Quarterbacks The St Louis Rams Should Target In 2014 Draft Part 2
Kellen Clemens and Austin Davis Aren't The Future
Kellen Clemens is playing better than anticipated since taking over for the injured Sam Bradford. However, he has committed costly turnovers that have led to teams putting the nail in the coffin. Clemens' second start began with him going 7-for-7 on pass attempts. The offense looked completely different than it had all year with Bradford under center. St. Louis showed a lot of play action and motion to start the game, and Clemens displayed command of the huddle. I was buying into Clemens, and then he finished the game by going 13 for his last 28 attempts. That's really not a bad stat line until you add in the fumble and ensuing score that put the Tennessee Titans up late in the 4th quarter.
Clemens wasn't the reason that the St. Louis Rams lost the game, but he fumbled at the worst possible time. After the turnover St. Louis had to respond, Clemens went 0-3 on the next drive, ending the game. Austin Davis was expected to take over the backup job this season, but was beat out by Clemens during the preseason. While Davis is the better athlete, he failed to earn the job during the preseason, as he failed to put together convincing performances against other teams' backup players. He doesn't have a strong arm or the ability to read defenses quickly enough. Unless he gets a chance to prove himself this year, Davis could be on the hot seat during the preseason next year.
Clemens will have to do this year, but St. Louis should look for a quality backup in what could be a deep QB draft in 2014. At this point in his career, he won't get much better than he is. His ability to extend plays is appreciated, but his lack of consistent accuracy hurts his chances. If the surging Zac Stacy can keep his current level of production up, St. Louis will only need Clemens to be an efficient game manager. This offseason would be a great opportunity to find a replacement for Bradford, as whoever they select could have two years on the bench to learn the system and mature. With Stacy providing a stable run game, a young QB could be asked to manage the game, instead of operating the pass heavy attack that was in place during Bradford's career.
Zach Mettenberger LSU 6-5 230
Zach Mettenberger began the year with a lot of questions to answer. While he has the arm and build to become a supreme pocket passer, his accuracy was the killer of his draft stock. He has made major strides under OC Cam Cameron this season. His completion percentage is up to 65 percent, and he played a good game in the loss to Georgia. Teams could fall in love with his arm strength and jump on him in the first round, but that could be a mistake if they expect him to come in and play right away. Mettenberger will have a lot to learn and work on in order to become a solid starting option.
His decision making has vastly improved from last year, as he is throwing fewer interceptions. One year of good production shouldn't be enough to convince an NFL scout that a player is ready, but his arm could be enough to make a team believe they could fix him quickly to be productive. Another knock on the big QB is his poor footwork that has effected his throws in the past. Mettenberger's improvement has led to him being considered a first round or second round pick. If he fell into the second, I wouldn't be surprised, and I wouldn't want to be the team that reached for him in the first.
Aaron Murray Georgia 6-1 211
Aaron Murray is a bit shorter than teams prefer at QB, but Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have done a lot to help out the short man's cause in the NFL. Murray isn't as mobile as Wilson, but he will face the same drop in his draft stock that Wilson did. He has played well against his SEC foes this season, which could work wonders for his draft stock. He may not have the best numbers of quarterbacks in the draft due to Georgia's ability to the run the ball.
His arm strength is not going to wow anyone, however, it is strong enough to make any throw needed. He has been asked to be more a game manager at Georgia. A team looking for a game manager will probably take him in the second, but his height could cause him to drop back into the third round. If he finishes the season strong, he could guarantee himself a second round selection for a desperate team. The best fit for him would be in a system similar to the one the Kansas Chiefs use with Alex Smith.
Derek Carr Fresno State 6-3 205
Derek Carr is the brother of current FA and former NO. 1 pick David Carr. Derek has displayed good decision making, mechanics, field vision and a strong arm this year. He is starting to garner the attention of scouts and teams with his play. The hardest thing for him to overcome will be that he plays in the WAC. His numbers on the season warrant the attention though, as he has completed 69 percent of his passes while throwing 25 TDs and only four interceptions.
Most coaches want a QB that they can trust to know the game, and his family roots in the NFL through his brother should help his cause. The younger Carr should know what to expect in the draft process and the daily life of an NFL QB. It would be a good thing if he can spend a few years learning the system and observing, instead of being thrown into the fire like David was. The elder Carr was thrown into action right away and paid for it greatly, taking hit after hit. Hopefully Derek Carr can avoid the same fate and have a chance to mature before being tasked with handling an offense.
David Fales San Jose State 6-3 220
David Fales began the year with a poor start, but he has rebounded to lead his team's offense. He doesn't face top level competition and operates in a spread offense that utilizes short, quick passes. His ability to read a defense will be hindered, simply due to the fact that the offense is snap and fire. This offense is similar to the one that drove teams away from former college greats Colt Brennan and Graham Harrell.
While these types of QBs are usually extremely accurate on short routes, they have never had to read through progressions. Fales is not the exception here. He often stares down the first option, which isn't going to convince teams to take a chance on him. The upside is that Fales has an NFL ready body, but he really hasn't been able to show arm strength. Teams will want a look at what kind of arm strength he has on deep passes. Fales could go as high as the fourth round, or he could even been completely looked over in the draft and have to accept a free agent offer to get a chance.
Logan Thomas Virginia Tech 6-6 262
Logan Thomas has a cannon for an arm. He can launch the ball downfield with ease, but he doesn't have the accuracy needed to be a valued selection. His build is similar to that of Daunte Culpepper, and the arm strength and athletic ability are comparable to him. He is only completing about 55 percent of his passes this year, which should be enough to scare teams off for two or three rounds.
He shows a lack of maturity in the pocket, and when receivers don't get open early, he will take off and run. He is athletic enough to buy more time with his legs, but he will try to run instead of moving and keeping his head downfield. Instincts are hard to overcome for a young QB, and it will take a lot of repetitions to get Thomas out of this habit. He could go as early as the third or as late at the fifth round if teams aren't searching for a project. Realistically, he could become an inaccurate Ben Roethlisberger.
Braxton Miller Ohio State Univ. 6-2 215
Braxton Miller could be the most athletic QBs in the draft this year, but he will most likely return to school for another season. That would be a smart move, as injuries and poor passing hurt his stock. With such a deep draft developing at QB for this season, it could be beneficial for Miller, just so he doesn't have to compete with so many QBs next year. He could be one of the next best mobile QBs in the NFL if he can figure out the passing game and how to read defense and make decisions better.
I would like to see him go back to school and improve as a passer. A full, healthy season would have a tremendous impact on his draft stock in a year where there isn't 10 or more quality options at QB. If he was to go into the draft this year, he would most likely hear his name called no earlier than the fourth round, with the expectations of sitting a few years.