Just spit-balling here but as a Rams fan I’ve had some crazy thoughts over the last few weeks. First off let me say I still believe Sam Bradford is the best option for St Louis Rams (because in two years they will more than likely be the LA Rams once again but that’s for a different post). That being said the organisation has been open about the fact that they need to address the QB position in the draft and Bradford will only return if he offers value for money. His current salary cap hit for 2015 season would be $16.5 and the Rams would be looking for a significant cut on that.
Now we get to my point. The Rams need a QB they can develop with the draft this year seemingly light on staring QB’s and a number of teams after the “elite two” the picking become slim. From the Senior Bowl last week there were 4 starting QB’s but none stood out enough to cause rave reviews from the assembled scouts and press. In fact the performances were somewhat understated making the choices even more difficult. This is why I see the Rams choices as two fold. Trade for a QB or Draft in the middle rounds.
As a fan I believe that the Rams could be looking North to the chaos that is taking shape in Cleveland. With Both Owner and new OC saying that “the QB position is a priority in the draft” and GM saying “There could be any number of stones that we overturn to try to find the right [player] to bring in here to help improve our roster.” Could Johnny Football be the answer? The Rams under Fisher have a history of taking risks with players and I believe this could be a risk worth taking. Johnny Manziel hasn’t, in my opinion been given the chance to succeed in Cleveland only playing 7 quarters, and then with the pressure of win or bust looming. I think he has the skills to succeed in the NFL and the ability to lead a team. He is the type of player that will court a lot of press off the field and often with a negative impact but that is just a sign of his maturity level. I think a reasonable trade would be a 3rd round pick this year and a 4th round next year would be good. I think you give him a couple of years to mature and learn on the side-lines the same as Rodgers did and you could be looking at a very good QB.
The second option is looking to the draft. I believe this needs to be done with the clear message that the player will not be starting for at least a year. Maybe the ideal QB to open a stadium in Inglewood?
Prospects for the draft: (outside of the elite 2)
Brett Hundley (UCLA): An exciting prospect who has had some very good seasons at UCLA. He has a quick set up and release, good velocity, easy throwing motion and good to great strength. He is built to be a QB with a strong frame that allows him to operate as a dual threat option. He finished this season with 20 TD passes and just 2 interceptions also leading the team in rushing with just over 850yards and 9 TD’s. The major flaw in his game comes from him taking a huge percentage of his snaps from the gun. This allows him the time to assess the field and coverage but is something that will not serve him as well in the NFL. That is not to say that he can’t operate in the pocket but he has yet to prove this. Also when faced with pressure he has a tendency to drop his eyes and look for the run which as we have seen (RGIII and Cam Newton) in the NFL can lead to taking huge hits and the injuries that follow.
Projected Round: 2
Bryce Petty (Baylor): This guy can be awesome. When he hits his rhythm he could be one of the best in the world. Playing at Baylor he has shown that he can throw the ball all over the field and has shown the ability to extend plays outside of the pocket with good feet. His issues start with his progression. He tends to stick to the primary receiver and struggles to diagnose the defences he is facing. He is another QB who works exclusively out of the shotgun formation and this is seen and more of hindrance when applied with his penchant to throw vertical balls into 50/50 situations. He was widely expected to have a great year and be the strongest senior QB entering the draft but some mediocre performances which have identified a lot of needs for a successful transition to the pros. That all being said if you watch the Oklahoma game form October 8th he shows what he can do against a fast aggressive defence.
Projected Round: Late 2nd – 3rd
Garrett Grayson (Colorado State): One of the lesser known names in the QB hunt because he played in the Mountain West. After a 32 TD season against only 6 interceptions he was noticeable enough to get invites to the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game as well as the Conference Player of the Year. His fundamentals are possibly some of the best suited for a pro-style offense. He has a great presence of mind in the pocket, moving both laterally and up or down. He shows good instinct, keeping his eyes downfield as well as maintaining his exceptional accuracy while rolling out of the pocket Grayson also tends to lead receivers away from hits. He doesn’t have exceptional zip on his shorter routes but he can hurl the ball 60yds giving receivers a chance to beat the coverage deep. Grayson’s major flaw (or nuance) would be his unusual wind up and delivery. Scouts may see this as a reason for his slower than usual delivery and it leaves him open for defenders. Grayson more than any others could be mobile in this draft with the combine and Pro Day still to come he has a chance to move up the board.
Projected Round: Late 3-4th
Shane Carden (East Carolina): Carden had a strong 2013 that put him on the radar and followed that up with equally impressive 2014 (30td/10int). Carden topped 400 yards 5 times in the last two seasons and comes in the gunslinger mould of Drew Brees or Brett Farve. Carden had a good Senior Bowl and probably shone brightest of the QB’s. He has impressive passing stats against not just the small schools but also the bigger schools. He sits comfortably in the pocket and offers a good running threat in the redzone. His downside is consistency, He has made some great throws and then followed that up with some terrible throws. If Carden can show his strengths in the combine and Pro day’s while disguising his flaws expect him to go a little earlier. He has development written all over him but a lot of the QBs do this year.
Projected Round: Late 4th
Sean Mannion (Oregon State): Mannion has been overshadowed in his time at Corvalis by the other Oregon teams QB but don’t let that deceive you. Manino threw a Pac 12 record 4662 passing yards last season as well as a school record 37 TD’s. His upside is hi seemingly perfect throwing motion which ends with perfectly thrown passes dropping over his receivers shoulders. Mannion has also spent 4 years as a starter and 3 years as a captain showing the qualities that NFL QB’s need. He also played under coach Mike Riley’s Pro style offense which leaves him more pro ready than some. Mannions major flaw comes in his mobility and poise under pressure. Mannion while good at reading defences when tricked has tendency to drop further in to the pocket and while taking hits to complete passes sometimes doesn’t throw on his front foot which takes away any pace from his passes.
Projected Round: 5th
Blake Sims (Alabama): Sims is the least experienced of the players I mention here with only 12 starts. Those starts have come playing for the power house Alabama and have come under the great pressure that comes with that. Sims has shown great accuracy and speed with his throws over the middle and is very adept at moving around in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. The issues with Sims start with question marks over his decision making, he made a couple of plays that left Saban somewhat frustrated, but as with the Crimson Tide they tended not to matter. He is also seen as undersized at only 6ft and coming from Bama (where their QB’s have had very limited success in the pro’s) his unrefined skills may take a while to be developed.
Projected Round: 7th