Devaney, Spagnuolo Discuss 2009 Draft

Rams GM Billy Devaney and Coach Steve Spagnuolo talked Sunday after the Draft about WR Brooks Foster, RB Chris Ogbonnaya's assets, what attracted them to QB Keith Null, how much of a need they have for a veteran wide receiver, and if there's anything that they weren't able to accomplish with this draft.

Final Draft Press Conference
General Manager Billy Devaney and Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo
April 26, 2009

(Billy Devaney Opening Statement)
"We sent in our last pick a couple minutes ago, the running back from Texas, Chris Ogbonnaya. And we're finished. Right now the scouts and coaches are upstairs starting to get free agency organized and getting cards lined up on what positions and who the priority guys are to go after. I think since the last time we talked, we drafted the quarterback from West Texas (A&M), Keith Null, and Brooks Foster from North Carolina. They were needs. They were good players that were on the board at the time. Like we talked about earlier, as you get down in the draft everybody's board kind of starts falling apart. And you probably start reaching a little bit to fill a need, but you try to stay close within grade. If the guy's a 5.4 and the other one's a 5.3 and the 5.3 guy  position that you haven't addressed and is in need, it's easy to take the 5.3 guy. What we don't do is if a guy's 5.4 and the other guy's 4.9 you don't jump down that far. These guys all have a chance. They'll be given a chance to come in and compete for a job."

(On WR Brooks Foster)
Spagnuolo: "He's a big wideout for us. He was productive there (North Carolina). Of course, there were other guys on that team. We feel fortunate he was there when we picked him"
Devaney: "They had two first round players. Now (Brandon) Tate, I forget where Tate went, I don't think it was in the first round, but it's more because of injury. If he wasn't hurt he probably would have gone probably before Nicks went. So to be the third receiver on a team with two first-round picks that's nothing to be ashamed of."

(On what he sees as RB Chris Ogbonnaya's assets and if he was formerly a receiver)
Devaney: "Yeah, he was. He's a physical, slashing runner. (running backs coach) ‘Sly' (Sylvester Croom) had him down as a guy at some point. I mean he started in at about the fifth round to campaign for him. He'll fit what we're trying to do. A downhill, power kind of guy."

(On what attracted him to QB Keith Null)
Devaney: "The scouts. Steve Kazor was in there on the school call. He (Null) played in the Cactus Bowl, (offensive coordinator) Pat Shurmur was there, Dick Daniels was there and they were all like this guy's got size, he's got arm strength. He moves around pretty good. Not a great athlete, but has slide ability. He's a smart guy, all those things."

(On what separates Null from a QB like Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell)
Devaney: "I kept asking that as we started talking. Not how does he compare to Graham Harrell, but why is this guy at West Texas A&M and there wasn't any reason. He was overlooked coming out of high school and went to a place where they were going to throw the ball around a lot. I don't know why he winds up at West Texas and Graham Harrell winds up at Texas Tech. I don't know how those kinds of things happen."

(On if Null has good arm strength)
Devaney: "Really good arm strength. He had a heck of a game at the Cactus Bowl. Trying to measure him against better competition, it's not the Senior Bowl, but it's still pretty good, draftable players and he had a heck of a game."
(Spagnuolo) "He was one of those guys that in the room, everybody, coaches, scouts, really liked."

(On what separated Null from other potential quarterbacks left to draft)
Spagnuolo: "I think at that time he stuck out as the guy, quarterback-wise."

(On if there's anything that they weren't able to accomplish with this draft)
Devaney: "I don't think so because we didn't come in over the last couple days saying we have to have or this is what we really have to have coming out of this. We're just hell-bent, as we said before, bringing in many good players that were going to be part of this process. It wasn't a case where we have to have one receiver, we have to have a quarterback, we have to take a tackle. It wasn't anything like that at all. So, we're like 31 other teams, we're pleased with the way it went. We missed on some guys, it never goes perfect. You get close to some guys and they get taken and you get (ticked) off, but that happens. It didn't happen that often. I think for the most part it went according to plan and overall we're really happy. Now we have to see if these guys can play, if we were right in our evaluation."

(On if he talked to QB Ryan Leaf)
Devaney: "No, I did not talk to Ryan. I don't want to say you can't hold it against the guy, but Ryan was there. Who knows, maybe Ryan did a good job or worked with him for awhile. I don't know, but it wasn't a positive for him, but we certainly didn't hold it against him that Ryan was there. It was kind of weird the way it worked out though."

(On QB Keith Null)
Spagnuolo: "I think we look at the talent. The guy's a quarterback, he's got size and he can throw the football and he's got some feet and you go from there. There's all different kinds of systems. Everybody tags names to them, but the quarterback in any system has to do certain things and we saw those in this guy and that's why we decided to take him."

(On how much of a need they have for a veteran wide receiver)
Spagnuolo: "We have some good quality guys there now with the trade with Atlanta and the young guys we have here. I don't think anybody feels a strong need to run out and get a veteran guy. If it happens that'd be great, if not I think we're ok."

(Devaney on if some of the players they took in later rounds are high risk and could be ‘boom or bust' prospects)
"Not even talking about these players in particular, when you get down into the fourth, fifth, sixth round, let's face it, at that point, all of those have some warts on them. There's a reason why they're down into fifth, sixth, seventh round type of guys. So at that point, you're looking for redeemable qualities – high, weight, speed, super production, toughness, those kinds of things – knowing that they're lacking in some area. Did you say a third-round guy? (Bradley Fletcher) played really well this year, played well in the East-West game. He was outstanding so it was like we took a flier on a height, weight, speed guy. We really think that he's a good, solid football player."

(Devaney on how a guy like Oklahoma G Duke Robinson who was rated so highly going into the draft can fall as far as he did)
"There's a lot of times, and you know this, that there's guys that are there and people say, ‘How can they pass a guy like (him)?' And I'm not using him now. I'm talking in general terms. Honestly, believe it or not, we probably are more privy to information than people on the outside albeit medical, be it character, be it a whole bunch of things. So if you see a guy sliding that people kind of think that he's going to go (earlier), there's usually a reason for it. And it usually doesn't have to do about ability. There's other reasons."

(Devaney on when Robinson was there?)
"And I'm not even talking about that guy. I'm just talking about in general when fans kind of say, ‘Well, so-and-so was on the board in the third round and you passed him up?' Well you know, there was a reason why. There was something up with the guy."

(Spagnuolo on if the draft process this weekend went as anticipated)
"I thought it was really smooth. We had the little mock operation on Friday. We were ready to go. Billy's staff, and I said this before, did a great job. They put together a wealth of information and knowledge and we used all of it in these 48 hours. I thought things went pretty smooth."

(Spagnuolo on what is he looking for out of the rookie free agents and if there is a type of player he is looking for)
"There's a little bit of filling some slots right now, need-wise. We're putting together a roster and there's certain spots where we didn't get guys in the draft or haven't in the past couple of months. So we'll have to fill some roster spots. There's a little bit of that."

(Devaney on if he will keep his eye on some veteran free agents)
"Regardless of position, if there is somebody that comes free between now and training camp, we'll shift gears. After the college guys are signed, then we start focusing on and go back to the pro personnel side again and just start watching the waiver wires and go through it. Say a team took two receivers, one in the first round and one in the fourth round, well that means that those guys are going to be on the team. Two receivers that were on that team last year are probably going to be let go. So we kind of go through everybody's roster, handicap where they are going to have excess and start watching those guys. This process goes on all year-round."

(Devaney on what the highest-rated undrafted free agents become after the draft)
"They become the priority free agents. When you get down to the last guys at the bottom, I think our cut-off is 5.0, there's a bunch of 5.0 guys up there and then you have your free agent board. Well, those 5.0 guys become your priority free agents."

(Devaney on what surprised him in the draft)
"Didn't it seem kind of boring to y'all? I can't really think of anything. There were surprise picks but other than that, not really."

(On how close the Rams were to moving up or down in the draft)
Devaney: "Not really. We got calls."
Spagnuolo: "But nothing solid."

(On possible leadership qualities in QB Keith Null)
Spagnuolo: "The scouts had a pretty good feeling on him."
Devaney: "Did you talk to the guy? When (Scout Steve) Kazor was giving us his opinion, I said, ‘Bottom-line, give it to us one more time.' And he started talking about how he can throw, his feet are great and all this. Great kid, great family, all this and that and he wants to be a minister when he finishes playing. Well, okay. That sounds pretty safe, I hope."

(Devaney on Null's comment about not having any Division 1 offers being a ‘God thing')
"God had a funny sense of humor putting him with Ryan Leaf."

(On if they plan to bring in Charly Martin)
Devaney: "A package deal."
Spagnuolo: "We're working on him right now."


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