There are lots of questions around Rams quarterback Sam Bradford: Can he bounce back from a severe knee injury? Is he worth his huge contract? Is he a bust? Should the Rams go in another direction? While some of these questions have merit, one thing is for sure – Sam Bradford has the skillset of a franchise quarterback.
After 4 seasons, Bradford’s career has yet to take off. Part of this has been due to injuries, but part of this has also been due to his supporting cast. However, he’s shown clear signs of development over the last two seasons. It really is a shame that he tore up his knee last season because he was on his way to becoming the unquestionable quarterback of the Rams future.
Bradford’s greatest strength is his accuracy. He is among the most accurate passers in the NFL. Watching him on film yields no other possible conclusion. He can make all the throws, from ropes into small windows at the intermediate level to deep passes into tight coverage where he has to drop the ball in the bucket 50 yards downfield. This might sound like a strange evaluation for a quarterback with a career 58.6 completion percentage. But that sub-60 number encompasses so many different components of playing the position, and it really speaks more to the supporting cast he’s had around him.
In addition to his accuracy, Bradford has a quick release and underrated arm strength. The ball comes out so easily, and a flick of his wrist adds a little extra velocity to the end of his passes. He’s shown the ability to read coverage quickly and throw with anticipation. The tools are there. It’s clear why he was the first overall pick in 2010. Now it’s a matter of staying healthy, increasing his consistency, and developing with the cast around him.
The Rams haven’t had many weapons on offense since Bradford was drafted. But Chris Givens and Tavon Austin have shown promise as number-2 and slot/joker receivers respectively. The Rams now have a good core to build around, and with 2 picks in the first 13 of this year’s NFL Draft, they really have a chance to take the next step by shoring up their offensive line and adding a dynamic true #1 receiver.
On the other hand, it won’t be a surprise if the Rams choose to fight the NFC West arms race by adding dynamic players on defense early in the draft. After all, to compete against great defenses like the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals all have, you need to have a defense of your own that can keep pace.
Whichever route the Rams pursue, they should make sure that Sam Bradford is at the center of their future plans.