Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
An invigorating (by my standards) conversation with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. provided grounds to revisit recent items profiling NFC West general managers' draft tendencies. Steve and I started with Rams GM Billy Devaney and the offensive tackles his teams have drafted since he broke into the NFL with the Chargers in 1990.
The previous item featured the above chart and some initial thoughts. This followup item will combine what I know about the Rams with what Muench knows about the college prospects. I watched every game involving an NFC West team last season, charting thousands of plays along the way. Muench watched -- and he continues to watch -- the college propsects. The hope here is to combine what we know to better analyze how NFC West teams could and should proceed in the 2009 draft.
Steve and I thought the Rams, draft board permitting, might be wise to target offensive tackle in the first round, receiver in the second round and defensive tackle in the third round. We agreed that they would have to consider Matthew Stafford if available at No. 2, but that tackle would be the safer and more practical choice.
I'll share some thoughts from Steve, jotted down during the course of our conversation:
"If Jason Smith goes No. 1 to the Lions, the question becomes, can Eugene Monroe be that left tackle? I think Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith are way ahead of the Andre Smith and Michael Oher. I watched Andre Smith in the Florida and Kentucky games last year and I think he is a right tackle. I do not like him in the top 10 and I know a lot of people disagree, but that is how I see it.
"As far as Jason Smith going No. 1 and Eugene Monroe going No. 2, yeah, Monroe is that good of a prospect. He could go fourth to Seattle or sixth to Cincinnati.
"If you are the Rams, you go Jason Smith and then Eugene Monroe at No. 2, depending on who is available, and then you get the receiver in the second round, where the value will be better. They could go defensive tackle, too.
"If you don't believe Alex Barron can start at left tackle, then you have to take a tackle. With Bulger being banged up and with that big contract, you need someone to protect him. Aaron Curry does not make sense for them as much for that reason. When you have a quarterback making that kind of money and he is over 30 and has some injuries, the tackle probably becomes your guy.
"There are temptations to take Curry, a great value, and Stafford if he slips because he could be a great NFL quarterback. You can't strictly go on value. You have to take need into account. I would take a franchise tackle over a franchise quarterback nine out of 10 times. Just watching Jake Long last year, you see how much better he made the Dolphins."
"Devaney has put a premium on tackles. His teams took five of them 39th to 83rd. Even though we haven't seen him do it early, he hasn't had very many opportunities to do so [because the Chargers traded away first-round choices]."
The names we considered for the Rams at No. 2 included no surprises. That wasn't always the case when we discussed other NFC West teams' general managers and the options they face in the first round and beyond. I'll dive into some of those over the weekend.