Predictions are a tricky thing this time of year. The information you get one minute is contradicted by another report just a few minutes later. Whether or not the St. Louis Rams are/will try to negotiate a contract with Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, widely assumed to be the Rams' choice for the first overall pick, is the current example of contradictory rumors.
Let's set aside all that for minute, and take a look at the possibilities for the Rams if they don't go with Bradford with the first pick in the draft. Something that's still a possibility, whether or not the trade whispers carry much water.
No Bradford means the Rams enter the season with A.J. Feeley, Keith Null and Mike Reilly as their quarterbacks, which would be fine if the team is looking to go from 1 win to zero in 2010. Marc Bulger is gone, released as the franchise starts to turn the page and begin a new chapter. Null and Reilly are both projects, talented guys who need plenty of development before they're ready to be signal callers at the NFL level. Feeley is the epitome of a backup, and he hasn't played since 2007. The Rams need a quarterback, so if they don't draft Bradford what will they do for 2010?
Though you may have forgotten about it in all the Bradford talk, the Rams still consider Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen a potential top pick in the draft. If this Cleveland trade did come to fruition, then it's very possible the Rams could pick Clausen...or trade down again to some other team looking to secure their own QB of the future. The Rams would have to value Clausen similarly to how they value Bradford to make this move. They'd save money on the contract by trading down, but how steep is the drop off?
Draft analyst Rob Rang talked a lot about the Rams having Colt McCoy ranked pretty highly internally as part of the conversation about Cleveland trading up for the first pick. Maybe they really do value McCoy pretty highly. The question I have if they go this route is how far away is McCoy from being able to handle starting duties? He's a spread QB too, remember, but isn't quite as complete of a package as Bradford. Does Feeley start a full season?
Though the free agent market for QBs was pretty weak (not that it's ever very good), there are still a few options currently occupying space on some rosters out there. The most notable example is Jason Campbell, who the Redskins would certainly take offers for later this week. I'm sure there are other trade options out there but nothing comes to mind immediately after Campbell...that's telling. Many of the options wouldn't be much better than Marc Bulger. Why would they go that route if they could have just hung onto Bulger for another season? A trade with the Browns could throw in either Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme...how exciting is that?
Draft a QB in the later rounds
Very unlikely. Adding a third developmental QB to the roster just doesn't make much sense.
The most viable options here are Colt McCoy or trading for Jason Campbell. One gives the Rams a young QB to build around, the other gives them a decent stopgap solution, delaying the inevitable.
Rumors and innuendo about the first overall pick will continue fill the air until Thursday night. What will not change is how much the Rams need a franchise QB. If the Rams have McCoy graded as highly as Bradford, or pretty close, then that's the only way they can legitimately make a trade. The talking heads can say whatever, I'm still convinced that the Rams will be drafting Sam Bradford.