St. Louis general manager Les Snead caused quite a stir Monday morning when he said in a radio interview that the Rams have been scouting quarterbacks for the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite sticking with his belief that Sam Bradford was the team's starter going forward, the comments about drafting another signal-caller this year certainly raised a few eyebrows around the league.
Most observers think that means the team will go after somebody on Day 2 or 3 of the draft as insurance for the oft-injured Bradford. But recent momentum seems to be building for the club to take one of the top quarterbacks in the draft class with a first-round pick. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout, said on "Path to the Draft" that he's hearing the team could actually be targeting one of the draft's biggest stars early in the first round.
"Take what you will with this, but this is out there," Jeremiah said. "(NFL personnel) are saying there's legitmate interest between the Rams and Johnny Manziel. There's at least buzz in personnel circles saying do not rule out Johnny Manziel to St. Louis."
That would represent a somewhat radical depature from the convential thinking that St. Louis will opt to go with offensive line help -- in the form of tackles Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews -- or an impact wide receiver such as Sammy Watkins. Trading the second overall pick to move down has also been a hot topic of conversation around the team and would open up a host of other possibilities for the franchise to wind up with someone such as Manziel.
Fellow analyst Charles Davis, in his mock draft set to be released Tuesday on NFL.com, is one of the few to act on the rumors of the Rams drafting a quarterback by slotting Manziel to the team with the 13th overall selection. That's notable, not just for the team grabbing Johnny Football to slide in behind Bradford, but because it's one of the rare cases where Manziel makes it past the Vikings and Titans on the draft board.
"I don't know if that's a scenario where he drops all the way to 13 or if they will have the guts to take him with the second overall pick," Jeremiah said. "I'm just telling you that's out there, and some people believe it's a real possibility."
Snead was among the throng of NFL front office types to head to College Station in March for Manziel's pro day, so it's not like the team hasn't done some homework on the most electric quarterback to come out of the college ranks in years. Also keep in mind that head coach Jeff Fisher came within a yard of a Super Bowl victory on the arm of a quarterback who could also make a few plays with his feet in the late Steve McNair.
Bradford has played all 16 games for the Rams just twice in his four seasons in St. Louis. He is expected to be back to full health by the time fall camp rolls around, a little over nine months since he tore his ACL and missed most of the 2013 season. He has two years remaining on his contract with the team, both of which represent a significant cap hit to the club as they re-tool to compete with division rivals Seattle and San Francisco.
Perhaps this is all just a misdirection play that we've come to see time after time in the run-up to the draft, but based on Snead's comments and the latest talk in NFL personnel circles, it's something folks will have to strongly consider when the Rams come on the clock in May.
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.