The Rams probably do not know which player they're going to draft first overall this year. They'll want to see Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford work out March 26 before making a decision.
Signing veteran quarterback A.J. Feeley as a potential mentor and short-term starter does offer some clues, however. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was an Eagles assistant in 1999 when Philadelphia signed veteran backup Doug Pederson two months before selecting franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb with the third overall choice.
I was covering the Seahawks in 1999 when then-coach Mike Holmgren showed interest in Pederson. Holmgren had coached Pederson in Green Bay, as had Eagles coach Andy Reid. The Seahawks lost Pederson to the Eagles, but the deal worked out OK for Seattle in the long run; Green Bay filled Pederson's spot on its roster by signing Matt Hasselbeck, a free agent who had been on the Packers' practice squad in 1998. The Packers developed Hasselbeck for a few years before Holmgren brought him to Seattle.
Back to the original story. Feeley knows the Rams' offense from his days with the Eagles. Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was his position coach in Philadelphia, and Shurmur brought the basic offense to St. Louis. Feeley can serve the same role Pederson served for the Eagles in 1999 if the Rams draft a quarterback in the first round.
The thinking is sound, but none of it matters if a team drafts the wrong quarterback. Pederson played a similar role for the Browns in 2000, serving as a mentor for Tim Couch.
"I see my role as an older quarterback that’s there to help out in any way possible," Feeley said Monday during a conference call with reporters. "Regardless if it's playing or in a backup role, I’m just there to contribute. Where it is, they haven’t really set a defined role as to what I’m doing, which I’m fine with. It’s all about competing and I’m trying to get this thing on the right track."