The St. Louis Rams made Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford the first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft and heaped a whole bunch of expectations on the kid's shoulders. There isn't much debate as to whether or not Bradford has the abilities to handle the QB job at this level; however, as Billy Devaney learned when the Chargers drafted Ryan Leaf, the intangibles have a lot to say about a player's ability to succeed in the NFL. So how does Bradford measure up?
The Rams on-field record didn't improve under first-year head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spags did put together a good record in the locker room, setting high character standards for his players and holding them accountable to those demands. Ask Richie Incognito, a talented interior lineman, what happens when you fail to live up to those standards. That bodes well for Bradford's success in St. Louis. The Rams newest QB came away from Rams Park during his draft visits with a positive impression of the coaches too. From his presser last night:
Just asked me if I was ready to be a St Louis Ram and I told him absolutely. I can't wait. I was there on a visit last week and got to see the facility and thought the facility was very nice. I loved the coaching staff.
Fool me once became Billy Devaney's unofficial motto for first round picks. That was especially true with QBs given his experience as a personnel man with the Chargers when they drafted notorious draft bust Ryan Leaf. He's talked about that lesson since joining the Rams front office in 2008. So what did he have to say about Bradford? As you might expect, he was pretty positive. Check it out:
Everybody sees the accuracy, the size. Honestly, this guy will be one of our hardest workers. We’ve got some great workers here already. He’s going to be in that group. He’s got stuff to learn like everybody. Like we said, there’s going to be a learning curve. This guy will work. We talk about it often with players, you talk about their ceiling. I believe this guy has got a great ceiling, and whatever that ceiling is, he’s going achieve it.
If the Rams GM were Santa, the hard workers would get their toys via special delivery on Dec. 24. No cookie needed. Taking that strange analogy and pivoting, Bradford's decision to come back to OU for the '09 season says as much about those intangibles as the game tape from 2008 says about his accuracy. He could have easily gone pro, been a top five pick and lived happily ever after.
Despite all of that, we still have no idea whether or not Bradford will succeed as the Rams QB. Any player getting $50 million in guaranteed money is a risk based on the sheer weight of expectations.