Morning Ram-blings: The Quinn effect

It's no secret that the St. Louis Rams don't "need" a defensive end to add to the mix for the 2014 season. Ends Chris Long, William Hayes and Eugene Sims provide plenty of production from the position.

And, as NFL columnist Ashley Fox points out in her Thursday piece, the Rams have the great fortune of employing Robert Quinn as the team's primary pass-rusher from the position.

Quinn was all everything in 2013, earning Pro Bowl and All Pro honors as he led a pass rush that was once again one of the best in the league. Quinn is under contract for 2014 and the Rams have a fifth-year option to pick up in the near future that qualifies as something of a no-brainer. With the franchise tag, the Rams could theoretically control Quinn's rights for the next three years for a reasonable price without having to break the bank.

Without question, Quinn factors as one of the most important pieces of the Rams' future. With the aforementioned quartet in place, it would appear that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is far from a need for the Rams and he isn't.

But there's also a bigger picture that needs to be examined, too. Quinn and Clowney don't have to be mutually exclusive nor do the Rams view them that way. The long-term future is less certain and one could argue that when the team has to pay Quinn in the next couple of years, it might be prohibitive to have Quinn and Long's contracts on the books at the same time. That could make Clowney a cheaper alternative to pair with Quinn for the long haul.

More important, though, the Rams need game-changing football players. Quinn is the only proven one on the roster right now. If they believe Clowney could be one, too, then there's not much harm in adding him even if he just so happens to play the same position.

It's unlikely the Rams will have a chance to draft Clowney as he seems poised to go to Houston at No. 1 overall. But if he is on the board at No. 2, the Clowney case could serve as an ideal referendum on the age old best player available versus drafting for need conundrum.


A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we began the day with a look at the emerging need around the league for bigger, more physical cornerbacks. ... Next, we continued our look at the Rams' salary cap with a breakdown of how they are allocating funds on the defense. ... Upon the release of ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s fourth mock draft, we took a look at how that mock would work for the Rams.

Chat: After a one week hiatus, the Rams chat returns today at 1 p.m. ET. You can submit questions at this link or join when we go live.


A direct linkInsider to Kiper's fourth mock draft with the warning that it's an Insider piece.

Because I'm sure you haven't had your fill of Chad Johnson news, here's the breakdown on his signing with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.

Stltoday.com says the Rams' radio rights will remain on 101 ESPN in St. Louis for the next few years.

NFL.com's Gil Brandt says the Rams are one of five teams with a lot on the line in this year's draft.

From ProFootballTalk: More speculation on a possible deal between the Rams and Lions for the No. 2 pick.