2014 NFL Draft: A closer look at the Rams' QB interests

Joe Robbins

The Rams have been doing their homework on some of the draft's most intriguing quarterbacks.

The most linked-to article about the St. Louis Rams on the internet right now is this one from Jason LaCanfora at CBS ... the one about trading Sam Bradford. Uh yeah, I'm not touching that one with a 10-foot pole, but it does make an interesting segue into a closer look at the Rams' reported interest in quarterbacks available in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Let's lump them into three groups: the top three, Day Three guys and an intriguing middle tier of QBs getting a lot of buzz that could be picked anywhere from late in the first to first part of the third round.

Top three

The Rams met with Blake Bortles at the Combine. He's the only one from this group who met with the team privately, in one of the handful of private interviews teams are allowed, that we know of. How much interest do they have beyond due diligence of a guy who could easily be in play as a trade chip with the second pick? Who knows.

That's the only formal interaction between the Rams and a top three quarterback (Bortles, Bridgewater & Manziel) that has been reported. Could they still have some interest in the other two? Adam Schefter said this on Monday (In$ider):

No one knows exactly where he will go, but here's my sense: He's in play anywhere from No. 3 with Jacksonville to the Rams' second first-round pick at No. 13.

Day Three guys

Jim Thomas mentioned two names last week, South Carolina's Connor Shaw and SMU's Garret Gilbert, as signal callers the Rams were interested in. No word on whether they're visiting or working out for the Rams prior to the draft. These guys are seventh-rounders or undrafted free agents, Keith Null/Austin Davis types.

A.J. McCarron is another name connected to the Rams as a potential late-round option. Obviously McCarron would disagree with the "late round" label (HE'S A WINNER). How much interest the team has is up for debate.

Out of all the possibilities in this tier, the one player the Rams have met privately with is Georgia QB Aaron Murray. He might be the most talented one of this bunch, albeit with limited upside. However, Murray's getting plenty of late buzz as April showers continue. Mike Mayock recently described him as "accurate as any quarterback in this class." Another draft expert recently pegged him as a second-round pick.

And that brings us squarely to the cloudy middle tier where hype and ability blend into one ...

Middle tier

Tom Savage of Pitt was in town for a visit last week. No player has gotten as much buzz lately as Savage, and Gil Brandt recently listed him in his personal top 40 players. Peter King continued the second-round buzz for Savage in his Monday column at MMQB.

Derek Carr also had a private visit with the Rams, one of three quarterbacks, so far, to do so. He's long been seen as the fourth-best QB in the draft, another big armed pocket guy whose most noticeable fault seems to be his work under pressure. Like Savage, he's getting a lot of late buzz, with some predicting that he'll be one of the first threequarterbacks picked in the draft. At worst, he seems to be a second-round guy.

There are enough viable starting quarterback options on that list -- and these are only the known QBs the Rams have had at least some documented interest in -- to raise an eyebrow. Bortles and Manziel are the only two that would arguably start right away. Carr, Murray and Savage would be best be served by a year holding the clipboard. All five of those players could be realistic options to lead the offense sooner or later.

We know, on the surface, that the Rams are committed to Sam Bradford. They have to be, publicly, because they don't have a sure-fire plan in place to replace him or live with him if things get soured in the pre-draft process. Even if you read more than you should into LaCanfora's "trade" piece (I don't buy it, personally), they can't go around undercutting their potential starter before trying to trade him.

Barring some surprise twist with the second pick, you can pretty much count on Sam Bradford getting at least one more year in St. Louis. But one glance at the list of quarterbacks the Rams are known to have some interest in makes you wonder what the plans for 2015 look like.

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