I really should have just checked one of these for my predictions, because I clearly don't know what the hell I'm talking about.
I made two predictions yesterday, and neither one came true. I thought for sure the Rams would trade down. They did not. I saw them picking Corey Liuget, a defensive tackle. The didn't do that, either. The best I can say about my accuracy is at least I had them taking a player on the defensive line, which they did. So that's not so bad, right?
With their first-round pick, fourteenth overall, the Rams drafted Robert Quinn, a defensive end out of the University of North Carolina. Coming into the draft, Quinn was projected by most to be a top-ten pick, with some mocks having him going as high as No. 6 overall.
There are two reasons Quinn fell to where he did. First, he has a medical concern. Quinn was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor his senior year of high school. A player playing professional sports with a brain tumor is pretty much unprecedented, and has scared off at least a few teams. Second, the run on quarterbacks (thanks, lockout!), in the first twelve picks pushed Quinn and plenty of other players lower than their talent would normally dictate they be picked.
So how did the Rams do? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Quinn at fourteen was, frankly, a slam dunk. The Rams managed to add one of the most talented pass-rushers in the entire draft without having to trade away anything to move up and grab him. Honestly, the only defensive end in this class I would have rather had is Aldon Smith, who went to San Francisco seventh overall (much higher than I expected), and I admit it's possible I may be a little biased toward Smith as a Mizzou fan.
Note: In other Aldon Smith-related news, Aldon Smith, newest member of the San Francisco 49ers, is now dead to me. Sorry, Aldon, but you have officially become the enemy, and I will root for your utter humiliation and failure at every opportunity. Oh, and thanks for being so good at Missouri. Dick.
Adding Robert Quinn has the potential to take the Rams' pass rush from good to terrifying. Putting him across from Chris Long for the next five years or so gives the Rams a dynamic attack at the line of scrimmage, with Long's tenacity and motor the perfect complement for Quinn's explosive speed and athleticism. Even better for Quinn's long-term development, he won't be expected to step in and immediately assume starting responsibilities. The presence of George Selvie and James Hall on the roster should allow Quinn to be rotated in gradually and get acclimated to the pace of the NFL game. Hall, especially, should be able to offer Quinn the benefit of his years of experience playing the game at the highest level.
Personally, I'm hoping to see, at some point in the season, a full-on speed rush blitzing front, with Hall moving inside and Selvie, Long and Quinn all together on the same line. At least for a few plays.
Quinn's strengths are his speed, his athletic ability, and initial step. He's also still just twenty years old and has room to add some bulk to his frame. He's already strong, but has room to get even bigger and stronger in an NFL training program. He doesn't have a spin move as of yet, but has most other moves in his bag already.
The weaknesses are mostly health-related, though there is also the matter of him being suspended for the entire 2010 season after receiving gifts from a person affiliated with an agent. Still, it isn't exactly a criminal background, so the biggest concern has to be the brain tumor. Quinn receives periodic MRI scans to monitor the tumor, and while it didn't hamper him any in college, it still has to be somewhat of a concern.
For what it's worth (which probably isn't a whole lot), I'm ecstatic with the pick, and I think the Rams snagged one of the best deals of any team in the first round. Only time will tell, of course, but adding Quinn to an already potent defensive line has the potential to be a game-changer. The Rams are taking a calculated risk, the risk that his medical condition could crop up unexpectedly down the road somewhere and threaten his career. When weighed against his talent and the possible impact he could have, I personally feel it was a risk worth taking.