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St. Louis Rams Still Weighing Options at NFL Combine

Ron Clements@Ron_ClementsCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 13: Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams looks on against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 13, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Rams 47-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A day after Billy Devaney talked about Sam Bradford's shoulder, St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said he agrees with his general manager "100 percent."

Devaney said Friday here at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Rams would use the health evaluation from the Combine along with the Rams team doctors, and a third "independent" physician to determine if the Oklahoma quarterback's surgically-repaired shoulder is at full strength.

"That shoulder is a concern, but nowadays, with what they're doing medically, every player is hopeful he can bounce back and be OK," Spagnuolo said Saturday morning at the Combine.

The Rams coach enters his second season able to fully participate in the draft process, something he was unable to do a year ago when he was still assembling his staff.

"This is always exciting to be here for coaches and scouts," Spagnuolo said. "This very important with the draft coming up. We're sitting in an important spot."

That spot is No. 1 overall in April's draft, when the Rams are expected to either select one of the draft's top two defensive tackles, or one of the premier quarterbacks.

Bradford and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen are at the top of most quarterback lists, although Bradford seems to be the player the Rams are centering on.

Spagnuolo and the Rams brass met with Bradford Saturday night, but the coach wouldn't tip his hat as to which way the organization is leaning. His background as a defensive coach won't impact the team's decision.

"We all get labeled, but when you sit in this particular seat I'm blessed to be in, you have to look at the whole team," Spagnuolo said, referring to his role as the head coach. "We'll take the best player."

The top two defensive tackles are Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh. Along with Bradford, both are at the center of the top pick discussion.

"They're two great football players, who are going to be great in this league," Spagnuolo said of Suh and McCoy. "You have to talk about a dominant defensive tackle, somebody who changes games, schemes, gives offensive coordinators in the running game and passing game a bit of a headache. That kind of describes both of those guys."

Some draftniks have touted McCoy as more of a pass rusher and Suh a run stuffer, despite his 12 sacks from the interior last season at Nebraska. Spagnuolo said that perception comes from the defensive systems they played in college.

"McCoy's defensive was structured that way, where he was a gap-penetrating tackle," Spagnuolo said. "Nebraska's defense is more of a read tackle. That's about the only difference, just the techniques they were taught. They're both quality players."

Spagnuolo also addressed the tight ends, specifically Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham and Arizona's Rob Gronkowski. Selecting a tight end is an option for the Rams to start the second round. A quarterback like Colt McCoy of Texas or Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour is also a possibility should the Rams select Suh or Gerald McCoy with the top overall pick.

Spagnuolo said he has not yet evaluated the quarterbacks past Bradford or Clausen, and said trading down to stockpile picks is also a possibility.

"If it's the right thing to do," Spagnuolo said. "Nobody's stuck on saying we wouldn't trade down. That's always a possibility.

"The nice thing about being in this position is that we have a lot of options."

One option that has not emerged is a potential trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for Michael Vick.

"I have not had any conversations with the Philadelphia people," Spagnuolo said. "Zero."

If the Rams stand pat at No. 1, the defensive tackles seem to be the safe bet - with questions surrounding Bradford's durability and Clausen's leadership ability. But Spagnuolo said no player is a sure thing.

"You take a defensive lineman, a corner, it's all a risk," Spagnuolo said. "None of us know for sure. It's a calculated risk. You do all your homework, and hope that when it's all said and done, the pick you make is the best one for your football team.

"It'll be digging, digging, digging for as much information on those players that we possibly can and hope that you make a good decision. We'll do it as a group to make that final decision."

This article can also be found with audio at The Alton Telegraph .

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