By Craig Phelps
St. Louis, MO- The St. Louis Ram’s rolled the dice on a recovering Sam Bradford in the NFL Draft last year and they received a large payback in the form of a standout rookie quarterback. The Rams are hoping to hit the jackpot for the second time in two years with their selection of Robert Quinn as the 14 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
With questions still surrounding the NFL Lockout situation and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reading each pick under a hail storm of boos from fans, the Defensive End from North Carolina was having the best moment of his life. Quinn has been facing a brain tumor; he is 20 years of age.
“Obviously our doctors spent a lot of time researching and talking to experts and talking to people at Chapel Hill. He’s never had any problem when he was at North Carolina. They discovered this when he was in high school and he’s played with it…” said Ram’s GM Billy Devaney.
Quinn has somehow found the strength to put this behind him. “They asked about the tumor and asked me where it was at and I told them where it was at and everything was put behind and we just got back to football,” said the 6’4”, 265lbs Quinn. “I get check-ups about every six months to be on the safe side, but every time since my first check-up to the last check up – I’ve been cleared every time.”
That’s not to say that Quinn has not been without his fair share of problems. While he is widely considered a steal at number 14, Quinn missed his entire last season of College Football because of NCAA Violations.
Chris Long’s new partner along the defensive line was found guilty for accepting $5,642 in illegal benefits that include jewelry, and travel accommodations.
“He did make a mistake. All of the research, everybody you talked to, it was out of character for him. I sat down with him, of course we talked about that. I felt very comfortable with the response,” said Rams Head Coach Steve Spagunolo. “This is a kid that’s from a great family and a quality upbringing. He’s a quality guy there. We all make mistakes, he made one. He knows he’s paid for it a little and he’s ready to move on.”
Quinn recorded 35 tackles, 17 assists, 11 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles during his sophomore year and was widely considered to be a high round draft pick had he entered the draft. He decided to stand tall and accept his 1-year suspension while supporting his teammates at the risk of lowering his draft stock.
“It was real tough. I got to practice…I was practicing and hopefully you know, it felt like I was going to eventually be cleared. Missing games and not being able to help my teammates was heartbreaking, but now I have to put that behind me…” said Quinn.
The Ram’s 14 overall pick seems eager to throw on a jersey and get back on the field, “I don’t think I’m too far off and football’s football. I mean the game hasn’t changed. I mean the basics are still going to be there and just like anything else, practice is going to make perfect or perfect practice makes perfect.” As for why Robert Quinn falling in the draft, Devaney has just one opinion on the matter. “He can’t have a beer with us,” laughs Devaney about the 20 year old first round draft pick.
Quinn recorded at least one sack in six of thirteen games during his last year of eligibility; he recorded two or more sacks in three of these games.