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Sam Bradford is Poised for a Career Year in 2015


Sam Bradford is poised for a career year in the City of Brotherly Love under a head coach that loves to maximize his quarterback’s potential.

The Oklahoma University product was drafted five years ago as the first overall pick in 2010 and was set to be the franchise quarterback of the St. Louis Rams. His career to date has been riddled with injuries and with a sub-par supporting cast in St. Louis, Bradford never lived up to his pre draft hype. This past off-season, Chip Kelly traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford in a move that perplexed many NFL fans, especially those of us that participate in fantasy football leagues.

Bradford’s long list of injuries began in his redshirt junior season of college. In the Sooners first game against BYU, Bradford got hit and fell on his right shoulder resulting in a 3rd degree AC joint sprain. Bradford missed three weeks, but did not last long upon returning.  In his second game back from injury, Bradford reinjured his right shoulder and missed the rest of the season. However, that was only the beginning of his freak injuries.

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In NFL.com’s pre draft profile of Bradford, the weaknesses section stated,

“Coming off shoulder injury on his throwing arm. Needs to add bulk to withstand the pounding at the next level.”

That comment would not hold true in his first season, but unfortunately caught on later in his career. In Bradford’s first season he played all 16 games and completed the most passes ever by a rookie quarterback, 354. He threw for 3,512 yards, 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 60% completion percentage and with a quarterback rating of 76.5. In 2011 Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain, limiting him to 10 games. His stats that season were dismal, 2,164 passing yards, 6 touchdowns to 6 interceptions and a 70.5 QB rating. The following season Bradford was able to stay healthy and play a full season, leading his team to a 7-8-1 record. He threw for career highs that year, 3,707 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a QB rating of 82.6. He managed to have his best season with a talentless receiving core comprised of Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, and Chris Givens.

He started off his 2013 campaign playing superbly. In his first seven games the team’s record was 3-4, but Bradford had thrown for 1,687 yards, 14 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and had a career high QB rating of 90.9. While running out of bounds against the Carolina Panthers that year, Bradford tore his left ACL. That would be the last regular season game he ever started in a Rams uniform. In week three of the pre-season last year, Bradford re-tore his left ACL, ending his year. His career with the Rams can be surmised as an injury-riddled player who had the tools but could never put it all together. He was never given a Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver and had constant coaching and scheme changes.

In the strength section of their pre-draft profile, NFL.com added, “Bradford has ideal height and good mobility. Exceptionally accurate with a quick release, possesses great balance and steps into his throws. Has quick feet to sidestep the rush and the toughness to stand in the pocket and take a hit. Makes good decisions and uses an effective pump fake.”

That is exactly what Chip Kelly is looking for in a quarterback. One who can be “exceptionally accurate with a quick release.” Bradford has an even faster release than Foles did. In 2013 Bradford got rid of the ball in 2.67 seconds while Foles got rid of it in 3.11 seconds. Kelly should definitely love how quickly Bradford will be able to get rid of the ball which will allow Kelly to play at a lightning pace. Tight end Zach Ertz has even raved about Bradford’s arm strength saying, "I don't think I've thrown with a guy that has a stronger arm than Sam Bradford. He's hasn't really truly been able to get his full legs underneath him but the ball still comes out effortlessly. It's a lot of fun to run routes with him." To note, Zach Ertz played with Andrew Luck in college. This should give you some understanding of where Sam Bradford could be if he is able to stay healthy.

When Kelly first took over in 2013, Michael Vick was named the starter but injuries and poor play derailed him, leaving Foles to take over the job. In the eight games Foles started he had a 64% completion rate, 27 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a QB Rating of 119.2. He even made the Pro Bowl after only playing for a half a season. Last season, Foles got off to an okay start with 2,163 passing yards 13 touchdowns against 10 interceptions until he was injured in week 9 against the Texans. Former Jet Mark Sanchez took over and the Eagles didn’t miss a beat. In eight games started, Sanchez threw for 2,418 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He had a QB Rating of 88.4 and completed 64.1% of passes thrown. Additionally, the Eagles ranked fifth last season in pass attempts. Kelly was able to take two abysmal quarterbacks and make the postseason in his first year and just missed the playoffs in his second.

It was said that Foles and Sanchez were only good because of the system, and I am not here to argue for or against that. If Foles and Sanchez can put up numbers like that under Kelly then Bradford can easily. In Matthew Berry’s 100 Facts he says, "Since Chip Kelly took over in 2013, Eagles quarterbacks have combined to score 594 fantasy points, 18.6 per game." He continues to say that the only other quarterbacks that have had more points were Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. A healthy Bradford is more talented than Foles and with the tutelage of Kelly, should have a great season. Finally, Bradford also has real weapons at his disposal for the first time in his career.

Bradford’s era in St. Louis did not produce one 800- yard receiver. He now joins a team that has actually invested in its offense. The Eagles drafted the former Commodore, Jordan Matthews, two seasons ago in the second round and he had a great rookie year with 67 receptions, 872 yards, and eight touchdowns last season and Kelly believes that Matthews can elevate his game to duplicate departed Jeremy Maclin’s 85-1318-10 line of last season. The Eagles also drafted Nelson Agholor from USC with their 20th overall pick. NFL draft expert Mike Mayock said, “Agholor is a precise route runner. He has added value as a great returner. He reminds you of Jeremy Maclin, the guy he's replacing. Agholor can play anywhere, outside and in the slot. The Philadelphia Eagles are going to love him.”

The Eagles boast Riley Cooper, a very nice complementary piece coming off a 55-577-3 season. Bradford will also have two tight ends that can do some damage and help Bradford succeed. Ertz (58-702-3) and Brent Celek (32-340-1) will be Bradford’s reliable security blankets. The Eagles also have a very strong trio of running backs who can catch the ball and help take the workload off Bradford with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, and Darren Sproles.

People have deemed Kelly as a mad man, but he has been successful wherever he has gone. He turned New Hampshire into a prolific offense and then went onto Oregon where he built a powerhouse. This is Kelly’s first full offseason in charge of personnel and he is building this team in his vision. He believes that Bradford is the right man to lead his offense and has had great success with quarterbacks. Kelly can do wonders with Bradford and completely change his career arc. Bradford will be able to throw short and quick passes and he will make the right and easy read often, complimenting Kelly's offense better than any of the previous Eagles QBs.

Bradford’s average draft position for quarterbacks is 20th now, behind Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Colin Kaepernick, three players who should be below Bradford. You can draft Bradford as a backup and he will be a great backup fantasy quarterback who could also be trade bait. Or you can draft all of your position players and wait on a quarterback to get an absolute steal with Bradford. If you take a flyer then be sure to grab a backup just in case Bradford gets injured. I really believe Bradford will throw for at least 4,500 yards, and 30 touchdowns and look like the player he was always supposed to be if he stays healthy. He will win Comeback Player of the Year, health permitting. I would take the low risk on Bradford staying healthy and posting massive fantasy points, but if you don’t believe me, then maybe you should listen to future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.

 

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