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The Curious Case of the #1 Pick

I've had a question that's been rattling around my brain for awhile on what the Rams should do with the #1 pick. More specifically: who should they pick? Disregarding trading down, the Rams ultimately have two options. They can either draft their quarterback of the future (most likely Sam Bradford, less likely Jimmy Clausen) or a new and shiny defensive tackle (Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy) to go along with that old, dinged-up one (Adam Carriker).

Whoever is graced as the #1 pick will almost certainly be the new highest paid player in the league. Which is a daunting idea in itself. Do the Rams draft a player based on the possibility of "more upside" (Sam Bradford or Gerald McCoy) or do they go with a player who is a more "pro-ready" player (Jimmy Clausen or Ndamukong Suh)? This 'conventional wisdom' people speak of has been strongly suggesting the earlier of the two. In fact, everyone and their mother has the Rams drafting Sam Bradford in about a month (everyone also had Kansas winning March Madness, but that's a totally different story...I'm also smiling because I have Syracuse and Kentucky in the final, but most likely picked the wrong team to win it all, especially after Syracuse spanked Gonzaga).

Let's first go over the DT's, since nobody seems to care about them anymore (damn you Adam Schefter!!). On one side, you have Ndamukong Suh, and on the other, Gerald McCoy. There isn't any point in going over stats, it has been done countless times before. Regardless of whether you agree or not, the notion of picking one over the other is ultimately a difference in drafting philosophy. Ndamukong Suh is thought to be more of a pro-ready prospect, someone who can play almost anywhere on the defensive line and do it well, from day one. People knock his pass rushing technique. I'd up the ante even further; while it hasn't really been said, I'd think that the Gerald McCoy lovers think this is reminiscent of 2008 (Dorsey vs. Long), where there were some hesitations because Chris Long "peaked" in college (that he didn't have as much upside as Dorsey did). As for those who prefer the House of Spears, Gerald McCoy may have better technique, or more upside, but upside doesn't win games, production does. You can have all the upside in the world (Gholston, JPP, all eyes are on you), but that simply doesn't mean squat in the NFL.

The same goes for the two QB's. Mostly everyone on this site knows what I think about Jimmy Clausen. He's not perfect, but he's experienced. He had a hell of a junior year. He didn't come from a spread offense. He didn't have a good offensive line, and had to deal with a ton of injuries to the players around him. If that last one isn't a dead ringer for the Rams, I don't know what is. But then a curious thing happened- everyone remembered that other guy, Sam Bradford, and said, wait a minute! He's in the draft!? and down Jimmy Clausen went. He isn't even considered anymore as the top pick. 3k has him going 4th, but I've seen him go as low as 30th. All because Sam Bradford has more "upside". That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure is dangerous. Bradford has taken snaps under center, and any QB worth his salt (or worth 40 million guaranteed) could sure learn. But the facts are facts. He came from a spread offense. He's had major injuries. He has first round talent around him. Those aren't bad things, and you can't knock him for the players the team put around him. But what happens when he changes systems? What happens when he joins the Rams, devoid of talent? He's the better athlete, he's more prototypical in size, according to the "experts" at least. But the NFL is going to be very different, and success in college doesn't mean success in the NFL (Tim Tebow).

Quite simply: are the Rams making a mistake by drafting for upside (supposing that they do listen to everyone)? It's a tough call. It could either work out and everyone is happy or the entire Rams coaching staff and front office gets fired. Jimmy Clausen and Ndamukong Suh would probably have a bigger impact on next season then Sam Bradford and Gerald McCoy. One has been dominant all year in the trenches, the other put up insane numbers in a west coast system. But the other two players could be better down the road. It's that damn "upside".

So what is your call? Do the Rams draft based on upside or not?

P.S. I'm not saying that Sam Bradford and Gerald McCoy will have better careers, only that people believe they can be elite players. Ndamukong Suh and Jimmy Clausen seem to have dropped in the rankings and on draft boards because they don't have as much "upside", even though they had phenomenal seasons.