When the Los Angeles Rams acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford before last season, he brought along the ability to move the offense vertically, a gun slinger’s attitude, and the reputation of playing through pain. He has only missed eight starts in the last ten years, all of them with a broken back in 2019.
Staff’s toughness aside, the Rams need to have a competent backup. A major injury to their field general would most likely derail any chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions. But the truth is, Stafford will be 34 next season, played nicked up at times in 2021, and has averaged taking 38 sacks per season over his career.
Deciding on QB depth should not be taken lightly, the Rams have a history of second fiddlers stepping up and leading the band. Vince Ferragamo took over in week 11 of the 1979 season and led the team to the Super Bowl, Kurt Warner became the face of the “Greatest Show on Turf” because of an injury, and Marc Bulger’s insertion into the lineup sparked the Rams and convinced the team to move on from Warner.
LA can stay in-house
An exclusive rights for agent for 2022. What that means is the Rams can keep Wolford by making a qualifying offer, normally a take-it-or-leave-it contract near the league minimum, before the official NFL league starting date. This year that date is March 16. If LA does not get Wolford under contract by then, he becomes a fee agent. Last season, his salary cap hit was $855,000.
Wolford would seem the odds-on favorite. He’s knows the offense, having been the backup for the past two seasons and leading the team to a playoff-clinching win over the Arizona Cardinals in the 2020 season finale.
Currently under contract at $825,000. In 2021, Perkins play in the preseason convinced the Rams to carry three QB’s on the roster. It proved to be a red shirt year for Perkins, he was inactive on game days and did not record an offensive snap.
Perkins skillset is totally different than all other QB’s during Sean McVay regime. He can change games with his legs as well as his arm. He’s still developing and a question mark, he lacks a strong arm and needs further polishing on footwork and reading defenses, but there can be no doubt of the electricity he brings to the backfield.
Three late round/ undrafted 2022 draft prospects
Chase Garbers - California
6’2” 218 lbs
He showed his best attributes in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Garbers was accurate on throws, both on the run and from the pocket; extended plays with his legs; and took command of and led the offense.
From the pocket, Garbers has a quick and compact release and is very accurate, consistently putting the ball on receivers where they can run after the catch. He has a strong arm and film shows him making 50+ yard throws effortlessly. Maybe not an elite arm, but certainly strong enough to make NFL safeties respect him.
Garbers is a sneaky good athlete. He moves well laterally and shows good escapability and an ability to make plays off script. He is adept at rollouts, throwing with and against his flow. He sets up blockers on schemed runs and while not liquid fast, is very good in the open field.
His college numbers, for an up-and-down Cal team weren’t gaudy, but solid. His highlight film is special, but when you watch a few game films, the line blocking was porous and he was quite often running for his life. What you see is a player who carried the team with deceptive athleticism and competitive grit. Garbers did not get an invite to the NFL Combine but has spent the offseason working with other top QB prospects under the tutelage of Jordan Palmer at his QB Summit Camp.
Cole Kelly - Southeastern Louisiana
6”7” 248 lbs
The prototypical pocket passer. At least that’s where I wanted to pigeon-hole him when I first came across his game. You know, the huge, lumbering QB that is a stationary target, breaks receiver fingers on short passes, and struggles with accuracy.
But Kelly’s performance in the Hula and NFLPA Collegiate Bowls showed he can throw with touch and lead a team on extended drives, which led me to dig in deeper to into his film. And there is plenty of it. He won’t be mistaken for a nimble athlete, but his combination of size, strength and footwork allow him navigate and command the pocket.
Long outs on the wide college field were no problem and his deep accuracy is very good. Considering his size, Kelly’s release is compact and short. He throws a nice ball. He’s not just a mad bomber, he can throw on rhythm, which tells me he can run an offense as well as attack vertically.
He didn't run a lot until 2021 and his success was mixed but that is never going to be his game. He did show some power in short yardage situations.
Kelly did not just appear out of nowhere, he began his college career as a four-star recruit to Arkansas. He put up prodigious number at SE Louisiana and won the 2020 Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS. With this award he joined Trey Lance, Cooper Kupp, and Jimmy Garoppolo amongst many other NFL alumni.
National Team quarterback Cole Kelley of Southeastern Louisiana earned MVP honors at the 2022 @NFLPABowl. The 2020 Walter Payton Award recipient and 2021 runner-up completed 12 of 17 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown. pic.twitter.com/dxhdkbH3dc— FCS Football (@FCS_STATS) January 30, 2022
EJ Perry - Brown
6’2, 210 lbs
The closest comparison to current Ram backup John Wolford. A smaller, athletic QB who has the smarts to run the McVay offense, but lacks the overall traits to become an every game starter and build a team around. Young men raised in and around the game are usually gamers and have a depth of understanding of football intricacies. Perry played for his father in high school and his uncle at Brown.
He recently told Dan Roche of WBZ-TV in Boston,
“When you play for your dad, nothing is difficult after that,” the younger EJ joked. “I look back at playing for him very fondly, an experience I loved. He created who I am, but he was tough. No getting around that. I was coached for 24 hours a day.”
He originally signed with Boston College 2017 and played two seasons. After being stuck at #2 on the depth chart, he moved over to Brown for more playing time. In Brown’s RPO based offense, Perry threw for over 6,000 yards and ran for another 1,000.
Decisive and quick throwing the ball. Accurate on shot and mil depth throws. Can thrive in a system based on rhythm throws. His longer throws can be wobbly, but pretty much on target. Sometimes he gets little side arm and the ball sails.
He does not look ruggedly built, but Perry is fast (projected to be 4.50 at Combine) and an instinctive runner willing to take on tacklers.He’ll have to get that out of his head in the NFL, Wolford found that out the hard way. He patiently makes his reads and doesn’t just look to leave the pocket.
Perry is the kind of player who doesn’t have a high ceiling but does have a high floor. He studies and knows the game, is highly competitive, and has the skills to have a nice career as an understudy.
This year's @ShrineBowl helped propel QB EJ Perry into the NFL Draft spotlight.@jfmckessy on what he saw from Perry in Las Vegas & what it means for his NFL Draft prospects.#FrontOffice33 | #NFLDrafthttps://t.co/iNiLXqBHT2— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) February 8, 2022
What is the Rams best move?
It seems surprising that the Rams have not made Wolford an offer yet. They still have two weeks, but it’s not a negotiation. The Rams don’t have to pay him more than minimum salary. He would offer knowledge in the system and has shown he can run it as well.
Perkins is a wild card. Fans love his ability to extend plays and add another weapon for defenses to defend. But has he developed the skills to run McVay’s offense? Is his arm strength enough to exploit the secondaries that have to be wary of his running prowess?
As for the draftees, Cole Kelly’s booming arm may be the best fit for the Rams transition to a vertical offense and the future. Sean McVay might want a cerebral coach-on-the-field player like EJ Perry, who can play within the system for a small stretch of games. Both Kelly and Perry dominated lesser competition. Garber may offer most to LA in both arm skills and system potential and was an outstanding performer in an offense-oriented major conference. All three should be available to the Rams on day three.
So, what will it be? In-house, the draft or will Rams throw fans for a loop and sign a retread free agent?