The Sam Bradford era is set to begin tonight.
How will it work out?
How long will it last?
Minnesota Vikings fans know little about Bradford’s professional resume because the Rams team he played for his first five seasons was in relative obscurity. A team that bad before he showed up and bad after he left, Bradford didn’t do anything to pull them out of their franchise malaise.
Despite throwing more than 500 passes in each of the three seasons he has played in his seven-year career, he has never thrown for more than 3,725 yards or 21 touchdown passes in a season.
His numbers have been similar to many other quarterbacks that have come through the annals of the NFL over the decades. Not great, but not brutal.
The difference between guys like Bradford and Alex Smith and guys like Brad Johnson or Shaun Hill is that, when you’re the first overall pick in the draft, expectations for you are in the stratosphere.
Since 2001, 13 quarterbacks have been taken with the first overall pick, including Michael Vick, David Carr, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Bradford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and Jared Goff.
There is little in the way of sympathy for those selected No. 1 overall that don’t live up to expectations. The problem is that, when you have the No. 1 pick, you were either the worst team in the NFL or you sacrificed your next two, three or four drafts to move up into that spot. The phrase often associated with a first overall pick is that he is the new “face of the franchise.”
Of the quarterbacks taken with the first pick in this century, only one of them (Manning) has won a Super Bowl. Only two (Manning and Newton) have gotten to the Super Bowl.
Of those that are viewed as being a success from their selection spot, only Manning, Newton and Luck have been viewed as true successes.
It’s too early to anoint Winston as a success, but he has shown good things heading forward.
In the same light, it’s too early to stamp Goff as a loser, although there is currently a little stink on him.
Palmer and Stafford have posted big numbers over their careers, but the postseason success hasn’t followed, so it’s up to debate among football scholars as to whether they “lived up” to the prime billing.
Vick had his moments. He also had a two-year prison stretch that will likely keep him out of Canton.
Smith had a brutal start to his career, but if they had a GMHOF (Game Manager Hall of Fame), Smith would be a first-ballot speech-giver.
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Carr was the first pick of an expansion team. His beating was anticipated, expected and realized. Somebody had to be the sacrificial lamb. It just happened to be Carr.
As for Russell? It now seems bitterly ironic that the Jolly Ranchers that garnished his Purple Drank has a motto that is “Keep Sucking” – something Russell was able to achieve consistently during his short NFL career.
The best thing going for Bradford is that he isn’t going to be asked to carry the franchise on his shoulders. The Vikings are a team based on running the ball on offense and playing lights-out defense. The quarterback isn’t an afterthought, but it isn’t the centerpiece of winning or losing in Minnesota.
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All Bradford is going to be asked to do is to manage games, make plays when they’re needed and not make the critical mistakes that cost his team a game.
The Sam Bradford era is expected to begin tonight – for better or worse. For a team that has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, all Bradford is being asked to do is to hold up his end of the bargain as one of 53 players on the roster. If he does that, the Bradford era will be a success.