In the words of our very own 3k: "Welp. That Happened."
I'll tack an "again" onto that statement. Again, the Rams disappointed us. Again, they collapsed. Again, catastrophic errors doomed them. Again, they lost a very winnable game. I could go on and on.
I'm usually the one that tries to find a reason for the loss, to analyze and try to armchair GM my way into believing that there is still hope. But at what point is this just the Rams identity?
Unfortunately, the Rams are little more than a 'tough out' in the 2014 NFL season, confirming what pundits were saying in the preseason: the Rams just aren't ready for primetime yet. In the words of Dennis Green: "they are who we thought they were!"
As a community, let's collectively dream for a second. How good could this team be if they just had a competent QB who could stay on the field? Because lets be honest with ourselves, it doesn't matter how good a defense is....you're not going to win many games when you're only averaging 310 yards per game.
My current Man Crush isn't on a player, coach, trainer, or anyone currently affiliated with the Rams franchise. I'm Man Crushing on the idea of a true Franchise QB. A player that can take this team to the promise land and provide stability to a position that has been - in my opinion - in flux since Kurt Warner was ran out of town.
So, let's put our rose-colored glasses and thoughts of salvaging the season away for a moment, and take stock of potential QBs that the Rams could acquire for next year (sigh).
Free Agents: Not much to see here
Mostly stop-gap options here. The only names on this list that even remotely resemble a long-term answer at QB are Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. And lets face it, if Hoyer leads the Browns to the playoffs he won't be available. And until Mallett actually show something on the field for the Texans, I'm not inclined to hand the reigns over to him. And again... if he shows something, the Texans won't be likely to let him walk via UFA.
College QBs: No Perfect Options for Rams
Wow, so that intro got a little out of control... my bad guys.
Welcome back to Man Crush Monday! Let's start with a rundown of the infamous Mel Kiper's QB Rankings for the 2015 draft. (in$ider)
1. *Marcus Mariota, Oregon
2. **Jameis Winston, Florida St.
3. Bryce Petty, Baylor
4. *Brett Hundley, UCLA
5. *Connor Cook, Michigan St.
6. Sean Mannion, Oregon St.
7. *Dak Prescott, Mississippi St.
8. Cody Fajardo, Nevada
9. Shane Carden, East Carolina
10. Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion
The obvious change here from the rankings I put out to start the season is Winston's drop from No. 1. I've been pretty clear that his off-field decision-making will be a major concern for evaluators, and it's reflected here. Mariota has seen a ton of pressure behind a shell of an offensive line, but is still completing 70 percent of his throws and hasn't been picked off once. Prescott has work to do as a thrower, but he certainly has caught the eye of scouts. Heinicke is a sleeper to watch -- he has impressed me in the few games I've been able to go through.
For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to cut that list of 10 down to the 4 college QBs that I think have the potential to be 'franchise' QBs.
4: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Petty has the arm talent and size that you want in an NFL QB, but is a beneficiary of the wide-open Baylor offensive scheme. I think that, with a little seasoning, Petty could be a serviceable - albeit limited - QB in the NFL. He could be a NFL QB, but he would never be an elite QB. In time, he wouldn't lose you games, but he wouldn't win you many either.
3: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston has all of the measurables and QB tools that scouts drool over. He keeps his composure on the field and has let several dramatic comebacks this year. However, I simply can't place him higher on this list with his complete inability to stay out of trouble off the field. This kid has more red flags than Adam "Pacman" Jones had when entering the league. His latest scandal involves point shaving.... which could spell the end of his football career. At this point, he has the talent, but I wouldn't want him as the face of the franchise.
2) Brett Hundley, UCLA
Snippet from the CBS Sports scouting report for Hundley:
"On the surface, Hundley's skill-set seems every bit as tantalizing as Oregon's Marcus Mariota or Florida State's Jameis Winston. To leapfrog these two as the elite quarterback prospect in the country, however, Hundley will need to improve in the critical subtleties of the quarterback position - reading defenses and ball placement.
COMPARES TO: Randall Cunningham, ex-Eagles: Hundley possesses a combination of size, athleticism, grace and arm strength reminiscent of the former Pro Bowler Cunningham."
When reading that, I thought that most of the negatives could be chalked up to experience. Subtleties take time to learn just by definition. Hundley would cost less draft capitol than Mariota or Winston, but would also take longer to develop as an NFL QB.
There is definitely some give and take with Hundley, but he may be the best option for the Rams when the 2015 NFL draft rolls around because....
1) Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Mariota will likely be the #1 pick. While Jameis arguably has the most talent of the group, Mariota is the most efficient of the group. The MMQB ran a showcase on Mariota earlier this season, and he is the total package. He has a career 7.7 TD-INT ratio and career 66% completion rate. That's pretty eye popping compared to the Rams recent QB production.
The only downside for the Rams is that they won't be in a position to draft him in May. True to Jeff Fisher's history, they will win from 6-8 games and pick somewhere from 8-12 in the first round. To move up to #1 to pick Mariota would likely cost at least a 1st and two 2nd round picks...and that's a bare minimum.
There are concerns about his size, but he's only 21. He's bound to add a little weight to his frame as he grows into his body so I'm not horribly concerned about it. While he's at the top of my Rams QB dream list, it is unlikely that he will fall to the Rams in the draft.
Pick Your Poison
This draft lacks the Andrew Luck type QB. Every QB has their flaws. With Winston, you wonder if he could mature. Petty plays in a very QB friendly system. Mariotta would cost the Rams a fortune in draft capitol, is small, and may be an injury liablilty. Hundley may have the least amount of question marks, but will take some time to develop.
So, fellow armchair GMs, I ask you... who would you like to see as the Rams QB next year?