Thursday, February 24, 2011

So Devaney is open to the possibility of trading down, aye?

As you know, I am long-time (forever) Ram-fan. Even when I have tried to quit, I have remained a Ram-fan. As such, I have now witnessed Billy Devaney orchistrate three complete drafts. Close Observation of Devaney's speach & actions during these past drafts has taught me that there are seven great lies in life. They are, in order:

1. We haven't decided who we are going to take with our first round pick yet.
2. The team will perform an unbiased mathematical evaluation of the key candidates, and the one with the highest grade will be our selection.
3. I am certainly open to the possibility of trading down to accumulate more picks.
4. Coach Spagnuolo will have a lot of input in the process.
5. We'll hold a committee vote just before we fly to New York. Majority rule.
6. The check is in the mail.
7. I promise not to cum in your mouth.

None of these statements are true. All are false.

The line of bullshit currently flowing out of Ram headquarters are a scripted set of sports cliches designed to prevent anyone in the media (or the league) from concluding that they are sure of what Devaney is planning to do.

The funny thing is that we always wind up knowing, somehow someway, just what Devaney is going to do in the 1st round of the draft. Three years ago, we knew Chris Long was going to be the choice at the #2 pick overall. I was certain of this for more than 3 weeks before the draft. Two years ago, we pretty well knew that Jason Smith was going to be the selection at the #2 pick. I was certain of this event for nearly two months before it happened.

Last year, Adam Schefter announced early-on that he would stake his professional rep on the 'fact' that Devaney would select Sam Bradford #1. We all should remember how that prediction turned out. Many of us long-term Ram-fans had good reason to believe it wouldn't happen. How could Schefter be so certain? Because Devaney told him so.

In each of the past three draft-seasons, Devaney performed a Broadway show tune, the lyrical theme of which praises how good it is to trade down the board and accumulate picks. Never once has he done it... at least in the first or second rounds. I believe the 'trade down' talk is just smoke and mirrors used to try to bolster his claim that he hasn't made up his mind, or that he isn't attached to any particular player.

Despite the trickeration, there are no surprises in the 1st round when Devaney is drafting high. Devaney turns out to be totally predictable, or he intentionally leaks his choice to key members of the media.

There is another fair conclusion that'ss ripe for the plucking: Devaney makes up his mind early, and then insists that he hasn't. If you are a fairly decisive guy who makes up his mind early, and doesn't change like the wind, why would you deny this fact? That's a good question. The draft is always full of misdirection, negative influence plays, subterfuge and deception. Most GMs don't want their competitors to know their draft plans. This means they can't tell you, the loyal fan, their draft plans either.

The funny thing is that Devaney turns right around and tells what he's going to do... indirectly. He usually does so through a chosen media member. There is something odd about a fellow who tells Adam Schefter he's going to take Sam Bradford, and then spends the rest of the draft cycle denying the very notion that he's made up his mind. It's not as if anyone could have snatched Bradford ahead of him in 2010 either.

In short, Devaney is a Pisces. He is a man of very interesting contradictions. He's like two fish lashed together at their tails, swimming in opposite directions against each other. There is the guy who says he wan't to trade down and never does it. There's the guy who makes up his mind early, and says he hasn't. There's the guy who doesn't want to tell you anything about his draft plan, and then there is also the guy who leaks his pick to Schefter. There is the GM who denies every report about his chosen player, and there is the GM who takes that very player on draft day.

Contradiction is the key word with Pisces. Contradiction is the key word with Billy Devaney.

So what are the actual facts about Devaney's draft behavior? A realistic summary of Devaney's draft patterns might look like this:

1. Devaney perpetually talks about trading down, and he never does it.

2. Devaney makes up his mind early, and he doesn't wavier, but he will deny it all the way.

3. He does not perform and unbiased mathematical evaluation of the key candidates to arrive at his choice... As if there were such a mythical beast in the first place.

4. Devaney makes a gut-level, instinctive choice based on what his eye-balls tell him about the key candidates.

5. The rest of the draft cycle consists of Devaney looking for key information that confirms his gut-level call.

6. The vote before the flight to New York is a strawpoll. It's only used to indicate how well Devaney has sold the rest of the organization on his choice.

7. Somewhere between 8 and 6 weeks prior to the draft, Devaney will leak his pick to some key member of the media.

8. He will continue to deny he's made up his mind, even after he puts out the leak.

I have just one caveat to add. All of these patters will be harder for Devaney to follow in 2011, given the Rams' draft position at slot #14. A lot of things can happen in those first 13 picks. Devaney can't be sure of what he is going to do this year, because it is impossible to know those first 13 picks ahead of us on draft day. In 2011, there will have to be a contingency plan. There can and will be surprises in those first 13 picks. It's unavoidable.