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Diner morning news: Do the Rams want Bradford?

Why offer to trade the No. 1 pick when they need a quarterback? Michael Lombardi

Print This April 06, 2010, 10:30 AM EST

QUOTE: “Men experience many passions in a lifetime. One passion drives away the one before it.” -- Paul Newman

What a day in sports Monday — from the Donovan McNabb trade to the Tiger Woods press conference to the Final Four. The game last night was amazing, and Duke deserves to be national champion, although Butler proved to all of America that five working together is always better than one. In a team sport, Butler played beautifully as a team.

On a more somber note, please take a moment today to think of the 25 coal miners who lost their lives in an underground explosion in West Virginia.

The Rams are still on the clock

The Rams announced to anyone and everyone that they’re willing to listen to offers for the first overall pick in the draft. Their behavior reminds me of the first season of “The Sopranos,” when Uncle Junior told Tony at the Sit Tight Diner in Jersey City, “Next time you come here, you better come heavy or don’t come at all.” The Rams want a boatload for the pick, so unless a team “comes heavy,” they won’t trade the pick.

I get their words but not their actions. Why would the Rams trade the pick? They desperately need a quarterback, and they know that any team that “comes heavy” would only come to acquire a quarterback. With the release of Marc Bulger yesterday, it’s clear they must find their quarterback of the present and future (yes, I know they signed A.J. Feeley). From my perspective, there seems to be a disconnect inside the Rams — which, if you know anything about their history, disconnect is often how they’ve done business in recent years.

But most of you are thinking, why not trade down a little, get a “heavy load” and perhaps pick Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in the second round, modeling the move after what the Chargers did years ago. Instead of selecting Virginia Tech quarterback and universal No. 1 pick Michael Vick, the Chargers ended up with players and draft choices that became LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees. The results of their efforts were sensational, but remember, they went through some lean years with LT and Brees. And starting quarterback Philip Rivers would not be in San Diego if the Chargers had been happy with the play of Brees. It was not until Rivers was selected that Brees became the Drew Brees we have come to know. So this notion of trading down might look good on paper, but unless the organization is prepared to go through some lean years, it might not be the best course of action.

I’ve been a part of many draft rooms, some that have gone “all in” (1985 for Jerry Rice) and traded for one player and some that have traded down and collected players (1986 in San Francisco, where we ended up with eight starters), and the recurring theme of both centers solely on the talent of the player a team is either moving away from or moving toward. In the case of Sam Bradford, I believe he is the most talented quarterback in the draft — by far. He’s so uniquely talented that if the Redskins, under the leadership of Mike Shanahan, had the first pick in this draft (which I’m sure they’re trying to acquire), Bradford might already be signed. Shanahan realized that the better deal was to trade for McNabb instead of dealing with the Rams’ request for a heavy load.

Bradford is someone a team can build a franchise around. He has worked under center more than many might think, and his ability to throw the ball accurately and on time is very impressive. And assuming the Rams run the offense that highlights his skill set, like the Jets did with Mark Sanchez (had the Rams realized Bugler was not the man last year, Sanchez would be on their team now), then he will develop quickly into a fine pro player. Will Bradford make the Rams successful next year? Hardly, but he gives them hope for a fresh start. He gives them an extremely talented player at the most important position on the field, something that is more important that having an average player at the most important position. The Rams do not need more average, they need real quality.

What makes the selection of Bradford appealing to the Rams is that he’s telling his agents to embrace playing for them, not to play the “wait-and-see game” that most agents want to play this time of the year. Bradford “the player and the leader” is in control, not his agent in terms of where he plays. The money stuff he’ll let them handle, but he’s controlling his own future, which is important for any young leader.

Is Brandon Marshall next for the ‘Skins?

With the fourth pick in the draft, if I were the Redskins, I would select Russell Okung. But there seems to be some talk the ‘Skins might make a play for Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall. This is not to suggest they would trade the fourth pick overall to the Broncos for Marshall, but they could trade down in the draft, collect some other picks, and use that for Marshall. Denver wants a first rounder for Marshall, not necessarily a specific first. If the ‘Skins want to make a deal, there are many ways to get it done and still end up with a pick in the top 60 to get an offensive lineman.

One thing is for sure -- the Brandon Marshall sweepstakes will either heat up in the next week or so or he’ll be back in Denver.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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