Rams begin contract negotiations with Bradford

Sorry for the fake out headline, but the Rams have actually begun preliminary contract negotiations with Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy too – not just Bradford. (Oh, whatever – you might as well stay and read the entire article now.)

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“All the people who are in the discussion (for No. 1 overall), we’ve talked to their agents,” Demoff said. “We’re really just comparing notes. Also, it may take some time, so we figured we’d get a head start.”

In the past two drafts, the No. 1 overall pick (quarterback Matthew Stafford and offensive tackle Jake Long) had their contracts completed before the draft. But Demoff said that isn’t necessarily the goal for St. Louis.

“The goal is to get the right deal for the right player that you want to draft,” Demoff said. “If that happens before the draft, great. If it doesn’t happen before the draft, then we’ll spend May, June and July working on it.”

According to the report, the Rams have also had contact with Jimmy Clausen’s agent and while nothing has been confirmed yet, the team plans on talking with the representatives for all 600 draft-eligible players as well. Don’t laugh – the Rams can’t screw this one up. Kicker Leigh Tiffin had a great year for Alabama and he’s going to be sitting there with the top overall pick so the Rams have to do their due diligence here.

I don’t know if this means anything, but I find it interesting that the article essentially refers to Clausen as a throw in (oh-by-the-way, Clausen’s people were also contacted, although that’s because the Rams mistakenly thought they were ordering Thai food). That tells me that they’re down to Bradford, Suh and McCoy. If that’s indeed the case, then I’m sticking with my latest mock draft projection in that they’ll select Bradford at No. 1.

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2010 NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0

The full mock is finally completed!

I waited a lot longer than I normally do to compile my first mock draft of the year. Normally I whip up my first batch of mock draft right after the scouting combine, but this year I wanted to see what happened at the start of free agency before I even remotely considered whom teams would select in April.

I get as excited as any true draftnik about mock drafts, but how could anyone venture a guess at what player a team will select without knowing what big free agents signed where? It’s like taking a long road trip to a place you’ve never been before without your GPS. (Wow, have the times changed. A couple of years ago, I would have ended that sentence with “without your map” but that damn technology continues to track us down like a bear preying on an injured deer.)

Below is my first crack at predicting the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. As usual, feel free to argue my picks as much as you like but please, debate with some dignity. Don’t be the doucher that ruins the fun of mock drafts by spewing venom in the comments section of a sports blog. There may not be anything more pathetic.

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
I have Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh rated as the unquestioned best player in this year’s draft. (Well, I don’t have an official ranking per se, but in my head he’s No. 1.) But that doesn’t mean I think the Rams will take him. Teams usually get funny about the No. 1 overall pick. They feel as though they have to match the contract with the position in order to justify the player they’re taking, which is completely backwards when you think about it. A team should be most concerned with taking the right player that matches their scheme. But I digress. Bradford is the top rated quarterback and the Rams have a major need at the position with Marc Bulger proving over the past two years that he’s better suited to run the scout team offense in practice and then the first unit on Sundays. The Rams feel as though they need to breathe some excitement into their dull franchise and taking Bradford should do the trick. Is he the right player? That’s debatable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will the Lions’ trade for Williams affect the top of the draft?

A deal between the Browns and Lions for defensive tackle Corey Williams might not seem like headline news, but it’s a trade that could inevitably affect the top of the draft.

Williams is expected to return to his former defensive tackle position after playing end in Cleveland’s 3-4 scheme. With Grady Jackson (whom the Lions signed to a three-year, $8 million contract last year) occupying the defensive tackle position next to Williams, there’s a chance that Detroit will pass on a DT at No. 2 come April’s draft.

That said, Jackson is also 37 year’s old, so the Lions might view Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy as his eventual replacement for 2011. Plus, Jackson isn’t an effective pass-rusher, so he could be replaced on obvious passing downs in order to give Suh or McCoy playing time in their rookie season before they took over as a starter.

But it would be interesting to find out that the Lions made this deal for Williams in order to go in another direction on draft day. They also have a huge need at offensive tackle and might target Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung at No. 2 instead of a DT.

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Should a QB go No. 1 in NFL draft?

ESPN.com’s John Clayton thinks one should:

Let’s start with the St. Louis Rams. They have the No. 1 pick, and many people believe St. Louis likes Suh more than McCoy. Here’s the problem: Drafting Suh No. 1 when the franchise is without a true starting quarterback doesn’t make much sense, particularly if the Rams don’t bring back Marc Bulger.

The problem facing the Rams is that they aren’t one defensive tackle away from being competitive. They went 1-15 this past season. Adding Suh without a top quarterback might keep the Rams in double-digit loss territory.

Dominating defensive tackles can make an impact on good teams, but they don’t always change the fate of bad teams. Former Steelers coach Chuck Noll built his Steel Curtain defense around Mean Joe Greene, but that team was loaded with Hall of Famers. Defensive tackles who go to bad teams can do only so much.

The Seahawks got a Hall of Fame career from defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, the third pick in the 1990 draft, but Seattle had only one playoff appearance during his great career. Glenn Dorsey, the fifth pick in the 2008 draft, didn’t stop the downturn of the Kansas City Chiefs. Steve Emtman (Colts) and Dan Wilkinson (Bengals) were top picks, but they didn’t turn around bad teams. The Cleveland Browns drafted Gerard Warren No. 3 in 2001, but the team struggled throughout the 2000s.

That’s why I predict the Rams will draft Bradford instead of Suh.

Click the link above to check out Clayton’s entire piece – it’s a good read.

Clayton’s colleague, Adam Schefter makes the same prediction for the Rams: that they will/should take Bradford. Given the money that will be invested with the No. 1 pick, it makes sense that the Rams would take a quarterback over a defensive tackle.

However, that doesn’t mean that they should. The key for teams in the draft is to select the right player that fits their scheme, regardless of position. If they draft Bradford just because it makes fiscal sense and he winds up being a bust, they could set themselves back years in the process. If they take Suh and he turns out to be a Pro Bowler, then they made the right decision, regardless of how much money they invest in his position.

The idea makes sense on the surface, but this is the same line of reasoning as a team drafting a quarterback or running back just to sell tickets. While Clayton is right in saying that Suh (or McCoy, or Eric Berry, or whoever) won’t turn a 1-15 team into a 15-1 team, at least they would be heading in the right direction by making a sound football decision.

We’ll see. If Bradford (or Jimmy Clausen) is high on the Rams’ draft board and he develops into a great quarterback, then St. Louis wins on all fronts. Again, the key is drafting the right player.

Rams to select Bradford with top pick?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter told a St. Louis radio station that the Rams will select quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick this year. The caveat is that Schefter wasn’t reporting the news, but merely making a prediction.

Schefter is always good for information around this time of year, so I wouldn’t doubt it if the Rams did take Bradford No. 1. After all, they do need a quarterback and if Steve Spagnuolo and his staff feel as though the Oklahoma product is a franchise-type signal caller, then it will be hard for them to pass.

Schefter also noted that St. Louis is reluctant to pay No. 1 money to a defensive player such as Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy. Of all the Rams’ many needs, defensive tackle isn’t necessarily a high priority so it makes sense that the Rams would pass on Suh and McCoy and take Bradford or Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen.

That said, GM Billy Devaney is familiar with former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick from their days in Atlanta. It’s not a stretch to believe that Devaney will send a draft pick to Philadelphia for Vick and then take Suh or McCoy with the No. 1 pick, seeing as how those two players are the best on the board. Drafting in the top 5 is a different animal, as teams usually throw out the word “need” and just try to acquire talent to restock their roster.

We’ll see if Schefter called this one come April, but as of right now there’s still a lot of mystery and intrigue involving the No. 1 pick.

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