Thursday, January 21, 2010

Suh Seems Headed for St. Louis

Reports are starting to come in that the St. Louis Rams are absolutely going to take Ndamukong Suh with the first overall pick in this April's NFL draft. The news soothes those scouts and talent evaluators who feared that the Rams might make the wrong decision and draft a quarterback this year, despite having the first overall draft picks in a draft consisting of the most sure-thing defensive player in over twenty years.

Before I get into why it only makes sense for the Rams to draft Suh, let me first state that I totally agree that the Rams have a desperate need at the quarterback position. In today's NFL it's impossible to win without a solid quarterback, but it's also almost impossible for a young quarterback to get behind center in an already bad offense and succeed.

Take the two quarterbacks drafted in the first round this year. Mark Sanchez inherited a relatively successful team from the season before and was able to get plenty of protection and learn the game while not having to be the team MVP. Matthew Stafford on the other hand, had to get injured and end his season just to get his team a win against the Browns.

See what I mean?

The Rams offense is in no position to put a 23 year old kid under center and expect him to succeed. The only thing starting a rookie could do for the Rams is set the franchise back another five years... if they're lucky.

The 2010 Rams are lucky though; Lucky because the 2010 draft is loaded with a lot of quarterbacks, all of whom are projects in one way or another. Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford are the consensus one and two quarterbacks on draft boards, neither of which comes without questions surrounding their ability to start in 2010. Chances are these two quarterbacks will end up in Washington and Buffalo if a team doesn't trade down to acquire them. In either case, the franchises that land these two players will be better suited to start a rookie at QB than the Rams.

The Rams have a unique opportunity though. In 2007 they drafted Chris Long to play defensive end. Though Long hasn't been the lights out pass rusher they expected him to be, he has still done very well with relatively little support, on a team that plays from behind most of the time. Last year the Rams drafted James Laurinaitis at linebacker. As a rookie Laurinaitis performed incredibly well, picking up tackles at a Patrick Willis-like pace.

Adding Ndamukong Suh to this defense would solidify the Rams identity as a defensive minded team, and with Steve Spagnuolo as their head coach it only makes sense to go in that direction. Suh's numbers will probably never be Reggie White-like, but that's because he's a DT not a DE. His presence will absolutely enhance Chris Long's ability to get in on more plays.

If the Rams defense can take the next step next year, and offensive tackle Jason Smith can develop into an elite level tackle, the Rams will be ready to take a rookie quarterback in 2011, or make a move at a free agent. Under any circumstance, adding Suh gives the Rams the opportunity to be the defensively dominant team of the 2010's that they were never close to being in the 00's.

And I suppose that's why they'd hire someone like Steve Spagnuolo and not Mike Martz.

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