Monday, May 9, 2011

No One Really Knows

By Howard Balzer

Since there isn't very much to talk about in the NFL aside from the 
draft (except for counting the days until three judges hold a hearing 
here in St. Louis on June 3), the debate in these parts over what the 
Rams did last week is at times somewhat comical.

How so? Very simple. Those whose perspective is usually negative about 
just about anything spend their time this way:

*Ripping the Rams for what they didn't do in the draft;

*Ripping the Rams for what they did do in the draft;

*Selectively picking out only those analysts whose opinions match their 
agenda, while conveniently overlooking any that had positive things to 

*Labeling anyone locally that tries to explain in rational thought what 
the Rams were thinking as apologists.

Of course, many in that crowd were the same ones that thought the Rams 
were idiots last year for drafting quarterback Sam Bradford instead of 
defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

And yet, they never learn. The goal seemingly is to be as irrational as 
possible, while dismissing any potentially rational arguments from the 
other side.

There is no gray area, only absolutes, as if there is no possible chance 
the Rams actually know what they are doing.

Here is what is usually missed by the hammering crowd: In the analysis I 
have presented since the draft, I have never given a grade, never come 
out and said this was a great or even good draft. The reason for that is 
obvious: I don't know if it is. The rippers think they know, but they 
don't. No one knows, certainly not now, and no one will know until at 
least two or three years down the road.

All I've done is attempt to explain why the Rams did what they did and 
show that it made sense, provided the players are who they think they 
are. Those from "the other side" can't even bring themselves to even 
acknowledge that possibility.

At the end of the day, that is the essence of the draft. The players' 
performance will determine its success or failure, and no 
day-after-the-draft grade will have any bearing on the end result.

Grading a draft immediately would be like a teacher giving an exam to a 
class, collecting the papers, and then giving grades without looking at 
the tests with the result based only on what the teacher thinks each 
student has done.

All anyone has to do is go back a few years and check out some draft 
grades and quickly see what a useless exercise it is. Yet, most everyone 
continues to do it.

Judging character

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo continues to be guided by his "four pillars" 
approach even though some like to take pot shots any time there is the 
slightest slip by a player.

Defensive end Robert Quinn misses his senior season because he accepted 
jewelry and travel accommodations from an agent, and the four pillars 
critics pounce, apparently believing the Rams didn't check him out 

Cornerback Bradley Fletcher had a DUI in college, the Rams investigated 
fully and determined he was a quality person that used bad judgment. 
It's patterns of behavior and persistent examples of irresponsibility 
that teams like the Rams look at before deciding whether to invest a 
draft pick.

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