Right now there are a lot of people making fun of Sam Bradford, criticizing his decision not to enter the NFL as a 21 year old rookie. While Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford enjoyed huge paydays (41 million for Stafford who I believe the Lions would have taken over Bradford anyway), and are currently enjoying success at the pro level, Bradford has done little but battle a shoulder injury this season where he was expected to defend his Heisman.
At this point in the season Oklahoma has three losses and nonexistent national title hopes; this means that even if he opts against surgery, Bradford has probably taken his final snap under center for the Sooners. Chances are Bradford will opt towards shoulder surgery and he'll enter this Springs NFL Draft as the QB with the sewn up shoulder.
Bradford's decision to stay at Oklahoma had more to do with his desire to go down as one of the all time greatest college football players. He wanted to join Archie Griffin as the only two time Heisman winners. He wanted to win a national title. He wanted to become an immortal, a Greek god from Oklahoma.
Bradford will remain an NCAA legend. His inability to bring a national title for the Sooners will always be a definitive note in his collegiate career, but no one can deny the energy that he has brought to the Oklahoma program over the past several years.
Unfortunately for Bradford, several of his peer-Quarterbacks have evolved into first round QB's this season. Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy have solidified themselves as pro talent, despite serious questions that surround both players ability to play pro football. Washington's Jake Locker and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen have also climbed draft boards; Clausen appears on top of many. Tony Pike and Jevan Snead round out a talented core of QB's looked at as first round talent.
Bradford's future at this point depends mostly on the combine. If Bradford heads to Indianapolis, nails his physical, and performs well in the combine, teams will likely consider him; but no one is going to neglect this shoulder injury. Not after the tragedy of Chad Pennington.
Luckily for Bradford a lot of teams will likely be entering the 2010 draft looking to address a need at Quarterback. The best case scenario for Bradford could be to land somewhere like Seattle where he'll have a little time to sit on the bench and get used to the NFL. Buffalo, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Washington, Tennessee, Carolina, Cleveland, San Francisco, Oakland, Jacksonville, Houston, and Arizona may also be looking to find a QB of the future this year in a very deep QB class.
An optimistic way to assess this situation for Bradford is that maybe he'll get lucky like Aaron Rodgers, get drafted in the middle to end of the first round, and end up on a team that's already pretty good. This gave Rodgers time to develop, while #1 overall pick Alex Smith ended up with a identity-less 49ers franchise.
Hopefully for Bradford everything works out. I'd hate to see a talented QB never get a chance to be great at the pro level; where he can truly become an immortal.