Every team dreams of finding a late-round gem at the most important position in team sports today, but very few have been able to follow the Tom Brady mold in recent years. The St. Louis Rams currently have the complete opposite as their signal caller in former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, but his ginormous cap number and uncertain injury situation heading into 2014 casts some doubt on the quarterback depth chart for the upcoming season. That’s why finding a mid-to-late round QB with potential would be a wise investment for general manager Les Snead this coming May in the 2014 NFL Draft.
One place the Rams could look is to Clemson’s Tajh Boyd who could be available into the fourth round if quarterbacks aren’t pushed up the board to far. Boyd’s physical limitations are obvious at just 6-foot-1, but at 225-pounds he has the frame to stand up to the punishment the NFL will dole out. He shows terrific anticipations on many of his throws, but his accuracy isn’t always as consistent as some would like. Coaching at the next level could help cure some of those issues along with an elongated delivery that could be problematic in the professional ranks. He has all of the tools to be successful, however, and is mobile enough to make plays with his legs as well.
Similarly to Boyd, Georgia’s Aaron Murray has questions about his size at just 6-foot-1, but what really causes concern with him is his less stout build at 208-pounds. Obviously the primary worry with Murray currently is his torn ACL which he is reportedly rehabbing feverishly, but there’s no telling if he will be ready by the time training camp rolls around. Adding another signal-caller to the roster with a bum knee isn’t exactly helping out the depth chart much. Still, Murray has plenty of potential with a gunslinger attitude that allows him to deliver the ball from multiple angles and still make accurate throws. Consistency is a worry with him as well, but in the fifth round the Rams could do worse than to take a flyer on him.
One player that could be had in the sixth or even seventh round is Cornell’s Jake Mathews. This kid came into the season with many believing he has what it takes to make it in the league, and his play in 2013 did nothing to discourage that. Mathews has solid footwork and great throwing mechanics, but some worry that the level of competition he faced aided his development as a player. At 6-foot-3 224-pounds it’s plain to see that he has the prototypical build of a QB that could excel in any conference in the country, but operating primarily out of the shotgun in college will worry some scouts as well. His mental acuity is certainly not up for debate coming out of the Ivy League, but Mathews will need to show that he has the ability to process defenses quickly and make good reads in order to cut it in the NFL.
These are just three guys that could interest the Rams this May when the draft rolls around, but any of them would make a terrific developmental project behind Bradford. Current backup Kellen Clemens’ contract expires this offseason, and he will be 31 year of age by the time next season takes place so it remains to be seen if he’s in the team’s future plans.
What isn’t up for debate is the fact that the Rams need a signal-caller to groom this offseason and into the future in case Bradford’s knee doesn’t recover properly or if they simply want to move in a different direction. Franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by, and the Rams would be wise to try and develop a successor to their current version this offseason.