluating current Rams to make decisions on their future with the team, scouring the free agent market, scouting college players, signing free agents and going through the 2009 NFL Draft.

                            It was a hectic time for Devaney but it also could someday be looked at as a turning point for the franchise.

                            Having that year to get the scouting staff he wants in place, form a pro personnel department and get everyone on the same page should make attacking the 2010 offseason an easy transition.

                            “That’s one of the many advantages is stability and that is what we are trying to establish,” Devaney said. “I think going into this year, we’ll be light years ahead of where we were last year. We haven’t changed the structure at all. These guys are veteran guys so it was an easy transition for them. It’s an easy system...
                            -12-19-2009, 03:54 PM