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St. Louis will determine whether the Redskins can draft the top QB

Even if the Washington Redskins want to draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the fourth-overall pick in April, they might not have that option. The St. Louis Rams hold the first pick in the draft, and the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense last season could significantly benefit from adding Bradford to replace 32-year-old Marc Bulger.

So the Redskins are very much at the mercy of St. Louis if they want to take a quarterback. (Detroit and Tampa Bay pick second and third, respectively, but they are already grooming highly-drafted, young quarterbacks.) I guess that’s the downside of being the fourth-worst team in the NFL instead of dead last.

Rams general manager Billy Devaney revealed yesterday here at the combine that the franchise is considering four players for the No. 1 overall pick: Bradford, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

Devaney gushed over Suh and McCoy–who are widely believed to be the top two players in the draft–and openly weighed the possibility of drafting one of those two with the team’s need for a stud quarterback.

“You can’t force the issue,” Devaney said. “At some point, we need to address the quarterback situation. We’re still doing that, that’s ongoing. We’ve got Marc still under contract. He’s part of the Rams. We’ve got to go through free agency. We’ve got to see what guys are going to be out there. The status of the draft class. And then make a decision.

“If it gets down to we think the defensive tackles–these two kids are far and away the highest-rated players in the draft–you can’t force it and say, hey, we’ve got to get a quarterback and drop way down on your value. But that’s what we’re trying to figure out right now.”

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo spoke to reporters this morning and faced many similar questions. His background as a defensive coach would seemingly propel him toward drafting Suh or McCoy, but he downplayed that notion. He realizes his offense needs a lot of work.

One of the interesting issues the Rams face is how to compare a defensive tackle and a quarterback. The two positions are so different.

Spagnuolo explained the Rams’ evaluation process using an impressive run-on sentence.

“You evaluate each player, and you rank them and put where you think he would fall or where the value would be round-wise and try not to get into comparing him to another position, lay out the draft board like everybody set it and stick with your draft board,” he said.

It’s worth noting that a defensive tackle hasn’t been drafted first-overall since Dan Wilkinson in 1994. Devaney admitted that it’s a bit tougher to sell fans a defensive tackle as the top pick instead of a quarterback, but he’s not concerned.

“When you need players that you deem difference makers, I don’t think it makes any difference what position they play,” Devaney said. “We may be wrong, but we think these two kids (Suh and McCoy) that we’re talking about are difference-makers and they impact the game.”

Another consideration is how comfortable the Rams are in drafting a quarterback first and then throwing him into the starting lineup right away. Spagnuolo said he’s most comfortable with easing a rookie quarterback in and giving him a chance to learn, so perhaps the Rams will draft Bradford and let him sit for a year behind Bulger.

The Rams won’t publicize their decision anytime soon, though. The Redskins will just have to wait.


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