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Just The Sports: NFL Quarterback Draft Prospect: Sam Bradford

Just The Sports

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NFL Quarterback Draft Prospect: Sam Bradford

For once, I actually agree with the opinions of the majority on an issue. Sometimes in this blog it might seem I am being a contrarian just for the sake of being contrary, but the truth is most of the time people demonstrate a basic lack of understanding when it comes to sports. Imagine my relief then being able to rejoice in the fact that most everyone agrees Sam Bradford is highly deserving of an early draft selection. He and Colt McCoy are the two best quarterback prospects in the draft and are the ones for whom I feel most assured of predicting a good, if not great, NFL career.

Former University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford's greatest attribute is no secret to anyone who has either watched him play or perused the box scores of his games. Bradford possesses accuracy in spades as evidenced by his 67.9% completion percentage and 9.2 yards per pass attempt. His extremely high career yards per pass attempt demonstrate he was not just dinking and dunking the ball down the field, artificially inflating his completion percentage by throwing only the safest of passes. Instead, Bradford was only completing the more difficult downfield passes at a very efficient clip, which indicates he will be able to keep NFL defenses honest by forcing them to respect his ability to complete passes at all distances.

What most reassures me about Bradford's statistics not being only a product of the offense he played in are the struggles Landry Jones had as a starter after he took over the offensive reins following Bradford's shoulder injury. Whereas Bradford completed 69.5% of his passes his first year as a starting quarterback for the Sooners, Jones only completed a pedestrian 58.6% of his passes. As long as Landry Jones continues to fail to equal Sam Bradford's exploits, Bradford can continue to be looked upon as a truly elite quarterback.

There is only one aspect of Bradford's career that I would have liked to have seen changed. For all of his spectacular passing numbers, there is no changing the fact that he only attempted 884 pass attempts in games where he played a significant amount of time, the fewest number of passes for the quarterbacks I have examined excepting Tony Pike. After accuracy, there is no more important criterion for an NFL-bound quarterback to have then a large number of repetitions at the college level. In addition to providing the quarterback with valuable experience, it also allows a larger sample size that allows the observer to get a more complete picture of what kind of a quarterback a player is.

Due to the fact Bradford was not able to play in more games on the college football level because of injury, I would caution any team that drafts him against throwing him onto the field too early. As difficult as it will be for any NFL franchise to practice restraint with someone they are providing with so many millions, the success of both the team and Bradford will be greater if they wait until he is absolutely ready to quarterback in the NFL. There is a reason why colleges redshirt most of their players for the year between high school and college; the college game is a lot more complex and many quarterbacks require extra time to learn everything about what is required of them in the offensive systems and how to execute their jobs at a high level. NFL teams would do well to do the same thing with rookie quarterbacks since the leap from college football to the NFL is even more gargantuan, and rookie quarterbacks need extra time to acclimatize themselves to professional football. The more time these quarterbacks have to prepare, the better they will do when they finally get a chance to play.

Deservedly so, Bradford will be an early draft selection in the upcoming NFL draft. He has all the makings of an excellent professional quarterback, but he still should not be rushed onto the field. Even if the team that drafts him has to endure another losing season, it will be worth it to give Bradford time to fully develop and understand how to succeed in the NFL.



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