QB Sam Bradford, Rams
Ht: 6-4¼, Wt: 236, Sp: 4.85e
Notes: Father, Kent, was an offensive lineman at Oklahoma. Sam was a prep hoops standout, averaging 18.4 points and 10.5 rebounds. Won the starting job at Oklahoma as a redshirt freshman and broke the school record for passing yards in a half (350) in his first outing and followed up the effort by breaking Heisman Trophy winner Jason White's school record for most consecutive completions (22). Led the nation in passing efficiency (176.5). Captured the Heisman as a sophomore and surprisingly stayed in school for his junior season, only to suffer two (throwing) shoulder injuries that derailed the Sooners' national championship hopes. Finished college career as OU's passing (8,403 yards) and TD leader (88). Declared for the NFL draft early and was selected with the top overall pick by the St. Louis Rams, commanding an all-time, rookie-record, six-year, $86 million contract that included $50 million in guarantees. Earned the Rams' starting job in the preseason and started all 16 games, posting a 7-9 record and barely missing the playoffs in a weak NFC West division as a rookie. Completed 354-590-3,512-18-15 (60.0 percent) as a rookie under the direction of former offensive coordinator and new Browns head coach Pat Shurmur.
Positives: Savvy decision-maker — is very smart and football smart and knows when and where to throw. Good timing and anticipation. Best trait is his pinpoint accuracy — threads the needle. Can whip it quickly under duress and fit the ball into tight windows. Takes the game very seriously and has an intense, competitive, on-field temperament. Respected, vocal team leader — was able to earn the respect of his teammates out of the gate and commands a huddle. Very tough and will stand in the pocket in the face of the rush and deliver.
Negatives: Lacks elite arm strength and ideal escapability to avoid the rush. Loses accuracy on the move when flushed outside the pocket and can be tracked down from behind. Does not generate much hip torque, negating his downfield arm strength and limiting his ability to improvise. Tends to sidearm the ball and cannot easily manipulate his throwing platform under duress. Despite surviving his rookie season, must still prove that he can handle the physical rigors of the NFL game and withstand a run into the postseason.
Summary: A precision rhythm passer with terrific accuracy, timing and anticipation, Bradford should benefit greatly from a more aggressive, play-action, matchup offense run by new coordinator Josh McDaniels, as well as an improved supporting cast featuring seam-stretching TE Lance Kendricks. Although Bradford does not possess overpowering physical traits, he does possess the football intelligence, intangibles, toughness and accuracy to become a staple of the Rams' offense for the next 10 years if healthy. Is one of the game's top ascending franchise quarterbacks.