You’re probably wondering how Sam Bradford made this list. After all, what has he accomplished in his 4-year career? He’s 18-30-1 as a starter with a 58.6 completion percentage and a 79.3 passer rating. Pretty underwhelming stuff.
However, as we explained earlier this spring, Bradford’s lack of production is more a result of injuries (missed 15 games in 4 seasons) and his supporting cast than his actual playing ability.
His weapons have been mediocre at best. Danny Amendola, arguably the Rams’ best receiver from 2010-12, missed 20 games in his 3 seasons with Bradford. Brandon Gibson caught the 2nd-most passes during that span (140 over 3 seasons). Bradford’s 3rd best receiver, and arguably his most reliable weapon, was running back Steven Jackson, who was steady but hardly dynamic at that point in his career.
The addition of wide receivers Chris Givens (2012) and Tavon Austin (2013), as well as tight end Jared Cook (2013) has finally given Bradford some players to lean on. We saw the results in 2013 as Bradford was on his way to a breakout season (on pace for 30+ TD passes) before blowing out his knee. It’s a shame his year was cut short, because he really showed significant development over the last 2 seasons.
Bradford’s best asset is his accuracy. He is among the most accurate passers in the NFL despite his 58.6 career completion percentage. Again, supporting cast has a great deal to do with that number. When you watch him on film the accuracy of his throws is glaringly obvious. That 58.6 should start to climb soon.
Additionally, Bradford can make all the throws a quarterback needs to in order to be successful. He’s got a quick release and a strong arm. His throwing motion is effortless and compact. He has good coverage recognition and anticipation skills. All the tools are there. He has the makeup of a franchise quarterback. Now it’s about staying healthy and developing with the rest of his offense.
Unfortunately for Bradford, the road ahead won’t be easy. He’s coming back from a serious knee injury. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the likes of Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, and Robert Griffin III struggle in their first year back from serious knee injuries. Also, given that Bradford has been in the league for 4 years without much accomplishment, his chances with the Rams are running out. This year must be a big one for him. At least he doesn’t play in the best defensive division in the NFL…