Handicapping the Rams QB race

Despite a career's worth of sacks, broken ribs, and all the injuries St. Louis Rams QB Marc Bulger has had to deal with in just the last few seasons, I'm kind of surprised that we just took it for granted that Bulger would be under center for the Rams all season. Ok, so there's no need to panic at this point. It is just a slightly broken pinkie finger costing him a few weeks of preseason play; doomsday scenarios might be a bit premature. Now, fans, coaches, and pundits will have a good chance to see what kind of QBs the Rams have behind Bulger as the backups take center stage over the next several weeks.

Kyle Boller

The Rams signed Kyle Boller after their dalliance with Gus Frerotte washed out like a bad prom date. That might have worked out for the best, as the 38-year-old Frerotte conjured memories of what happened to the Rams last aging backup QB. A first round pick in 2003 out of California, Boller is an experienced starter who played for a run-first team where offense was never the top priority. Boller missed the 2008 seasons because of a shoulder injury. His career got off to a bumpy start, and he was injured nine games into his rookie season (against the Rams no less). He started all 16 games of his sophomore season. He was injured in the opener of his third season, though came back for a 58% completion rate and 1700+ yards. The Ravens brought in McNair and made him the starter for the '06 and '07 seasons. Boller saw significant time in relief of the oft-injured McNair.

Pros: Boller has the prototypical look of a QB. On top of that, he is no stranger to a starting role, having started 42 games with the Ravens. During his time in Baltimore, he quarterbacked a run-first offense. It was also an offense that relied heavily on a tight end, Todd Heap, and the running backs had reception totals close to the totals for receivers. So, the Rams 2009 offense shouldn't be a huge leap for him. Boller also has a great arm and can get some distance and velocity on his throws. But...

Cons: He's struggled with accuracy in the past, throwing deep balls well away from receivers chugging downfield. He's also faced plenty of criticism for his judgment, particularly in the red zone. He did have some memorable games, though, including a Monday night nail-biter against the Patriots in 2007 and some fine work in relief of McNair. Another knock against Boller is his injury history, which includes a concussion and turf toe, of all things.

Last word: Boller showed progress with the Ravens, but it can be argued that  the funky QB situation there, particularly with McNair brought in, set him back. He should have some maturity to go with his on-field skills now, and he has received the chance to resurrect his career and cash-in at the end of the season.

Brock Berlin

This could be Berlin's third season and the Rams third QB. He had one start in 2007, throwing one INT and no TDs.

Pros: He has some mobility, probably more than any other QB on the roster, and that could help him salvage more than a few bad plays and beat out a sack or two. He also has a nice sidearm throw that will be useful throwing short passes in traffic.

Cons: Berlin was never known for his accuracy, in college or the pros. His size is also a concern.

Last word: Berlin has an uphill climb to keep a roster spot. The Rams don't have much invested in him either as an undrafted holdover from the last regime. No offense to the guy, but if the Rams have to start him it will be a long season.

Keith Null

A sixth round pick in this year's draft, the front office people and scouts liked what they saw in the D-II product. He passed for a gazillion yards at West Texas A&M and it got him noticed.

Pros: Small school or not, he has a great college track record for accuracy and results. Starting just two seasons, Null threw for more than 9,000 yards and completed more than 67% of his passes. Two passes, including a TD, made a memorable impression on Rams fans in last week's preseason game against the Jets. By all accounts, he reads defenses well and knows when to throw the check down. At 6'6" 222 lbs, Null has the size you like to see in a QB.

Cons: Those are some impressive college numbers, but he didn't pick them up in the SEC. Can he throw the long ball with enough velocity to connect? Impressive or not, Null is still a rookie, and that usually means he will need time to adjust to this level.

Last word: One of the more intriguing guys on the roster, especially after his debut game last week. Null will get an serious opportunity to prove himself with Bulger on the bench for a couple weeks. If he gets a shot with the first team during that time, it will be interesting to see what he does with it.

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