2010 NFL Draft: How Sam Bradford Helped the 49ers

Joseph BurkeyAnalyst IApril 27, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Sam Bradford #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on during warm-ups against the Florida Gators during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

At one point, Ndamukong Suh was the undisputed No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft. This seemed pretty cool—having the legendary Husker defensive tackle and Heisman hopeful appraised as the best player in college football, hands down.

Then the NFL season ended, and the archrival St. Louis Rams finished dead last in the NFL, handing San Francisco's hated adversary the first shot at taking the big man. Not good.

In spite of finishing even behind the pathetic Detroit Lions, St. Louis had played hard defense against the 49ers in the season finale. Their defense was slowly coming into being, as the talents of James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, and Oshiomogho Atogwe seemed to be contagiously rubbing off on a group of youngsters.

Making matters worse, there was a legitimate run threat in Steven Jackson, and a stronger line could boost their team's offensive abilities rather quickly.

One thing was missing: a game changing play maker in the middle of the defensive line. Suh was the perfect man for the job.

If the Rams took Suh, then some offensive linemen, and maybe picked up or traded for a quarterback, they could be a pain to deal with.

In fact, if the Rams took Suh first overall, Jimmy Clausen in the second round, and then focused on o-line and receiving tools the rest of the way, they too could have a shot at the NFC West title.

The last time they picked up a defensive tackle out of Nebraska it was Grant Wistrom. If you recall, St. Louis had a death grip on the NFC West just a couple years after Wistrom's arrival. The speculation of the Rams landing Suh gave me a bad feeling in my gut.

Suddenly, it was Sam Bradford to the rescue! His nearly flawless pro day tipped the scales and made him the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick.

I get it. The Rams are a team in need of a franchise quarterback, and Bradford appeared to be the best specimen at the position. The 6'4" passer had packed on some muscle and showed no lingering effects of his shoulder injury. He threw the ball hard and well, drawing comparisons to Troy Aikman and Eli Manning.

But he won't be Ndamukong Suh. He won't harass Alex Smith or Frank Gore. He's not going to blow up the offensive line or draw holding penalties. He won't complete the growing defense in St. Louis the way Suh would have.

So thank you, Sam Bradford, for the excellent pro day that took "House Of Spears" away from the Rams, and instead gave the 49ers their own target quarterback to treat like a punching bag.

And God bless the NFC West.