The NFL lockout is ending soon, real soon. And that means teams can get back to the business of preparing for the 2011 NFL season. Just as important, we fans can get back to the business of preparing ourselves for the season. To get back up to speed, TST grinding out our annual roster review, taking a look at where the St. Louis Rams stand on the eve of free agency and camp.
Yesterday, we looked at the offensive line, a subject of much debate recently with needed upgrades to the interior line, particularly in the area of run blocking. Now, we turn to a much more settled but no less interesting position for the Rams: quarterback.
So what really is there to say about the Rams' situation at QB? Plenty.
Sam Bradford - No need to revisit the first overall pick's record setting rookie season that earned him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. What can Bradford do in his second season is the only story that matters now.
Billy Devaney did not draft one of the two top tier wide receivers available in April. He couldn't have done so without trading up, and quite frankly, there was no need. Good quarterbacks can make their receivers better. Returning players like Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery give Bradford a far more diverse group of targets than he had last year. Add to that a couple draft picks in Austin Pettis and Greg Salas who can catch the ball and have shown some ability to separate from defenders. Perhaps even more notable was the addition of Wisconsin TE Lance Kendricks, who has the ability to give the Rams a player who can create mismatches for the defense.
A more important addition for Bradford was the hiring of Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. McDaniels brings a long track record of success with quarterbacks, as well as one for making dynamic offenses. It was McDaniels who campaigned inside the Rams draft room to pick Kendricks, over other players with higher draft grades, because Kendricks pairs well with Bradford's ability to manipulate the offense between the huddle and the line of scrimmage.
One of the more annoying stories of the offseason and lockout has been the hand wringing about whether or not Bradford can learn a new offense in just his second season in the league. Gifted with a frighteningly accurate arm, Bradford possess an acumen for the game that stands makes his ceiling so high. Yes, he can learn a new playbook.
I expect Bradford to have a very, very good season this year.
A.J. Feeley - Many expected Feeley to start early last season, but it turned out he never saw a single snap of game action. His role was mentoring a young Bradford in the ways of the NFL, part of a team that deserves much credit for bringing Bradford along last year.
Feeley has enough experience to be an adequate replacement should the Rams not have Bradford for a game or two. Should the worst happen and he play for an extended period of time he's not the kind of player that would steal a game on his own. However, with a strong defense the Rams could still compete. This is his last year under contract with the Rams. I would expect them to have a different backup next year just because you have a different offensive coordinator than the one who brought Feeley over to the team. They'll also have much higher expectations on them and need to have as sure a thing as possible behind Bradford.
Thaddeus Lewis - An undrafted rookie free agent from Duke, I liked watching Lewis play in the preseason games. He was 22 for 28 against the other third stringers last August. Don't be surprised if another QB gets brought in via UDFA as a camp body, even possibly getting the edge over Lewis under a new offensive coordinator. Such is the life of a third string quarterback. Mocking the Draft has a look at some of the most viable names among UDFAs for QBs.
Brick top has a look at the cornerbacks coming later today.