Is It Officially Time to Call Sam Bradford a Bust?

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams runs out onto the field before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams is once again having a mediocre season for a quarterback selected with a No. 1 overall pick, and at this point Bradford has to be considered a bust. 

St. Louis made Bradford the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft and signed him to a ludicrous six-year, $78 million contract. He's due to make $15.6 million in 2012 alone. 

Despite the high selection and astronomical financial figures, Bradford has yet to become one of the NF's premier quarterbacks like many pegged him to be while he was in college. 

Bradford, now in his third season, has been middle-of-the-pack at best when compared to other NFL starting quarterbacks. He's on pace for about 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. While he's elevated his quarterback rating to 84 for the first time in his career, he is still only completing 60 percent of his passes. 

While much can be said about the mediocre team around him, great NFL quarterbacks have a unique ability to make players and defensive units better through their play. 

Bradford has been unable to do that. 

The Rams are currently 4-6-1 in 2012 under Bradford's guidance, and have never won more than seven games with him under center. 

Offensively the Rams are miserable, averaging only 18.6 points per game, which ranks 28th in the NFL. Interestingly, the defense supporting isn't as horrible as advertised, as it gives up only 23 points per game (No. 18 in the NFL) and only allows offenses 341 yards per game (No. 12 in the NFL).

With the way Bradford has been playing so far, it appears it's going to be another business-as-usual season, which isn't a good thing. 

Bradford is now in his third year, which is the most critical for a developing quarterback. He hasn't shown anything to suggest that he is going to elevate his play much more beyond this point. 

For comparison's sake, we can look to the year before Bradford was drafted when the Detroit Lions made Matthew Stafford the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft. 

In his third season, Stafford broke out after two mediocre years, throwing for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions, giving him a 97.2 rating on the year.

Stafford is the the perfect example of what a No. 1 overall selection should be able to do by the time his third year rolls around. Bradford has been unable to replicate the success Stafford experienced.

The time that Bradford has as a staring quarterback in St. Louis without competition for his job is dwindling fast. By the start of next year, don't be at all surprised if head coach Jeff Fisher and Co. have brought in some form of competition, whether it be a veteran or a rookie. 

Fisher and the organization placed a large amount of faith in Bradford's abilities this past offseason by trading away the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and subsequently missing out on the rookie sensation that is Robert Griffin III. 

While fans are likely already up in arms about the decision after witnessing how 2012 has panned out so far for both Bradford and Griffin, it's a bit early to criticize the move just yet. Still, it's slowly looking like a bad decision when considering what RGIII could have done in St. Louis offensively. 

Bradford still has time to turn things around, but it's running out. It isn't time to call Bradford a bust just yet, but for a No. 1 overall pick, he's getting dangerously close. 

Unless Bradford has a drastic change in performance to close out the season, it wouldn't be unreasonable to slap him with the bust label. He's wouldn't be a bust of JaMarcus Russell proportions, but a bust nonetheless.