EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Today we continue our series of 10 for No. 10, a look at 10 players who could be in the mix for the St. Louis Rams with the 10th overall selection.
For the purposes of this exercise, it's a little more difficult to peg who will be available and who won't, but of the 10 we evaluate, there is a good chance some will be on the board when the Rams pick. Based on early returns, we're going to eliminate Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams and Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. from the conversation. Those three, above all else, seem all but certain to be gone when the Rams pick.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Why the Rams should consider him: Although the Rams traded for Nick Foles and Case Keenum, there is no guarantee that they have the long-term franchise quarterback on the roster. Likewise, none of the team's three current quarterbacks are signed for 2016 (though Keenum will still be under team control). Quarterback is the most important position in the game, and the Rams could use one who could alter the entire offense. Mariota has that ability, at least on the surface. The Heisman Trophy winner has the accurate arm and athleticism to be a difference-maker at the NFL level. Rams coach Jeff Fisher had success in Tennessee with another mobile quarterback in Steve McNair, and though McNair was bigger than Mariota, the idea is the same. Mariota comes with almost no questions from a personality or character standpoint and looks to have all the physical tools to become a franchise passer. Even from a scheme standpoint, Mariota isn't the worst fit because he made a living off play action passes for the Ducks and that's a staple of the Rams offense.
Why they shouldn't: The problem is that looks can be deceiving. Though nobody doubts Mariota's talents, he's coming from a system that doesn't necessarily make for an easy transition to the NFL. Oregon's wide-open attack allows for quarterbacks to make one read and get rid of the ball, but doesn't ask them to go through normal progressions, make checks at the line or even spit out play calls in a huddle on a regular basis. Mariota will take some time to develop and the Rams might not have the time to invest, because they need to win now. Likewise, the Rams' offensive approach would still need to be altered to maximize Mariota's skills, and the current regime has showed little willingness to deviate from its preferred methods.
Chances he's available at No. 10: Like Cooper, it seems very likely that Mariota will be gone before the Rams make their pick. We can't entirely rule out the possibility of the Rams moving up for Mariota if he falls into the six or seven range, but it seems more likely that Mariota will be gone before then. The lack of top quarterback prospects will probably make Mariota too enticing for one of the many quarterback-needy teams. If he does somehow slip, the Rams would have to take a long look, but the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, New York Jets and Chicago Bears all figure to have their eyes on Mariota, and we still can't rule out a move up by a team like the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Eagles to take him.