- Nick Wagoner, ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have made little secret about their interest in quarterbacks in this year's NFL draft. At last month's NFL owners meetings, coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged that his team very well could still be in the market for a signal caller despite the additions of Nick Foles and Case Keenum via trades.
"As we’ve said, we could potentially draft one," Fisher said then. "No, the Nick trade will have no bearing over what we do in the draft.”
To that end, the Rams are certainly doing their due diligence when it comes to this year's crop of quarterbacks. On Thursday, a Rams contingent that includes Fisher, general manager Les Snead, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and others set out on a tour of college campuses all over the country in an effort to work out the nation's best quarterbacks.
It started on Thursday with a trip to Eugene, Oregon, to see Marcus Mariota and continued Friday with a stop in Corvallis, Oregon, to see Oregon State's Sean Mannion. The agenda also includes weekend stops at UCLA to see Brett Hundley, Colorado State's Garrett Grayson, Baylor's Bryce Petty and apparently even Florida State's Jameis Winston.
With Mariota and Winston, it's hard to see how the Rams could land either player without making a drastic move up the board from their current spot at No. 10 in the first round. At this point, Winston appears to be a lock to go No. 1 to Tampa Bay. Mariota's situation is a little less clear. He could go No. 2 after a trade or Tennessee could surprise and just draft him. Either way, a move up to No. 2 would seem too steep for the Rams.
If, however, Mariota lasted into the five-to-seven range, the Rams might be more inclined to check on his price.
The more likely scenario, however, involves the Rams looking at the next tier of quarterbacks. Depending on whom you ask, that tier includes Hundley, Grayson, Petty and Mannion. Opinions around the league vary on that group, with some believing that at least a couple (likely Hundley and Petty) will be selected in the second round because of the need for quarterbacks in the league. But they all come with various questions about their NFL future and all will need some time before being ready to contribute, which might be true for all but Winston.
Because the Rams have taken their show on the road, none of the quarterbacks will count against their list of 30 draft visitors. They have used most of those visits on offensive linemen while mixing in some receivers.
It's also worth noting that just because the Rams are spending so much time looking at quarterbacks, it guarantees nothing in terms of the draft. They did plenty of legwork on quarterbacks last year and didn't draft one until selecting Garrett Gilbert in the sixth round.
The team's decision-makers have taken to the road to evaluate several of the second-tier quarterbacks available in the NFL draft.