By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Thursday, Jun. 12 2008

Rams fans have had a lot of questions about the team's quarterback situation
during the offseason.

Would the team sign a quarterback to compete with Brock Berlin for the No. 3
role?

Would the team search for a young quarterback with the long-term potential to
start here?

Would the team find a more experienced quarterback to back up the battered Marc
Bulger and the concussion-prone Trent Green?

The Rams answered all three questions by signing displaced Buccaneers
quarterback Brad Gradkowski, who played 13 games as a rookie in 2006 and parts
of four games last year.

Gradkowski demonstrated mobility and a strong arm in '06, putting the ball up
328 times for Tampa Bay. He passed for 1,661 yards and nine touchdowns. He also
rushed for 161 yards and 12 first downs.

At 25, the former University of Toledo star is still a prospect. He just got
lost in the shuffle at Tampa Bay, which turned to veteran Jeff Garcia and
journeyman Luke McCown last year and added Brian Griese for this season.

If he can master the Al Saunders offense -– a big “if” for a quarterback
groomed in the West Coast scheme -– he could be a nice find.

Here is some of what Scout Inc. had to say about him:

“He is a tough, competitive player. He displays good pocket toughness. He has
an above-average arm with a quick release. He flashes the ability to make all
the throws in the passing game but lacks the big time vertical arm to stretch
the field. He has good quickness away from the center with above-average pocket
awareness. He can slide and buy time in the pocket but does struggle to find
passing windows due to his lack of height. He does show the ability to process
information but doesn't always make the right decisions.

“He can throw in rhythm with above-average accuracy in the short and
intermediate areas in the passing game. He is a streak player that needs a
strong running game behind him to enhance his abilities in the pocket. However,
he will force throws into tight coverage and doesn't always hit targets in
stride. He does show the ability to attack the edges while throwing on the
move. He does have the ability to scramble and makes plays with his feet.”

Berlin. 26, played in one game last year after Bulger and Gus Frerotte both
went down. He completed 17 of 28 passes for just 153 yards as coach Scott
Linehan kept his offensive game plan pretty simple.

That was valuable experience for Berlin, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Rams
from seeking legitimate competition. Gradkowski very much provides that.

“Bruce has a great background of playing at a young age in this league,”
Linehan said Thursday, after the Rams wrapped up their final round of organized
team activities at Rams Park. “We evaluated him coming out of playing college
at Toledo. A very productive player. He played in a very productive offense in
college. Has a real live arm. Has good athletic presence about him. Has the
ability to move, buy time and create plays.

“Just the fact he came in as a rookie and played like he did is pretty rare.
That will give him a lot of confidence in his competition with Brock. But we’re
very happy with Brock’s progress, too. I think he’s had a great camp.”

So this looks like a healthier situation for the Rams. Berlin has a big head
start on Gradkowski, but Brad has more experience under fire. And if either
Bulger or Green has a preseason setback, that experience provides Linehan more
comfort.

Check this item off the Rams “to-do” list. Fans can move on to fretting about
whether the team has enough veteran depth at linebacker or safety.