January 14, 2009

Bradford coming back

Interesting move by Sam Bradford to make the decision to come back to OU. He can obviously do whatever the heck he wants, but I'm trying to decide if I think it's the right move for his career. It's always good for college football when these guys come back, so I'm happy to see him make the decision that he did.

On the one hand, I can understand why he'd be coming back. Maybe the guy just isn't ready to go to the NFL and wants to put in his four years at OU (he's currently a redshirt sophomore). OU is losing a ton of players, but they've basically been in reload mode for about 10 years now. It's not like they won't have talented players replacing the guys who left. Maybe he wants to make another run at a Heisman or a national title. I get that.

From a career standpoint, I do think there is a correlation between guys with a lot of starting experience in college and success in the NFL. A guy like Matt Ryan had already been a starter for a few years at BC, and he was ready for the NFL by the time he left BC. You could say the same about Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger and Brady Quinn (who I still think will be a good player starting next year). All those guys were four year starters in college. Bradford will have three years as a starter at OU under his belt by the time he goes pro after next year. He could have made some money this year by coming out, but the BIG money in the NFL for quarterbacks is on that second contract. If you prove your value to your franchise, they'll rip up your rookie contract and lock you up to a huge deal. Guys like Manning and McNabb and Palmer and Brady are all working with $100 million deals. If you're a bust, you'll get your signing bonus and a few years of base salary and then probably get cut. It's obviously a good living, but some guys who came out early may have made less money over the course of their careers because they weren't ready to succeed in the NFL. It's a good idea financially to make sure you are 100% ready for the NFL.

On the other hand, I really think Bradford has shown all he needs to show on the college level. He's already basically mastered a college offense and proven that he can make every throw that a college offense demands. I'm not sure if playing another year against Big 12 defenses really does a whole lot for his career. Bradford was probably going to be the #1 pick this year (or at least in the top 3). If he comes back and maybe doesn't have quite as good of a year or doesn't have the o-line that he had this past year, maybe his stock drops down into the late first or something like that. That's a pretty risky career move.

Tough to say. If it's obvious that you need another year of maturity before going to the NFL, I'd always say come back to school even if you are a top 10 pick. But for a polished guy like Bradford, it might not have been the worst idea to get to the league while his stock is at an all-time high. Maybe he's ok with his draft stock dropping because he'd be on a better team. Should be interesting to see what happens with him next year.

Should be another doozy of a Red River Rivalry. Bradford vs McCoy again. WOW.

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