When the St. Louis Rams lost Sam Bradford to his second torn ACL in a calendar year, the immediate reaction was that the Rams will be horrible this season. After those thoughts creep through your heads, the next thought was, "Damn...now we need to look for a new quarterback."
And that's why I decided to debut a new series, focused on the college quarterbacks that could end up being future Ram quarterbacks. Yes, it's extremely early to be looking at quarterbacks, but who says you can't root for the Rams to win this season while still hoping for a new young gunslinger?
So consider this article the preview of the series, since I won't talk about the prospects performances last week, because that's for the next article.
In my quest to learn more about the potential options at quarterback, my first thoughts were to ask my friend Joe or "3k" if you will. Joe loves to talk about college football and he's been holding back on talking about quarterbacks, so much that he spilled all of his knowledge to us.
So here's what I'd say about the Rams looking at the 2015 draft. They're going to have to make a decision. Do they want to go after a QB early, either with whatever first round pick we get or even to move up, OR do they want to try to roll dice with some combo of Bradford redux, Shaun Hill and a free agent and potentially a day two QB? I know the impulse after the Bradford injury for some is to move on, pick a QB of the future and go with it...but you're talking about the same head coach and GM who went all in on Bradford this year. If the Rams do well enough that they're both still around, I wouldn't be shocked if the latter of those two scenarios becomes the more likely one...that being said, here are three ways to look at the 2015 QB group:
I agree with Joe; the Rams brain-trust don't have to draft a quarterback in the 2015 draft. I think they should, but they don't pay me so my opinion doesn't matter to them. But why not talk about the quarterbacks? It's hard to imagine the Rams giving Bradford a lengthy extension, and at this point it would be irresponsible to not consider other options.
Joe gave me three options that the Rams can take going forward.
1.)Rams go for a traditional NFL pocket QB early: The top option here would be Florida St.'s Jameis Winston, but I'm not sure the Rams will be in position to get him unless they collapse this season. Remember, I've got him going #1 overall in my '15 mock. Also, please stash a note away so that when someone calls Jameis Winston a dual-threat QB, you can laugh at their attempt to shroud their racism in something less offensive. You've got Kevin Hogan out of Stanford, Connor Cook from Michigan St. and Sean Mannion from Oregon St. Hogan actually is really good at sensing space; I doubt they will, but if Stanford call his name more often as a run-first option, he might move over to dual-threat area for me. There's also a host of new names that could emerge out of nowhere this year just as Cam Newton and Winston did, like say Alabama QB Jake Coker or a handful of redshirt sophomores like Cincy's Gunner Kiel or Illinois' Wes Lunt.
Let me note right here that Joe sent these answers in before the season started, because he would have obviously changed his mind when he saw Jameis Winston rumble for a long gain.
ICYMI: Jameis Winston's filthy touchdown run http://t.co/YElvH8fiRt— Football Is Life (@FootbaIl_Tweets) August 31, 2014
Anyway if the Rams are going to draft a quarterback it wouldn't be a surprise if they choose a pocket passer. Granted that's just a guess at this point, but there are some solid pocket passers that the Rams could draft.
Jameis Winston - Redshirt Sophmore - Florida State
Sean Mannion - Redshirt Senior - Oregon State
Connor Cook - Redshirt Junior - Michigan State
Kevin Hogan - Redshirt Junior- Stanford
2.) Rams go for a dual-threat or non-traditional QB early: Marcus Mariota, Oregon's QB, is looking at his draft stock being too high for the Rams unless the Winston scenario happens. If the Rams are in the top 5, he's an option. Brett Hundley is another look here, but if he has the season UCLA's hoping for, he might be in that tier. Two guys I really like that could explode up boards this year: Utah St.'s Chuckie Keeton and Nevada's Cody Fajardo. Keeton was a monster in 2012 and was on pace to raise the bar last year (and possibly get a Heisman invite) before injuring his knee. If he's back on form, he's going to tear it up this year. Fajardo is, like his predecessor at Nevada, in the Colin Kaepernick mold. Tall, lanky, but moves well. Throws a good ball. But like Colin, he may be best fit to spend some time on the sideline. The learning curve from Nevada to the NFL is steep. Baylor's Bryce Petty goes here as well, not because he's a dual-threat guy but because he plays in the anti-Schottenheimer offense down in Waco.
If the Rams are going to go this route the best player is obviously Marcus Mariota. Mariota looks like one of the best quarterbacks right now. He is a true dual threat that actually looks like a true NFL passer when he passes the ball.
Personally I'm not a Brett Hundley fan, he just looks like a raw QB that's fast to me, but the Rams could see something in him that they like. Hundley would more than likely be available in the mid-range of the first round, so if the Rams play well and want a quarterback it could be Hundley.
Marcus Mariota - Redshirt Junior - Oregon
Bryce Petty - Redshirt Senior - Baylor
Brett Hundley - Redshirt Junior - UCLA
3.) Rams don't go for a QB early: This is the hardest to predict. There are probably 40 legitimate names I could throw out who I'd either put in rounds 3-5 myself or argue that they certainly could be there if they improve in 2014. Take someone like Taylor Kelly at Arizona St. He's a late round guy right now...but who knows what happens this year? He's got a WR in Jaelen Strong who will help the numbers and acclimate him to working with NFL talent. Or what about Jeff Driskel? Florida had high hopes he was going to lead them to a big year after going 11-2 in 2012. He got off to a slow start and broke his leg in the third game and didn't make it back in 2013. What if he has a huge year and shows tons of improvement? If you want a crazy one....Stephen Rivers. Yup, he's Phillip Rivers' little brother. Rivers the Younger was at LSU but has transferred to Vanderbilt. Now he was recently announced as the backup to Patton Robinette, but it would be such a college football storyline to see Rivers finally get a starting nod and then tear it up.
Leave it to Joe to throw a curve ball, I don't know much about these players, but addressing quarterback later is an option. Not a great option, but it's a plausible one based on the current regimes fondness of Bradford. Granted reports said that the Rams had some interest in drafting Johnny Manziel in the 2014 draft, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Rams draft a quarterback sooner than later.
Next up, I'll recap some of the quarterbacks' early 2014 performances and have other some other information to go with it.