St. Louis Rams: Why Sam Bradford Should Envy Andrew Luck
Sam Bradford and Andrew Luck have a lot in common. They were both highly regarded QBs entering the draft process, and they both were ultimately selected No. 1 overall.
Being drafted that high means you're getting picked by a bad team, so they also have that in common.
That's where the similarities end though—because the Indianapolis Colts made a conscious effort to surround Luck with talent on the offensive side of the football. Maybe the Colts understood the obvious, that picking a QB No. 1 overall changes everything for a franchise.
They understood that not supporting that QB with an O-Line and receivers to throw to is, in essence, a waste of the No. 1 overall pick.
Prior to drafting Luck, the Colts had already added some serious talent on the offensive side of the ball. After all, they did have Peyton Manning, and Manning was as good as any QB in the game. So drafting some premium offensive talent in support of Manning made sense.
Andrew Luck inherited all of those good players.
When Luck arrived in Indy, he found a starting left tackle (Anthony Castonzo, 2011 first-round pick), a starting running back (Donald Brown, 2009 first-round draft pick), and a solid possession receiver (Austin Collie, 2009 fourth-round pick) already on the roster.
Of course, the Colts also had Reggie Wayne, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
Which QB will win more Super Bowls?
The Colts bolstered Luck's arsenal by drafting Colby Fleener (tight end, 2012 second-round), Dwayne Allen (tight end, 2012 third-round), T.Y. Hilton (wide receiver, 2012 third-round), Vick Ballard (running back, 2012 fifth-round), and LaVon Brazil (wide receiver, 2012 sixth-round).
The Colts' message was loud and clear: "We're giving this kid every chance in the world to succeed."
So as a rookie. Luck's offensive line is ranked sixth in the league in pass protection (per Football Outsiders). Bradford has taken a beating during his entire Rams' career, and 2012 has been no exception. Despite the Rams' 3-2 record, the Rams' O-Line is ranked dead last in pass protection this season.
Luck is also reaping the benefits of so many offensive draft picks that are paying off. In the Colts' Week 5 upset win over Green Bay, Luck's top receivers were Wayne (13 catches, 212 yards, 1 TD), Fleener (5 catches, 41 yards), Allen (4 catches, 38 yards) and Hilton (3 catches, 37 yards).
Bradford's top receiver in the Rams' Week 5 win over Arizona was Chris Givens, a fourth-round pick in 2012. Givens caught a 51-yard touchdown pass, but that was his only catch of the game.
The Rams do have some talented young players on offense. Givens is a keeper. Danny Amendola is just entering his prime. Brian Quick (No. 33 overall pick, 2012) is very talented and should continue to improve. Austin Pettis (2011 third-round pick) looks to be improving during his second year in the league.
What is your opinion of Bradford right now?
The Rams are one receiver and an offensive line short of being really good.
Contrary to popular belief, Bradford is not the problem. As Mike Mayock said on the NFL Network's Thursday night broadcast, "Bradford can be an elite QB," that Bradford has "a huge arm," and when given protection Bradford is "as accurate as any QB in the league."
Does Bradford need to play better? Absolutely, but he also needs help.
The Rams have two first-round picks this year. They need to focus on a left tackle. Just look at what Matt Kalil has done for Christian Ponder in Minnesota. Look at what Jake Long has done for Ryan Tannehill in Minnesota. The Rams desperately need a good left tackle, and you're not going to find one in the free agency.
The Rams have to draft a left tackle.
With Scott Wells (injured right now) at center, Harvey Dahl at right guard and Rodger Saffold, the injured incumbent left tackle moved over to right tackle, the Rams have three parts of a good line. Find a left tackle in the first round and then find a starting left guard somewhere in the third or fourth round, and the Rams' O-Line would be set.
Then the Rams need to find Bradford an elite receiver. In my opinion, the Rams should go hard after Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers. Jennings is an elite receiver, and Packers have so many good players that they probably won't be able to afford him.
What is the Rams' biggest team need?
Line Jennings up opposite whichever young receiver wins the job—Pettis, Quick, or Givens. Stick Danny Amendola in the slot. Draft another tight end somewhere in the middle of the draft to push and/or replace Lance Kendricks.
Sam Bradford's game would go to another level. So would the Rams' offense.
The way the Rams' defense is playing, that's just a scary thought. The Rams are one good draft and finding a legit No. 1 receiver away from being really good.
With all the draft picks the Rams having coming over the next two years along with the improvement of the young players on their roster—the youngest in the NFL—they could be great.
Something special is happening in St. Louis. The Rams just need to take that next step and do what Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnulo should have done in the first place.
They need to support Sam Bradford by any means necessary.
But I wouldn't be mad if they drafted a safety that could cover somebody.
As always, thanks for reading.
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