I got a chance to catch-up with former number one overall pick and current St. Louis franchise quarterback Sam Bradford who is at the Super Bowl festivities for Super Bowl week.
After an outstanding season in his first year in the NFL, he just missed the playoffs with a rebuilding team, which is credit to his leadership and winning attitude. We had a chance to talk about his development from college as well as how his initial NFL season went this year.
Improving His Style
Sam has had notably longish hair on the field. Not quite Tom Brady level, but he's known for his rugged hair throughout the year and even said it was "pretty out of control". So, the AXE company decided to give him a new hair style to go along with their new products.
He is an outstanding overall athlete (scratch golfer, star high school basketball player, avid hockey fan), had said AXE had a "wide variety of hair products" for his needs, and with only one game away from the playoffs, it's possible (I know, very unlikely) that one minor change to his hair could make the different in 2011.
Improving from College
Sam Bradford had an 88-16 touchdown to interception career in his Oklahoma career, including a Heisman Trophy in there as well. But in his first season in the NFL, he finished with almost as many interceptions as he ever had in college at 15, and only 18 touchdown passes.
I asked him about that transition from the college to NFL game. He was quick to point out that no one, outside of Offensive POTY Tom Brady this year, is "putting up those numbers".
"It's a totally different game. From the speed to the coaching, it's totally different. But I'm not really concerned with numbers as long as my team has a chance to win every game."
Improving his Leadership
Leading your team in college is one thing, but some things that high NFL drafted quarterbacks can't master is leading the team at a young age. See David Carr, Joey Harrington, and surely JaMarcus Russell as prime examples of that.
"When I stepped into the huddle with the guys at OU, I was just as old as them. When I step into the huddle in St. Louis, there are 30 year olds, married with kids. It's much different."
So how did he handle it? "I think guys respected my work ethic enough that when I had to get vocal, they responded."
Development with Receivers
While the St. Louis Rams lacked a "go to receiver", they did have seven receivers catch 20 or more passes, and nine caught touchdown passes. I wondered if that volume of options helped or hurt his rhythm as a developing passer in the NFL.
"I don't think it hurt me. It was hard for defenses to concentrate on any one guy. It's tough in this league to cover any one guy for us and not still get beat."
Bradford always had a good depth of receivers in his college career, but I think it's safe tos ay that guys like Danny Amendola, Donnie Avery, and Mardy Gilyard are the
options he wants to build with for the next 8-10 years as the quarterback, but he surely didn't say anything.
Development into a Playoff Contender
The Rams had a chance to 'win and be in' when it came to the playoffs, but couldn't close in their final game and the Seattle Seahawks went on to the playoffs with the NFC West crown and actually won a playoff game despite being 7-9.
"It was a great situation to be in, only one win away from the playoffs. It was a great learning situation for myself and all the guys, and we can use that learning experience next year and in the future."
With probably much of the same team back plus the 14th pick in the draft and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in the fold, that experience could push them over the edge come weeks 14-17.
Development of the Rams on Draft Day
As previously mentioned, the Rams have the 14th overall pick in the first round of the upcoming draft. They have needs at linebacker, guard, defensive back, and, as noted before, receiver.
Bradford quickly pointed out "it's not up to me." But, he did say he would like "someone to help us win next season" as he feels this team is very close to playoff contention.
While an outside linebacker or guard could help, I think he would very much like a guy like Julio Jones if he was on the board for the Rams.
Why The Rams Will Make the Playoffs in 2011
So, the big questions on the Rams fans' mind is: Are the Rams going to get over the hump and get back to the playoffs in 2011-2012?
Sam said, "the experience really helped us develop this year" and that "possibly adding pieces [this off-season] could make the difference in 2011. That is of course our goal next year, and I'm excited about it."
Well Rams fans, you can't ask for much more than a former record breaking offensive coordinator, a head coach of the year candidate, and improved defense, the 14th overall pick, and leader and quarterbacking talent like Sam Bradford at the helm of your franchise.
VIEW THE WHOLE INTERVIEW HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV1V09j0l-M