COLUMN: Bradford’s decision to stay in school to pay off in draft
Draft day is finally here and, according to multiple sources, OU’s Sam Bradford is all but a lock to go to the St. Louis Rams as the No. 1 overall pick.
Two things certainly await the young quarterback: A fat paycheck (former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford picked up a six-year, $72 million deal last season with $41.7 million guaranteed as the first overall pick by the Lions) and a losing environment, as the Rams have won just six games during the last three seasons.
Will Bradford be the answer to St. Louis’ dwindling franchise?
Let me put it this way: Anything is better than Marc Bulger. And if you combine Bradford with one of the NFL’s top running backs in Steven Jackson, the Rams could certainly be better than 1-15. They have some young talent both on the defensive line and in their receiving corps, but who knows?
What I can tell you is that Bradford’s situation is one-in-a-million.
Think about it.
This time last season, Stafford was the consensus No. 1 overall pick. Stafford received one of the best (ridiculous?) contracts of all time despite his questionable decision-making at Georgia. Still, his talent was unmatched by the rest of the quarterbacks who entered the draft.
But what about a highly touted, Heisman-winning talent like Bradford, who opted to stay one more season and not enter the draft?
Bradford’s draft placement was never quite known as he did not attend any workouts or the NFL scouting combine last season. But stay with me here, as I’m about to make a few assumptions.
First, assume all the teams that took quarterbacks in last year’s draft were the only potential destinations for Bradford last season. Then, assume that Bradford would put up anywhere from a decent to an above-average performance at the combine and pre-draft workouts. This is not a big leap at all considering he was highly scouted and thought of before the combine last year and performed great this year.
Assuming those things, he would have gone one of three places: No. 1 to the Lions (in place of Stafford), No. 5 to the Jets (in place of Southern California’s Mark Sanchez) or No. 17 to the Buccaneers (in place of Kansas State graduate Josh Freeman).
To say that Bradford would have jumped Stafford is a tough argument to make. Not saying it couldn’t have happened, but it just seems these guys are so neck-and-neck that it’s hard to back up any one of the two.
However, I do think Bradford, a Heisman winner and experienced quarterback, would have jumped Sanchez. However, that isn’t even a sure thing. Freeman is an afterthought, as Bradford would have most likely been picked above the former Wildcat.
My point in saying all of this is this: Bradford might have been the first player taken in the draft, but he could have fallen to as low as the third quarterback taken at pick No. 17. This season, he looks to be the consensus first pick of the first round and will definitely be the first quarterback taken.
Bradford chose not to go to the NFL, got injured and sat out almost the entire season, and is now probably going to make more money than he would have last season and is almost guaranteed to be taken higher than he would have been.
That’s truly a one-of-a-kind circumstance. To decide against the NFL, come back to school and earn your degree while gaining same much needed weight and now looking at potentially the biggest rookie contract in history.
It doesn’t get much better than that.