Dodgy Rams Run Head First Into Pick Wall
The St. Louis Rams went 1-15, locked up the 1st selection in this year’s draft, and cut Marc Bulger. It would seem that they are ready to take Sam Bradford #1 overall. It would also seem that they have painted themselves into a corner.
There’s no reason in the world why the Rams wouldn’t take Bradford, but they’ve played their hand. Everyone on earth seems to know what Billy Devaney –St. Louis’ GM– is going to do.
This is reminiscent of the 2007 NBA Draft. Greg Oden was the consensus #1 and Kevin Pritchard –Portland’s GM– spent months trying to convince the world he hadn’t decided between Oden and Kevin Durant. No one believed Pritchard then, and no one would take a trade from Devaney now.
It’s pretty easy to say what I think the Rams should do, but that’s my job. The Rams don’t need Bradford — they want him. If the Rams had decided to hold onto Marc Bulger, their options would look something like this.
Don’t Take A Quarterback In the 1st Round
I know that holding onto Marc Bulger sounds crazy, but he had no roster bonus coming to him. This makes his release that much more baffling.
If you aren’t going to owe the dude anything, then you need to keep him around long enough to ensure that you have “the right guy” coming to you in the draft.
Instead of cutting Bulger, perhaps you do some shuffling on your depth chart and snag somebody in the 2nd or 3rd round. Chad Henne went to the Dolphins in the 2nd round, and Tom Brady was a 7th rounder to New England.
You don’t have to leverage #1 overall on a quarterback. It’s true that the Ravens, Falcons and Jets have all had great success in recent years doing just that. However, the reality is that you are not the Raven, Falcons or Jets.
The Rams are a disaster. Let’s say the Rams wait until the opening of the 2nd round where Colt McCoy is liable to be.
You ever notice how “draft experts” always have the “I think they’ll pick this person” chart and the “best player on the board” chart? Well, the best player on the board is Ndamukong Suh.
Draft Suh and your defense gets instantly better. I’m not saying that the Rams defense will become a “House of Spears,” but it will dramatically improve. You’ve now bought yourself two or three wins.
You take McCoy and sit him behind Bulger or Boller for as long as you can stand it. Then, when the team is semi-cohesive–you put him out there.
McCoy spends half a season getting his “hard knocks,” and now you get the quarterback and defenseman of the future in the same draft.
Take a Quarterback–but Not Bradford
This year’s draft holds much depth at the quarterback position. However, there are guys out there who haven’t spent a year on the shelf. Bradford came back to Oklahoma for his junior year only to get hurt really early.
Does that mean that he is injury prone? As hard as it is to say — I would have to pass on the kid because of that question alone.
If you don’t take Bradford, then who do you take? You have to take a quarterback who seems gritty. You have to take a quarterback who is a natural-born leader.
What about Jimmy Clausen? He went to Notre Dame and stood out above all of his teammates for a tumultuous four years in South Bend. He looks tough. He played tough, and he’s had great workouts.
Isn’t Clausen just Bradford without a Heisman Trophy or concurrently successful program behind him? I think he is.
You can get an uninjured version of Bradford without the nagging question, “Is this kid injury prone?”
What if you sit on it and take someone like Jevon Snead even later in the draft? Remember, they didn’t owe Marc Bulger a signing bonus and could easily sit Snead or Zach Robinson or Tony Pike on the bench for half a season.
There would have been no harm in simply waiting for the quarterback of the future to fall in your lap later in the draft.
Either way, the Rams can do better than Sam Bradford. They should know by now that Heisman Trophy winners don’t translate to the pro-game anymore.
The Hardest Thing to Do: Trade the Pick
This is the hardest thing to do, but not because it’s a hard choice. The Rams made things hard on themselves with poor pre-draft decision making.
Cutting Marc Bulger said two things to the NFL:
1. We have no idea what we’re doing.
2. We couldn’t draft our way out of a paper bag.
If the Rams wanted to trade the 1st pick effectively, they shouldn’t have tipped their hand. They released Marc Bulger and put a sign on their backs that said, “Take advantage of us when we want to trade this pick.”
Just think about what the Rams could get in return for a savvy trade:
The Rams own the #1 and #33 picks. That’s the first pick of the first and second rounds. They could easily trade #1 overall to the Bills — who need a quarterback — and get #9 and #41 overall in return.
The Rams could then wait for Clausen, Tebow or McCoy. They could easily take Jimmy Clausen because the Bills would select Sam Bradford out of pure necessity.
After that, they could take two defensive bruisers at #33 and #41 to make up for the loss of Suh. Now you have your quarterback of the future and two strong defensive players all by the 41st pick.
Would Anybody Else Take the Pick?
A trade with Seattle wouldn’t be out of the question either. Perhaps you could trade #1 to Seattle for #6 and #60 — the end of the 2nd round? Now you could take Derrick Morgan at defensive end. After that you snatch up Colt McCoy with #33 and get a partner-in-crime for Morgan at #60.
In three selections you took: the second best defensive player on the board, a QB for the future, and a running-mate for Morgan.
There’s only one problem with all of these scenarios:
The Rams could still trade the first pick, but they’ll get less in return because they’ll be desperate. Any team willing to deal with them won’t give up a pick in the second round.
That means all of my scenarios go right down the toilet. I know you hear the flushing sound–whooshhhh.
The Rams’ best option now is to pray that Sam Bradford is your guy. You can justify taking him if that is the case. Taking someone else would be lunacy.
My only question is this: Why would you take “your guy” when he might be injury prone and you can get a sturdier version of him just five picks later?
Only time will tell. April 22 at 7:30 p.m. to be exact.