Getting caught up in the 2011 draft isn't going to be as different as one might suspect for Rams GM Billy Devaney this year — despite the fact that St. Louis will not be picking either No. 1 or No. 2 overall for the first time in three seasons.
"It really won't change," Devaney told PFW of the approach he and his personnel staff will take with the 14th overall pick in late April. "Obviously, the pool of players when we get down to that spot will be greater. But we'll do everything pretty much the same way."
One positive change, Devaney said with a laugh, will be not having to deal with all the people constantly asking him who he plans on taking with either the first or second pick.
"Poor Marty Hurney," Devaney said of the Panthers' GM whose team will be on the clock first in late April. "I sure won't mind being asked all the time what I'm going to do."
That said, there is one definite downside to moving to the middle of the draft pack — the fact that the Rams will not be drafting at the top of the second round, either.
Considering how well their last two high second-round picks have panned out — MLB James Laurinaitis, who was selected with the 35th overall pick in 2009, and OT Rodger Saffold, the 33rd overall pick in ’10 whose rock-solid rookie season as the starting left tackle was overshadowed by No. 1 pick Sam Bradford's outstanding rookie campaign — the Rams can't help but feel at least a slight letdown.
"Yeah, you make a good point," Devaney said, acknowledging a pair of second-round picks who appear to have netted first-round-type value in short order.
"Quite honestly, we thought we might be able to fill a greater need than the offensive line," Devaney said of Saffold's selection. "But the gap between Saffold and the next player we had on our board at that spot made the decision easy.
"It wasn't until a couple of weeks into training camp that we put him at left tackle, but from the moment he stepped into that position, he just looked like a natural. He had a great approach and was never overwhelmed at all."
Devaney said Laurinaitis is cut from the same cloth.
"He is everything you want in a player," Devaney said. "He is just all about football."