The rumor that surface this morning - that the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have discussed swapping first round picks - makes lots of sense given what little we do know about the Rams draft board and preferences this year.
First of all, the Rams are said to have DT Ndamukong Suh atop their draft board, considering him the best overall player in the draft. Secondly, we do know that they would like to draft a QB as well, having flirted rather seriously with the notion of taking Mark Sanchez last year but not able to get a deal to move down a few spots and not hesitant to overall value Sanchez with the second overall pick. That tells us that Devaney et al stay fairly true to their draft board and player valuations, and indicates that they might be hesitant to use their first overall pick on QBs Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen. Using the most recent examples, let's compare what kind of deal a QB picked first and third might demand in the way of a contract.
Matt Ryan was drafted third overall in 2008. In late May of that year he signed a six-year, $66 million contract with $34.75 million guaranteed.
Last year's first overall pick, Matt Stafford, signed a six-year, $72 million contract with $41.75 million guaranteed.
It's not a perfect comparison because things like contract values change every year, but the jump from 2008 to 2009 isn't too big of a leap for this example. That's seven million dollars difference, which doesn't seem like a lot when you're thinking about such big numbers to start with. Consider this, the Rams paid Oshiomogho Atogwe $6.34 million using the franchise tag last year. The franchise tag made him one of the 10 highest paid players at his position, safety. That gives you some context as to what seven million dollars potentially means for a franchise scrambling to fill lots and lots of needs.
Now, lots of things could change between now and April. Stafford's rise up the draft boards came late in the game, very late. If Bradford looks like he did during his 2008 season when he works out for scouts on March 25 and his health checks out, it's hard not to imagine him as a legitimate first overall pick. If Jimmy Clausen puts to rest questions about his maturity, blows the door off his team interviews and looks sharp at his work out, he'll be in a similar situation as Bradford, solidifying his place in the conversation of potential top picks.