Biggs: Landscape at top of draft begins to form

The St. Louis Rams had the worst run defense in franchise history last season, and with the arrival of defensive-minded coach Steve Spagnuolo the thinking was that even if the talent wasn’t yet in place, his scheme alone would make a big difference.

Yet, the Rams stumble into Sunday’s game with the Chicago Bears on pace for the fourth-worst season in club history in terms of rushing defense, progress only in the smallest sense of the word. It could wind up positioning the Rams with the No. 1 pick in the draft after picking second each of the last two years. That would make Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy the perfect pick, right? Maybe. Consider the Rams have used a first-round pick on a defensive lineman four times in the last nine drafts. Chris Long, Adam Carriker, Jimmy Kennedy and Damione Lewis have all disappointed to varying degrees. Suh and McCoy rank Nos. 2 and 3 in the latest Super 30 by the National Football Post’s Wes Bunting.

As the playoff picture slowly forms, so does the landscape at the top of the 2010 draft. Let’s take a look at the teams in the running for No. 1 and what’s left for them. Cleveland, St. Louis and Tampa Bay all have one win with Detroit still in contention with two wins, one of them over the lowly Browns. Here is out it shakes out:

Cleveland (1-10). Remaining opponents: San Diego, Pittsburgh, at Kansas City, Oakland, Jacksonville.
Cumulative record of remaining opponents: 26-29.
Comment: Four home games for the Browns and meetings with the worst the AFC West has to offer gives Eric Mangini a chance to get on a real roll. OK, maybe not, but the Browns could avoid 1-15, right?

St. Louis (1-10). Remaining opponents: at Chicago, at Tennessee, Houston, at Arizona, San Francisco.
Cumulative record of remaining opponents: 30-25.
Comment: After Chris Johnson runs for 250 yards against the Rams next week, they’re really going to be in tatters. Steven Jackson has been a one-man gang on offense and he’s bound to slow down in the final month. If they don’t beat the Bears, where do they sneak a win against a slate of decent teams?

Tampa Bay (1-10). Remaining opponents: at Carolina, N.Y. Jets, at Seattle, at New Orleans, Atlanta.
Cumulative record of remaining opponents: 26-29.
Comment: The Bucs have been showing some fight and could get a win or two here down the stretch but Raheem Morris keeps making questionable decisions going all the way back to hiring his ex-coordinators.

Detroit (2-9). Remaining opponents: at Cincinnati, at Baltimore, Arizona, at San Francisco, Bears.
Cumulative record of remaining opponents: 30-25.
Comment: It’s going to take some inspired football by three really bad teams for the Lions to land in the No. 1 spot for the second straight year. Yeah, the Manginis would have to win two games and the Lions would have to be swept down the stretch, for starters. Sure, the Lions could be swept in the next five games but they’re very much a darkhorse for the final pick.

Stay tuned. The draft is only 141 days away.

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