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  1. #1
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    Bradford's the One

    Bradford's the One
    Thursday, April 22, 2010
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    At about 6:35 on Thursday night, Rams general manager Billy Devaney picked up the phone and placed the call that ended months of speculation. After a few long rings, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford answered his phone.

    Devaney welcomed Bradford to “the Rams family” and told him he was thrilled to have Bradford and his family in the fold. He then passed the phone to coach Steve Spagnuolo and owner Lucia Rodriguez, as everyone took turns congratulating and welcome Bradford to St. Louis.

    For the Rams, the evaluation of Bradford was easy. But the decision to take him was not.

    “This really should have been a slam dunk decision,” Devaney said. “We were looking for a young quarterback. Bradford is by far the top quarterback in the draft. It should have been a slam dunk. But it wasn’t because those other kids were so special. They really caused us to pause and think this thing through. They made it a lot tougher decision than it should have been just because they are such good players and good people.”

    Those “other kids” Devaney was referring to were Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. It’s why Devaney has maintained right up until it was time to make the pick that no decision had been made despite the constant speculation about the Rams’ preference.

    Ultimately, though, it was the ability of Bradford, the highest rated player on the team’s board, that won out.

    “It’s quite evident in this league that’s an important position,” Spagnuolo said. “It is the team that wins the games, it’s not one guy. It’s not one position. But that’s an important one. That guy handles the ball every single play on offense and does something with it typically. You have to have somebody there that we can grow with right now.”

    Indeed, the Rams are certain that Bradford is just the guy to step into that role and lead the Rams into the future.

    In 31 games for the Sooners, Bradford posted eye-popping numbers that would make video game players blush. He finished with 8,403 passing yards and 88 touchdowns on 67.6 percent passing.

    “Just to have the opportunity to come to St. Louis and start my NFL career there is just a blessing, and I can’t wait to get there and get to work,” Bradford said. “It was a dream come true. You grow up and dream about playing in the NFL and you dream about going in the first round. It just seemed so far-fetched at the time. To be up there tonight and to actually have it happen is just an unbelievable feeling.”

    For many years, the NFL offseason has been referred to as the “silly season” and with good reason. Sitting in the catbird seat with the first pick in the draft, the Rams were the source of constant rumor, innuendo and speculation.

    That can be daunting in and of itself but Devaney and his crew of scouts and personnel people stayed true to the system. And Bradford caught his eye long before the end of the 2009 NFL season.

    “I have been comfortable with this guy for a long, long time,” Devaney said. “I don’t even want to say how long but it’s been a long time. I have really admired the guy for sometime right now.”

    While Devaney has been comfortable, a big part of the process has been making sure everyone is on the same page. While Bradford’s tape certainly speaks for itself, there were a few issues to overcome before the decision could be finalized.

    At the top of that list are the obvious issues surrounding Bradford’s shoulder. Unlike most prospects, Bradford had to spend his time rehabilitating his injured shoulder rather than preparing for the scouting combine.

    When he finally was able to throw at his pro day in March, Bradford wowed every scout, coach and personnel type in attendance. It was there that Spagnuolo had the opportunity to eat breakfast with Bradford.

    Spagnuolo, a defensive minded coach by nature, joked on Tuesday that he was becoming a bit of a quarterback guru because he spent so much time in the buildup to the draft observing them.

    “It’s quite evident in this league that’s an important position,” Spagnuolo said. “It is the team that wins the games, it’s not one guy. It’s not one position. But that’s an important one. That guy handles the ball every single play on offense and does something with it typically. You have to have somebody there that we can grow with right now.”

    With the shoulder issue settled, the Rams did their diligence to find out all they could about Bradford’s character and work ethic.

    For the entire buildup to the draft, Devaney has emphasized that character and intangibles are perhaps the most important aspects of evaluating a quarterback. The physical attributes, including his impressive size (6’5, 235 pounds) and athleticism (he’s an accomplished golfer, basketball player and hockey player) were already evident.

    The scouts did their background work but Devaney and Spagnuolo also wanted to find out as much as possible. By sheer happenstance, Spagnuolo ran into Bradford’s Putnam City High coach when he attended Bradford’s workout in Norman.

    By all accounts, Bradford has the type of “gym rat” approach that has him constantly studying film and working at perfecting his craft.

    “There wasn’t one thing in the research, not one person we talked to where anything came up in a negative sense,” Spagnuolo said. “This is a class guy from a class family from a great college with great football players. He fits the mold of what you are looking for. There is no perfect person but we thought Sam had a lot of the attributes we were looking for.”

    Bradford is the first quarterback the Rams have drafted in the first round since Bill Munson in 1964. As the top pick in the draft, there will be an inherent amount of pressure and expectation that goes with the territory.

    But the Rams will do all they can in the coming months to make Bradford’s transition as smooth as possible. Devaney said the Rams have no expectation that Bradford will be thrown into the fire right away and Spagnuolo has long maintained that any rookie will have to compete and prove himself the guy that best positions the team to win.

    For his part, Bradford said he is hoping to adapt and learn as much as possible upon his arrival in St. Louis.

    “Obviously I haven’t looked at the playbook,” Bradford said. “I haven’t gone through any practices or anything like that, but I’m going to tell you that I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to get on the field as soon as possible.”

    The moment he does, Bradford will become one of the most important pieces in the Rams’ rebuilding process.

    It’s a tall order but it’s one that Devaney believes his newest addition is ready to handle.

    “It’s kind of understood it is a quarterback driven league,” Devaney said. “A top notch quarterback can carry you a long way. There’s a reason they are the highest paid and most coveted because not a lot of guys can play this position at a high level. We think we found the guy that can.”

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  2. #2
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    It really does feel like a new day has begun..

  3. #3
    abram86 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    i know what you mean now i feel like we can start over from new. I cant wait to see Bradford on the field and i hope its soon.

  4. #4
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    I love that the Rams are taking the "Best guy will play.." approach. They are handling the srutiny and criticism like true rpos and i love this regime for it.

  5. #5
    Birdbrain is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    It was the right pick.Gotta start with QB.I really like this new format.More time for wheeling and dealing.Rams are in the driver seat for whoever wants Clausen.

  6. #6
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    With the way the 1st round played out, I wonder if it ever dawned on the Rams to take Suh and then gamble on McCoy or Clausen being there in the 2nd round.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    No surprise that the Rams took bradford.

  8. #8
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    well can't be that bad picking a franchise QB. Usually a number 1 pick a QB is a good move especially if the guy throws 50 TD's. I did want a D linemen. But there are other rounds for that.

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    Re: Bradford's the One

    Would have been nice to have a T. Holt type WR waiting for Bradford plus a few other weapons to throw too. Just a guess but I wonder if the Rams are thinking that very thing today?

  10. #10
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    Hard to say who they pick in round 2. So many holes to fill. Yes they need a go-to WR but they also need to shore up the middle of the D-line. They also still need to plug the linebacker hole made by trading Witherspoon.

  11. #11
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    Quote Originally Posted by Ram Dragoon View Post
    Would have been nice to have a T. Holt type WR waiting for Bradford plus a few other weapons to throw too. Just a guess but I wonder if the Rams are thinking that very thing today?
    Damian Williams anyone? Every time i see him play i see a guy in the Holt type mold, with better YAC ability.

  12. #12
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    Re: Bradford's the One

    Quote Originally Posted by Bralidore(RAMMODE) View Post
    Damian Williams anyone? Every time i see him play i see a guy in the Holt type mold, with better YAC ability.
    Your seeing the light! Amen.

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