The wildcard in the hunt for the next Rams quarterback

prospective Rams owner Shahid Khan

John Clayton put on his “business of football” hat and wrote a pretty compelling argument on ESPN about why the Rams will take a quarterback first overall — without distinguishing between Bradford or Clausen. It’s not about football, says Clayton, it’s about money — specifically, top-3 money. (Well, it’s a little bit about football, as Clayton points to a few top-three picks on the defensive line and their failure to single-handedly turn around the teams that drafted them.)

This argument is interesting in the abstract, but it’s not abstract money that’s being spent here. It’s Shahid Khan’s money — or at least, it will be, if the NFL approves his deal to purchase the team in May. How does Khan want his money spent, in this inaugural draft? That’s the wildcard.

According to league sources, Khan was passing through St. Louis and wanted to meet the Rams’ football braintrust. The meeting was fairly brief, and apparently was just an introductory/get-to-know-you session. In other words, it’s not as if Khan told the Rams who to take with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

— Around The Horns: “Khan meets with Spags, Devaney, Demoff

While Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch was relatively sanguine about this meeting, I can think of no more important topic of conversation than this first pick — not necessarily from a player perspective, but from a philosophical perspective. Is Khan, a reported “long-time fan” of the Rams, going to be a hands-on owner in the Mark Cuban/Daniel Snyder/George Steinbrenner mode? Does he have a cadre of football guys and yes-men that he wants to bring into the picture? Or is he willing to play “hands-off” and let the braintrust of Spagnuolo, Devaney and Demoff do their work? We don’t know much about Khan yet, but Mike Sando dug up some intriguing notes from a lecture he gave several years ago. In his speech, he took parts of the classic work, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and melded it into his philosophy for running a business.

  • Never destroy the market while capturing it.
  • Play to your competitor’s weakness.
  • Keep information to yourself.
  • Make strategic alliances to maximize strength.
  • Get the maximum potential from your employees.

If we take this first point at face value, it seems that Khan will be an inclusive leader, willing to incorporate the thoughts of the football men that are already on the job, rather than arriving with a mission to gut-rehab the inner working of the Rams. It also seems as though Khan is more than happy to let Devaney sow seeds of doubt about who the Rams have their eye on, or who Khan himself favors, if anyone. Recent tweets today show he is more than up for the task:

GM Billy Devaney just finished Combine media tour. Acknowledged that Bradford, Clausen, Suh, McCoy top contenders for No. 1 pick.
Rams GM Billy Devaney says even a defensive tackle can be face of franchise. Also, so can a qb… #suh #bradford #mccoy #combine
Devaney on Suh vs. McCoy: “We are hoping that somehow there is separation (between the two). Right now in our eyes, there isn’t any.”
Doug Farrar
Rams GM Billy DeVaney on Adam Schefter’s clainm that STL will take Bradford: “I’m glad Dr. Schefter has cleared him.”
Devaney also reiterated no trade talks yet about the #1 pick. Also no talks with PHI about any of their players (Vick)
Word on the street at the NFL Combine is that it’s Bradford all the way for the Rams. Misinformation? Maybe. #NFLCombine