Quick meets the major criteria for a breakout player: 1) second season, 2) drafted highly, 3) moves up the depth chart because of free agent departures at his position ... it's all there. Chris Burke at SI.com picked the Rams' second-year wideout as one of his breakout candidates this year.
Quick currently holds a starting job in St. Louis, despite catching a mere 11 balls last season and the franchise nabbing both Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in the draft. If nothing else, the Rams' commitment to improving their passing attack should play to Quick's benefit - as could the arrivals of Austin and tight end Jared Cook, both players capable of drawing a defense's attention, thereby freeing up more space outside for Quick.
Right now, we're all kind of guessing what the offense will look like. Obviously, we saw some of it last year, but there should be plenty of new wrinkles considering the personnel additions this year.
Ideally, Quick moves into the role previously occupied by Brandon Gibson. His one distinction over the rest of the group is his size. Only Austin Pettis measures up in that department, but Quick's raw skills give him an advantage.
The question I have is one of just how many targets Quick will get. All the noise coming out of OTAs so far says that Tavon Austin and Jared Cook will be Sam Bradford's top two targets. The competition for the other receiver snaps is shaping up to be one of the most interesting, important battles in training camp this year.
Chris Givens has a hold on one of the starting jobs, rightfully so. He got better as his rookie season went along, and deserves his current place on the depth chart. Givens stretches the field too, both on deep routes and by extending short and intermediate ones. Wherever he's catching the ball, it's fewer passes to go around for the guys below Austin, Cook and Givens.
Pettis could surprise, but his struggles against press make it hard to believe that he will threaten Quick's place in the offensive plans.
To me, the receiver whose role in the offense this year is the biggest unknown is rookie Stedman Bailey. A third-round pick is a natural complement to Austin, as any 30 seconds of a West Virginia game will tell you. Quick has a good five inches on Bailey. Their 40 times are similar. Bailey is a more advanced route runner than Quick was coming into the NFL. He also knows how to use that to create separation with defensive backs.
Bailey caught 37 touchdown passes during his last two seasons at West Virginia. In 2012, 72 of his 114 receptions were either a touchdown or a first down. Sticky hands, good route running makes for a nice combination, no? If his grasp of the playbook is on par with Quick's this year, Bailey could end up seeing the third or fourth most snaps and targets of any receiver on the roster.
All of these guys still have a long way to go to reach their full potential. The nice thing about this group is that, regardless of how the target distribution breaks down, this is the first time in years the Rams have had this much young talent at the position.