Originally posted by ninerlifer:
Bradford is in a WAAAAYYYYYY better situation than what Smith had his rookie year
Bradford has Jason Smith AND the kid that the Rams picked in the top of the Second Round from Indiana. Thats 2 Bookend Tackles to protect Bradford's growing pains (although JSmith is still unproven because of injuries, and the new OT is a question mark) they are way better than what we had protecting Smith that is for damn sure. And Bradford has Stephen Freaking Jackson. ASmith had Kevan Barlow. I give the Rams 3 years to challenge for the division (hell even 2, if their last two drafts turn it on).
The Ram's o-line is projection, and may look good on paper, but is completely unproven. Alex Smith's rookie year o-line was horrific in retrospect, but lets examine how it was perceived in the offseason leading to the season.
LT- Jonas Jennings had just signed a huge contract and expectations where through the roof. Even though he had a history of injuries, noone expected him to accumulate 6 healthy games in a span of 4 years. Easily more to get excited about here than Roger Saffold (the 2nd round pick you are referring to).
LG - David Baas was just picked up in the 2nd round, and once again the expectations were through the roof. He was a big, freakishly strong, and somewhat versatile interior lineman who had a very successful college career. Any time a guard is the 33rd pick in the draft, the expectation is for him to be a 10 year starter, and a potential pro bowler. Same draft spot as Saffold, and arguably even higher expecations
C - Jeremy Newberry is a pro bowler, who was expected to come back healthy from injury. In retrospect we know that he never made a legitimate comeback, but at the time our expectation at C was a pro bowler.
RG - Justin Smiley is was yet another 2nd round OG, who had an even more impressive college career than Baas. He was a 2nd year player, and was by all means expected to be a very good starter at OG. (See Baas, David for expectations from 2nd round OGs).
RT - Kwame Harris also got fans excited. Even though the 1st round draft pick didn't have a great rookie season, the thought of him being a 2nd year player, and moving to his more natural RT spot was very inspiring. Very similar to Jason Smith actually--a 1st round pick who hadn't done anything in his 1st year, and was now facing high expectations in his 2nd year due to potential. Granted he wasn't the 2nd overall pick, but regardless, the situation is very similar.
At WR there isn't a starting caliber player between either of these teams. Actually, that's slightly untrue. Bradford has Avery (who is OK at best at this point of his career), and Smith had Eric Johnson, who actually had a good season the year before. Neither one has/had a receiving unit to write home about.
The one advantage Bradford has is Steven Jackson, but if you remember, at the start of '05, we were all ecstatic about Barlow. It wasn't until half way through the season that we realized he's trash.
So even though you can write up how good of a situation Bradford has on paper right now, the truth is, this was also the case for Smith in '05. The main difference--Bradford is a much better prospect than Smith ever was.