Let me preface this article by saying that the Rams do not need to draft a Quarterback to replace Sam Bradford. However, they should look into drafting a mid to late round Quarterback to back up Sam Bradford in case he goes down again (considering he’s played two full seasons in the past five years). Also, even though Bradford put up great numbers before he got hurt last year, this would give the Rams an insurance policy just incase he does not perform to the level that he needs to. Finally, look at the Green Bay situation when they decided to draft Aaron Rodgers because he fell to a spot where they could pick him up with great value. Grooming him behind Brett Farve really paid off and, with all the late round quarterback talent in this draft, the Rams could find themselves in a similar situation. Now, lets take a look at some of the prospective quarterbacks the Rams could pick up in rounds 3-5.
Aaron Murray – Georgia
Height 6-1 / Weight 211 / 40 Time – 4.75 / NFL Comparison (Max Potential) – Drew Brees
Aaron Murray is coming into this draft off of an ACL tear he suffered versus Kentucky. He’s a little undersized for your prototypical NFL quarterback but quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and others have proved that you can find success despite your size. Murray has a strong arm and can really push the ball down the field, that being said he struggles to hit his spots deep and tends to over throw receivers on the long ball. Murray has strong footwork but when he feels pressure he’ll tend to feel hurried and will miss short and easy passes. Murray also has good enough speed to navigate the pocket and escape pressure and he also throws a great back shoulder fade in short yardage situations. His best attribute is his great leadership and his team really responds to him and rallies behind him. Murray’s biggest weak spot is the fact he struggles through his progression. If Murray wants to succeed in the NFL he must work on calmly checking down and working through his progression. Murray is a good kid, and has a lot of upside. I would draft him in the third round or lower.
Tajh Boyd – Clemson
Height 6-1 / Weight 225 / 40 Time – 4.63 / NFL Comparison (Max Potential) – Donovan McNabb
Tajh Boyd is coming off of a questionable senior season at Clemson. Some people are very high on Boyd, considering he broke a number of Phillip River’s ACC career passing records. Others are not so high on Boyd because the biggest game Boyd won in his career at Clemson was against a 8-4 Georgia team that struggled to stay in the top 25 at the end of the year. At the start of the season Boyd was considered to be a sure first round talent, but now it’s looking like he’ll be going around the 4th or 5th round. Boyd’s best attribute is his ability to move. Boyd is a pretty good passer on the run and might be fast enough to run the zone-read at the NFL level. He also has great escape ability and is able to shake tacklers like some of the bigger quarterbacks can. He also has solid short pass accuracy. Boyd’s speed sometimes can hurt him more than it helps him as he is often very prone to tucking the ball and running instead of going through his progression. Even when he stays in the pocket he does not go through his progression well and he struggles to read the most basic zone coverage from the defense. He has a very weak arm so he will struggle to fit into a traditional NFL offense. Personally, I am not a big fan of Boyd. He could possibly progress into a decent NFL backup in the right setting but, he does not fit the Rams’ system and for this reason the Rams would be smart to leave him off their draft boards completely.
Zach Mettenberger- LSU
Height 6-5 / Weight 230 / 40 Time – 4.90 / NFL Comparison (Max Potential) – Sam Bradford
Zach Mettenberger is definitely one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in this draft class. If you had asked most scouts during his 2012-2013 campaign they wouldn’t have touched him in the draft. Now, after a offseason of hard work, a very solid season with a lot less weapons then in previous years, and fixing a lot of his mechanical and footwork problems in his throwing motion; Mettenberger may have more upside then anyone in this draft class. One of Mettenberger’s best quality is his huge NFL frame, standing at 6 foot 5 inches, his frame is very comparable with Peyton Manning. Pair the big frame with a Mettenberger’s huge arm and you have a very prototypical and traditional NFL quarterback. Even though Mettenberger is coming off of an ACL tear, he is really durable for the most part and this ACL tear is his first major injury of his career. One of Mettenberger’s best attributes is the hard work he showed to remodel his throwing mechanics to become a better quarterback, but even though he is a hard worker great leadership isn’t a strong suite of his. Mettenberger is never really shown as a very vocal leader. Mettenberger also does not have a great pocket presence and will sometimes not step up into the pocket at the right time and he cannot make up for this with speed like some of the faster college quarterbacks can. The last knock on Mettenberger is that he sometimes does not make the big time NFL throws that you want to see out of a college quarterback. Mettenberger probably has more upside then any other quarterback in this draft and the Rams should definitely consider picking him in the 3rd round because he fits the Rams system perfectly and is a very similar quarterback to Sam Bradford.
AJ McCarron – Alabama
Height 6-4 / Weight 214 / 40 Time – 4.79 / NFL Comparison (Max Potential) – Alex Smith
AJ McCarron is arguably the most successful quarterback in the history of college football in terms of wins, loses, bowl wins, and national championships. AJ McCarron sometimes gets labeled as the ultimate game manager because of the fact that he has had so many weapons around him and a great defense his entire career. The truth is that AJ McCarron is so much more than just a game manager. Not only is McCarron a natural winner but, he has a big NFL frame and has a high football IQ. McCarron keeps his eyes down the field and he can really push the ball into tight windows on medium and deep throws. McCarron plays within himself very well and is incredibly efficient. One of McCarron’s problems is that he will not do more than what is asked of him so if a team wants him to become a super star they will really have to push him. McCarron played against some of the toughest competition in the nation and has really proved himself. McCarron also fits the Rams system like Mettenberger does and is also a similar quarterback to Sam Bradford. McCarron’s biggest knock is that a lot of people think McCarron has maxed out on his potential and does not have as much of an upside as some of the other mid to late round quarterbacks. McCarron could end up being a really solid back up choice at quarterback and if the Rams can get him in the right spot they should consider it.
Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois
Height 6-3 / Weight 222 / 40 Time – 4.72 / NFL Comparison – ? (Too early to tell)
The biggest knock on Jimmy Garoppolo is that we really do not know much about him or his style of play. Garoppolo threw for 53 touchdown passes but he played at the FCS level of college football. It’s hard to really gauge a player’s potential when he is playing at a lower level of football and dominating. Even though Garoppolo has a lot of unknowns about him there are a few positive things that we do know. Garoppolo has a lightening fast release, which will really help him excel at the next level, and his footwork is also very good. Garoppolo is also fast enough to navigate the pocket and he is even fast enough to make some plays on the ground with his feet. Finally, Garoppolo throws great short routes; he is very good at catching the snap, getting his fingers on the laces, and releasing the football. Even though scouts are worried about his smaller hands, they might not be an issue if his release is so quick and he moves from the snap to throwing so well. It is hard to tell if the Rams should give him a shot, the best move would be to see how Garoppolo performs at the combine and go from there. But off the bat, Garoppolo is off to a good start and has the potential to be a very solid quarterback.