It was foretold at least two months before the 2010 NFL Draft that the St. Louis Rams would pick Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford with their first overall pick, the reward for winning just one game in 2009. Prior to that draft, the Rams had selected a quality left tackle and spent free agent dollars on one of the better centers available, ensuring the offensive line was in better shape before attempting such an investment. Though some doubted the pick, there was no question. New regimes mean new quarterbacks. They're the essential cornerstone of a rebuilding effort, and the Rams' rebuilding effort was monumental, given the neglect the previous regime had inflicted upon the roster.
Bradford quickly slung his way toward the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award for his 7-9 2010 season. He started every game, took every snap from under center, no matter how far behind or how far ahead the game had become for the Rams...though, in a first, most of the games were within a few points. Along the way, he set records for attempts and completions by a rookie and one amazing stretch without an interception. A pass-first game plan measured out in 5-7 passes gets some of the credit for that, but his acumen for the game on the field and incredible accuracy still get most of the credit.
Sam's special. I've been pretty reluctant to include any recent draft picks on this list. Yes, there are some good ones, but they just haven't had time to establish themselves yet. Bradford's the exception. Yes, his rookie season was fantastic, but the unique ability he possesses and the amount of expectations placed on his shoulders make for an exception. Besides, few players can carry such weight with so little sweat like Bradford can.
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