Early draft preview: Will Rams need a QB?

ST. LOUIS — After selecting Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Rams went three years without drafting another quarterback.

That changed in 2014 when St. Louis selected SMU’s Garrett Gilbert in the sixth round at No. 214 overall, a prospect the coaching staff can work to develop for the future.

The biggest question in the Gateway City going into the 2014 season is what will become of Bradford, the franchise quarterback who so far has yet to live up to his billing as the No. 1 overall pick four years ago and his massive rookie contract.

NFL Draft Report’s Dave-Te’ Thomas has been releasing his early grades, position by position, on potential Class of 2015 draft prospects, so we’ll take a look at how the Rams stack up at those spots and who might be a good fit wearing the Horns in 2015 and beyond.

Here are Thomas’s early grades on the Class of 2015 quarterback prospects, including four players with first-round grades.

Here is Thomas’s story breaking down those quarterback prospects a little bit more, including a quick look at who he has deemed as the cream of the crop, on the bubble and the most underrated and overrated prospects.

Whether the Rams will need to draft a QB in the first round in 2015 will be determined solely by how Bradford performs in his fifth NFL season.

If Bradford, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury, can put together a complete, injury-free campaign and lead the Rams to a winning record and the playoffs, the questions will change to when and how the Rams will lock him up to a long-term contract.

If Bradford can’t lead St. Louis to a winning season, a playoff appearance or can’t stay healthy for 16 games, the questions will be focused on finding a new franchise quarterback who will be able to change the Rams’ fortunes in the future.

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston, if the Heisman winner declares for the draft, are the clear frontrunners in this class at this point. Both have the size, skills and athleticism to be impact players at the next level.

And both would look great in a Rams uniform.

The Rams will go into 2014 with Bradford as the starter and veteran Shaun Hill, signed this offseason to a free agent deal, as the backup.

Behind those two will be Austin Davis and Gilbert, who will compete for the third quarterback spot. Gilbert looks the part of a developmental prospect and had a nice career at Texas and then at pass-happy SMU, but he’ll need time to grow and may never evolve into more than a backup quarterback in the NFL.

Here is a story I wrote on Gilbert after the draft, including thoughts from the quarterback coach who helped him prepare to make the jump to the NFL, Cree Morris.

Davis and Gilbert will be chances during training camp and in the preseason to show what they can do. Keeping a third quarterback on the roster behind Bradford and Hill isn’t a given, so both will have to show they are worthy of the spot.

If not, the Rams could be looking to take another quarterback late in the 2015 Draft. There will be plenty to choose from.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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