Sam Bradford was selected as the first overall pick in 2010, but he hasn't quite lived up to expectations. He had a strong rookie season, throwing for over 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he had sophomore slump the year after.
In 2011, Bradford threw just six touchdowns in 10 games in a season where the Rams finished 2-14. The season was bad all around for the Rams.
But they, along with Bradford, were able to turn it around in 2012.
Last year, the Rams stayed competitive in a tough NFC West division. They finished with a 7-8-1 record and lost only one divisional game. Their improvement was due to a lot of reasons, and one of those was Bradford's play.
While it certainly wasn't a perfect season, Bradford showed improvements in 2012. He finished with career highs in passing yards, touchdowns, quarterback rating, and rushing yards. This improvement is encouraging for his 2013 outlook.
What's also encouraging for Bradford is the help he got in this year's draft. The Rams selected West Virginia receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Austin is a dynamic playmaker who can fill the void left by the loss of Danny Amendola. The team also signed athletic tight end Jared Cook in the offseason.
In addition, the Rams have young players from the 2011 and 2012 drafts. Receiver Austin Pettis (third round) and tight end Lance Kendricks (second round) are expected to have big roles for St. Louis this upcoming season. As reported by Nick Wagoner of NFL.com, Pettis received praise from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer last month.
Quite honestly, he’s probably having the best camp of all the skill players. He’s a tireless worker, very competitive, can play all the spots which helps and he’s having a tremendous spring.
In 2012, the Rams selected receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens. Quick is the receiver expected to develop into a high-quality player. After the draft, he drew comparisons to Terrell Owens, but he never got going during his rookie year. He is expected to have a bigger impact this season than the 11 catches for 156 yards he had last year.
Another aspect favoring Bradford is that this will be his first year without a coaching change. Jeff Fisher and Schottenheimer return as head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively. Also helping Bradford is a steadier offensive line that has been improved with the offseason signing of Jake Long.
The Rams offense is still very young, but it's also very talented. If these guys can play to their full potential, then Bradford will have no excuse for not putting up the numbers of a first overall draft pick.
It's not far-fetched to think Bradford could finish with a 4,000-yard, 25+ touchdown season. If he can keep his interceptions down, then he could be a sneaky option late in drafts.
At this point, Bradford isn't someone to trust as your starting quarterback for the whole season. He has a lot of question marks, but there's no doubt there's a lot of upside for him in 2013. He is a great selection as a backup quarterback who could turn into a starting option.