POSTED ON MAY 19, 2010:
Sam He Is
Several have raised eyebrows as Sam Bradford was drafted at No. 1 -- but to the St. Louis Rams
Fighting Hard. Bradford brings high character, solid work ethic and lofty hopes with him … however, since the team is up for grabs, no money is being spent to surround Sam with a fighting chance.
Oklahoma native Sam Bradford embarks on the journey of his life.
Bradford rewrote the record books during his tenure at the University of Oklahoma.
His prolific passing annihilated any remaining thoughts of the Sooners old-school wishbone attack. He made passing cool for all ages.
However, the days of being surrounded by superior talent have come to an end. When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Sam Bradford's name first overall in the draft a month ago, it was received with mixed emotions across the board. Going No. 1? Great. Going to the Rams? Not so much.
The consensus went like this. "Sam getting picked first is fantastic. It is a tremendous honor for both Sam and OU. I hope he doesn't get killed on that awful Rams team."
We've had a month to digest the pick. Here is what we need to find out. How will Bradford's inaugural NFL campaign play out? What is the ceiling for his career? Which NFL quarterback will Bradford remind us of down the road? Are St. Louis Rams fans excited to have him as a part of their organization?
Only one way to find out. I polled football fans in Oklahoma and St. Louis. No experts. Just fans of the game who are like us. Also, no grumpy old people with slanted views either. Guys who love the sport.
The most common response? Troy Aikman. Aikman, who transferred from OU to UCLA, was also a No. 1 overall selection in 1989.
Aikman joined a horrific Dallas Cowboys squad. He finished his first trial-by-fire season with a 0-11 record and tossed twice as many interceptions as touchdowns (18-9). A year later, the Cowboys added Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
He ended up in the Hall of Fame along with three Super Bowl rings.
"If the Rams put talent around (Bradford) then you can expect to see him in the Hall of Fame," said football fan Billy.
Joe Montana was another popular choice. Personally, I do not see the parallels on this one. Also, John Elway earned a couple of votes.
An interesting one came from Bill: "Joe Montana. But if the front line sucks, then probably Rex Grossman circa Chicago Bears."
This is funny for two reasons. First of all, Rex Grossman's stint with the Bears lasted long enough to be referred to as a circa. Second of all, it illuminates the biggest talking point entering Bradford's career. Injury concerns thanks in large part to the putrid Rams blocking.
Everyone thinks Bradford's career is a lock. Well, at least the Oklahoma football fans. They also realize his shoulder must survive.
Every player's longevity hinges on health. However, due to Bradford's history of taking unnecessary lumps, it is a major concern.
In a surprise move, the biggest OU fan I know went with a surprise comparison. "Unfortunately, I think that he'll be the next Drew Bledsoe of the league. Great mechanics, good numbers, no Hall of Famer," Kev said.
When I ventured to St. Louis, I figured mixed reactions were forthcoming. However, the fans were all aboard the Sam train. Typically, you have a vocal minority disapprove of a pick just to be contrarians. With Bradford, it was almost unanimous. Does this speak of faith in Bradford or the overall apathy of Marc Bulger and the crew under center last year?
Bradford brings high character, solid work ethic and lofty hopes with him. In fact, a greater concern is the ownership with the Rams. Since the team is up for grabs, no money is being spent to surround Sam with a fighting chance. Well, Sam will get paid, but there's no free agent activity of note.
Real Rams fans would not be against Bradford redshirting for a season. Why not protect your investment and toss the Keith Null, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis pu-pu platter into harm's way?
From a football standpoint, this makes the most sense. From an ownership perspective, play the kid and sell a few extra seats. Guess who wins this argument 10 out of 10 times.
Here is what Bradford told the media following his first weekend of practices with the Rams:
"I was definitely a little nervous. It's been a long time, and I really wasn't sure how it was going to go as far as the schedule and the practice."
He went on to say: "Once I got out there, I felt really comfortable. I really enjoyed it. It was just fun being out there with the guys."
The final word belongs to NFL Networks' Mike Mayock. Following Bradford's pro day in Norman, here is what the NFL Networks' leading draft guy had to say:
"I've been to an awful lot of quarterback pro days, and Sam Bradford's workout Monday gets an 'A' on all levels.
"Does he have a JaMarcus Russell-type arm? No. Few people do. Does he have a Matt Ryan-type arm? Yes, he does. His arm is good at all the throws, he's accurate, he can drive the ball intermediate, and his deep touch and accuracy are phenomenal.
"I talked to a bunch of people around the league -- head coaches, general managers and scouts -- and the consensus was all the same. On a basis from 90 to 100, everyone gave Bradford at least a 90 and an 'A' to an 'A-plus.'"
Before we anoint Bradford the next Peyton Manning, keep in mind Mayock and many other experts once touted JaMarcus Russell as the best talent transitioning from college to the pros following his pro day.
Only three and a half months until the real bullets start flying at Bradford. If Bradford can stay healthy and if he loves the game, how far can this Okie soar?
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A30429