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Sam Bradford Leading The Way
In 2010, the Rams selected Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, and—after having a stellar rookie season working with what most considered a below-average receiving corps—expectations are very high entering his sophomore season .
The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year looks to have all the tools and the "it" factor that defines franchise quarterbacks.
Veteran sportswriter Vic Carucci of NFL.com is one of many experts who believe Bradford will be the best of a group of standout young QBs that includes Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, the Jets' Mark Sanchez, Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco.
Comparing Bradfors to other young quarterbacks, Carucci says:
"...my pick is Sam Bradford. It isn't just his talent, which is immense, or his tremendous football intelligence and instincts. It's because Bradford managed to make all of his assets work to his and the Rams' advantage as a rookie”.
Bradford had a strong rookie year despite injuries to multiple receivers, including season ending injuries to not one but two primary targets, Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery
As for Clayton, he and Bradford developed remarkable chemistry in a short time.
Clayton told the Tulsa World that he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis. With the rapport they shared, you have to think Sam hopes for the same.
Before the lockout, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Rams and Clayton were close to a deal.
Avery went down before the regular season even began, unfortunately.
Like Clayton, Avery appeared to be developing some chemistry with Bradford. Due to his elite speed and the threat he provides on any given play of getting behind the defense, Avery, a former second-round pick and the Rams' primary deep threat, would have helped reduce the number of eight-man fronts that Jackson faced in the running game while helping to open up routes underneath.
One has to wonder what Bradford might be able to accomplish with both of these men healthy and in the fold.
The injuries didn’t end there, as the receiving corps battled through several other injuries to players including Michael Hoomanawanui and Denario Alexander.
Both of the preceding players could be impactful in 2011.
"Illinois Mike" showed himself to be a legitimate receiving target out of the tight end spot, particularly against zone coverages.
DX, otherwise known as Denario Alexander, flashed the type of play-making ability that earned him All-American honors at Mizzou. In big games versus San Francisco and Seattle, for example, Rams fans drooled at what might become of a truly healthy Alexander.
With a re-signed Clayton and a healthy Avery and Alexander, the Rams passing attack should instantly be better.
We haven’t even mentioned the NFC’s version of Wes Welker, the diminutive Danny Amendola.
He led the team with 85 catches and should be a force in the slot. Of note, however, was his league-low 8.1 yards per catch.
Finally, the Rams added three pass catchers early in the draft.
This group includes receiving tight end Lance Kendricks, Greg Salas, and Austin Pettis.
Kendricks, a second-round pick, was said to be particularly coveted by new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Austin Pettis and Greg Salas are both big, tall receivers who are said to have good hands. Perhaps they will be good red zone targets, considering their size and skill.
If the Rams wideouts can maintain a more consistent level of health while possibly garnering some contributions from a rookie receiver or two, Bradford should have a terrific sophomore season.
Shane Gray is a long-time St. Louis Rams fan and covers the Rams year round. To check out the rest of his work, click: http://bleacherreport.com/users/582932-shane-gray