Rams starting contract talks for Sam Bradford next week; Projecting Bradford's rookie stats

St. Louis Rams COO Kevin Demoff, aka the contract guru, will take up negotiations with Sam Bradford's agent Tom Condon early next week, according to report from Bernie Miklasz at the PD. 

Bradford expects and wants to be in camp on time, ready to compete for the starting QB job. Demoff has an outstanding track record of getting draft picks signed in time for camp, so here's hoping. 

We've got an interview with Bradford coming Monday on TST, so stay tuned. 

In other contract news, sixth round TE Fendi Onobun is expected to sign next week

Speaking of Bradford, the 2010 edition of the Football Outsiders annual is out, and available for the low, low price of $12. I highly recommend it for fans and fantasy players alike. It's packed with rich, meaty goodness. Anyway, I thought we'd take a quick look at their projection for the Sam Bradford. 

First a note about the projection. They use a 16 game forecast for all the players to make the stats a little more meaningful. That obviously impacts Bradford, since there's the possibility, albeit remote, that he doesn't start for the Rams right away.

Here's Bradford's 16 game projection:

281 completions on 482 attempts for a 58.4 percent completion rate and a total of 3,430 yards with 14 TD and 17 INT.

First of all, though the number of touchdowns is low for a starting QB, though not surprising for a rookie, it would easily top the total number of TD passes thrown by all three Rams quarterbacks last year which was 11. Add in JOsh Brown's fake FG pass to Daniel Fells and you've got 12 TD passes for the Rams in total last season. It sort of reminds me of my approach to dating: set your standards low and you won't regularly be disappointed. Of course, that's not acceptable for a team that desperately needs to win games.

The completion percentage seems low for an arm as accurate as Bradford's, but that has more to do with the rookie learning curve and the team around him. His accuracy is still part of the forecast as seen in the 17 INT; Keith Null is project to throw 26 INT over 16 games.

Let's compare those numbers to some recent rookie QB performances. 

In 10 games with the Lions, Matthew Stafford threw 13 TD, 20 INT, passed for 2,267 yards and had a 53.3 completion percentage. 

In 2008, Matt Ryan played 16 games and threw 16 TD, 11 INT, passed for 3,440 yards and had a 61.1 completion percentage. 

The Stafford comparison is probably more accurate. The Lions were a bad team with a poor offensive line. Hopefully the Rams will provide better protection this year than the Lions did last year. The Rams allowed one more sack last season than the Lions did (44 to 43), but you wonder what that might have looked like without the innumerable injuries to the Rams front five. Detroit also didn't have a running back like Steven Jackson; the Falcons had Michael Turner in 2008. That could make Bradford's rookie numbers a little stronger than Stafford's. 

What about playmakers? The Lions had Calvin Johnson, a bona fide #1 WR for their rookie, and little else. Roddy White, in his fourth season during Ryan's rookie year, had established himself the year before as the Falcons top receiver. It goes without saying that the receivers are the big question mark for the Rams and Sam Bradford. 

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