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  • Chat with Billy Devaney

    Rams General Manager Billy Devaney joined us to answer your questions in a live chat Friday. Read below to see his responses.

    Anthony Fiato, Binghamton, NY 02:57 PM ET
    Many teams in the NFL have adapted to a two running back system. Do you feel that the Rams should limit the amount of big hits on Steven Jackson by adding a complimentary back?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Even with teams that use two running backs, there's always a primary back whether you call him a fullback or another halfback, there's one predominant ball carrier. In our case, that's Steven Jackson and we feel it's best to have a fullback in front of him.

    Ruben , Highland, Ca 02:59 PM ET
    Billy, Thanks for taking my questions. As a GM for a rebuilding team, are all current players(that don't significantly hurt the Cap) available as trade options, as we close in on the trading dealine? Do you believe you have enough leaders or potential leaders on this current roster to take a "risk" on a player that may have "character" concerns, going into next years FA & draft?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    I think it's safe to say we don't have many untouchable type players on our roster. That said, we've put in a lot of time and effort to begin to assemble a core group of players we want to be here a long time rather than sending them out. It always depends on the degree of risk but we do have the type of players here where we would feel comfortable taking a risk on someone.

    Dennis R, Connecticut 03:01 PM ET
    Mr. Devaney, I know building a team from the ground up takes time. As a long (very long) time Ram fan I can bite the bullet and suffer through a rebuilding year. However, I do have one question, the teams NEEDS WR's there are choices out there. I know you want players with "character", but if there are decent WR's Matt Jones, Harrison, etc. out there WHY NOT give them a shot? These young receivers can learn a ton from and older veteran like Harrison. So even if it's for the short term grab them. With no threats at WR every team will be stacking the line taking away your only great player in Jackson.

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    We realize we are thing at receiver right now but there's a reason why guys like Harrison are still out there. We are not the only team looking for receivers. P.S. Looking forward to seeing my good friend Donnie Brown in a couple of weeks.

    michael barttelbort, swansea 03:03 PM ET
    Pro Football has been my life--I listen, read and watch it yearlong-it is painful to see a team struggle like the Rams do--No fault of your own this team has made so many bad choices since 2000--what do you say to a diehard fan--that doesnt see the bottom till about the middle of next year

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    OMG, I'll never make it until the middle of next year! Even though we are 0-4, everyone here thinks we are a lot closer to being a good team. Hang in there, it won't take as long as you think.

    Daniel B, Toronto, Ontario 03:05 PM ET
    Hey Billy, When do you start evaluating which positions you can address in free agency and those you can target with the draft? I know this team has many needs, so this may be tough to gage, but for example would a position like WR be best to try and upgrade through free agency or the draft?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    As we sit here now, everyone recognizes where we need the most help. But we have a lot of football left this season and things can change.

    Jason C., Maple Shade 03:06 PM ET
    What do you think of the trend of QBs coming out of college ready to play in the NFL immedately is one that will continue in the future or where they "flukes" of player development ?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    The college passing game has become so sophisticated over the years it's made the transition to the pro game easier for some of these guys. Also, these have been really talented quarterbacks the past few years.

    DBCOUVER, Vancouver WA 03:07 PM ET
    I know the generic answer to this question is about always looking for opportunities to maximize our draft pick values, etc. How about getting serious about trading down for multiple picks in the draft, and taking advantage of what a draft has to offer by picking the best player available? Our teams needs are so extensive, how can we justify leaving value on the table? Also, if offered the right price, (lets be realistic), is Steven Jackson tradable?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    The thing that drives you is always what's best for your team in any decision that you make. On draft day if someone offers you a blockbuster deal for your pick or any players, what drives you is what's best for your team. If it means trading down or trading a player, if it's what is best for the team then you do it.

    Peter Dunbar, Glover VT 03:10 PM ET
    Billy, Can you talk about why the decision was made to start Jason Smith at RT instead of his natural position of LT? Barron is also very comfortable at RT so I'm curious what the thought process was here. Many thanks in advance... and great job on getting Spags :-) Peter Dunbar

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    The thought process was left tackle is a more difficult position to play and for the time being we believe that Alex Barron at this point in his career is a better left tackle than Jason. There's no doubt in our mind that Jason is our left tackle of the future.

    Curt, N. California 03:12 PM ET
    Dear Mr. Devaney, Which strategy do you prefer: 1) Re-stocking the team with talent then drafting that franchise QB, or 2)drafting that franchise Qb, then adding talent around him?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    It depends on who the quarterback is. If you are in position to get a quarterback that you feel you can win a Super Bowl with, you have got to grab him. The other line of thinking is you can't reach for a guy at that position if you aren't sure he is the guy to lead you.

    Josh, Sydney 03:13 PM ET
    Hi Billy, I think it's safe to say the Rams will have more than a bit of trouble making the playoffs this season. So what would aspect/position would you most like to see improve by the end of the season?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    I want to see us start playing smarter, less penalties, turnovers, etc. Also, we need to be consistent in all three phases.

    Daniel Mascher, Portland Or. 03:14 PM ET
    Billy, I've been a rams fan for 20 yrs and being a Blazers fan I've experienced a team rebuild and understand it takes time to break down, weed out and rebuild and I do see improvement in the defense, but the offense is horrible. I attended the Rams vs seahawks and it was very painfull to watch us get turnover's and not do anything with them. Here's my questions; is this the most challenging position you have had to be in, and do you get frustrated with fans unrealistic expectations? I still support you guys, but please draft a QB with the first and a WR in the 2nd this draft. Thanks for the time.

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Call me crazy but I don't feel like this is a very difficult situation I'm in. I say this because of the people that I'm around. There's no doubt we have the right structure in place. Now it's just a matter of time of filling in the pieces. We are definitely headed in the right direction.

    Joe, New Zealand 03:17 PM ET
    It is clear that the Rams are rebuilding and I like the youth approach. 1. Do you envisioned the rebuilding as a 3 yr, 4 yr or 5 yr project? 2. By that time the Rams will need a younger QB, when do you believe is the year to go for a new QB, 2010 or 2011? Thanks and keep moving forward.

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Hell no, it can't be three years or more. Otherwise, you will have somebody else here answering these questions.

    OC Ram Fan 714, Irvine, CA 03:18 PM ET
    I've heard that you're an avid runner. How many miles a day do you need to run to burn off the aggravation this season is causing?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Even your running suffers when you go through a stretch like this. But I expect my running to pick up as the season goes on and as the team starts playing better.

    Bret J McDaniel, Globe, Az 03:20 PM ET
    I Am A Huge Rams Fan. These last few seasons though are huge letdowns. I Like What Coach Spags Is Doing For Us Here. We Are A Better Team Than Last Year. My Question Is, What Can We Do To Turn Around Our Second Half Performance? It Seems To Me, That That Is Where We Are Really Getting Beat.

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    It goes back to being consistent for four quarters. We have been good in spurts. We have been good in different phases at different times. We just have to play as a team for four solid quarters.

    chris Garcia, orange County CA 03:21 PM ET
    Billy, I like your offseason aquisitions, Laurent Robinson was a great pick up, I feel he will be a staple for our offense next year. My question is, did you ever play football? What do you look for in a player?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Laurent's surgery went well. He will be 100 percent next year. I played football in college and what I look for in a player is everything I wasn't: good.

    Rob Thompson, Maryland Heights 03:22 PM ET
    You seem to have an eye for hidden gems like Laurent Robinson and Daniel Fells. What did you see in them when they were under the radar on other teams that made you know that they could succeed in this league and on this team? They are two guys that really seem to have a lot of potential and I'm excited to watch them develop!

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Our department does a good job in evaluating young players in the NFL. They may slip through the cracks by being in the wrong place or system at the wrong time but that doesn't mean they don't have the talent to play in the NFL.

    Dave, Saint Louis 03:25 PM ET
    Are we so far up againts the cap that we haft to bring WR in off the practice squad rather than resign Curry who had a good preseason? Were huting bad at WR.

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    I may have something to report in the very near future.

    Frankie Mustari, Chicago, IL 03:28 PM ET
    Billy, where do you see this team at this time next year?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    In St. Louis. No, seriously. We'll be in a much better position salary cap wise if we can have another successful free agency period and a solid draft, we'll be in significantly better shape.

    Brian, Orange County 03:30 PM ET
    I have read about how you started as an intern and worked your way to the top of your profession. Do you think that experience has led to you having more desire in your job?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    I don't know. I have always had a burning desire to win football games and win championships. That's never going to change.

    Eric Lizbinski, Drums, Pa 03:31 PM ET
    Rob Thompson brought up the point of having an eye for hidden gems. Do you think Keith Null is a player who can have an impact on the team in the next two or three years?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    There are some very positive signs regarding Null. However, he is a long way from being a starter but we like what we see so far.

    Bill Starnes, Collinsville, IL 03:32 PM ET
    The team has made significant investments in the offensive line, but can't protect the quarterback. Did the team buy Citibank stock, or are the players underperforming?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    When the quarterback gets hit or sacked, it's not necessarily the offensive line that is at fault. It could be on the quarterback, it could be on the running back, it could be on a wideout. Our offensive line pass protection wise has played at a winning level.

    John P. Moore, Allentown, PA 03:34 PM ET
    Hi Billy: What I look for in a player is everything I understand you were as an athlete...Smart, tough, physical, a "grinder", and hates losing with a passion! Someone who plays with a lot of heart and passion which is sadly missing in professional sports these days. Let's get a damn "W"!!!! GO RAMS!

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Thanks for the support, John. Stay well.

    Brian, Orange County 03:35 PM ET
    As a student going through graduate school for Sport Management in an area with no NFL teams, do you have any advice how to get any experience to possibly work in the NFL one day?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Volunteer as much as you can in any professional sports team or league. Don't even worry about getting paid at first, you need to get your foot in the door and then just grind.

    Tom Johnson, Virginia Beach, Va. 03:39 PM ET
    Billy, with a much improved defense this year and...certainly a top five pick oin the draft, is QB the top shelf interest in 2010?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    We have a long way to go before we decide what our top needs are. We still have three quarters of the season to help us make that evaluation.

    Edgar Sistrunk, Gary, Indiana 03:40 PM ET
    Thanks for answering our questions. Do college scouts look for certain postions at this time of year?

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Our scouts aren't sure what our needs will be so they need to evaluate every position. There are some positions that we may feel strong at and won't use a top pick for that position. But even those players need to be evaluated and graded.

    General Manager Billy Devaney,
    Thanks for all of the questions. We all appreciate your passion, we feel your frustration and we just ask you to hang in as long as you can.
    Last edited by evil disco man; -10-10-2009, 01:22 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Chat with Billy Devaney

    from what i pick up from that we...

    1)may be getting outside help on the Wideout front very soon
    2)Barron isnt getting an extension
    3)If we get in a draft spot where we can get our franchise QB..we getting him.
    4)Null is gonna get more than just this year on the roster.
    5)Devaney and the team arent thinking entirely about next year.


    • #3
      Re: Chat with Billy Devaney

      Originally posted by evil disco man
      Bill Starnes, Collinsville, IL 03:32 PM ET
      The team has made significant investments in the offensive line, but can't protect the quarterback. Did the team buy Citibank stock, or are the players underperforming?

      General Manager Billy Devaney,
      When the quarterback gets hit or sacked, it's not necessarily the offensive line that is at fault. It could be on the quarterback, it could be on the running back, it could be on a wideout. Our offensive line pass protection wise has played at a winning level.
      I think his answer here is somewhat telling. The first part says that our non-linemen need to do a better job of picking up the blitz. In the second part, he limits his praise of the offensive line solely to pass protection, implying that there are other parts of their play which are not at a winning level. Either that's an oblique reference to penalties, or he may think they're not giving enough in the run game.


      • #4
        Re: Chat with Billy Devaney

        Very noncontroversial vanilla answers. To be expected. He doesn't need to provide bulletin board material that would possibly negatively impact the team's morale anymore than their record already is. I do appreciate him talking to us though. Another major accomplishment for ClanRam!


        Related Topics


        • 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
        • RamWraith
          Here's how Devaney sees football
          by RamWraith
          By Bernie Miklasz
          Thursday, Dec. 18 2008

          Bobby Beathard helped build Super Bowl champions in Miami and Washington. He
          was one of the great general managers in modern NFL history, even though his
          last job, in San Diego, ended poorly.

          Billy Devaney was with Beathard in Washington and San Diego, witnessing the
          good and the bad. He was a super scout for a brilliant Redskins team that won
          three Super Bowls and 19 postseason games. The San Diego experience wasn't a
          success, but Devaney learned from the mistakes.

          I asked Devaney about Beathard's influence, and the most important lesson he
          learned from his mentor.

          "It's a team effort," Devaney said. "It's not about one person. It's players,
          coaches, scouts, management, everyone in the building. You have to build
          something together.

          "Organizations win."

          Organizations lose, too.

          And with the Rams skidding with a 5-25 record over the last two seasons,
          someone must step into the leadership void to create a new football
          organization. Someone must take the lead role in changing the culture, changing
          the direction.

          Devaney, the Rams' executive VP of personnel, is in line for a promotion when
          Rams owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez restructure the team's front
          office after the season.

          Devaney will head the search for the next coach, with Jim Haslett among the
          candidates. He already coordinates the team's draft. And he will supervise free

          Devaney hasn't been informed of the owners' plans for him. He does not want to
          be presumptuous. He's sensitive to the perception that he's the GM in waiting
          at Rams Park. Devaney emphasized that he's interested in doing one thing only:
          contributing to a organization-wide effort to transform the Rams.

          But if Devaney is asked to take over the football side, what can we expect?

          In two separate interviews this week, Devaney articulated a vision for the

          Devaney wanted to make one thing clear: "We have a lot of good players," he
          said. "We have components in place to build around. When I talk about
          improving, it shouldn't be taken as an indictment of the 53-man roster."

          Here are some of Devaney's key philosophies:

          — Beef up the scouting department. He believes the Rams have a good staff of
          college scouts. But he'd like to see more manpower dedicated to the pro
          personnel department.

          — Beef up the roster. "The team needs to get bigger, physically," Devaney said.
          "The team needs to be tougher, physically and mentally. This is a tough, nasty
          -12-18-2008, 04:28 AM
        • 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
        • AvengerRam_old
          Bill Devaney - Preliminary Evaluation
          by AvengerRam_old
          I've seen a few posts in which Devaney has been included in the category of "inept front office." I think he's more accurately described as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Here's how I see him:

          The Draft
          It is always difficult to evaluate a draft this early, but I think the initial reviews have to be positive overall. Chris Long is playing hard, despite the team's problems, and he shows a great deal of promise. The selection of Donnie Avery was widely criticized, but his play has turned a lot of people around. Greco is just starting to get a chance and looks like he could be a valuable asset in the future. Justin King looked promising before he was hurt. Vobora and Chamberlain are good special teams/depth guys. In my opinion, so far so good.

          Free Agency
          With the ownership transition and Coach Line%@# on the hot seat, the Rams were a tough sell for free agents last offseason. Josh Brown was a great signing which will pay dividends for years. Jacob Bell has been a major disappointment, but I don't see how you can fault Devaney for failing to foresee his weight loss. I think you can critique Devaney for not making more of an effort to bolster the linebacking corps in FA, though there were not too many candidates.

          Trade Market
          Hindsight is 20/20 here, and some will argue that the Rams should have traded for Kris Jenkins, who has had a great year in NY. The price paid by the Jets (a 3rd and 5th round selection) was affordable, but don't discount the fact that it also cost them a 4 year, $32M contract (with $20M guaranteed) - all for a guy who is 29 and has had a history of injuries.

          Retention of Players
          Despite a disappointing season, I fully support the decision to sign Steven Jackson to a long-term deal. With his age and productivity (when healthy), this was a no-brainer. Hopefully, he'll make it his mission to get in the best shape of his life and play 16 games next year. If he does, I'll put pretty good money on Jackson being in the top 3 in yards from scrimmage. Devaney faces some big tests in this department soon (Atogwe, Bartell, Incognito, Adeyanju). It will be interesting to see how these negotiations go, particularly in a post-Zymunt Front Office.

          All in all, I think Devaney has demonstrated the ability to be an effective GM. I see no reason to throw him out with the bath water.
          -12-10-2008, 09:23 AM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Rams' GM Discusses Reasons For His Optimism
          by r8rh8rmike
          Rams' GM discusses reasons for his optimism

          BY JIM THOMAS
          Sunday, August 1, 2010

          General manager Billy Devaney has seen the preseason prognostications and wisecracks. He knows what the record was in 2009. And '08. And '07. And like most Rams players, he wants to do something about it.

          "The only way I can say it is the players are (ticked) off still from last year," Devaney said. "You want to say forget last year, and last year's over. But let me tell you, this isn't any fun. I know it isn't any fun for our players or anybody in this building to hear all the time: worst team in the NFL, 1-15, lowly St. Louis Rams.

          "If that doesn't (tick) you off, or get you motivated in the offseason, then we have the wrong kind of guy. There's a lot of motivated people here to get this thing going and start winning football games."

          Other than the selection of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall draft pick, it was an offseason devoid of big-name acquisitions for St. Louis. Nonetheless, Devaney feels there is no comparison between the 2010 Rams and coach Steve Spagnuolo's inaugural Rams squad of 2009.

          "It thought we had a great offseason," Devaney said. "The intensity and the participation of the players in the offseason program was outstanding. Even though we were in shorts and T-shirts, you could just see in Year Two how much more comfortable our players were in the system.

          "We looked faster than you would expect. At this time last year, we were installing playbooks for the first time — the wheels were grinding. So the thing that jumped out in the spring — the whole tempo, everything, looked much faster and quicker."

          Whether this is truly the case, or simply misguided optimism, remains to be seen. But with Rams training camp now in full gear, we're about to find out.

          In a pre-camp interview with the Post-Dispatch, Devaney discussed the state of the roster, the impact of the pending franchise sale, and more:

          PD: How would you characterize the offseason in terms of personnel acquisitions?

          DEVANEY: "Knock on wood, I think it's going to turn out to be a pretty darn good draft. I know people say why didn't we jump out and sign a big marquee-type free agent? That was never part of the plan. I think the guys that we added are going to be 'fits' and the right fits here. And to be honest, just the way free agency worked this year — the available free agents — there weren't that many names out there to begin with."

          PD: Did the pending franchise sale lead to any financial constraints in going after players?

          DEVANEY: "None whatsoever. We were allowed to put our plan in place, and we weren't restricted at all. Not one bit. Not once did we go to ownership and say, 'hey, we'd really like...
          -08-01-2010, 09:21 AM