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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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Add a Comment
Apr 06, 2010
10:48 AM

Mike, a little review of drafting history shows that almost every single team has shopped the first overall pick. It's a poor value in the salary cap era. Not entertaining offers would be the stupid thing for any franchise. But it'll be surprising if the Rams don't end up with Bradford and that would/will be a good step for the franchise.

Bill Bates 40
Apr 06, 2010
10:58 AM

I will never understand why every single article about this draft seems to just take for granted that Suh and McCoy go 2 & 3. Both Tampa and Detroit just invested heavily in their QBs of the future and both could easily stand to upgrade the LT, especially the Lions since Stafford got so dinged up last season. I understand that both coaches are more focused on the other side of the ball as the way to improve both franchises, but both picks are hardly the slam dunks that seem to be expected. And if either team DOES pick Okung, that will definitely hurt the Skins unless they can find a partner with whom to trade down into a better value O-line pick.

Mike J
Apr 06, 2010
11:31 AM

Speaking as a Tampa fan, i don't think the Bucs will draft an OT high. They tendered LT Penn at the highest level, & will likely make do with him & RT Trueblood for anther year.They will likely address OT later in the draft.
Penn has begun the past two seasons actually playing pretty well, but as the year wore on each season, he porked up & got out of shape & his play deteriorated.Trueblood is just OK as a player, & makes a lot of costly mistakes in the penalty department.His spot is likely targeted for an upgrade.The
team has a crying need for a DT. UT is the key position in the cover//tampa2 scheme.
Just IMHO, of course.

Apr 06, 2010
11:40 AM

The Lions need a DT more than a LT. It seem to me that Stafford will feel more pressure playing on a team that gives up a touchdown or fieldgoal on every possession than he will getting rushed on third down. After a team gets up by two scores against the Lions, they can rush the passer on more downs - and no LT in the world will keep his shirt clean when that happens.

The Lions need to solve their historically bad defense.

Bill Bates 40
Apr 06, 2010
11:50 AM

Mike J,
I agree that Tampa has a HUGE need at DT and is less likely than Detroit to take Okung, but I just think that it is worth mentioning that either team could very easily buck the conventional "wisdom" with its pick. All three players are certainly worthy, but Washington better have a plan B if Okung isn't there since neither of the DTs make sense for them AND there doesn't appear another player truly worth the 4th pick.

Apr 06, 2010
12:00 PM

I'd like to see the Redskins trade down, swapping picks with the Bills at #9 and Buffalo providing the Redskins with their 2nd round pick in 2011. According to the draft trade chart, the 4th pick is worth 1800 points, while the 9th is worth 1350. A 2nd rounder in the top half is in the 400 point range to get a deal done.

Obviously I am writing from the perspective of a Bills fan and I'd like to see Buddy Nix make a bold move for the consensus top LT in this deep draft. I don't believe Okung has visited Orchard Park, so that would follow a long history of teams that do not meet with the player they end up selecting.

Apr 06, 2010
12:38 PM

If certain assumptions are made, the Rams trading down makes perfect sense, and they shouldn't even demand that much in return.

Assumption #1 - The Rams would not trade with anyone seeking a QB
Assumption #2 - No other team trades up into the range of picks between #1 and wherever the Rams end up.

Some team may easily be very high on Ndamukong Suh, considering he is widely considered the #1 prospect in the draft. The Rams control with whom they trade picks, thus they could trade with a team with an established QB that is high on and wants Suh. They just would not be able to trade down too far, likely down to #8 or higher. Each team drafting ahead of Buffalo already has an established QB or has made free agency moves to get one (although Seattle is still risky to move past).

Let's say Tampa Bay REALLY wants Suh. They could trade up to the #1 pick to get him, probably not giving up much in the process (a 5th rounder?) and not even have to pay him much more than they would pay McCoy at #3. Meanwhile, unless a team traded with Detroit to get Bradford, he would still be there at #3, and at a slightly cheaper price.

Or, lets say that Kansas City decides they want Suh or Okung to fill their needs, so they trade down to get him. Again, unless a team trades with Detroit, Tampa or Washington, Bradford would still be there at #5 for the Rams to take. It would be VERY risky if they do truly want Bradford, but if they're not sold on him, then they could take the risk, and possibly reap major rewards through additional picks or by getting him much cheaper at a lower spot.

I'm just sayin'.

Rob H
Apr 06, 2010
01:06 PM

Darren, regarding the bills, wouldnt it make a lot more sense to trade up to select Clausen? 2 main reasons: the first is that there is a lot more tackle depth than quarterback depth in this draft, and also, buffalo sorely needs a quarterback. Tackles are nice, but their value is not nearly comparable to a quarterback...why buy an expensive alarm service if there's no house?

Apr 06, 2010
01:26 PM

Rob, it's a valid point, but I believe we should get the trenches straightened out first. I think there's a risk that at #9, we might miss out on one of the top 4 tackles. As for pick #41, Cam Thomas at NT would be ideal. Yes, Clausen might be the best available pick, but what do you do with him? Start him Week 1 with Demetrius Bell at LT? Okung is rock solid, can be our LT for 10 years (One Bills Drive must be prepared to pay him a boatload though). And I believe waiting on a QB is prudent. Start Fitzpatrick in 2010 and if he takes hits, so be it. He's tough, does what's asked of him (get the ball downfield, blocks for RBs),

We've heard about Gailey coaching up Kordell Stewart, Jay Fiedler, and Tyler Thigpen. Why can't he coach up Fitz? And with Okung or Bulaga at LT, a strong interior of Levitre, Hangartner, Wood, Cornell Green at RT I think he will be protected much better than last year. Trent Edwards had adequate time in the pocket in Weeks 1 and 2, before Butler went down. And speaking of Trent, I'd just as soon cut him and let him move on elsewhere. He's maintained his terrible attitude from last year (insulting columnist Jerry Sullivan during OTAs last week) and he lost the job to Fitzpatrick anyway. The two concussions (at least the one against the Cards in 08) have led to skittishness in the pocket that an NFL QB cannot afford.

Taking a look at some of the top young QBs as well as established veterans, it's clear that discretion when choosing a QB is the better part of valor. In the season immediately prior to selecting Matt Ryan, the Falcons Week 1 starter was Joey Harrington. Year before McNabb, Philly had the illustrious duo of Bobby Hoying and Koy Detmer. Dan Orlovsky and Jon Kitna preceded Matt Stafford. Tommy Maddox was the Steelers QB before Ben. Kyle Boller and an injured Steve McNair (RIP) led to Joe Flacco.

The 2011 NFL year may well have a rookie salary cap that makes taking a top QB more amenable to the front office. And better QB prospects to boot.

mark f
Apr 06, 2010
01:36 PM

I'm one of those that feel Tebow belongs with the Bills. If they could somehow manage Okung and Tebow-I know that it's easier said than done-I think it would bring some real dynamic to the Bills.

I'm a Pats fan and I miss the Bills being good. Those big games in impossible weather with the crazy fans in the driving sleet and snow. Temp 1 degree with wind all over everywhere.

They need a break in Buffalo. They're due to get lucky and I hope this the year for them.
Good for the league for a team with such spirit to rise again.

Brad James
Apr 06, 2010
01:38 PM

As a "Bradford" myself, it's nice to see a quarterback doing my name well. YES! The Rams absolutely need to take him. I told a friend of mine who's a Rams fan the other night that the football gods have been punishing them since they let Kurt Warner go so this is a way to make "penance" if you will. As for Brandon Marshall, if my Broncos want him back, I'll take him. We can still do well with him. Thanks again, Lombardi. ALMOST BUTLER!!!

Bill Bates 40
Apr 06, 2010
02:07 PM

To me, the biggest reason that the Rams should try and trade down is that this is probably the last year in which the top picks will get require a stupid amount of money to sign. No matter how good scouts think Bradford is, it is far from a certainty that he will end up being a franchise QB. I would much rather trade for a likely high number one next season and maybe a 2nd or 3rd this season to lay the foundation for the future instead of making the last huge gamble before a rookie salary scale takes effect. Mistakes on high first rounders are what have kept some of the lesser franchises (like the Rams) down in recent years.

Rob H
Apr 06, 2010
02:21 PM

Thanks for response Darren.

I would not start Clausen the first year. Let him learn the game and keep healthy. The thing is, even if you were to take Okung, you are unlikely to go anywhere with a great tackle and no qb this year anyhow (assuming Fitzpatrick is not the answer--I'm not sure about his upside but i haven't heard anyone suggest he's the long-term answer for them, despite Chan's coach-em-up potential. Also, I would hope my long-term answer at QB is better than Fiedler, Stewart, or Thigpen).

So I think if you can take Clausen, take him, sit him for a year and get your stud LT next year. Or, take an LT in the second round but stay conservative with Clausen either way.

Your list of all those qb's just supports this point. In each case you suggested a team that vastly improved after drafting a potential franchise QB. For what it's worth, I also don't think Tebow will be around at Buffalo's slot in the second round.

QBs are so important and in such high demand, that I think you have to go for them when you have the chance and wait on the other stuff. The chance may not come around again so soon.

Apr 06, 2010
02:36 PM

Yep, the Rams are keeping their options open. Obviously they'd be happy with a boatload in trade for the #1 pick, but if that doesn't work out they still get the top QB in the draft, whatever the dollar cost.

Apr 06, 2010
02:45 PM

I've got a few things.

First and foremost, Mike, I was really surprised when you said the 49ers got 8 starters out of the '86 draft so I had to look it up. A few of the players turned out to be average guys, but the fact that you were able to get 8 starters out the draft is amazing. Not to mention the fact that you were able to get Tom Rathman, John Taylor, Charles Haley, Steve Wallace and Kevin Fagan. That has to be one the most productive draft classes of all time for any team in the league.

Second thing, I'm not convinced the Rams are looking for a "boat load" in exchange for the top pick. I think BIll Bates 40 has a good point about this being the last year that rookies will get ridiculous amounts of money. I don't think it's such a horrible idea to scrape by for a year with a below average QB (possibly Feely) and avoid a 6 year multi-million dollar deal on an uproven rookie. Every year there seems to be a potential franchise QB. They can always go for another QB next year for probably half the money. Why push it this year and pay top dollar on a guy that not everyone thinks is hands down the best player in the draft.

That being said, I don't think the Rams can afford to let the top pick go for less than a boat load now that they released Bulger. There's no way they can justify cutting him loose if they don't get a decent replacement for him. Before Bugler was cut I would say a trade makes sense. But now that Bulger is gone, I don't think there's anyway they're moving down unless they only drop a few slots to get an additional second rounder and then go for Clausen.

Apr 06, 2010
03:00 PM

I went on a bit of a rant and perhaps did not see the forest through the trees. My point is that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the short-term solution for 2010 and only 2010. In 2011, target a QB. It would be clear to the entire NFL what the Bills would be doing. The risk of going back to Trent Edwards is...what if they go 9-7 and he's above average? Then you have a real conundrum on your hands.

I don't think the Bills have to solve every problem in this draft. Gailey and Nix have so many holes to fill that time is on their side, so long as the team is moving in the right direction. Trading up for the best LT in the draft is a bold move that can be "sold" to the fans.

My point with the list of QBs is that those teams were willing to sacrifice the short run for long-run success. They didn't panic and say, "oh we can't go into the season with Joey Harrington or Tommy Maddox. We've got to find somebody in this draft."

Apr 06, 2010
03:04 PM

Bill Bates,

We may disagree about Vick but you are on target here. St. L has a huge incentive to trade down, namely money. That's one reason they cut Bulger. Of course, that's the same reason other teams will be leery of the first pick. It's not like Suh or anyone else is a consensus All Pro either. Nice players who can come in and start, but at what price?

You're also right that the Redskins will be totally screwed if Detroit takes Okung, which is not beyond the realm of possibility. Their only out may be that some team will want to move up and grab Suh/McCoy.

I think Mike is delusional if he thinks the Redksins will ship a number one to Denver for Marshall. If they manage to trade down, that number one will go for a LT and whatever else they get may go for OL also. I keep saying there is an opening for a trade with Denver involving some combination of Campbell, Cooley and Moss. Fans would not like losing Cooley but Fred Davis emerged as a very good receiving TE last year.

Apr 06, 2010
09:58 PM

I have one question: how in the world did 'gets the ball downfield' and 'Ryan Fitzpatrick ever end up in the same paragraph?

titanium plate
Apr 06, 2010
11:06 PM

Penn actually playing pretty well I like him very much

The gritz blitz
Apr 07, 2010
10:30 AM

Hype the pick & trade down . Lombardi you have said before the Rams are the least talented team in the NFL. I think this falls under putting the cart before the horse . They need to try & get as much talent as possible in my opinion . The top pick for a player who was injured most of last season is a silly high risk financially & in building the franchise . They probably won't be able to trade down anyway but if they could they should pounce . I don't even think the other team should have to come that " heavy " . I think of when the Texans had the number one overall pick a few years back. Reggie Bush was the sexy pick but they took Mario Williams for less coin . I think that might be the way they should go . Maybe they trade for their qb like Houston did in landing Schaub . I really feel Suh is the pick here if they can't trade down . Its less risk & less money as well .

Apr 08, 2010
07:07 PM

Why not have the Rams trade for Jason Campbell, pick one if the tackles and take Colt McCoy in the 2nd?

The NFL Professor
Apr 09, 2010
11:12 PM

Lots of insights...well thought out by everyone!

Doesn't the draft make men crazy...NOT KNOWING??
I love it!
If Denver is able to get #1 draft status from say Seattle or swap picks with someone and give back a QB (QUINN or ORTON), that would be a good Day- McDaniels was high on Brandstater...then went and got Quinn, so...
Wait and see is the name of the game!
NFL Professor

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