Meet Bradley Marquez: The St. Louis Rams’ Special Teams Ace

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Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Bradley Marquez (15) catches a on side kick against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Marquez as a St. Louis Ram

Following in the footsteps of Texas Tech wide receiver alumni Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, Marquez went undrafted. His relatively low ceiling as a professional football player allowed him to sign with St. Louis, which is coincidentally the team Welker is currently playing for and the team Amendola had played a few years for. Marquez’s deal with the Rams is good for $1.6 million over three years.

As mentioned previously, Marquez had to fight for the sixth receiver spot on the Rams’ roster. I had the pleasure of watching him during training camp, and I honestly had to reference the booklet they handed out to find out who number 15 was on the field. As with most undrafted free agents, you automatically assume their irrelevancy, which is a common yet critical mistake. Although Marquez didn’t have the size of Quick or the speed of Austin, two things stuck out to me:

For one, Marquez ran fluid and precise routes, even when participating in one-on-one drills with the Dallas Cowboys. Secondly, I don’t recall Marquez dropping a single pass. Every receiver, even at the professional level, drops passes. However,during this particular training camp day, it was obvious that the man had a very reliable set of hands.

Nov 22, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Bradley Marquez (15) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Now did I expect Marquez to make the roster back then, no way. I thought he was just there to provide reps for the quarterbacks. But then I saw him in action during the preseason, making special teams plays left and right when his number was called. It became more and more clear that Marquez had the ability to make this roster.

So how has Marquez performed in his rookie season? Despite a lack of offensive playing time, he has played exceptionally well up to this point.

Right off the bat, Marquez recovered a game-sealing onside kick against the Seattle Seahawks in the Rams’ season opener upset. He’s also made some excellent tackles as a gunner on punting situations and has filled his lane consistently on kickoffs.

Considering that this was Stedman Bailey’s job before his season was ended by multiple gunshot wounds, Marquez’s special teams performance was quite refreshing. Along with Davis, Marquez has provided a much needed spark for St. Louis in an otherwise mediocre season under Jeff Fisher.

As of late, Marquez has also seen his role as a wide receiver grow more, making 13 receptions for 88-yards so far this season. In his latest game against the Detroit Lions, Marquez caught a 14-yard pass from Case Keenum for a crucial third down, an area in which the Rams are usually abysmal (25.3% conversion rate, last in the NFL).

So will Marquez ever become that 1,000-yard receiver that the Rams have been waiting for since the great Torry Holt back in 2008? Probably not. But look at Amendola. He worked his butt off for the Rams as a kick returner and is now a starting receiver for the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots (Darn you, Belichick!).

He’s their new special teams ace. Welcome to the League, Marquez.