One thing that's irked me about the NFL draft in recent years is the trend toward having the top pick signed to a contract before the official start of the draft. It's a drama-sucking practice that shouldn't be allowed.
With the Rams on the clock first this year, it's looking like we won't have to worry about that. Whoever it is they select — Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are all still in play — the Rams are comfortable with not having a contract in place just yet.
For that, I politely applaud the Rams. It might not be the best thing for them, but it's better for me as a viewer. The NFL draft, even more than it is a giant meeting for distributing college football players, is a television program. It's marketed, promoted and sold as such, and this year, has been moved to Thursday night for that very purpose.
So if it's packaged as entertainment, why strip away all suspense from what should be its most memorable moment? If the top pick is already a done deal, then it's also easier to figure out picks two through five. It's like announcing that the Rams will be down 17-0 at the end of the first quarter, 12 hours prior to kickoff. We sort of had an idea that would happen, but why not let us watch and see for ourselves?
I say leave that suspense there. It takes interminably long for teams to make their picks, even if they already know who they're taking, so why not leave some suspense and intrigue in place, just as a favor to those of us watching at home?
It should be a rule, but that's not what's happening here. It's just that the Rams aren't all that concerned about it. But worry not, Rams fan. It's not that they don't care, it's just that whoever they pick, they know about what the contract will be, so they see no reason to rush things.
Rams VP of football operations, Kevin Demoff explains (via Jim Thomas at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch):
"There's a misconception out there that we're just twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the pick [on Thursday]," Demoff said. "But we've done our homework. We talked to these guys at the combine. We've talked to them all again since the combine.
"So I have a sense of where all the numbers would come in and what everybody's asking for. So it's not as if we haven't given this any thought. We're doing the proper due diligence before the draft. We'll know when we take someone kind of what their [contract] expectations are."
Tremendous. Win for the Rams, win for draft fans. Not having the first pick signed and delivered pre-draft might be the best thing the Rams have done for fans in years.