James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, May 09, 2016

Sam Bradford is as Heisman wnner does

In the past 30 years, no one was  a) a Heisman Trophy winner, b) #1 or #2 overall in the NFL draft,  and c) a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

Cam Newton might be one. It's too soon to tell of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

Carson Palmer has been the most successful, but he'd have to close out his career with a couple of Super Bowl wins to warrant Hall of Fame consideration.

Robert Griffin III was plagued by injury in college, and again in the pros.

The remaining three Heisman Winners/high draft picks had their NFL careers foreshadowed in the national championship game.

In January, 1987, Heisman Trophy quarterback Vinny Testaverde through five interceptions in the Fiesta Bowl. It was his last game and his Miami (Fla) team lost the national championship to Penn State.

That performance could have been a red flag. Perhaps he wasn't as good as advertised. Instead, it was viewed as an aberration. He was taken by Tampa Bay as the first overall pick in that year's NFL draft. There, he threw lots and lots of interceptions for several years before emerging as a pretty good quarterback for the Browns and Jets later in his career. His career wasn't a bust, but it wasn't great either.

In 2006, Heisman Trophy running back Reggie Bush and USC played for the national championship against Texas. Facing a 4th-and-1 with a lead, USC opted to go for the first down to run out the clock. But, they chose Lendale White, a larger back, to carry the ball despite Bush's 8.7 yards per carry average that season.

USC failed to convert and lost the game. Bush was nevertheless selected 2nd overall in that year's draft. But despite some success and a Super Bowl win, he never emerged as an "every down" franchise back befitting his high draft position.

I wasn't surprised. The 4th-and-1, in which his number was not called, set the tone for his NFL career. Had he been picked later in the draft, he'd be considered an NFL success. But he's not a workhorse, tough-yardage ack.

Sam Bradford's last college games also set the tone for his NFL career. As the 2008 Heisman winner, he led the Oklahoma offense that scored the most points in major college history. But the Florida Gators held the Sooners to 14 points in the national championship game. Two separate injuries derailed Bradford's 2009 season. Even so, he as chosen first overall in the 2010 NFL draft.

His pro career is like the end of his college career: when he isn't hurt, he's unspectacular. And while it's too soon to call him a bust, he hasn't played to the standard one would hope in a first-overall pick.

And like Bush and Testaverde before him, Bradford's disappointing pro career shouldn't be surprising. It was foreshadowed when he met top opposition in college.

Alex Smith, a fellow #1 overall pick (though not a Heisman winner), turned his career around after his first six seasons were disappointing. The question is whether Bradford has the professionalism required to be a good NFL quarterback.

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