It took three seasons, but the St. Louis Rams may have finally figured out what makes Sam Bradford tick. The conventional wisdom has been to surround Bradford with big and tall wide receivers like Austin Pettis or Brian Quick that can go up and get the ball down the field.
Every offseason, rumors swirled that all Bradford needed was a big and fast receiver. That’s why Greg Jennings was rumored to be a free agent target this offseason and even Terrell Owens was rumored to be an option in 2011.
Yet Bradford has had the most success with receivers that are not big or fast like Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. Not surprising, because Bradford’s style of play shines with receivers like Gibson and Amendola.
Bradford never had the biggest arm, but he’s was very accurate in the short to intermediate range. So the Rams finally recognized this after making a mistake taking Brian Quick last draft cycle and got Bradford receivers that fit his style of play like a glove.
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are almost exact replicas of the type of wide receivers Bradford had at Oklahoma. They’re quick, fast and slippery after the catch.
Austin and Bailey are so similar to the type of wide receivers Bradford had at Oklahoma that West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was being compared at one point to Sam Bradford. That comparison is also pretty accurate considering the offense West Virginia implemented with Smith borrowed heavily from Oklahoma’s offense with Bradford in terms of spread concepts.
Now another critic could view these moves to get Austin and Bailey as a way to replace Amendola and Gibson who left in free agency and the Rams still believe Bradford is something he’s not, but I don’t think so. Moving up to get Austin proved that the Rams have finally understood what they need to surround Bradford with to make him successful.
If the offense doesn’t hit big in 2013 with Bradford’s new weapons, than it will never work. However, at least the Rams finally know what will maximize Bradford’s skill set and will go down swinging.
It’s safe to say that I’m still skeptical of Bradford as an Elite prospect, but at least I’m optimistic that the new receivers in town finally show that the Rams front office gets it. That way Bradford will finally get a decent shot to prove he was worth the number one overall pick.
James Cobern is a NFC West Division Leader for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @Jmcobern1