Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
When Sam Bradford was selected with the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010, the people of St. Louis viewed him as the next great NFL quarterback—a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.
So far, Bradford has had numerous hurdles in his three-year career that have prevented him from reaching elite status.
In 2011, he was plagued with an ankle injury and had a lackluster supporting cast. In his 10 starts that year, he was among the worst passers in the league, finishing with six touchdowns, six interceptions and an abysmal 53.5 percent completion rate.
Even in 2010 and 2012, when he was a reasonably productive quarterback, the offense was stale and inconsistent—they scored just 18.1 points per game in 2010 (26th in the NFL) and 18.7 in 2012 (23rd).
Elite quarterbacks (or, very good quarterbacks) don't finish in the bottom 10 in scoring for three consecutive years.
Personally, I feel Bradford will step up in a big way in 2013 and earn the respect of fans, analysts and fantasy football nuts. I've seen too many flashes of greatness from Bradford to bet against him.
Quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III have made us forget that top-notch passers sometimes take years to develop—Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady didn't produce eye-popping numbers until several years into their careers.
I'm not implying that Bradford will suddenly produce like a top-five quarterback, but he certainly has a chance to piece together the best statistical season of his career, especially with the additions of Jake Long, Jared Cook and Tavon Austin.
With a better cast, experience in the league and familiarity with the offense, expect Bradford to establish himself as the most valuable player on offense.