Sam Bradford may very well be the no. 1 pick in next Thursday’s NFL Draft. However, the decision won’t be made until the last minute as he and the St. Louis Rams have mutually agreed to skip the drama.
Unlike the past two years in which the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions locked up their top pick days in advance, the Rams won’t attempt to strike a deal before the draft.
Bradford is still expected to be the top selection, but he will now be forced to the negotiating table possibly as late as training camp to get a deal done. For one, it allows the former Sooner to talk out a better deal during an uncapped year. ESPN is projecting his first contract to be worth about $13 million per year, with about $50 million in guaranteed cash.
Matt Ryan was taken first overall by Atlanta in ‘08 and averages $11 million a year, while Matthew Stafford is getting about $12 million a year in Detroit.
But holding off also gives the Rams flexibility with their pick. It seems likely St. Louis will take him after a terrific Pro Day a few weeks back, but a trade out of the top spot is also being rumored.
The Cleveland Browns spilled that they were in talks about trading up out of the no. 7 spot, perhaps to take Bradford themselves. If such a scenario plays out, Bradford could demand even more money from Cleveland, holding them to the barrel after they already put in a lot of chips to get him.
The Rams could also still be posturing and go defense with the top pick. The top two rated players are safety Eric Berry and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
St. Louis recently cut starting quarterback Marc Bulger loose.
Bradford was the projected no. 1 in last year’s draft, but elected to stay his senior season. In Oklahoma’s first game, though, Bradford went down with a dislocated shoulder, and injured it again against Texas. Scouts were unable to track his rehab until Oklahoma’s Pro Day on March 29, where Bradford sizzled.
“I don’t think I could tell you everything that’s gone into this,” Bradford told the NewsOK. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to come out here and show everyone I’m the same player.”
He will also work out privately for the Rams on April 19.
The Rams are tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the worst odds to win the 2011 Super Bowl at 150/1, according to Bodog.