There are many reasons for the high burn rate among highly drafted NFL quarterbacks. First, the obvious: The position is ridiculously hard to play at this level. College quarterbacks face less complicated coverages, have severely weak teams worked into their schedules, and are helped by the spread offense in ways that do not transfer to the NFL. Then, there's the matter of the talent around you. Odds are, if you're taken in the top five in any draft, the team selecting you has holes in the receiver corps, running game, offensive line, or some infernal combination thereof. You don't make as much money in that first contract if you drop in the draft, but if you're Aaron Rodgers(notes) or Ben Roethlisberger(notes), you're still better off -- it's the second contract that counts.
So, what can we say about 2010 first-overall pick Sam Bradford(notes) at this point? Sunday in the St. Louis Rams' 20-17 win over the San Diego Chargers, Bradford was throwing to this Murderers' Row: Danny Amendola(notes), Billy Bajema(notes), Brandon Gibson(notes) and Danario Alexander(notes). Not a Moss or Johnson (Chad, Andre or Calvin) in the Bunch, but it didn't affect Bradford at all. He completed 18 of 31 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown against a San Diego defense that came into this game ranked second in Football Outsiders' metrics against the pass.
How did Bradford do it? Well, he did it by making throws like this touchdown to Alexander:
There were two things I thought would predetermine Bradford's success in the NFL when he came out of Oklahoma. He already had a compact motion (a lot like Matt Ryan's),(notes) and he is blessed with the kind of deep accuracy you see about once every 10 years (if that). He doesn't have to overthrow anything, as the Alexander touchdown indicated. But the surprise to me thus far has been Bradford's ability to work his way into the NFL with such seeming ease. The Rams were a team on the rise to a degree -- their offensive line is improving and Steven Jackson is a beast -- but Bradford's poise and maturity have to be pleasant surprises for a Rams team that has been on the wrong side of the curve for a good long time.