Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Friday, August 26, 2011
Josh Freeman vs. Sam Bradford

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

In this Insider post, Matt Williamson takes a look at fast-rising stars. He picks one player at each position that he believes will make a dramatic rise this year.

At quarterback, Williamson goes with Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman. He says he’ll take Freeman over Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford.

I would do the same without question. Bradford had a nice rookie year and Stafford’s done some nice things when healthy.

But let’s just look at Freeman compared to Bradford last year. It’s a fair comparison because it was the first full season as a starter for both quarterbacks.

The only important category where Bradford finished ahead of Freeman was passing yards. Bradford threw for 3,512 yards while Freeman threw for 3,451. But Bradford attempted 590 passes, while Freeman attempted 474.

Freeman completed 61.4 percent of his attempts and Bradford completed 60 percent. Freeman averaged 7.3 yards per pass, while Bradford averaged 6 yards. Bradford had 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Freeman had 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Freeman also has some running ability. He ran for 364 yards last season. Bradford doesn’t have that talent. He rushed for 63 yards last year.

I think Bradford’s going to be a good quarterback and I think his numbers will increase this year. I can see him getting up around 25 touchdowns and maybe near 4,000 yards passing if he throws as much as he did a year ago.

But I think the ceiling is a lot higher on Freeman. I think the Bucs are only just beginning to realize what they have. I easily can see Freeman throwing for something like 35 touchdowns and 4,000 yards this season.