If you listened to Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo as the draft approached this year, and believed him, then the choice of North Carolina’s Robert Quinn should not have been a surprise.
There were a lot of people that figured the Rams would go with Corey Liguet of Illinois, but Spagnuolo told us in The Fast Lane on Monday that the most important parts of his defense are defensive ends, middle linebacker and cornerback. So when the Rams got to No. 14 with both wide receivers and Aldon Smith off the board, I was thinking Prince Amukamara, Mark Ingram or a trade down.
Even though I had brought up Quinn and Amukamara as possibilities for Houston before they took J.J. Watt, he didn’t immediately register with me. But the choice is a real good one. A long, 6-4, 268-pound pass rusher fits this defense to a tee. He’ll be able to blend in behind James Hall, George Selvie and Eugene Sims and slowly work into the defense after missing his last year of college.
Other thoughts on the first round …
*The Rams, rightfully so, weren’t about to match Atlanta’s offer to Cleveland for Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. What the Falcons did was nuts. I love Jones, but not at that price.
*I was pleased that Aldon Smith went to San Francisco at No. 7 overall, but am not happy that the Rams have to face him twice a year. We could argue that the two best Mizzou defensive ends ever now play together on the same NFL defense, with Smith joining fellow Mizzou product, and fellow Smith, Justin.
*The Tigers had two top-10 picks in the last 44 years, and had two in this draft.
*St. Louisan Adrian Clayborn landed in a good spot with Tampa Bay. The Bucs need a pass rusher of Clayborn’s ilk, and he will get an immediate opportunity to play.
*Blaine Gabbert may have landed in a good spot, too. He’ll have time to learn the Jaguars’ offense behind David Garrard, and could wind up being the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Jaguars in a few years. Obviously, after trading up for him, the Jaguars like Gabbert a lot. There won’t be as much pressure as there would have been trying to live up to Kurt Warner in Arizona or Joe Montana and Steve Young in San Francisco. It’s not as hard to live up to Byron Leftwich and David Garrard.
*I agree with the rest of the football world that Florida State’s Christian Ponder was the biggest shocker of the draft. How lucky do you feel that the Rams have that quarterback situation settled for years to come? Can you imagine being a Vikings fan right now? Wow. Or a Titans fan? Didn’t they learn their lesson about inaccurate quarterbacks with their last one?
*The last two Rams No. 1 picks — Bradford and Quinn — have combined to play seven quarters of football in their last years of college. Bradford played all seven before being shelved for the year with his shoulder injury. Quinn was suspended for the season for dealing with agents.
*The Rams won’t significantly upgrade over the receivers they have by taking one in the second round. They’re better off waiting and trying to get an outside linebacker or a safety in round two.
My guys are Bruce Carter, another North Carolina defender, Mason Foster from Washington, or Robert Sands from West Virginia. Might be able to get him in round three. A playmaking weakside linebacker would be great.