The draft is getting on us pretty quickly now that spring is here, so let’s take some time to look at a few prospects and how they might fit for the Rams. Since the focus right now seems to be on who will be under center in St. Louis next season, it seems logical to start our preview with the quarterbacks. Marc Bulger’s days in the Lou appear to be numbered, and the newly signed AJ Feeley doesn’t appear to be the long-term answer if the team wants to improve next season. Although this particular draft class is widely regarded as weak at the QB position, here are a few guys to keep an eye on in late April.
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Positives: Bradford was widely regarded as the concensus top pick in this class before the season began, as he was coming off a Heisman Trophy season as a sophomore. His size at 6-4, 225 is maybe his biggest selling point, and he has reportedly put on a decent amount of bulk over the last year. He is deadly accurate in the pocket, and he has shown the ability to hit his receivers on the run as well. His arm strength isn’t elite, but he has more than enough to make every NFL throw. He is a good leader, and his coaches and fellow players at Oklahoma have raved about his ability to remain calm under pressure.
Negatives: The questions on Bradford are widely known at this point. He missed nearly all of the 2009 season after injuring his shoulder in a game against BYU. He is still recovering at this point, and he did not participate in Oklahoma’s Pro Day. He will hold a private workout on March 25, so that day will be his one and only chance to prove he is ready for the league. The other knock on Bradford is his ability to take snaps under center. He worked out of the shotgun in Oklahoma’s spread offense in college, and we have seen college players have numerous difficulties making the transition to an NFL-style offense in the past.
Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
Positives: Clausen comes from a pro-style offense at Notre Dame, and started for the team for nearly three full seasons. He plays with fire and passion, and he is a vocal leader in the huddle. His size isn’t overwhelming at 6-2, 223, but he measured out slightly taller at the combine than most people expected. He is an accurate passer and possesses adequate arm strength, so he shouldn’t have any problems making the required NFL passes. He has been in the spotlight since his high school days, so he will be prepared to handle the rigors of the NFL.
Negatives: Clausen, like Bradford, is coming off an injury, but his situation is less serious since it is a seemingly minor issue with his toe that he played through for most of the season. His maturity has been questioned, and he will have to prove he is capable of running an NFL team. He isn’t the physical specimen that Bradford is, and his athleticism and mobility are just average.
Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
Positives: LeFevour is an excellent athlete who proved to be just as capable running the ball as throwing it. He has good size at 6-3, 230, and he has no problem seeing over the line to complete his passes. His accuracy was outstanding in 2009, as he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 28 touchdowns to only seven picks. He started for four seasons at CMU, and he was an Academic All-American in 2008.
Negatives: LeFevour has little-to-no experience in a pro-style offense, and he will have to transition to taking snaps under center at the next level. His arm strength is just average, so he won’t be wowing anyone with his deep throws. He comes from a smaller program and he hasn’t played much against elite college defenses. He will have to prove that he can be an accurate passer down the field.
Jevan Snead, Ole Miss
Positives: Snead was highly touted coming out of high school, and he possesses all of the physical tools to be a successful quarterback. His arm strength is outstanding, and he is a solid athlete who won’t be a liability in the pocket. He finished the 2008 season with six straight wins and a 16:3 TD/INT ratio.
Negatives: Snead regressed last season, as he struggled with his reads and his poise in the pocket. Many people are questioning his technique, but his mechanical flaws could be fixed in the right NFL system. He throws too many interceptions, and his mental toughness is maybe the biggest question mark going into this draft.
Overall, Bradford and Clausen are the top guys here, and while I have been a Clausen guy for most of the season, I am starting to like Bradford more and more. If the Rams decide to pass on a QB with the first pick, guys like LeFevour and Snead could be options later in the draft. I like LeFevour quite a bit, but he will be more of a project that won’t be ready to contribute for a few seasons. Snead could be a steal later in the draft because of his physical gifts, but there are a ton of questions surrounding him right now. The Rams need a quarterback, and unless they trade out of that top pick, look for Bradford or Clausen to be that guy.