The common assumption viewers and readers have been fed throughout the preparation for the 2010 NFL Draft is that quarterback Sam Bradford is the no-brainer selection for the St. Louis Rams with the first pick in the draft.
But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
With the selection of a quarterback with a pick this high in the draft comes a tremendous risk-reward situation.
Quarterback is clearly the most difficult position to adjust to when transitioning from college to the professional ranks of the National Football League.
The comparisons will be constant and the expectations through the roof for Bradford if he is taken No. 1. He is already getting the label of a Peyton Manning-like quarterback and that is a title I feel he doesn’t deserve or even want at this point.
The former Sooner quarterback does have all the physical attributes that NFL scouts gush over nowadays. At 6 foot 4, 218 pounds, he is seen as a purebred athlete who won’t have any issues seeing over a big offensive line.
Bradford also aced the Wonderlic test with the highest score among quarterbacks in his class by far.
Bradford may have an accurate arm, but he never proved to be an efficient passer when his offensive line wasn’t doing an immaculate job at protecting him. He isn’t known for his accuracy when he is on the move.
Bradford hasn’t shown the need or ability to throw the ball in stride to his receivers through the little windows like he will see in the NFL.
The injury issues are being almost completely overlooked for this young quarterback. Bradford’s final year of football on the collegiate level was one ravaged by a shoulder injury that reoccurred before forcing his season to end.
Bradford has had two surgeries on his right throwing shoulder, yet these surgeries are hardly even mentioned when Bradford is discussed.
Bradford can’t really be labeled as a tough quarterback at all. After initially hurting his shoulder last season against BYU, he sat out the next three games respectfully, when he came back, he sliced and diced a Baylor defense for 389 passing yards and was hardly touched in the pocket.
But just a game later when a challenge was applied against the rival Texas Longhorns and there was actually some hits and contact with the Sooner quarterback, he was quick to re-injure his shoulder.
What is expected to happen in St. Louis with a below-average offensive line? How will he take his first monster hit and big fall on that rough surface in St. Louis?
Bradford did the majority of his collegiate work running the spread offense and his statistics are quite inspiring to say the least.
With his 8,403 passing yards, 88 touchdowns, and only 16 interceptions in his collegiate career, there is barely any room for a complaint on paper, but when analyzing the film, there is plenty more to be seen than the impressive stats.
For instance, Bradford was almost always in shotgun. This will obviously affect his three-, five-, and seven-step drops before his throws.
In addition, whenever there were moments of confusion pre-snap, Bradford would simply look to the sideline for the coach’s directions on what to alter. This will not be an option for Bradford in the NFL.
Bradford’s vision seems to be a positive, as he does well progressing from his first option to his next and so on, but that again can be a direct result of the protection he received.
In this case, it seems that Bradford clearly provides a lot more risks than he does hopes for reward. Especially when there are so many clear lacks of talent at other positions. Bradford, though impressive in workouts and in his physical characteristics, is far from a sure thing.
So is it wise to pass up what are sure to be two All-Pro defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy or sure-thing offensive linemen Russell Okung and Trent Williams or even the most talented defensive back in recent years, Eric Berry?
I think not. So trading down seems to be the best move for the St. Louis Rams. It would be ideal to trade down and still stay in the top seven picks on the first round while gathering a key player to go along with multiple picks.
Yes, the Quarterback position is the most important position on the field, but for a team like the Rams there are plenty of holes that can be filled by trading down and getting multiple talents instead of putting all their eggs in one basket with the debatable Sam Bradford.
But the Rams are in desperate need for a quarterback. Yet this still isn’t a reason to jump the gun and take a quarterback in an act of extreme anxiety.
There are still some solutions out there that can be had for a cheap price, like say a Jason Campbell from the Washington Redskins.
The Rams can also draft a quarterback with an acquired pick later in the draft in the second or third round, like a Colt McCoy or Tony Pike, who can just as easily progress to be as good of a quarterback as Sam Bradford.
This will be a much better value pick for the Rams and take a load of pressure off the rookie quarterback while improving the overall team.
Now Bradford obviously shouldn’t be stripped of all credit for his tremendous two plus seasons at Oklahoma, but when such a huge vital move for a franchise is about to be made, like what should they do with the first pick of the NFL Draft there is a lot at stake.
And with such huge implications, such an investment must be critiqued to the full extent and beyond.
So if and when Sam Bradford’s name is called with the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft don’t assume that you are watching the next Peyton Manning walk up to the podium just because he has been the talk of the off-season and his criticisms haven’t really been spoken of.
Expect a bold, big-time risky decision by a franchise that is not likely to get the supreme performer in return.