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St. Louis Rams

Stadium: Edward Jones Dome | Coach: Jeff Fisher
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense8th104.0 (22nd)264.3 (9th)
Defense12th155.0 (29th)187.3 (3rd)

Rams feel fortunate they got Quinn

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Strategy And Personnel · Rams feel fortunate they got Quinn
 

He doesn't turn 21 until May 18 after entering the NFL draft with eligibility remaining. He didn't play during his senior season at North Carolina because of a violation of NCAA rules.

Finally, he has been playing since his senior year in high school with a benign brain tumor that is checked out every six months.

Don't accuse Rams general manager Billy Devaney of making safe picks anymore.

Devaney and the Rams made all the work they did on North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn pay off when they made him the 14th pick in the draft.

Said Devaney, "We certainly spent a lot of time evaluating Robert Quinn, but as we got closer to the draft, we thought it would be great if he was there. We didn't really think there would be much of a chance to be there at 14. We had a good group of guys right up to the end, a pool of players that we would have been happy with. It was kind of like (Rodger) Saffold was last year, quite honestly. The grade we had on Quinn was significantly higher than the other players in the pool, so it wound up being a really easy decision."

Quinn was one of the 19 players that visited the team recently and both Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo said he made a strong impact on everyone".

"Everybody really liked him," Devaney said. "He made a great impression with the people in the building and it just seems like a real good fit, so we're thrilled to have the guy."

While Spagnuolo has a defensive background, when he was asked about his desire to pick a pass rusher, he said, "We all know that this league ... everybody does. He was one of those guys that fell in that group. He's a great kid. Like Billy said, we had him two weeks ago and we kind of meshed pretty well, so we were very fortunate when we saw that he was there."

The tumor, which is the size of about a dime, was discovered during his senior year in high school when he was acting strange and in one incident made a wrong turn while driving home. The tumor was blocking the spinal cavity and fluid would build up causing swelling in the brain.

Surgery to remove the tumor was ruled out because it was too close to the spinal column.

Said Devaney, "Obviously, our doctors spent a lot of time researching and talking to experts and talking to people at Chapel Hill. He's never had any problem when he was at North Carolina. They discovered this when he was in high school and he's played with it and our doctors, as we called around the league, the majority of the teams were comfortable with his condition also."

He is checked every six months to ensure there has been no accumulation of fluid.

Meanwhile, Quinn and two teammates were suspended for the 2010 season for receiving improper benefits from an agent.

In Quinn's case, the NCAA said he received two diamond watches, a pair of matching earrings and travel to Miami worth more than $5,600. He also initially lied to NCAA investigators.

Said Spagnuolo, "He did make a mistake. All of the research, everybody you talked to, it was out of character for him. I sat down with him, of course we talked about that. I felt very comfortable with the response. This is a kid that's from a great family and a quality upbringing. He's a quality guy there. We all make mistakes, he made one. He knows he's paid for it a little and he's ready to move on."

Asked if there were additional background checks necessary, Devaney said. "You really didn't have to. Once you started delving into the kid, you found out exactly what happened. Like Steve said, it was a mistake. He fessed up to it. Honestly, when you're around this guy, you'll see what kind of guy he is. He's the furthest thing from a criminal, thug, bad kid, nothing like that at all. He made a rookie mistake, a dumb college mistake, and he paid the price for it."

Spagnuolo wanted to talk mostly about what Quinn is capable of doing on the field.

Noting his ability as a pass rusher, Spagnuolo said, "Like all these young guys that are speed guys, that's kind of what they've made their name on. He's going to have to learn how to be a six-technique and hold up against the run. There are some pretty good tight ends in the league.

"But he's got a good coach coaching him (defensive line coach) Brendan Daly. I think he's got guys around him, especially guys like (defensive end) James Hall who has been in the league a long time and can help him out. I'm just anxious to see him grow as a football player."

Asked about knocking the rust off after missing last season, Spagnuolo said, "It's going to take a little while. I think any young guy takes a little while, depending on the position. But I think we're fortunate in that we do have some defensive ends that can help him out. He's got a little bit of time and when he's ready to go, he'll be thrown in there. But we just think the quality of the player was ... we were very fortunate to get."

The Rams were also impressed that after the suspension, Quinn stayed around the team while his suspended teammates didn't.

"He was at Chapel Hill, and that was one of the things that came back when we talked to the people there," Devaney said. "There were some guys there that fell into the same category that they really didn't see. Robert was one that was in the weight room every day. They said the guy loves football. He's passionate about football. He wants to be a great player, and he stayed around the program the whole year."

Finally, Devaney joked that Quinn is the second consecutive first-round pick the Rams have made that barely played their final college season. Quarterback Sam Bradford missed most of his final season at Oklahoma because of a shoulder injury.

He said, "I promise at one point, if we're here long enough, we're going to take a player in the first round that plays their current year in college. It worked out last year, it didn't really seem to affect that guy, so we don't expect it to affect this guy."

There were two distinct themes evident in the variety of players the Rams selected over the three days of the this year's draft.

One was simply a continuation of the type of players that have been identified since Steve Spagnuolo was hired as head coach in 2009.

Spagnuolo has talked often of wanting smart, tough and passionate players that care about winning.

Leadership, too," Spagnuolo said after the team had picked its eight players. "We put a high price on that."

Several of the players were team captains. Read any of the draft analysts, and most of the additions were described as tough and competitive. It is how the roster has been built.

The other intent was acquiring weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford and finding the kind of players new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels prefers. That was the clear in rounds two through four when the Rams selected tight end Lance Kendricks and wide receivers Austin Pettis and Greg Salas.

All were productive and versatile and should be able to help McDaniels as he spreads the field and tries to take advantage of mismatches.

BEST PICK

Defensive end Robert Quinn: There were several possibilities, but Quinn stands out because of what he should bring to the pass rush. Explosive off the edge, he will have to overcome some rust after not playing last season, but he should team with Chris Long to give the Rams excellent bookends for a long time.

COULD SURPRISE

Linebacker Jabara Williams: A sideline-to-sideline player that is a tackling machine. He was a four-year starter, but likely lasted because he weighs only 223 pounds and was at 210 last season.

A closer look at the Rams' picks:

Round 1/14 - Robert Quinn, DE, 6-4, 265, North Carolina

An explosive burst off the edge should allow Quinn to contribute immediately to the team's pass rush. He is considered raw and also could be rusty after not playing last season.

Round 2/47 - Lance Kendricks, TE, 6-3, 243, Wisconsin

A versatile player that can be utilized in a variety of roles, Kendricks averaged 15.4 yards per reception last season. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should find numerous ways to get him involved in the offense.

Round 3/78 - Austin Pettis, WR, 6-3, 209, Boise State

A smart player that can play all three receiver spots, Pettis has great hands and should give the Rams a serious threat in the red zone. He holds the school record with 39 career touchdown catches.

Round 4/112 - Greg Salas, WR, 6-1, 210, Hawaii

Had stratospheric production in Hawaii's pass-happy offense with 225 receptions the last two seasons for 3,479 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Round 5/158 - Jermale Hines, S, 6-1, 210, Ohio State

Tough player who will mix it up and play the run. Should be able to contribute playing near the line of scrimmage in run defense.

Round 7/216 - Mikail Baker, CB, 6-0, 200, Baylor

Spent six years at Baylor because of injuries, and switched to cornerback from receiver. Played well last season coming back from ACL surgery, and has 4.42 speed and great athleticism. Can return kicks.

Round 7/228 - Jabara Williams, LB, 6-2, 223, Stephen F. Austin

Smart player and could possibly compete at weak-side linebacker where the Rams had four different starters last season. At the very least, he will be a core special teams player.

Round 7/229 - Jonathan Nelson, 5-10, 197, Oklahoma

Has his best season in 2010. Solid production, but not fast enough to be a corner and small for a safety.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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