Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Rams combine countdown: No. 4
By Nick Wagoner
The workout portion of the NFL scouting combine begins on Feb. 22 with the entire football world closely watching every prospect's every move. With that in mind, we're counting down the top five things the Rams and their fans should be watching as the NFL converges on Indianapolis.
It has become custom for the NFL draft's top quarterbacks to attend the scouting combine but eschew the workout portion in favor of the more controlled environment of an on-campus pro day. It's already been reported that Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will not throw at the combine. Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater have yet to make it known if they will do everything but it appears they'll at least do some of the workouts.
Which brings us to the No. 4 pressing combine question for the St. Louis Rams and their fans: Which quarterback(s) will make the move to stand out above the rest in Indianapolis?
By now, it's been made clear time and again the Rams have no intention of drafting a signal caller at No. 2 overall. Unless everything general manager Les Snead, coach Jeff Fisher and other decision makers has said is untrue, Sam Bradford is and will remain the starting quarterback in 2014. But how the quarterback competition shakes out will have an impact on what the Rams do with their No. 2 overall pick.
In 2012, Stanford's Andrew Luck arrived at the combine as the hands-down No. 1 overall pick. It was a no-brainer. Baylor's Robert Griffin III was viewed as a possible complement to Luck before the combine but cemented his spot as the easy choice at No. 2 overall with a strong workout that included a 40-yard dash time of 4.41 seconds.
The trade market for the Rams, who held the No. 2 pick, heated up almost immediately and soon the Rams dealt the pick to Washington for a pile of draft picks which eventually included the same No. 2 pick they now hold in this year's draft.
That isn't to say that Manziel, Bortles or Bridgewater need to duplicate that to solidify his position. Ultimately, the college game tape is the primary indicator of how teams view prospects. There are still simple ways they could help themselves though, such as Manziel and Bridgewater simply measuring in taller than expected.
It's unlikely that any of the quarterbacks have a similar performance and make themselves so desirable that teams are willing to offer the same package the Rams got from Washington but it would certainly help the Rams' cause if one or two of them put on a show.
Snead said in January the pick wasn't quite for sale but also made it clear that the phone lines are always open if someone wanted to make a big offer. Since the Rams appear committed to Bradford, they'd likely prefer a trade down where they can add more picks and get help at positions of more pressing need like the offensive line, secondary or wide receiver.
Beyond the top quarterbacks looking to separate at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Rams also have a vested interest in what the second tier of signal callers is doing. St. Louis is nearly certain to add a quarterback at some point in the 2014 draft and players like Fresno State's Derek Carr, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Alabama's A.J. McCarron and Georgia's Aaron Murray will be in attendance.
If nothing else, the week gives the Rams an opportunity to speak to any and all prospects, review their medical information and add more valuable pieces to their overall evaluation of this year's prospects.