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2022 NFL Draft: Could Rams target a quarterback on day three?

Don’t put it past Les Snead and Sean McVay to find a developmental quarterback this year

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are not going to draft quarterback Malik Willis or wide receiver Treylon Burks in 2022, they’re out of range to even consider it, but for some reason the NFL visits tracker page at WalterFootball has decided to “link” the team to those prospects anyway. Despite the fact that Les Snead and Sean McVay did not attend the combine, and even though the Rams (first pick: 104) aren’t in the top 100 selections, Charlie Campbell decided to draw a line between Willis, Burks, and all 32 teams.

But the Rams didn’t waste the time of Willis and Burks by meeting with them. They weren’t really at the combine or any pro days. And we won’t get an idea of L.A.’s “visits” this year because Snead does his draft business different than most GMs.

That doesn’t mean that the Rams won’t draft anybody though. They’ll draft plenty and we know that despite no first round picks, L.A. has had relative success picking college players under Snead and McVay.

With Matthew Stafford signed for five more seasons, at least, the Rams are in no rush to draft a quarterback. Bryce Perkins enters his third season with the team and potentially his first as Stafford’s backup, but John Wolford remains out there and he could win that job again.

Or does Snead/McVay ever get an itchy trigger finger about finding the next “Tom Brady” with a day three pick?

QB Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

Transferring to the FBS in 2021 after a historic career at Houston Baptist, Zappe set even more records last season with the Hilltoppers: 475/686, 5,967 yards, 62 TD, 11 INT in 14 games.

Zappe had seven touchdowns in Week 1 over UT-Martin, but kept up that production throughout the season, never totaling fewer than three touchdowns in any game. He finished with at least five total touchdowns in eight of his 14 starts.

Of course, Graham Harrell and Kliff Kingsbury never became NFL stars and college production doesn’t easily translate to the next level. However, spread and air raid offenses are not so scary to the NFL Draft anymore and Zappe’s done enough to earn a spot somewhere in the draft.

Zappe is barely over 6’ tall, 215 lbs, 9.75” hands, and doesn’t offer much in athleticism. He’s unlikely to ever become an NFL starter, but potentially an improved version of Wolford and a valuable member of a quarterback room.

QB Carson Strong, Nevada

If we’re getting into prospects who could both be available in round four AND have the upside to be a top-10 pick, then Carson Strong is the answer.

Strong might have the best arm of any quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft (emphasis: might, but I’d say definitely in contention) and also maybe the worst legs. From Lance Zierlein:

Strong had multiple procedures on his right knee during the offseason, the same knee he had surgery on to repair an osteochondritis dissecans lesion before his senior season at Wood High School in California (eight biodegradable nails were inserted to affix his knee to the leg bone). He enrolled at Reno a semester early and redshirted the 2018 season, earning the team’s Offensive Scout Player of the Year Award. Strong became the first freshman to start at Nevada in 20 years in 2019 (237-of-374, 63.4%, 2,335 yards, 11 TDs, seven INTs in 10 starts). After the 2020 season, however, he underwent surgery to clean up cartilage in the same knee with which he had issues in high school. Strong had an arthroscopic procedure to clear scar tissue in August and had the knee drained multiple times after that.

Strong is 6’3, 226 lbs, 9.2” hands, and Zierlein compares him to Drew Bledsoe.

There’s little chance that a team takes a swing on Strong in the first round. It may be just as surprising to see him go in round two. Strong’s board might start in round three and there’s a chance that his knee pushes him further and further down the draft because teams don’t want to risk losing out on a quality position prospect for a guy who may never suit up in the league for more than three weeks in a row.

Strong’s best landing spot is a team that has no need at quarterback. Could McVay bury Strong on the depth chart for a season or two, then maybe have a valuable trade chip for Snead down the line?

QB Jack Coan, Notre Dame

There were times last season that Coan looked good enough to maybe push himself into a late first round conversation with an unbelievable pre-draft season. However, at other times, the idea of drafting Coan seemed laughable and that’s why there’s little he can do now to raise his stock.

Coan was benched in a game against Virginia Tech last season. He also returned to the very same game and led Notre Dame to a come-from-behind victory.

At 6’3, 220 lbs, 9.5” hands, and decent athleticism, Coan’s had the workout and measurables that are considered desirable. He’s another day three QB prospect who could raise his stock with a couple of seasons of NFL coaching, but without the knee worries of Strong.

E.J. Perry, Brown

He’s the guy who does have the athleticism.

Perry, 6’2, 211 lbs, 9” hands, ran a 4.65 in the 40, posted a 34.5” vertical, 123” broad, and a 4.18 in the 20-yard shuttle. He was an Ivy League star in 2019 and 2021, only missing 2020 because of COVID-19 causing the cancellation of games. Zierlein’s description of Perry implies that teams could see him as a Taysom Hill-type at the next level:

Productive quarterback who became a dual-threat playmaker against Ivy League competition. Perry has average size and arm strength but below-average mechanics and consistency as a passer. He doesn’t value the football enough as a decision-maker and lacks a desired level of ball placement. His toughness and talent as a runner create attention, as teams might ask Perry to add a few more pounds in order to see if he can become a valuable Swiss Army Knife who’s able to help at a variety of positions, including special teams.

We know that Snead values speed. At all positions. Would Perry fit into his late draft plans or possibly as an undrafted free agent signing?

QB Dustin Crum, Kent State

As I was evaluating QBs during the 2021 college season, Crum’s name came up a lot but rarely did he ever do enough to warrant placement as a top-10 QB prospect in this draft. He was a three-year starter at Kent State and that included a productive four-game stint in 2020 during Covid, but he never broke through his limited ceiling.

Crum does leave college on a high note, having thrown 4 touchdowns and rushing for a fifth in Kent State’s bowl game loss to Wyoming. At the combine, Crum (6’1, 210 lbs, 9.4” hands) posted some of the best QB numbers, with a 4.75 40, 120” broad, and 4.36 20-yard shuttle.

As a potential seventh round pick, Crum could fit into a long-term vision. That’s typically where teams are looking more for special teams than starting quarterbacks, especially in L.A.’s case, but you never know.

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Which QB appeals to you the most in the late-draft or undrafted range?