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Thinking About Developing A QB

Jim Thomas’s article today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the intangibles about evaluating a quarterback, got me thinking about not only evaluating, but developing a quarterback.

The story of Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith comes to mind from the 2005 NFL draft.  As we all know, Alex Smith was drafted 1st overall to the 49ers and Aaron Rodgers dropped to the 24th overall selection in the draft.  Alex Smith was going to the 49ers, a team in trouble and in need of some serious quarterback help.  Aaron Rodgers was going to a stable organization where he would backup Brett Favre for a few years before taking the reins.  As we all know, Aaron Rodgers has been wildly successful, while Alex Smith has struggled mightily at times, even losing his starting spot.

Let’s take a few things that contribute to the development of a quarterback and see if we can apply it to the Rams.

Analysis after the jump!

First and foremost, Alex Smith has played for 5 different offensive coordinators in his 5 years in the league including Mike Martz.  He has had to get adjusted to a new coordinator every offseason, which includes learning lots of new plays, if not a whole new offense every offseason.  Aaron Rodgers had the same offensive system the whole time he has been in Green Bay.  What he learned as a rookie is still applicable in 2010.  That speeds up the learning curve for a quarterback significantly.  The Rams will have to keep a consistent offense for Sam Bradford(or whichever quarterback they select) over at least his first 2-3 seasons to help prevent him from having to start from scratch every offseason.

Aaron Rodgers was able to sit behind Brett Favre for a few years, while Alex Smith started 7 games in his rookie season.  However, Aaron Rodgers sat for a little while longer than would be ideal as the Packers waited for Favre to retire and eventually they had to force him out to give Rodgers the starting nod.  The Rams certainly do not have the luxury of keeping their new QB on the bench for 2 years, nor should they if they are paying him the largest QB contract in the league.

Alex Smith has been bitten much more by the injury bug in his short NFL career than Aaron Rodgers, even though over the past two seasons, Rodgers has been playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Smith did not even play in the 2008 season due to injury.  This one is a little bit harder to quantify for the Rams.  Injuries will stunt a quarterback’s growth, but it is impossible to develop a resistance to injuries.  But, the Rams have put a lot of money into their offensive line, which they hope will come together in 2010.  The best way to prevent an injury to the quarterback is to prevent him from being hit at all.  And that is what the Rams have tried to do in past offseasons.

There is so much that goes into evaluating and developing a quarterback.  If Aaron Rodgers had been picked 1st by the 49ers and Alex Smith 24th by the Packers, Aaron Rodgers would not have been nearly as successful as he is today.  He may even be considered a bust because the organization was not steady and solid and ready for a big money quarterback.  The Rams have passed on a few quarterbacks in recent years, even though they may had a need for one.  However, they have solidified their organization and coaching staff and now the Rams have a solid structure to bring in and develop a successful quarterback project.

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