Going into today’s NFL Draft, one thing appears to be clear. Former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is going to be the top overall pick.
What is unclear — and could remain so for some time — is whether Bradford will develop into an elite NFL quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. Or the team that trades up to draft him. The majority of experts believe Bradford possesses the size, the arm, the temperament, and all others attributes necessary of becoming a franchise quarterback. "He has got all the tools to be elite,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. "Starting with accuracy. I think accuracy is underrated at the NFL level. He has got the arm strength. He doesn’t have an elite arm, but he has got plenty of arm strength. He has great accuracy. He is a good leader. I think he is a tough kid.” But not everyone is as convinced. "He’s not even close to the best player in this draft. I like Sam Bradford, I think he’ll be a good pro one day, but he has major, major challenges ahead of him,” ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer recently told a St. Louis radio station. "Sam Bradford is not Mark Sanchez. He is not Matthew Stafford. He is not Matt Ryan. I would say he’s not even Joe Flacco. "Sam Bradford is a talented kid, but very, very raw. He’s a very good passer, but there’s major challenges ahead of him instinctively. He’s not played the position, he’s not been challenged in the college game, he’s not played the college game even close to what it’s going to be like in the National Football League. I’m very, very concerned with what’s happening here with perception being that he’s the best player in the draft. I think it could be a catastrophic mistake by the Rams.” Dilfer could end up being right. After all, Bradford wouldn’t be the first quarterback to go No. 1 in the draft and founder. In the last 12 NFL Drafts, nine quarterbacks have been selected with the top pick. Of those, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Eli Manning have been pro bowlers. But just as many have been flops. For every Peyton or Eil Manning, there’s been a Tim Couch or David Carr. For every Palmer, a JaMarcus Russell. In other words, history suggests the proposition is 50-50.