The Rams had to be jumping for joy every time a quarterback's name was called -- four times in the first 12 picks -- in the opening hour of the 2011 draft. Because every time we heard names like Locker and Ponder and Gabbert, it meant that a top-tier defensive talent was going to fall. And with both Robert Quinn and Nick Fairley available and only one team ahead of the Rams, it made their decision all too easy.
Rams received calls to move up an down, but chose to stay pat as Quinn and others on their board still available.
In Quinn, the Rams receive a top-five player as ranked on New Era Scouting's big board, among many others. Among other honors, they tab Quinn as the "best potential" among this year's defensive ends, the "best in five years," and the "first Pro Bowler." With Spagnuolo and Ken Flajole pointing the way, that could happen sooner than anyone expected. Analysis after the break:
Here's how New Era Scouting summarizes Quinn's skillset:
- Pass rush: Is very good at getting his shoulder down, bending his knees and working around the outside. Lined up at every game in 2009 at right end, which is impressive for a sophomore.
- Pursuit: Isn’t just a straight forward pass rusher. Doesn’t look stiff in the hips and is flexible in the torso. Plays with a lot of effort, so pursuit isn’t a question.
- Run defense: Outstanding short area quickness that helps him fire through to the tackle. However, Quinn needs to get stronger to better handle the run. Is better working the edge instead of standing his ground and driving his legs.
- Strength: Possesses decent strength. Consistently jolts blockers with his first hand move. Sheds blocks especially well with an arm swipe. Still developing in this area and has the frame to get much stronger.
- Tackling: Explosive on contact. Better tackling in the open field than most college defensive ends. Does a nice job of sinking his hips and firing through the ball carrier. Gives a great effort at all times.
- Technique: Quinn gets so much pressure because of his leverage and hand usage. He does really well dipping to the outside and quickly disengaging.
And here's how fellow Rams defensive end Chris Long characterizes the pick:
Robert Quinn welcome to st louis, pass rush pass rush
In a quick poll both via our live blog and via Twitter, Rams fans were aglow at this pick. Only one "B" grade among the bunch. And friendly rivals from the Texans and Seattle offered their contragulations .. with definite notes of envy.
The first round selections by our NFC West rivals showed a definite "Sam Bradford factor" with Arizona taking CB Patrick Peterson in hopes of shutting down half the field, and San Francisco taking Aldon Smith in hopes of terrorizing the St Louis backfield. In response, the Rams have developed the most fearsome defensive line in a division that still has only one quarterback in it... and he's ours.
There were some negative concerns with Quinn that had to be overcome: there is a brain tumor that was diagnosed in high school, but has not prevented Quinn from continuing to excel in multiple sports (he's a collegiate wrestling champion in addition to his gridiron achievements); and Quinn's 2010 season was forfeit in the UNC agent-player contact scandal. But neither was enough to trip the sensitive "Four Pillars" or medical evaluations of the cautious Rams War Room.
Still only 20 years old and with plenty of room to grow both physically and tecnhically, Quinn could help dominate here for years to come. You have to love it.