Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sam Bradford's Other Misfortune

by John Turney
Digital Art credit: John Turney
Not only did Sam Bradford suffer a torn ACL in his left knee in two consecutive seasons (which is enough bad mojo for a lifetime for an NFL player) he never got to settle behind a quality tackle-to-tackle offensive line. Injuries in some cases and a serious lack of quality NFL talent in a few others cases dogged Bradford in his St. Louis Rams career.

Bradford, who earned a starting job as a rookie in 2010, played behind a total of twenty different starters in his four starting seasons for the Rams. As of the moment of this post only seven are active NFL players and only one of those is on the Rams roster. Yesterday, Scott Wells and Jake Long were released by the Rams. Today, Shelly Smith was released by the Dolphins and last week the Rams did not tender Tim Barnes. Joe Barksdale is currently a sought-after free agent and will be with someone this season, perhaps even the Rams. Chris Williams began the 2014 season as a starter, but was injured early in the season. He's likely to remain on roster, but it is too early to know if he will be a starter.

Jake Long and Scott Wells could end up somewhere in 2015 and Long could even be re-signed to the Rams at a lower salary than his contact would have called for in 2015. Shelly Smith is a capable backup type who will likely land on a roster, but not very likely the Pro Bowl roster.
Chart credit: Pro Football Journal
Other starters were simply not Pro Bowl talents (though a couple were paid like it) and some were really stopgaps or cup-of-coffee types, this it players who were in the NFL as something to do before they had to settle into a post-NFL career, such as, say wrestling.

So, with Bradford headed to Philadelphia (for now, at least) perhaps he will benefit from playing in front of Pro Bowl-types like Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. Bradford's luck has to change, doesn't it?

Update: On March 13, 2015, the Denver Broncos signed guard Shelly Smith. Additionally, conversed with one of the NFL's most experienced scouts and his reaction was that my assessment of the semi-active linemen was "kind".

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