Is Sam Bradford making a mistake by staying at Oklahoma?

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Is Sam Bradford making a mistake by staying at Oklahoma?

t By Bill Smith

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In a previous article I wrote that Tim Tebow made a great decision by staying at Florida. He was going to be a 2nd or 3rd round choice this year but could work his way into the first round with a strong senior year. However, I believe that Oklahoma QB Bradford is making a mistake by staying.

I am reminded of QB Matt Leinart of USC. He would have been the first overall pick had he come out as a junior. But he stayed in school for his senior year and fell to the 10th pick overall in the 2006 draft. Alex Smith from Utah was the first pick of the 49ers. That decision cost Leinart 3.5 million dollars over the first 3 years of his contract.

There is only one first round QB in the 2009 draft—Matt Stafford of Georgia. While USC’s QB Mark Sanchez will probably be drafted in the first round, at this point I don’t see him as a 1st round talent. QB Akili Smith from Oregon started only one year in the Pac-10 and look how well that turned out for the Bengals.

With no less than 14 teams needing either starting or backup QBs, the need will never be greater and the supply seldom lower. [You can see the list on in my column about the Browns.] In my opinion, Bradford would have been either the first pick by Detroit or the third pick by Kansas City. Bradford would have taken over the top QB ranking at the combine.

Bradford has better accuracy than Stafford but slightly less arm strength. I’m not big on arm strength. Both Vince Young of Tennessee and JaMarcus Russell of Oakland have great arm strength but couldn’t hit snow if they were passing from the North Pole. The NFL has seen dozens of strong armed QBs crash and burn over the last few years. Joe Montana had average arm strength but it got stronger from lifting so many championship trophies.

Bradford is more of a pocket passer than Stafford and has a little more experience throwing after taking snaps from under center than Stafford. That should translate into less trouble mastering the 3, 5, and 7 step drops so critical to developing accuracy in the NFL. Bradford processes information quickly and is accurate. He completed 68% of his passes with 50 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Stafford is very inconsistent. Even though he has the better team in all but a hand full of games Georgia played, he still often throws interceptions in critical points in the game. He is not nearly as accurate as Bradford completing 61% of his throws but having only 25 TDs and 10 interceptions.

The risk is that Bradford’s stock will drop in his senior year. He loses WRs Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson, and probably Jr. TE Jermaine Gresham. While he will still have some good targets, chances are they will not as good or as consistent as those three. They should all be drafted in the first 3 rounds. He will also be missing at least two of his interior linemen Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker as well as his best tackle Phil Loadholt.

Given all the talent the Sooners will lose, it would make more sense to come out now. He will be running for his life whichever bad NFL team he goes to in 2010 and may have to run from less than optimum pass protection next year at Oklahoma. He might as well get paid to do it.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

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