The St. Louis Rams were beneficiaries of a surprisingly early run on quarterbacks and a massive class of defensive ends and tackles, but NFL Draft grades don’t operate on a curve, and the Rams are earning major plaudits for their selection of Robert Quinn with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Quinn is a great example of a player falling in the draft for reasons that are often difficult to connect to his future productivity as an NFL player. He’s an outstanding pass rusher and a great physical talent who fell to No. 14 not because of his skills but because a garden-variety shady transaction with an agent caused him to forfeit his remaining NCAA eligibility. Shady transactions are symptomatic as much of a corrupt and outmoded NCAA structure as they are Robert Quinn; it’s difficult to say that accepting money for football stardom makes Quinn unique among his NFL Draft peers.
As for his benign brain tumor, it comes down to how much trust you can put in the St. Louis Rams doctors who cleared him. I’m not a doctor; I have no reason to doubt their prowess, and while a brain tumor is certainly a terrifying thing, it’s something that has to be treated, on football terms, like any other potential injury problem. Right now there’s no indication that Quinn’s brain is anywhere near as bad, for instance, as Danario Alexander’s knee.
No pick is a sure thing, but the Rams managed to get themselves a potential Pro Bowler, a Top Five talent, in the middle of the first round. That’s a major coup, and, for SB Nation St. Louis, a solid A.