St. Louis Rams GM Billy Devaney talks about the necessity of building a team through the draft at the 2011 NFL Combine
First and foremost, McCarthy talked about the importance of building through the draft. He noted that not only was the draft key for finding the marquee players like Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews, it's where they found depth. Players to take over for outbound free agents or injured starters.
Asked about teams like Green Bay and Pittsburgh that build and sustain through the draft, Devaney smiled. He went on to say:
Oh man, I love it. Is that awesome? I think both teams combined maybe had four starters that they got through free agency. The vast majority were draft picks, a couple of street free agents here and there, but those two organizations _ they've done it the way that everybody else aspires to do it. Putting it together with the foundation of hitting on their draft picks, and doing a great job keeping their guys.
Obviously, it's a subject close to Devaney's heart as his and Spagnuolo's mantra for rebuilding the Rams has been do make the draft their primary conduit for talent. Which isn't to say the Rams take a Colts-like approach to free agency and eschew it all together.
I know there were some disappointed fans last year when the Rams didn't sign Julius Peppers or Aaron Kampman or even Chester Taylor (how's the crow, those of you who wanted to pursue Taylor?). Devaney and Spags have supplemented, not supplanted, the roster with free agent adds. Sometimes that works out, like Fred Robbins & Na'il DIggs, and sometimes it doesn't, Hank Fraley & Kevin Dockery.
When and if free agency starts this year, it will be interesting to see what the Rams do. Dalliances with players like Vincent Jackson (though it would have been a trade) and conversations about players like Randy Moss and even Terrell Owens, show that they're willing to find an impact player through free agency now that the team has its core roster building blocks in place.