ST. LOUIS — The Rams' coaches, scouts and personnel men left Indianapolis loaded with copious notes, vital intelligence and varied impressions of some of the best and brightest talent on display at the NFL combine.
They are on the verge of another draft with another high first-round pick in their hands, and another 10 weeks to drive practically every serious St. Louis football fan mad with the countless possibilities of what they need to do next to turn this franchise into something worth shouting about.
Yes, between now and the first round on May 8, everyone will have an opinion about what general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher ought to do with the No. 2 pick, and we're all willing to dispense our advice for free. Here's mine.
No matter what they do, they can't go wrong with that valuable draft choice.
Orchestrate another flashy draft-day trade and you add even more value to your already potentially prosperous 2014 draft haul; keep it and you just might pick a future Pro Bowler.
There aren't too many 100 percent locks in the uncertain business of the pro football draft, but this is just about as close as it gets to a sure thing for the Rams. If I'm Fisher or Snead, I positively love my position. Sitting at No. 2, there's little pressure on them. Well, certainly not the sort of heat the poor Houston Texans are feeling right now as they hold the first overall pick and must listen to the howls of an impatient fan base that is practically begging them to pick a quarterback no matter what.
And by "no matter what," I mean, the crazed drum beat of the entire state of Texas to get them a gun-slingin' franchise QB, even if all that is available is a trio of passers who may or may not be actually worthy of the No.1 pick.
Here in St. Louis, the Rams might hear a few catcalls from a few overly obsessed Sam Bradford bashers, but for the most part, Rams fans here understand that Snead and Fisher have far more pressing needs - and the appropriate potential Pro Bowl talent available to help immediately.
Years from now, Rams fans may look back on this draft as the one that pushed the organization back into the elite class in the NFL. Sitting at No. 2, the Rams will have the opportunity to grab a monster, freak-of-nature defensive end (Jadeveon Clowney), a freak-of-nature offensive tackle who might be the next Larry Allen (Greg Robinson) or a game-breaking, world-class sprinter wideout (Sammy Watkins) who could be the next Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt.
And we haven't even talked about the possibilities of what could happen with the 13th pick in a first round that has a bounty of offensive tackles, wide receivers and defensive backs who could step in immediately and play.
Snead jokes that after asking his researchers to provide him with past draft history of teams with two high first-round picks, they came back with the rather stunning information that it is indeed possible to land two future Hall of Fame talents with first-round picks this high in a talent-rich draft. They told him of the Chicago Bears selecting Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers in 1965 and the Baltimore Ravens nabbing Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in 1996.
"No pressure at all," he jokes, "no pressure at all."
Now this is normally the time before the draft when your friendly neighborhood columnist begins his annual somewhat premature, but passionate man crush on a potential Rams first-round draft pick. This is just about the time when I go all in; it is a full-out infatuation, a crazed public campaign and allegiance to the newest shiny object on the horizon.
My love of flashy offensive players naturally makes me intoxicated by the idea of a receiver of Watkins' abilities or the dazzling possibilities of adding Clowney to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' war chest. But for the first time in ages, I am going to slow my roll and consider the less flashy, but decidedly gifted lure of an offensive tackle with the talent that Robinson, Jake Matthews or even Taylor Lewan could bring.
The Rams are on the verge of the most important draft in recent history. This is a draft that can put the team in a position to immediately close the gap on the two best teams in football ï¿½ the world champion Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers ï¿½ who unfortunately happen to be in the same division with the Rams.
To get to the playoffs, the Rams need to become one of the two best teams in the division.
How do they get better?
By being bold and smart and striking gold in this deep pool of talent.
If Houston goes for a QB, will Cleveland (sitting at No. 4) have the patience to wait to see if the passer they desire falls to them, or will they be willing to leapfrog the equally-QB needy Jaguars (No.3)? Imagine if the Rams could strike a deal with the Browns, who own the fourth, 26th and 35th picks? Imagine the tantalizing possibilities of dealing the No. 2 pick for two of those three precious picks the Browns own, which would give them potentially three first-round picks plus four of the top 44?
Oh, how tempting it must be to be in a position to have such an embarrassment of riches. I can't think of a better position to be in. No pressure. No pressure at all.