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 say; *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 thoroughly. 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.