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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results

    First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results
    By Nick
    ClanRam Moderator
    4/17/10


    The Rams look poised to take Sam Bradford as the new face of their franchise, but was does history suggest they should expect?

    With only days leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft, many fans and analysts alike would be shocked if the St. Louis Rams don't select quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall pick. While most acknowledge that Bradford isn't the best player in this class, the Rams have a huge hole at quarterback and Bradford is the best coming out this year.

    He's certainly an outstanding prospect. He displays tremendous accuracy, able to hit receivers not only in stride but with uncanny ball placement. He has good size, especially after bulking up during rehab to add additional muscle to his frame. Sam's mobility is underrated, and while he won't be confused with Donovan McNabb, he is also not a statue in the pocket. His quick release can carve apart an unsuspecting defense, and his arm is strong enough to make the necessary NFL throws. His intangibles and work ethic are said to be outstanding.

    But there are red flags as well. Bradford comes from a spread offense at Oklahoma that hasn't produced successful NFL caliber quarterbacks. He was well protected and doesn't have a great feel for pressure in the pocket. And perhaps the biggest concern, Bradford has never demonstrated the ability to hold up to college punishment without sustaining an injury beyond the normal dings and bumps of football. How will he hold up at the NFL level?

    There are some who feel the Rams have no choice but to select Bradford, not simply because of who he is as a prospect, but what he represents to the franchise. Quoting Dan Pompei, “The only way to give the limping Rams a shot of adrenaline is to take the quarterback. It’s about perception as well as reality.” A well-respected evaluator of quarterbacks told NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan in late March that “the Rams have no choice but to select [Bradford].”

    Of all people, it was Rams-great Kurt Warner who brought some perspective to the discussion. “With guys who are the No. 1 pick, they’re not going into great situations.” Warner said. “They aren’t going to a team that is one player away – and yet everybody thinks they are the one person who can turn it around.”

    It’s very likely that, in drafting Bradford, the Rams will give their fans a sense of hope for the future. Some will ignore Warner’s advice and view Bradford as the man who will single-handedly turn this franchise around. But as other teams have found out in the past, there’s a difference between providing hope and providing results.

    Taking a look at the best quarterbacks in the league, it’s interesting to note that two of the top three quarterbacks - Brady and Brees - were both picked outside the first round. Tony Romo is probably considered a Top 8-10 QB in this league, and he went undrafted. That guy from before named Kurt did as well.

    While I understand there's a difference between being a Top 8 QB in a league ranking of best players and being a Top 8 QB in the league in terms of passer efficiency, I’d like to examine the latter for a moment.

    In each of the last two seasons, six of the top ten most efficient quarterbacks in the league were drafted outside of the first round. Three years ago in 2007, seven of the ten were from outside the first round. And in all three years, only one of those ten - Peyton Manning - was a first overall pick.

    Since Peyton Manning was drafted first overall over a decade ago in '98, former first overall picks JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, David Carr, Michael Vick, and Tim Couch have never finished a season in the Top 10 in passer efficiency (Stafford left off due to only one season but he'd be listed here as well). The only first overall pick to do it since Peyton has been Carson Palmer, and he's done it twice in six professional seasons (seven if you count a rookie year where he was on the bench).

    Even if you look beyond efficiency, the win/loss records haven’t been stellar. Only three of the seven quarterbacks drafted first overall since Peyton – Eli, Palmer, and Vick – have put up winning records as starters. They combine for a losing record in post-season appearances (6-7). Palmer hasn’t won a playoff game. Vick won two and lost two in his career. Manning went one-and-done in three of four playoff seasons, but he won a Super Bowl in 2007.

    What you hear all the time from journalists, analysts, and draftniks is that this is a quarterback's league. That’s true in large part, because quarterbacks are the most important people on the team. They touch the ball every play and are responsible for distributing it to your other offensive weapons. Obviously having stability at the position is absolutely huge, and no one can deny that.

    But when I looked at the history, the results kind of surprised me. Since Peyton was drafted over a decade ago, only three of seven first overall QBs have winning records, only one has ever appeared in the league’s top ten in passing efficiency, and only one has a Super Bowl ring. You’d expect better from guys who are labeled “franchise caliber quarterbacks” when they’re drafted. Each one of these guys was drafted with the intent of injecting the fan base and organization with hope for the future. How many have succeeded in fulfilling that objective?

    Does that mean the Rams shouldn't draft Bradford? Well, no. The Rams have to make up their mind about Bradford based on his own merits; their decision shouldn't hinge on past failures of other teams. But having said that, there's a reason people say that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    History seems to suggest that Bradford is going to have a pretty big uphill battle to climb if he becomes the first overall pick. Especially when you consider that, when the Raiders, *****, Giants, Bengals, and Falcons all used first overall picks on quarterbacks, none of them had three-year records as bad as the Rams’ has been prior to making those picks. One of the biggest obstacles facing quarterbacks drafted first overall is that they’re going to a pretty bad team. The Rams are no exception, and it’s going to take more than one highly touted rookie to produce more than hope.

    St. Louis shouldn’t base their first round selection on the decisions of the past, but they’d be wise to learn from them.
    Last edited by Nick; -04-17-2010 at 01:43 PM.

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  2. #2
    thickandthin's Avatar
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    Re: First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results

    very very nice, got some good points in there.

  3. #3
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    Re: First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results

    Good post as always Nick. I for one don't think Sam Bradford is going to be anything more than a slightly above average quarter back in the league. There's too many factors playing against the kid to start with, suspect offensive line, inexperienced wide receivers and can someone please tell me why a legitimate backup running back hasn't been picked up yet to help out both Jackson and Bradford?
    The only bright spot that I can see for Bradford is that he is coming into the league when when the Rams have a fairly easy schedule. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep him healthy enough so that he can one day become a franchise caliber qb.

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    Exclamation Re: First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results

    Firstly, Our OL isn't 'suspect'. It's been demonstrably inadequate for at least 4 years, and is at least one of the reasons Bulge has hung up his cleats. Four months of "Tebow Dumped On His Arse" headlines won't happen purely because we won't be signing him. I'm not saying we should sacrifice our higher picks for this but it definitlely deserves some consideration to acquire more than one lineman inside the next week.

    Secondly the only reason people might think our schedule is easy is that our divisional games are spread out (thank god); Every game is 'winnable' on its own basis but considering our own performances against teams we're expected to both beat and out-perform the tag 'easy' shouldn't enter a sane man's head. Hosting the comfortable divisional champions on Day 1 isn't ideal either, but at least it's not on the road and we don't have to play the Sh*tehawks until Week 4.

    EDIT: Sorry for the rank pessimism chaps, I'd just read the article on the Line prospects while this post was being moderated.
    Last edited by sephjnr; -04-22-2010 at 03:26 AM. Reason: Addendum

  5. #5
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    Re: First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results

    At the end of the day, taking a QB with the first pick, in any draft, will simultaneously be the riskiest move a team can make and the move most likely to lead to long term success. Its a classic, high risk/high reward prospect.

    I think the time is right for the Rams to take that chance.

  6. #6
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    Re: First overall quarterbacks provide hope, but also provide very mixed results

    It's not like Hill or Carriker helped us make the playoffs, so why not Bradford?

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