Sam Bradford could be a Pro Bowl QB in 2012.
Sam Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2010. His rookie season was an overwhelming success, as Bradford led the Rams to a surprising 7-9 record. Bradford put up some very respectable numbers as a rookie, and he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Rams fans everywhere were hoping and wishing for an even better season in 2011.
As they say, "Wish in one hand, spit in the other and see which one fills up faster."
The 2011 season was an unmitigated disaster for Bradford, who missed five games due to injury, and the Rams, who are undoubtedly the worst team in the NFL.
Is Bradford still a "can't-miss prospect," or was 2011 just a sign of things to come for Sam the Ram?
I still believe that Bradford is going to be an elite QB. I think the Rams can revive Bradford's career in five easy steps. If the Rams take my advice, I think Bradford could elevate himself into the conversation as a Pro Bowl QB in 2012.
As I've said before, the Rams are going to land the No. 1 overall pick. When they do, they should trade back a couple of spots to some team drooling over Andrew Luck, and then proceed to do whatever it takes to draft Matt Kalil.
Kalil would fill three holes along the Rams offensive line. If you draft Kalil, he would be a major upgrade at left tackle, and we could pretty much pencil him in at that spot for the next decade. Incumbent left tackle, Rodger Saffold, a good player also, would move to right tackle where he would be a dominant player.
Current right tackle, Jason Smith, a bust thus far, would then move to left guard where he would be a very good interior lineman due to his run-blocking ability.
Kalil would take an area of weakness, the O-line, and turn it into a strength. The line of Kalil-Smith-Jason Brown-Harvey Dahl-Saffold would give Bradford time to throw, and it would open up huge holes for the running game, which also helps Bradford.
Kalil is the first building block in the jump start to Sam Bradford's career.
Brandon Lloyd is the best wideout with the horns on the side of his helmet since Torry Holt. The Rams acquired Lloyd for the dirt cheap price of a fifth-round draft pick.
It's one of the best moves Rams GM Billy Devaney made in St. Louis.
The Rams should re-sign Lloyd ASAP. Even if the Rams draft another receiver, and they should, the Rams have to keep Lloyd. Bradford needs guys who can get open, and he needs guys that can catch.
Lloyd can do both, and we'll never know what Bradford can do until we surround him with multiple playmaking receivers.
Of course, it would be awesome if the Rams could somehow land Alshon Jeffrey (WR, South Carolina) or Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma St). However, if the Rams select Matt Kalil with their first-round pick, and they should, then the elite receivers will be long gone by the time the Rams pick again in the second round.
Have no fear, there will be some really good receivers available at the top of Round 2, and my favorite receiver in that group is Nick Toon out of Wisconsin. Toon is big (6'2", 220), and he is fast (4.52 in the 40). Toon's 40 time is actually faster than Blackmon and Jeffrey.
The Rams need a big, strong receiver that can get open in the red zone. If you line Toon up opposite Brandon Lloyd, that would be the best receiver duo the Rams have had since Issac Bruce and Torry Holt played for the Greatest Show on Turf.
Show me an elite QB, and I'll show you a QB with a good tight end.
Matt Ryan has Tony Gonzalez. Aaron Rodgers has Jermichael Finley. Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Peyton Manning had Dallas Clark for years and years. Philip Rivers has Antonio Gates.
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
I think the Rams have a dynamic talent in Lance Kendricks. He struggled this year, but a lot of rookies struggled due to the NFL lockout and the shortened offseason programs. Kendricks showed the ability to get open, and he showed the ability to pick up those yards after the catch.
If Kendricks steps up in 2012, Bradford will have the security blanket he needs. If the Rams O-line gives Bradford time to throw, and the Rams have weapons on the outside (Lloyd and Toon), then Kendrick could have a breakout year working the middle of the field.
More than any position on the roster, the Rams have to get more production out of the tight ends in order for Bradford to really show his stuff. Kendricks is the man for that job.
Billy Devaney made this mess by making horrible draft picks and even worse free agent signings. Poor Steve Spagnuolo was asked to clean the mess up, but injuries and bad luck handcuffed Spags almost before the season ever started.
I've argued it might be better to keep Spags, simply because it would be better for Bradford to have the continuity of playing under the same offensive coordinator. Having said that, there are rumors Josh McDaniels is going to Kansas City, so keeping Spags is no guarantee that Bradford will run the same offense again next year anyway.
Either way, if Spags stays or goes, is 2012 going to play out much different than 2011? Even with a healthy secondary, a better O-line, and an extra weapon or two, are the Rams really going to catch the Niners?
I just don't see it happening.
If the Rams don't improve dramatically in 2012, Spags will get fired next year. So why not just speed this whole process up? Because by dragging our feet on this whole coaching situation, we are stunting Bradford's growth. Think of QBs like Jason Campbell, who played for one coordinator after another...
It ruined their career before it ever started.
The Rams are going to go as far as Sam Bradford takes them. If he ends up being a bust, and the team has to change directions at the QB position, then it's going to be another five years or more before the Rams are competitive. So Rams owner Stan Kroenke needs to do everything in his power to make Bradford successful.
Perhaps the most important thing Kroenke could do to help Bradford would be to wipe the slate clean and let Bradford start over with a new coach and a new GM.