I’m sure you’ve seen the famous Cleveland Browns jersey. It’s a Tim Couch jersey back from when they drafted him first overall back in 1999 and then a piece of tape has been added for every QB since, all of which haven’t succeeded with the franchise. Most recently added was former Ram Austin Davis.
Apart from the Cleveland Browns, the St. Louis Rams have been, and are continuing to have struggles at the quarterback position. The Rams actually have a pretty hefty list as well since Kurt Warner left town.
All of the above listed quarterbacks have started a game at QB for the Rams since 2002. I’m sure some of you don’t even recognize some of the names such as Scott Covington, the former 7th round selection by the Bengals who started one single game for the Rams when Kurt Warner was injured in 2002.
But now to 2015. Sam Bradford, the former first overall pick with a huge lucrative contract was finally gone and the Rams had acquired Nick Foles. They also signed Case Keenum and drafted Oregon State product Sean Mannion in the third round. Everyone thought the Rams offense was about to turn it around and truly do something in 2015. And boy were we all wrong. The Rams sit at 4-7 and if they continue to play as they have, they will surely land a top-10 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft. Nick Foles has shown that he most likely isn’t the future of the franchise and his backup Case Keenum doesn’t have a very high ceiling. But here’s where things get odd.
The Rams drafted Sean Mannion in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft. That’s pretty high, especially considering the Rams weren’t in need for a starting quarterback (at least we all didn’t think we were). The Rams were clobbered in Cincinnati last week 31-7 but Jeff Fisher still insisted on keeping Foles out there instead of seeing what Mannion could do. Mannion was finally put in for the last drive of the game and granted it was against backups, Mannion managed to go 6/7 for 31 yards. If the coaching staff isn’t set on giving Mannion opportunities this late in the season when the Rams offense is as desperate as ever, is it time for the Rams to draft a QB in the first round once again?
Let’s take a look at the three QB prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft that are considered to be first rounders by CBS Sports. Strengths, weaknesses, and overview are done by Dane Brugler and Rob Rang.
Paxton Lynch, University of Memphis
The 6’6″ 230 pounder is currently a redshirt junior and hasn’t declared whether he will stay for his senior season or declare for the draft. Lynch is rated as the #2 overall prospect in the 2016 draft class by CBS Sports.
STRENGTHS: “Excellent frame for the positions. Shows impressive touch and ball placement on a variety of NFL-type throws along with impressive mobility. Shows poise, mobility and pinpoint accuracy.”
WEAKNESSES: “Not yet a polished passer. Thrives in Memphis’ offense, which includes a lot of wide receiver screens and in-breaking routes, largely against inferior competition. Needs to work on his footwork, touch and continue to add weight to his build.”
OVERVIEW: “With continued development, Lynch could be this year’s version of Blake Bortles if he declares for the draft – a prospect from the non-Power 5 conferences who checks a lot of boxes for NFL evaluators in an average quarterback class.”
Jared Goff, University of California
Goff is a junior at Cal. He comes in at 6’4″ 210 lbs. He is listed as the #5 overall prospect.
STRENGTHS: “There is no denying that Goff’s production is inflated due to coach Sonny Dykes’ up-tempo spread offense, which provides the quarterback the ball out of shotgun and quick passes to the perimeter. That said, Goff shows many of the traits scouts are looking for in a pro-style quarterback, including impressive accuracy on in-cutting routes in the short, intermediate and deep levels, the courage to stand in the pocket and enough functional mobility to buy time.
Goff has a snappy over-the-top release and isn’t afraid to zip the ball through tight windows, typically leading his receivers away from danger. He possesses enough arm strength to complete deep outs to the opposite sideline and shows good touch down the seam. The composure and toughness he has shown while being beaten up behind an overmatched offensive line also won’t go unnoticed by scouts.
Goff can be downright surgical in his ability to pick apart defenses, showing deft touch on deep balls down the sideline and up the middle.
Goff showed development in several critical areas in 2015, specifically with pressure. He is doing a better job recognizing blitzes pre-snap, manipulating the pocket post-snap and finding the open read. His fantastic footwork and lower body mechanics allow him to always be in the “ready” position to easily come to balance and deliver, which isn’t a common trait for most college passers.”
WEAKNESSES: “While Goff boasts plenty of admirable traits, he does come with some concerns. He hasn’t missed a game due to injury at Cal but possesses a relatively spindly frame with long, lean limbs. Tiring of picking himself off the ground has led to Goff developing a bad habit of happy feet in the pocket and though he has shown admirable courage in taking hits to deliver passes, he too often throws without his feet set, sapping velocity and accuracy.
Goff is a good athlete for the position but isn’t a true scrambling threat and his accuracy drops when attempting to throw on the run. Dykes’ offense rarely calls for traditional deep balls down the sideline, although Goff has shown improvement in his downfield touch throughout the 2015 season.”
OVERVIEW: “Goff displays passing anticipation downfield, a resilient approach and coordinated feet in the pocket, which are always in sync with his body rhythm and allow him to reset his vision and find the open read.
He clearly has room for improvement in several areas, but Goff is the type of quarterback who understands his deficiencies and what he needs to do in order to improve. And that’s why scouts are optimistic for his future.”
Connor Cook, Michigan State University
Cook is a redshirt senior. He comes in at 6’4″ 220 lbs. Cook has helped lead the Spartans to a #5 ranking in the polls and a potential birth in the College Football Playoff, if MSU can defeat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship. Cook is the #20 overall prospect.
STRENGTHS: “Possesses ideal size for the next level with the build to take consistent punishment, including as a short-yardage rusher with his deceiving athleticism.
Cook scans the entire field and is a confident passer to all levels, showing touch, anticipation and toughness in the pocket. He has effortless arm strength when he steps into his throws with proper mechanics and torque through his hips to deliver the proper trajectory on downfield passes.
Mastered Michigan State’s offense, firing quick passes underneath with the ability to thread the needle on deeper sideline throws. Has excellent experience, and his poise in key situations has improved throughout his career.”
WEAKNESSES: “Once moved from his original spot, he attempts to “arm” everything and abandon his base footwork, often content making throws with his weight falling away from his target. Cook isn’t fully comfortable with a muddy pocket, which forces his eye level to wander and confuses his internal clock.
He will make a handful of high risk throws each game and is too willing to deliver into high traffic areas after staring down receivers. Seven of Cook’s eight interceptions in 2014 came on the road.”
OVERVIEW: “While he has his flaws, Cook shows a number of reasons to be encouraged about his potential in the NFL. Bottom line with Cook, he has the physical traits ideally suited for the pro game with tape that shows off a number of NFL throws.”
In conclusion, I’m not necessarily saying the Rams 100% should draft a quarterback round 1 next year. However it is a possibility. Of the three quarterbacks that headline a relatively weak QB draft class, I would love to see the Rams draft Paxton Lynch. He’s the most talented quarterback in this draft class. However depending on where the Rams finish in the standings, they may have to trade up to get him. We’ll readdress what the Rams should do regarding the QB situation once these last five games are over with.