Putting Sam Bradford's Pro Day into Context

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IMarch 30, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners drops back to pass against the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

JaMarcus Russell, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Kyle Boller.

Those are just a sampling of the quarterbacks who have had the tag of “Best Pro Day I’ve ever seen” bestowed upon them in recent years.

Of course, none have lived up to their first round selection thus far into their careers. Cutler looking like the only one with the real ability to right the ship.

It shows just how easily the NFL personnel people can be fooled by the T-Shirt and Shorts Pro Day workouts of March and April.

Scouts like to make it seem like they are above being impressed by the "Wow he can throw 70 yards from his knees" showmanship but year after year we see quarterbacks overdrafted from an ability standpoint.

I blame the talent evaluators for being awed too easily. These top quarterback exhibitions are usually such spectacles that it adds an air of mystique to these players and can impact and cloud an evaluators view and perception of a player.

I also blame the media.

There’s nobody that loves quarterbacks nearly as much as the sports media. I think they can have a tendency to overanalyze things when it comes to these young players. When someone has a flaw they’ll pound it to death and when a player has a decent workout it’s the greatest thing in the world, it’s an A++.

I’m not trying to say that Sam Bradford can’t be successful as the quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.

I’m saying let’s slow down and take a deep breath as a collective draft personality. As evidenced from history, we have a tendency to overthink things such as Pro Days when it comes to these quarterbacks.

If you go back and study the body of work from Sam’s career you won’t find a player worthy of the top overall pick in a year with as much talent as this one. You’ll find a quality quarterback but you also notice a lot of question marks popping up. That may just go to show you how much teams value the quarterback position presently in the NFL.

I have no qualms with taking a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick because I realize a franchise’s need for stability at the position. Having a consistent face of the franchise is important for the culture of a team. Even if that player isn’t going to become one of the top five in the league; it is still nice to have steadiness at the league’s most important position.

I am simply taking umbrage with those saying that Sam Bradford is the clear cut No. 1 quarterback in this year’s draft.

It happens seemingly every year. The draft world falls in love and relentlessly hypes up one potential franchise quarterback while throwing another to the side.

It seems to be happening again this year, especially in the wake of Bradford’s Pro Day.

We are taking Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame out of the conversation for the top quarterback debate and it comes with no good reason.

Blame it on a variety of things but I feel the the main culprit is the the strong animosity that Jimmy Clausen and the Notre Dame brand of football brings about in people.

There can simply be no other reason to put Bradford over Clausen with such ease. If any sensible person were to compare the two players as pure quarterback prospects, Jimmy Clausen would win hands down.

Clausen has been displaying his great ability as a thrower of the football since his days as a young high school player. From his delivery to his arm to his feel of the game; Jimmy Clausen has shown that he possess' the total package of skills.

When you watch Clausen play the position, he has the look of a franchise quarterback. When you watch Sam Bradford, you have to try to convince and force yourself to see it.

When you look at what many pump up Bradford for and then downgrade Clausen for there seems to be a double standard.

You’ll hear many make the argument that Clausen was simply the beneficiary of a talented group of skill players and the system of Charlie Weis.

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It’s those critics that seem quick to forget that during Bradford’s breakout season he played behind one of the more dominant and consistent college offensive lines in recent memory. Not to mention he had a bevy of talented skill players, most of whom were NFL talents.

He played in a Bob Stoops system, that was able to make a lesser caliber player such as Jason White, a Heisman Trophy award winner.

Sam is praised for superior accuracy even though Clausen matched his completion percentage number last year (68 percent).

It’s understandable that Jimmy Clausen can rub some the wrong way. He has been a media darling since his days as a top high school prospect and that can bring about negative feelings from fans.

At times he can look like smarky and overly cocky. However, it may just take an attitude like that to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL.

Many of the top quarterbacks throughout NFL history have been strongly disliked by opposing fans. Their greatness brings disdain. So, I’m not necessarily sure that Clausen’s attitude should be as big of knock against him as some are making it out to be.

My point being that when it comes to NFL Draft quarterback debates, strong feelings usually arise, and everyone usually chooses sides as to who will be the better pro.

I for one think that both Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen can both be solid pro players. They both have shown things that are deserving of accolades and also criticism. I for one believe that Clausen is the better prospect but I have the ability to listen to why people feel Bradford can be a franchise quarterback.

With that said, I think the notion that Sam Bradford is far and away the clear cut number one quarterback in this draft is somewhat overzealous. Everyone needs to look at recent history and realize that we may become too dazzled with Pro Day workouts.

Once again, I'm not saying Sam won't be a great quarterback. I'm simply saying we should stop and reevaluate what we treat with importance when analyzing prospects.

Watching a heavily scripted workout without pads, in a comfortable environment, without facing an opposition, is not the best way to evaluate a player's worth so let's not treat it as such.

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