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INDIANAPOLIS — Rams GM Billy Devaney doesn't mind owning the No. 1 over draft pick this year. But he doesn't want to be in the same position 12 months from now.
"Everybody knows we have the first pick in the draft coming up," Devaney said as he addressed reporters during the NFL Scouting Combine Friday morning. "I certainly hope this time next year when we get together we're not talking about the first pick in the draft, I really hope we're not talking about the first pick in the draft next year."
As to what to do with the top pick, Devaney noted that there remains an enormous amount of research and scouting left to do. The Rams are focusing on four players — Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, North Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy — as potential candidates to select first overall.
"I think there's something like 50-something days until we draft, until we're officially on the clock," Devaney said. "But it really seems like we've got a long way to go until we come to this decision. We're still in the information-gathering stage. This Combine is going to go a long way to answer some of those questions. The candidates, I think we pretty much know who the potential candidates are. There's still a lot of information that we need to get on some of these guys."
Devaney humorously addressed a bold report by ESPN's Adam Schefter that asserts there is no way the Rams won't draft Bradford next April.
"Well, you know what, that took a lot of pressure off of us right away. When Dr. Schefter cleared him medically …" Devaney joked. "We feel really good about the health status of Sam Bradford now with Dr. Schefter giving him a clean bill of health and guaranteeing our pick. We're on to the second round right now."
As for the prospect of passing on one of the quarterbacks and taking a defensive tackle at the top of Round One, something that hasn't been done since Dan Wilkinson was drafted first by the Bengals in 1994, Devaney said he has no qualms about making such a choice.
"When you get unique players that you deem difference makers, I don't think it makes any difference in what position that they play," Devaney said. "We may be wrong, but we think these two kids that we're talking about (Suh and McCoy) are really difference makers and they impact the game, so them being defensive tackles doesn't bother us at all. … If they would have come out five years ago, we would have been talking about them as the first pick. We think they're unique players."
But Suh and McCoy are not so different in terms of which one deserves to come off the board first. Devaney indicated that he's hopeful that one proves better than the other at some point in the next six weeks.
"Oh, man, we're hoping, somehow, there's separation, because right now, in our eyes, there isn't any," Devaney said. "They're both great players. They're going to be great players. They're great character guys. They both love playing football. I hope something happens where there is separation, but right now in our eyes, there isn't."
Devaney was asked whether he is disappointed that the top QB prospects — including Bradford and Clausen — won't be working out during the Combine.
"It's not worth getting frustrated over," Devaney said. "Some of these guys, it's legit. Physically, they can't work out. You've just got to roll with it. We'll see them work out before the draft. But I will say this: You'd love to see them work out. But for a quarterback here, it's not the greatest environment to show what they got. So, there's no sense freaking out about it. It is what it is. We'll get to see them throw eventually."
He elaborated on the difficulties that a passer faces when going through all the drills in front of scouts in Indianapolis.
"They're throwing to receivers they've never worked with before," Devaney noted. "They go to the pro days they'll have, and it's structured, it's organized, they're throwing to receivers that they know a lot about. They're throwing routes here that maybe they haven't thrown in college. And it's hard to get in a groove. You throw three balls and then you go to the end of the line and you wait for your turn to come again. You throw three balls and then you stand around. That's the best we can do, but it does make it hard for a quarterback."
Devaney said that it is important for teams to be flexible in determining their top needs at this point in the offseason, given that free agency has not started.
"We're sitting here right now thinking we need A, B and C," Devaney said. "If we sign a guy a couple weeks from now at the position, it might alter your draft strategy a little bit."
As the Rams continue doing their due diligence on the top prospects, especially at the top of the draft, Devaney did not rule out moving down in an effort to acquire more picks, something this 1-15 team could use, although he has not yet had conversations with teams interested in moving up.
"There haven't been any phone calls to any team whatsoever," he said. "Eventually that will happen, but it's too early."
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