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Posted Oct. 27, 2009

O Bradford, Where Art Thou (Draft Stock)?

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford made a great decision to go back to school when he would have been a locked in top-10 draft pick, potentially going as high as No. 1.

After all, why would anyone want to have a chance to make up to $40 million in guaranteed money? Who needs all that cash when you can go back to class to write papers and study?

Obviously, Bradford is regretting his decision, but the past is the past, and nothing can change it.

Now that Bradford is going to not play for the rest of the 2009 season (as if he played at all), what will his draft stock be next year?

Let's assess who Bradford really is and actually analyze what could take place based on his value.

First, we have to consider the Combine and Pro Day. Honestly, these are the two biggest wastes of time for quarterbacks on the planet. If you really care about quarterbacks at these events, then you really need to learn how to re-evaluate the position.

Remember when Brian Brohm went something like 51-of-53 at his Pro Day? How did his career go?

The best way to evaluate a player is by watching games and film. Also, you need to analyze intangibles, personality, and work ethic.

Next, lets analyze why Bradford is so valuable to teams.

1. Bradford is extremely accurate with the football - The only debate here is whether the system overexaggerates his accuracy. Remember how accurate Brohm was at Louisville? Exactly. I thought he was the most accurate quarterback in the 2008 NFL Draft. I love Bradford's accuracy, but look at what Landry "Lance" Jones is doing at Oklahoma. He is putting up big numbers and this has to concern NFL scouts.

2. Great production and knowledge of the game - Again, the shotgun spread scheme at Oklahoma concerns me. How well will Bradford handle an NFL offense when he is under center?

Now, let's look at his knocks against him:

1. Does he have the confidence? I am going to talk more about the personality of the quarterback position this week. My question with Bradford is, if you really believe in yourself as a quarterback at the next level, then why didn't you declare for the NFL Draft? I am really concerned whether Bradford has it mentally to make it in the league.

2. Serious durability concerns - Amazing what happens when Bradford lost his NFL offensive line. In less than three halves of football, Bradford was seriously injured twice. How much of this is mental toughness to endure pain? Does he have a fragile body?

3. Offensive system is easy to operate - Landry Jones is doing pretty well this season. In 2008, Bradford didn't face any pressure and had all day to throw to NFL receivers. Does the system make him look slightly better than he really is?

4. How does his skill set translate to the next level? Bradford has a solid NFL arm, but he isn't Mark Sanchez, Jimmy Clausen or Matt Stafford. Can Bradford play in an NFL offense against a legitimate pass rush? Does Bradford have a high enough talent level to overcome young quarterbacking mistakes like a Stafford/Flacco/Sanchez?

There is a lot of uncertainty with Bradford. I think Jake Locker and Clausen will both get drafted ahead of him. They both have more upside and operate in West Coast offenses.

When all is said and done, Bradford will likely get drafted in the first round, probably between picks 10-25. It wouldn't shock me if he fell more than people anticipated, a la Brady Quinn.

The thing that bothers me the most about Bradford is thinking about the similarities to Brohm. Both had solid talent, but nothing really elite about their arm strength. They both have questionable intangibles. Brohm skipped the Senior Bowl because he was afraid to compete. Maybe Bradford has that same quality with skipping on the 2009 NFL Draft when his stock was at its pinnacle. Both Brohm and Bradford operated in quarterback-friendly offenses and faced a minimal pass rush in college, racking up monster stats. Both were super accurate.

I'm just not sold on Bradford like I used to be. He now has a 3.5-star grade, which means I think he is a low-first to high-second-round talent. There are too many question marks with Bradford, and we didn't even get to see him play this season.

For the record, coming out for the 2010 NFL Draft is the smart move. Cut your losses because a rookie salary cap will be in the NFL for 2011. You don't want to go back to school, have your draft stock decrease even more, and not make as much money.

The bottom line is there are more questions than answers with Bradford at this point, and he can't do anything to answer the questions. The Combine and Pro Day mean nothing. It isn't a game environment and he is throwing to wide-open receivers.

Don't buy into the Bradford hype next spring unless you buy into it now. Stick with your current evaluation of Bradford and don't waver. If you waver, it just means you change your mind based on what other people are saying instead of forming your own opinion, and you can't ever learn how to evaluate if never truly form your own opinion.

Matt McGuire's Recent NFL Draft Blog Entries:

Analyzing Andrew Luck's Decision - 1/7
Luck vs. Locker - 9/15
Top 10 Quarterback Busts - 7/7
NBA Draft vs. NFL Draft - 6/27
Six Sophomores Who Need to Step Up - 6/2
Kentucky 2010 NBA Draft Prospect Blog - 6/1
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2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year - 5/24
2010 NFL Power Rankings Tier - 5/21
2010 NFL Power Rankings - 5/18
NFL Mailbag: C.J. Spiller and Buffalo Bills Reaction - 5/14
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The Buffalo Bills - 5/13
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Most Productive 2010 NFL Rookies - 5/6
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2010 NFL Draft Observations and Telecast Blog - 4/26
2010 NFL Draft Grades: Day 3 - 4/25
2010 NFL Draft Grades: Rounds 1-3 - 4/24
2010 NFL Draft Grades: First Round - 4/23
2010 NFL Draft Trade Analysis - 4/23
Random Round 1 Thoughts and Analysis - 4/23
2010 NFL Draft Class Predictions - 4/22
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Response to Mike Mayock's Redskins-Trent Williams Comment - 4/8
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O Bradford, Where Art Thou (Draft Stock)? - 10/27
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Terrelle Pryor - NFL QB? - 9/15
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