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Burwell:Finally,a Rams draft that makes sense

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  • Burwell:Finally,a Rams draft that makes sense

    Finally, a Rams draft that makes sense

    By Bryan Burwell

    NEW YORK It was Saturday morning outside Radio City Music Hall, and there was no longer any need for the sprawling red carpet, the cadre of paparazzi and all the other ostentatious Oscar-like trappings that turned the first round of the NFL draft into a Thursday night, prime-time extravaganza.

    Things had long since moved deeper into the less spectacular but no less fascinating aspects of pro football's annual spring shopping spree. And by the end of the day, a rather peculiar thing had happened. The Rams made it through draft weekend without a single, befuddling pratfall.

    In fact, it was just the opposite. General manager Billy Devaney and his suddenly empowered personnel department showed us what can happen when smart football people are left to their own devices without the unwanted interference of in-over-their-head bean counters who would alter the draft board based on the whims of a fantasy-league hunch.

    There were no big splashes, no daring trades. All the Rams did was sit tight and trust their football instincts, believe in their convictions, swear by their scouting department and patiently avoid turning the draft weekend into another befuddling mess.

    As the three-day draft played out, Devaney got everything on his shopping list, and maybe a few unexpected assets as well. He got his franchise quarterback (Sam Bradford) and a stud offensive lineman (Rodger Saffold) to serve as one of Bradford's career-long bodyguards. He got his breathless offensive skill-position game changer (Mardy Gilyard) without reaching too high to get him. He found a contact-loving, big cornerback (Jerome Murphy) and a blocking tight end (Michael Hoomanawanui), a fascinating experiment in the late rounds whose ceiling (if the Rams are lucky) could be a poor man's Antonio Gates (Fendi Onobun), and a pass rusher in the seventh round (George Selvie) who might be the steal of the weekend.

    All in all, it was a smart, not spectacular weekend for a franchise and a fan base that isn't used to such behavior.

    Under the old regime at Rams Park, you always figured if they were looking for one left shoe and went into a shoe factory, they'd come out with five right ones and a feather boa because someone read on some Internet blog that boas will be in style next season. Perhaps "immune" is the best word to use in describing the mental, physical and emotional state that Rams fans developed like a thick scab over a bloody wound as they braced themselves for the next galling move by that crack staff led by deposed GM Jay Zygmunt.

    But to me, the moment that truly defined the new attitude and approach of the Devaney/Steve Spagnuolo era came late Friday night at the end of the third round. As every pick went by during the second and third round and as all the wide receivers and tight ends kept vanishing from the draft board there were plenty of puzzled expressions in Rams Nation. Why didn't Devaney draft a wideout at the top of the second, or trade up into the bottom of the round? Why didn't he use that third rounder or move up into the bottom of the third round to get a pass catcher to go with Bradford?

    Heck, that's what we'd all do, right?

    Devaney looked totally puzzled late Friday night when he got all those odd looks, partly because he already knew that the guy they had targeted all along as their "wow" guy Gilyard was still sitting there on the board, and would end up being the first guy selected in the top of the fourth round.

    On Saturday, Devaney explained his strategy, and it absolutely dripped of smart football talk, not silly fantasy football blabber. "Well, you know what?" he said. "(Gilyard's) grade took us there honestly. The fact that he was a receiver if it happened to be a defensive tackle, if it happened to be an offensive guard and he had the grade that Gilyard had on him this morning, I probably would have gotten my butt kicked (in the public and media), but we would have taken a guard. So I have to be honest, the fact that it was a receiver, that's fine. It worked out that way, but it was really that we stayed with our board."

    Oh, my gosh. Stop sweet talking me, Billy D.

    Trust your instincts? Believe in your scouting department? Draft according to football knowledge, not the winds of public sentiment? As much as fans like to believe they know what they're talking about and a lot of them do know their football they're not professional scouts. It's not a fan's job to know the slight separation between a blocking back from Utah, a punter from Texas, a receiver from Iowa and a nose tackle from Northwest Louisiana without the assistance of Mel Kiper Jr.'s or Todd McShay's draft boards.

    So while some folks grumbled and scratched their heads when Devaney selected Saffold, a block-out-the-sun offensive tackle, then followed up with Murphy, a cornerback who fits Spags' defensive style, everyone in the Rams' war room grinned. They knew Saffold had strong first-round grades and will be a sure-fire first-year starter who will help further stabilize the offensive line, and Murphy had second-round grades and will help out with depth and special teams and eventually become a starter, too.

    The Rams finally have real football people in charge out there in Earth City, and those football people do know what the separation is. The days of fantasy football at Rams Park seem to be over, and reality, at long last is settling in.

  • #2
    Re: Burwell:Finally,a Rams draft that makes sense

    Great article. Hits on a lot of key points about us know-nothing bums who think we drafted the wrong guys. I hope his high praise of our staff proves to be accurate


    • #3
      Re: Burwell:Finally,a Rams draft that makes sense

      Good teams become good teams not by reaching for players or making ridiculous trades, but by sticking to their board and drafting the players with value, no matter what the position.

      I know loads of people were wanting us to draft a WR or TE early, but the value was never right in the second and third rounds.


      • #4
        Re: Burwell:Finally,a Rams draft that makes sense

        I'm just wondering what grade we gave to Dorin Dickerson, when the draftniks had him as a 3rd-4th rounder, and he didn't go until the 7th.

        When it's all said and done, I have to believe that this draft will look better than not in a few years when it's really time to grade it.
        I believe!:ram:


        • #5
          Re: Burwell:Finally,a Rams draft that makes sense

          Mel (the head) Kiper gave the Rams a grade of C+. This guy also thinks Claussen was 1st rounder. I meself thinks we did quite well. And i feel they are not done yet. I like what I see .Not done yet meaning , they will still aquire some more help. This year is shaping up pretty good and early, i think as Ram Fans we should all be pretty happy. Except for the dude who Posted he hated everything we did.
          Last edited by Guest; -04-26-2010, 09:57 AM.