Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Resolved: Bradford's place among top QBs
By Mike Sando
ESPN.com's Power Rankings for quarterbacks come out Tuesday and -- surprise, surprise -- no NFC West players received votes.
Not even Sam Bradford.
Our eight-man panel faced some tough decisions. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas will be touching upon those when the rankings go live.
In the meantime, what about Bradford? Seventy-eight percent of the first 3,035 respondents to our NFC West poll thought he would rank among the top 10 quarterbacks within the next couple seasons. Fourteen percent said he had already arrived as such, while 8 percent said he never would.
"I don't like the lack of 'longer than a couple of years,'" Maneckn wrote in the comments section beneath the poll. "I think there are too many good QBs in the league for him to break through in a couple of years."
Good point. It's easy to consider players "top 10" at their positions without listing the other nine and excluding strong candidates. It's like wondering how a player fell short in Hall of Fame balloting -- something I did routinely before becoming a voter -- without acknowledging the five-man limit on modern-era players. Even if six candidates were deserving, only five at a time could get in.
"Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan are all young and have shown great potential," Maneckn wrote. "Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow played well last year under their respective circumstances. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger all have years left. We don't know how long Peyton Manning will play, but it wouldn't surprise me if he lasts till 40. And we haven't even gotten to Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb, Matt Schaub ..."
So, while it's easy to say Bradford should become a top-10 quarterback in the next couple years, it's harder to put in writing. But the overall assessment remains valid. Whether Bradford will rank one through 10, he showed enough as a rookie, most agree, to project as top-10 caliber in the not-too-distant future.
"As a 49ers fan, I am definitely nervous to have Sam Bradford in the division," BigBrad184 wrote. "The guy looks like he's the real deal. The pressure is now on the other three teams in the division to come up with their own legitimate franchise QB because Bradford should get there in the next few years, if not sooner."
Bradford has much to prove in his second season as he tries to avoid a sophomore slump, EDTHG wrote. That could be tougher than usual if the labor impasse prevents Bradford from working extensively with new coordinator Josh McDaniels this offseason. It's also important for the Rams to upgrade their weapons around Bradford.
"He's already within the top ten QBs you would want on your team right now," QBSamTheRam wrote. "There are not 10 QBs that would be taken before him if there were a big re-draft in the NFL. He's not there performance-wise right now, although he will be soon."