Jared Goff is the QB in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean the Rams shouldn’t check out some of the quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL draft. With backup QB Sean Mannion likely headed to free agency after the 2018 season it makes sense for the Rams to delve into the draft’s quarterbacks. Here are five options the Rams can look at to develop behind Goff.
Kurt Benkert, Virginia (6-foot-3, 214 pounds)
Kurt Benkert is an interesting name. This is someone that put on a show in Virginia’s thrilling loss to the Miami Hurricanes. In that game, Benkert kept battling back and showing he had legitimate alpha in him. Benkert threw four touchdowns in that game and displayed quality ball placement and arm strength. During his Senior Bowl week, it was a lot of inconsistency, you had moments where he looked like a promising future starter and then moments where you wondered if he would get drafted. However, I like Benkert, he’s not my first option and might not be my second but there is a reason he was at the Senior Bowl.
Benkert is around the same size as Rams starting QB Jared Goff. He is more mobile than Goff and works more out of the pocket than Goff does. Benkert is interesting because he played in a pro-style offense with not a lot of weapons to work with which made it harder for him. However, by playing in a pro-style offense he was able to improve upon things like footwork, pocket awareness and mechanics. He might have a lower ceiling than many but he will have a higher floor than most of the QB’s picked after day two. Benkert is intriguing and reminds me of Case Keenum. Keenum played in an air-raid college offense but the reason I see Keenum in Benkert is that alpha male mentality. It doesn’t matter who you trot out there with Benkert, he is going to try to make something happen. Seeing him play that well against Miami was a glimpse of what he can do. I wouldn’t say he’s a starter for sure at the next level but I like him as a spot starter and I like him with weapons around him. This is not a player that will make everyone better, but he might be able to orchestrate an offense if it has the right pieces appropriately around him.
Round projection: 6th round
Riley Ferguson, Memphis (6-foot-3, 196 pounds)
Big-armed and bright-minded Riley Ferguson flashed some serious ability during his time at Memphis and the East-West Shrine game. Ferguson is a solid athlete, trigger-happy and at the same time he can be the QB that wants to “live to play another down”. However, much of Ferguson’s performance can be described as talented but inconsistent. He makes some great tight window throws and then all of the sudden his accuracy is non-existent and he is placing the ball nowhere near for the receiver to make the play.
He’s relatively skinny and will certainly need to put on weight and often doesn’t stay true to his mechanics. Still, though, he’s incredibly intelligent as a football guy and would be a nice option to draft late in day three and groom. He’s smart enough to find himself some day starting because he understands coverages but his mechanics will need work.
Round projection: Rounds 6 – 7
Kyle Lauletta, Richmond (6-foot-3. 217 pounds)
Alas, my favorite QB on this list. Kyle Lauletta was the intriguing name coming into the Senior Bowl and he left as the name being talked about the most or at least one of the most when it was all said and done. Lauletta still has ways to go and is by no means a finished product. When you watch the film, it’s apparent he plays against lesser competition but the film also shows he played with lesser talent. Lauletta is the perfect developmental QB, I really see a lot of Kirk Cousins in his game. I think if McVay has a chance he might see that too and want to take Lauletta in the fourth or fifth round.
Lauletta excels with ball placement, pocket awareness, improvisational and escape-ability skills as well as accuracy and arm strength. Lauletta, as shown in the Senior Bowl, had no trouble connecting with WR D.J. Chark deep down the field in stride on a couple of deep balls, as well as connecting with TE Deon Yelder on a tight window throw and showing off excellent intermediate ball placement. This is someone that could shoot himself into the second or third round with another impressive showing at the NFL combine and his pro day. Lauletta has been battle tested, he had four offensive coordinators at Richmond, he struggled at the start of his college career and continued to improve. This is a player that if developed properly could easily be a starter and a franchise QB like Cousins in the league.
Lauletta keeps his eyes downfield always trying to create a play, he’s intelligent and patient in the pocket as well but the thing that jumps out at me more than anything is his throwing motion. How many times do we hear scouts knock a QB for the long wind up delivery? Well, with Lauletta, he doesn’t have any of that, it’s all a quick motion and the ball comes out just as quick. This is someone that has enough tools and traits to end up netting you a second-round pick if developed properly.
Round projection: Rounds 3 – 5
Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech (6-foot-3. 218 pounds)
Nic Shimonek is not Patrick Mahomes, but man does his arm talent clearly jump out at you on film. Shimonek, an Iowa transfer, did a nice job of replacing the former Texas Tech star and showed consistency while doing it. Shimonek had himself a really good East-West Shrine game week and started to generate a little buzz. He’s nowhere near being an NFL-ready prospect but he doesn’t need to be.
This is someone I see with some talent that can be molded into the QB you want him to be. Coming out of high school he was considered a Pro-Style QB recruit and played in that air-raid system at Texas Tech this past year. He has experience in multiple systems so with that versatility and his arm talent you could see a team teaching him the position the way they want him to play it. Shimonek could go a lot of places but he would not be a bad option to take in the late seventh or sign as a priority UDFA if the chance came up.
Round projection: Round 7 – UDFA
Logan Woodside, Toledo (6-foot-2, 210 pounds)
The last QB on this list is Logan Woodside, I feel like he’s been a little underrated among the draft community and even by myself. I really like him as a prospect but this draft has a lot of intriguing arms so he’s easy to forget. He’s going to get a little knocked because he plays in a wide open attacking offense. I think he’s got some nice mechanics that are smooth and ball comes out quick which will get him ready for the speed of the NFL game. I think he is a legitimate sleeper QB and I was disappointed he didn’t get into the Senior Bowl.
Woodside is a player that has that quick released combined with his great accuracy but the issue with him is surviving the pocket pressure he was dealt with a lot at Toledo. On one hand, he’s battle-tested and the NFL’s scariest pass rushers won’t “shock” him but on the other hand he just doesn’t deal with pressure well, he doesn’t have a great deal of pocket awareness and I think that could be trouble. Of course, we are talking developmental passers behind Goff and for offensive mind Sean McVay, so in this case, Woodside has enough tools to work with.
Round projection: Rounds 5 – 7