Sam Bradford is headed down a path that Alex Smith has once walked. Will he be able to change his path and grow into the quarterback the Rams want and need?
Sam Bradford and Alex Smith are at different stages in their careers, but each of them started out the same - as the number one pick in the NFL Draft. The similarities don't stop there. It sounds scary, but Sam Bradford could learn from Alex Smith and the trials he's been through, because Sam is experiencing some of those very same trials today.
Alex Smith has experienced three head coaches in his time in San Francisco: Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, and Jim Harbaugh. Sporting .327 and .462 winning percentages, Nolan and Singletary, respectively, did not last long as head coaches in the NFL.
Comparatively, Sam Bradford has experienced two head coaches: Steve Spagnuolo and Jeff Fisher. However, Bradford has dealt with three different offensive coordinators in three years: Pat Shurmur, Josh McDaniels, and Brian Schottenheimer.
Volatility in the coaching staff has hindered Bradford and Smith, alike, but that topic has been covered at length.
Up until this point in each of their careers, each of these quarterbacks have been asked to be game-managers as seen in Ryan Van Bibber's post here.
Let's look at how each has performed thus far:
|2012 - Sam Bradford||8||82.4||153||249||61.4||1797||224.6||7.2||8||7||21||61||7.6||2.9||1||23||156|
|2012 - Alex Smith||8||102.1||145||209||69.4||1659||207.4||7.9||12||5||27||129||16.1||4.8||0||22||128|
Smith dominates nearly every single category. Bradford has an advantage in yards per game, however he has attempted 40 more passes than Smith. Accumulating 45 sacks between them, Bradford and Smith have each taken a beating this season, ranking 5 and 7th in sacks taken. The important difference between the two is touchdowns. Alex has accounted for three more touchdowns than Bradford, while throwing two less interceptions. But the stats this season don't tell the entire story when it comes to these two first pick selections.
Here are sections of each of their scouting reports coming out of college:
"What teams knew about Smith heading into his pro day was that he was smart (he scored a 40 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test), could handle a complex offense and had adequate athleticism. What they didn't know was whether he could be accurate and show top-notch velocity on his passes."
Bradford lacks the elite arm, but he is a superb decision-maker with great accuracy and decision-making.
Neither Bradford or Smith have elite arm strength, rather relying upon sound decisions and accuracy to help their respective teams win games.
While very similar, Bradford has more upside. As of today, the 49ers have done a better job of surrounding Alex with talent than the Rams have with Bradford. I realize that these quarterbacks came out of the draft five years apart, but the comparison is still valid. Each has been brought through their teams system in a similar manner, and each have yet to yield the results that were and still are expected of them. Bradford should take a page out of Alex Smith's playbook when it comes to perseverance. Smith has been endlessly ridiculed since he was drafted, but has remained professional. Only time will tell if Sam Bradford and/or Alex Smith will live up to their billing, but for now, Bradford has the upside, Smith has the team, and both have the expectations.
This was part 2 of Making Comparisons - Part 1, featuring Aldon Smith and Robert Quinn, can be found here.