April 4, 2010

Roundtable: Who should be the top choice?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford worked out for NFL scouts on Monday. By all accounts, he had a great day and is No. 1 on some teams' draft boards. If you were in charge of the St. Louis Rams, who would you take with the No. 1 pick?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
The Rams should take Sam Bradford for several reasons. First, he's a gifted and accurate quarterback who could develop into a star in the NFL. Second, the Rams have drafted defensive linemen Chris Long and Adam Carriker in the first round in two of the past three years. So while DTs Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are tempting, it may not be smart to keep drafting for the same area. Rarely is a quarterback as talented as Bradford available. Imagine if the Rams pass up Bradford and he becomes a star elsewhere while they struggle at that position; that would be hard to live down. Bottom line, good quarterbacks are harder to find than good defensive linemen. Some might argue the Rams should pass up Bradford and take a quarterback in the second round. But if Bradford's the best available they should take him.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I would take Bradford. The Rams desperately need a franchise quarterback to energize their fan base, and teams aren't built around defensive tackles. Bradford is coming off an excellent pro day, further answering questions about the shoulder he hurt last season. Earlier, Bradford passed medical exams at the NFL Scouting Combine that showed his shoulder was OK. This is the same quarterback who many felt would have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft had he come out early. That sentiment shouldn't change a year later now that he appears healthy.

David Fox's answer:
Ndamukong Suh and Eric Berry probably are the best prospects in the draft, but there's a reason the Rams are drafting first. They have more important holes to fill than taking defensive tackles or safeties, especially after taking defensive linemen in the first round in 2007 and '08. The Rams need to take a quarterback first, despite the risks. Quarterbacks are such a guessing game to begin with in the draft, especially near the top. About half of the quarterbacks picked first since 1990 turned out to be busts. Sam Bradford probably isn't the safe pick the Mannings were, but even though he's coming off an injury, he's a safer pick than JaMarcus Russell and Alex Smith. He's also the only quarterback worth taking early in the first round. Those factors probably make him irresistible for the Rams.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
The Rams have had poor results from recent drafts -- their first-round picks from 2006, '07, '08 and '09 combined to make nine starts last season -- which makes this year's No. 1 pick more important than usual. To use a baseball term that everyone in St. Louis knows, the Rams must hit a home run with this pick. I would take Ndamukong Suh; you can put him in the middle of the defensive line for 10 years and not have to worry about it. But I think the Rams will take Bradford. They need a quarterback and he is the best available. Plus, taking a hot-shot quarterback at No. 1 will excite the fans; that's not necessarily the case when you take a lineman No. 1.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm not sure Bradford is the best overall player in this draft, but I do think he's the best fit for the Rams. Before Bradford started surging up draft boards the past few weeks, conventional wisdom suggested the top two players in the draft were Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. Both had great college careers and should develop into outstanding pros. The problem is that the Rams used first-round picks on defensive linemen in 2007 (Adam Carriker) and 2008 (Chris Long). They desperately need a quarterback of the future. Frankly, the Rams don't even really have a quarterback of the present. The Rams aren't going to get any better until they upgrade at quarterback. That means rolling the dice on Bradford, even if he isn't necessarily as much of a sure thing as Suh or McCoy.


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