According to GM Billy Devaney, the St. Louis Rams do not plan to throw first overall pick Sam Bradford to the wolves right away. Instead, the Rams new quarterback will have to prove he's ready. How soon could that be?
The standard being offered for when Bradford will start for the Rams leaves plenty of wiggle room.
When he gives us the best chance to win, that's when he will play quarterback.
Timing is everything. A good showing in August could put Bradford in the running to start week one. Or, the Rams could go with A.J. Feeley out of the gate and hand the reigns over to Bradford later in the season.
The later is the most likely scenario. Last year, the Rams made OT Jason Smith, the second overall pick in the draft, fight for his starting job on the right side. Smith got the starting nod the week before the team's season opener in Seattle.
Given the duties of a QB, it's not unreasonable to think the Rams won't wait a little longer with this year's top pick. For one, they'll want to make sure the offensive line is able to pick up where they left off last year, before a rash of injuries took their toll. The Rams were very reluctant to hand the starting job over to Keith Null after Marc Bulger was lost for the season. Two weeks of Kyle Boller changed their mind, but even then Null still looked pretty raw.
Bradford comes from a competitive D1 school, having faced some of the toughest defenses in college football. He definitely brings with him a higher level of readiness for life in the NFL than other QBs. Something else to consider, is the team around him. We mentioned the offensive line above, and there's evidence that the Rams OL was a much better unit than injuries and the stat sheet would have you believe. Having Steven Jackson, who would still figure to be the Rams primary offensive weapon this year, gives a young QB some comfort too, especially if they run the play action. What kind of offensive playmakers the team adds over the course of this weekend and beyond will have some say in the matter as well.
Whether Bradfords starts the season under center (or in the shotgun) for the Rams adds an extra wrinkle to August training camp. The preseason never looked so good.