The St. Louis Rams have heavily pursued depth at defensive back in this draft, but the team is now adding some much-needed depth at other positions, such as quarterback.
The Rams added veteran quarterback Shaun Hill of the Detroit Lions in free agency, but the 34-year-old passer has just another year or so left in the tank, if they're lucky.
As a result, the Rams used a compensatory sixth-round selection to grab quarterback Garrett Gilbert out of Southern Methodist.
Gilbert has the ideal size for an NFL passer at 6'4" and 221 pounds. He has a great arm and all the physical tools teams look for in a quarterback.
With Sam Bradford recovering from a knee injury, the Rams were in need of another young quarterback with starter potential.
In fact, according to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, the Rams not only entered the draft with late-round passers in mind, but also eyed some early round quarterbacks as well:
Rams, who strongly considered Manziel, finally draft a qb...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) May 10, 2014
Silver had access to the Rams' war room throughout the draft, so the interest was probably real. Even if the Johnny Manziel talk was merely a smoke screen, there's no doubt that St. Louis' general interest in the position was real all along.
If Gilbert pans out, he'll provide the Rams with a reliable backup. With some luck, he'll eventually see the field and show the NFL what he's capable of.
For now, the Rams' search for quarterback depth is complete.
Gilbert's Roller-Coaster College Career
Gilbert was a promising quarterback prospect coming out of high school and was recruited by the Texas Longhorns, and he eventually committed to the school.
Gilbert had a shot at leading one of the most prominent college programs in the country, but his tenure at Texas was anything but a success.
In Gilbert's three seasons with the Longhorns, he played in 24 games. In those games, he posted just 13 passing touchdowns against 23 interceptions. He completed just 50.9 percent of his passes as a member of the Longhorns.
After transferring to Southern Methodist, things did not dramatically improve, at least not immediately.
In his first season with SMU, Gilbert had 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He averaged less than six yards an attempts and finished with a terrible 53 percent completion rate.
After four underwhelming seasons, it appeared Gilbert's college career was about to end a colossal disappointment...until he emerged in 2013.
Last season, Gilbert was finally able to tap into his limitless potential. He passed for 3,528 yards and 21 touchdowns—both career highs—and had just seven interceptions. He finished with a very promising 66.5 percent completion rate.
Gilbert's 2013 numbers would have been even higher, but he missed two games due to injury, according to his Southern Methodist biography.
With Gilbert's excellent 2013 performance, he cemented his status as a legitimate NFL prospect.
How Gilbert Fits with the Rams
Gilbert is clearly a late bloomer as a prospect. He had to fight through four aggravating years of disappointment before finally making a name for himself in 2013.
With that being said, it's realistic to presume that Gilbert will have an equally difficult learning curve in the NFL.
However, he proved during his collegiate years that he's willing to work through the growing pains. If the Rams have patience with Gilbert, it could pay huge dividends in the end.
Hill is undoubtedly the No. 2 passer, so Gilbert will battle with Austin Davis for the third-string job.
If Gilbert wins the job, Davis will be cut, and Gilbert will spend a year or two on the practice squad to sharpen his skills.
With a bit of luck, Gilbert will develop ahead of schedule and provide the Rams with a long-term backup.
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