Can Brian Quick Regain His Momentum From Last Season With the Rams in 2015?
First came fellow draft classmate Chris Givens in 2012. Then came Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in 2013. And after a quiet year at the wide receiver department in the draft, the Rams continued their search in free agency by signing Kenny Britt in 2014.
Simply looking at the personnel moves made by the St. Louis Rams' front office evidences what they really thought about their 33rd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, Brian Quick.
After failing to break out during his first two seasons in the league and with his inability to secure a starting wideout spot on the Rams' roster, many started to label Quick as an early-round bust. But then the first four weeks of the 2014 season happened. 81 yards per game and three total touchdowns later, the narrative of Quick's short career seemed like it was finally turning for the better.
There was suddenly optimism that Quick had finally put it all together in his third year and was on a trajectory to make good on the potential that made him such a highly coveted pick just two seasons before. Unfortunately, his sudden ascent was met with an unexpected stop, as a shoulder injury in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs would cost him the remainder of the season.
Now, as Quick rehabs his way back onto the football field for 2015, the question remains whether the flashes he displayed early last year were a hint of bigger things to come this upcoming season or if these performances were all merely a mirage.
A Promising Third Year
Quick was an incredibly productive receiver last season, averaging 0.81 Net Expected Points (NEP) per target -- which tied him for 18th amonst all wideouts receiving at least 30 targets last year -- just behind Calvin Johnson (0.82) and T.Y. Hilton (0.83). NEP is our signature metric which measures a player's production above (or below) expectation; to learn more about it check out our glossary.
Beyond this, his 96.0% success rate -- meaning that 24 out of his 25 receptions improved his team's chances of scoring -- ranked sixth in the league among qualifying receivers, again just behind Megatron's 98.6% and Marques Colston's 96.6%. How's that for efficiency? Quick was finally adding tangible value to this team, helping move the offense through the air, resulting in his swift ascent atop the depth chart as the team's number one receiver.
But just as fast as Quick's value shot up with the Rams, it all came crashing down almost as abruptly. In Week 7 against Kansas City, Quick suffered a dislocated left shoulder and torn rotator cuff, an injury that would later require season-ending surgery to repair.
As the 2015 offseason kicks off, and despite coming off a serious injury, things are once again looking bright for Quick's prospects this year.
The numbers Quick put up over the early part of the 2014 season were done with replacement-level talent Austin Davis under center, whose -0.04 Passing NEP per drop back ranked him as the fifth worst quarterback with over 200 drop backs last season. Now, following the trade of Sam Bradford to Philadelphia for Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles, the Rams might have a quarterback capable of taking full advantage of Quick's skills.
Reports also suggest that Quick's recovery from his shoulder injury last October is progressing quickly. This is particularly good news considering Quick is also entering his fourth season in the league at the age of 26, which is about the same age and experience level that elite wideouts peak.
So with some breaks finally falling his way, can he regain his momentum for 2015?
Fitting in with Foles
Standing at 6' 4" and 220 pounds and with impressive explosiveness to his game, Quick's biggest assets are his size, strong hands, and excellent ability to maintain his balance following contact. All this adds up to Quick being an outstanding weapon in the short-to-intermediate range, where his willingness to go over the middle, sure hands, and ability to out-muscle defenders makes him a quarterback's best friend.
Indeed, 23 of Quick's 25 receptions last season were caught within 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Beyond all this, Quick's size also makes him an excellent option in the red zone. Last year, he caught all three targets he received within the opponent's 20-yard line and converted two of these receptions into touchdowns.
This skill set complements perfectly with Nick Foles strengths and tendencies. When we look at this passing heat map produced by NFLsavant.com, we see that during the 2014 season, Foles' accuracy was markedly better on throws made within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage than on deep throws made beyond this same mark.
Foles completed an impressive 67.0% of his passes that traveled fewer than 20 yards in the air (which also accounted for 84% of all his passes last season), while connecting on just 22.0% of his passes thrown 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage.
So given this significant overlap in strengths, it's certainly reasonable for us to expect Quick to become a favorite target of new St. Louis Ram Nick Foles and improve on the 6.2 targets per game he received in his six games prior to his season-ending injury.
The Bottom Line
Labeled an early-round bust in many circles prior to last season, Brian Quick started to flash the skills that made him the the fifth receiver taken in the 2012 NFL Draft, ahead of players such as Alshon Jeffery and T.Y. Hilton.
Now with a capable quarterback at the helm in Nick Foles, whose skill set complements his own strengths, I fully expect Quick to continue the pace he established over the first month of the 2014 season to have a truly breakout year for the Rams in 2015.