The 2010 NFL Draft QB Success Debate… Number One Pick For A Reason

May 7, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Babe Ruthless.

It’s going to be interesting to see how history looks back on the quarterback class of the 2010 NFL Draft. Obviously, the big four (Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen, and Tim Tebow) will be heavily scrutinized. Amazingly, despite being temporarily slotted in as a third string quarterback, Tebow posted the hottest selling jersey in the NFL in April. But he isn’t going to be the best quarterback of this class. None of the writers at The Sports Debates beileve that. When all is said and done, Sam Bradford will be the best quarterback of the class of 2010.

With all the fuss about how far Clausen dropped and how Tebow was picked a little early, people tend to forget about Bradford. At least that is the impression I have. And that would be a huge mistake.

Like Tebow, Bradford was a winner in college. Not to the extent that Tebow was, as Bradford’s Sooners never got over that hump. But, in two full seasons as a starter (2007 and 2008), Bradford was 23-5. Obviously, we know he won the Heisman Trophy in 2008 with gaudy passing numbers. And he was surrounded by talent on his Sooner teams.

It’s going to be interesting to see his transition from a spread offense to a pro-style offense. He appears to be a smart guy, though, and early indications are that he isn’t afraid to take control of the huddle. At Rams rookie minicamp last week Bradford took charge of the offense with relative ease, and that is something coach Steve Spagnuolo was looking for rather intently.

Despite his injury-plagued 2009 campaign in Norman, I’m still convinced this guy has the strongest arm. At this pro day back in March, he showed off his accuracy, completing an amazing 62 of 63 passes, which had all the pro scouts in attendance drooling. That type of accuracy is what separates him from the rest, and it’s what got him to the position of being the number one pick. Many have compared Bradford to legendary Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman. They both actually have Oklahoma roots. That isn’t bad company, is it Sam?

There is one thing that Bradford can claim without much question, and that is the fact that he plays on the worst team. Bleacher Fan may disagree, but the Rams are much worse than the Browns, and obviously are worse than the Panthers and Broncos. The Rams are terrible. Awful. An embarrassment of Detroit Lions proportions. Last season’s number one pick, Matthew Stafford, had to deal with the same situation when he was drafted by the Lions. It’s going to be tough on Bradford, just as it was on Stafford. But at least he had Calvin Johnson to throw to. Bradford doesn’t even have that. However, expect Bradford to eventually move the Rams on up. He may experience growing pains early on, but when we look back on this class in 20 years, we’ll all agree that Sam Bradford was the best of the bunch.

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The Leaving College Early For The Pros Debate – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

November 12, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that talented college athletes should go pro as soon as they are eligible, and Loyal Homer’s argument that the benefits to staying in school are.

Matthew Stafford, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford were all viewed as marquis college quarterbacks from the 2008 football season. Each was eligible for early entry into the NFL Draft, and each was projected to be a high-draft selection. With millions of dollars at stake, the temptation to go pro early could be very strong!

Matthew Stafford chose the NFL. As a reward for his decision, he received a contract with $41.7M in GUARANTEED money. On the down-side, he has to play quarterback for the Detroit Lions, a job that has already been tried and failed by the likes of Daunte Culpepper, Jon Kitna, Joey Harrington, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Batch, Gus Frerotte, Rodney Peete, Frank Reich, Ty Detmer, Stoney Case (who?!), Scott Mitchell, well… you get the point. Stafford’s job will not be an easy one, to say the least!

On the other hand, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford decided to return to their respective college teams for one more season, foregoing the immediate prospect of millions in salary to chase a different prize – a national championship (and the Heisman Trophy). The decision has not been a bad one for McCoy so far, whose Texas Longhorns are undefeated and sit third in the current BCS rankings. But, things have not worked out as well for his Oklahoma Sooners counterpart, Bradford. Bradford’s decision to stay in college may have been more costly, as he has only played in one full game all season due to shoulder injuries. It is true that he looked very impressive in the few instances where he played, but the lack of any substantial playing time may impact his long-term professional value. Likewise, his injury has cost his team several games, and subsequently cost them the opportunity to play for the BCS National Championship this season, a key reason Bradford returned in the first place.

It is a question that every NFL and NBA prospect especially must face during their time in college. For some, the decision to stay in the NCAA or go pro is simply a matter of trying to maximize their professional value. Staying in college is only worthwhile to them if it means the prospect of even more favorable ratings and reviews in the next NFL Draft, rather than the current one. For others, it is about not wanting to leave college behind without a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Former Ohio State safety Mike Doss was a standout football player at every level of the game. He won championships in his Pop Warner leagues and as a high school star at Ohio’s Canton McKinley (one of the schools in the GREATEST area for high school football in the country!!!). He was again part of a championship team as his high school Bulldogs won both the state and national titles. In 2002, Doss came back for his fifth year of eligibility at Ohio State so he could try one more time for a National Championship at the collegiate level. His decision paid off, as his Buckeyes went on to defeat the heavily favored Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl.

That same decision did not work out so well for several members of the 2007 Michigan Wolverines. After a very exciting season in 2006 where the Wolverines nearly reached the National Championship Game (if not for a loss to Ohio State in the final game of the season), running back Mike Hart, offensive lineman Jake Long, and quarterback Chad Henne all decided to return for one more season at Michigan in the hopes of winning the National Championship (or any bowl game for that matter) and to get a win over Ohio State. Instead of realizing the dream, the Wolverines lost the season opener to Appalachian State in one of the greatest upsets in college football history, as well as three other games that season (including another loss at the hands of the Buckeyes). There were no championship celebrations in Michigan that season, which left Long, Hart, and Henne frustrated and very disappointed.

There are risks and rewards to both options, but which is the better option to choose? If given the opportunity, should talented college players leave college early, as soon as they are eligible?

To tackle this issue, Sports Geek will argue that the better choice is to go pro early, while Loyal Homer will argue that players should return to college and finish their career before going to the next level.

To stay, or not to stay – THAT is the question!

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The Leaving College Early For The Pros Debate – An Education Provides Real Value

November 12, 2009

Read the debate intro and Sports Geek’s argument that capable college athletes should forgo their education for a career in the professional leagues.

I know the popular answer is going to be “Take the money and run.” The four writers here at TSD have never been in a situation like those that star college football players face after being in college for three years. We do not know what we would do. And believe me, my heart breaks for guys like Sam Bradford. He really seems to be one of the good guys and I hate that his season has been essentially ruined by injury. He bypassed millions of dollars to come back to try and win a championship in Norman. But LONG TERM, the best thing for the individual is to return to school.

According to the National Football Players Association’s website, the average career length of an NFL player lasts around three and a half years. Basically, that means for every Clay Matthews (19 years), there is a Mr. Irrelevant. If a player leaves school early and the NFL career does not work out, what does he have to fall back on? Even if the player does have a lengthy career, what is he going to do once he retires without a degree? Sure, he could go back to school to finish his degree. Many say they intend to do that. You may say, “Well, he’s wealthy and he doesn’t need to work.” But retired NFL players do not work for the money. They work to stay active. We have all heard our parents preach this and we will preach it to our kids when they get to that age – it is very important to get that degree!

Bleacher Fan mentioned Mike Doss in the intro. Another guy that comes to mind is Matt Leinart. Leinart came back to Southern Cal as a fifth year senior. He wanted the chance to make college football history by winning a third consecutive national championship. He gave up millions for, as he called it, “$950 a month” and a chance to win another championship. It did not quite turn out that way for Leinart, as his Trojans lost in the BCS championship game to Texas in one of the greatest games I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Financially, however, the money was still there when he was drafted the following year by the Arizona Cardinals with the tenth overall pick. Sure, he was not the first overall pick, but he still signed a six-year deal worth a maximum value of $50.8 million, including $14 million guaranteed. I will grant you that he has not exactly panned out yet in the NFL, but at least he is getting a fat check. And, he always has that degree. He will not have to go bagging groceries after his career is over!

What is wrong with being the big man on campus? A senior star college football player probably never has to buy a drink at the local bar. He probably is one of the most popular guys on campus. He probably has all the girls wanting to go out with him (which is a good thing only if he does not have a girlfriend). How many times does one get to experience that in a lifetime? Responsibility and life can wait! Why not enjoy the senior year of college? It only comes along once!

Yes, it is hard to turn down the millions! But it is impossible to put a price tag on what can be experienced as a senior in college. And, you cannot put a price tag on that diploma!

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The Heisman Trophy Sleepers Debate – Dwyer Could Crash The Party

August 21, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s and Bleacher Fan’s arguments on which sleeper Heisman Candidate has the best chance to crack the top three.

It is pretty obvious that three guys are far away the favorites to make it the New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony, as The Sports Debates tackled in a prior debate. Quarterbacks Tim Tebow (Florida), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), and Colt McCoy (Texas) have distanced themselves – at least in pre-season talk – from other possible contenders. However, there are several other candidates who might be under the radar, so to speak, but who could catapult themselves into the discussion with a strong season. After looking at the way some players finished up last season, and evaluating potential for the upcoming season, I have concluded that if anyone could break up the big three this year it is Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer.

Dwyer, a junior, is coming off an outstanding sophomore season for the Yellow Jackets. Last year he rushed for 1,395 yards on just 200 carries for an average of seven yards a carry. He also scored 12 rushing touchdowns and one receiving. He rushed for over 100 yards in nine games. He was the ACC conference player of the year, and was on several post-season All-American teams. In the pre-season this year, he has already accumulated some honors. Among others, he is the pre-season ACC conference player of the year and a candidate for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the top running back in college football.

If he stays healthy, Dwyer is going to get the carries. As the B-back in Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s hugely successful spread option offense, he is bound to get plenty of carries. What made Dwyer so effective last year is that Johnson was able to keep him fresh. He had twenty or more carries in only four games. Johnson was able to mix and match Dwyer with guys like running back Roddy Jones, making Georgia Tech one of the surprise teams in the 2008 season.

This year, there is more of a bullseye on the Yellow Jackets. In most pre-season polls the Yellow Jackets are ranked in the top 15. Along with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech is considered one of the favorites in the ACC. With that pressure comes more attention as well. The Yellow Jackets, and Dwyer, will not sneak up on anyone. If the Jackets and Dwyer get off to a fast start – which is entirely possible – then the national spotlight will increase. Dwyer will get more attention on national sports shows, and people in regions outside the Southeast will get to know the D-Train.

In order for Dwyer to make this run for the Heisman, the Yellow Jackets are going to have to succeed as a team. That is very important to Dwyer’s campaign. If they struggle as a team, then Dwyer’s candidacy will struggle. Back in 1999, Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton put up gaudy numbers, but he played on a team with a horrendous defense. That definitely hurt his chances to win the Heisman (he finished second to Ron Dayne).

It is going to be tough to break into the top three. There is no denying the talent those three have. But if anyone can crash the party in the Big Apple, it is Jonathan Dwyer.

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The Heisman Trophy Sleepers Debate – Jevan Snead Is 2009’s Heisman Surprise Candidate

August 21, 2009

Read Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer’s argument for who they believe the 2009 Heisman sleeper candidate is.

Every year there are surprise Heisman Trophy candidates. We have already debated which of the “Big Three” of 2009 will win the Heisman Trophy this season. Now it is time to debate which sleeper could spoil the year end party at the Downtown Athletic Club. There is a huge list of potential sleepers. The list includes Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead, Ohio State quarterback Terylle Prior, Penn State running back Evan Royster, Penn State quarterback Daryl Clark, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, California running back Jahvid Best, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, and Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer. They are all good possibilities – but one stands above the rest, patiently waiting at the intersection of patience and ability. The award is easier for a quarterback to win, and the sneakiest of this sleepy bunch is Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead.

For Jevan Snead to get on the radar of the 870 Heisman Trophy voters, all he has to do is do something he has already done – win. Snead delivered a masterful performance in last year’s Ole Miss-Florida game, outdueling Florida’s Tim Tebow (a athlete Percy Harvin, perhaps a primary reason why Tebow has been as successful as he has been) by throwing for two touchdown passes and running for one more. In the 2008 season, Snead threw for 26 touchdowns in a pro style offense, and ran for three others. He enters this season no longer as the new kid on the block (he transferred out of Texas after losing the quarterback duel to that Colt McCoy guy), having gained the respect of his peers as the undisputed leader of the team.

Ole Miss has a favorable schedule, too. They host Alabama and LSU and play their toughest road game at a rebuilding Auburn. Early in the season they face their toughest road tests of the season against South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Ole Miss could be a surprise undefeated team. We all know how college football poll voters love surprise undefeated teams. The opportunity to play the underdog role in a nationally televised SEC championship – perhaps against Florida, again – is ideal. Then Snead would only need to do something ELSE he has already done – beat Tebow.

Besides his great statistics, Snead also has earned the respect of coaches within his conference. South Carolina head ball coach Steve Spurrier voted Jevan Snead as his top quarterback in the conference over Tim Tebow (… don’t tell me you believe that hogwash that Spurrier made a “mistake” on his ballot?).

Plus, Snead comes from a school that is no stranger to Heisman candidate quarterbacks… though he will be the first one with Manning on the back of his jersey. And, it sounds dumb, but Jevan Snead is a memorable name. The sound of it… it is one of a kind. The kind of name that is hard to forget.

It is much easier for a quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. While Snead is facing an uphill climb against three other established quarterbacks in college football, there is a path for him to win the trophy. If he can outplay Tebow heads up (like he did last year), match him in statistics (despite Tebow’s softball schedule), and sit back and watch Same Bradford and Colt McCoy split votes, Snead could win the 2009 Heisman Trophy. It is not a sure thing – but I would not count him out.

The 2009 Heisman Trophy Inside Track Debate – Bradford Reigns Supreme!

August 14, 2009

Read Sports Geek and Loyal Homer’s arguments on which player is the most likely favorite to win the 2009 Heisman Trophy Award.

The 2009 Heisman Race should be an exciting one to watch. To begin with, 2009 will feature the first time in history that two previous Heisman winners (Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford) will contend in the same year for another Heisman award. Added into that mix is Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, and although he has not won a Heisman yet, many consider him just as likely a contender as Bradford and Tebow.

Between those three, which candidate has the best inside track to win the Heisman in 2009?

Sports Geek will argue that Colt McCoy should be the favorite this year, and Loyal Homer will argue for Tim Tebow.

As far as Bleacher Fan is concerned, though, the conversation begins and ends with Sam Bradford.

Bradford, who will be the top pick in the NFL draft when he eventually does go pro, surprised many experts last year by declining to enter the draft, instead returning to Oklahoma for the 2009 season.

For many of the same reasons that the reigning National Champion Florida Gators are once again pre-season favorites for the title in 2009, Bradford (who is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner) should be considered the favorite to win the 2009 award, becoming the first person since Ohio State’s Archie Griffin to win back-to-back Heismans in the process.

Having also won the Davey O’Brien award as the top quarterback of 2008, Sam Bradford is without a doubt the best passer in college football. His production cannot be matched by any other player in the game, and the fact that he has another year of experience under his belt will help him to at least match, if not exceed, his results from last year.

I can hear many of you out there questioning why, based on that logic, Bradford would be considered a favorite over Tim Tebow, who has also won the award. The reason for that is because of the manner in which the two quarterbacks won their respective Heismans.

Tim Tebow was recognized as the 2007 winner due in large part to a single accomplishment, becoming the first person in NCAA Football history to run AND pass for 20 or more touchdowns in the same season. Tebow’s feat truly was an amazing accomplishment, and definitely one worthy of winning the Heisman. But, those accomplishments are difficult to repeat and impossible to rely upon. When you consider Tebow’s overall talent, he is not even close to the caliber of player that Bradford is.

Bradford, on the other hand, won the Heisman in 2008 because of his all-around play at the quarterback position. A much more prolific passer than his Florida or Texas counterparts, Bradford threw for 4,720 yards and threw 50 touchdowns, only eight interceptions, and posted a completion percentage of 67.9%. Compare those numbers to Tebow, who threw for only 2,746 yards, 30 touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 64.4%, or to Colt McCoy’s 3,859 yards, and 34 touchdown passes.

As impressive as those numbers are, his career numbers are much more astounding. In two years, Bradford has thrown for 86 career touchdowns, exceeding the numbers that Tebow (67) or McCoy (85) have been able to throw in three years. And while career statistics are not a factor in awarding the Heisman for any single season, they do serve as an indication of what to expect from him in the future.

Bradford also had the opportunity to play head-to-head against both McCoy AND Tebow last year. While the games against McCoy’s Longhorns and Tebow’s Gators amounted to Oklahoma’s only losses, it was not for a lack of performance on the part of Bradford.

During the Texas game, McCoy threw 28 completions on 35 attempts, gaining 277 yards and one touchdown pass. Bradford blew those numbers away in the game, throwing 28 of 39 for 387 yards and five touchdown passes. As for the National Championship game, Tebow was responsible for throwing 18 of 30 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Bradford went 26 of 41 for 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. In both of those losses, Bradford still performed as good as, if not better than, his counterparts on the other side of the field.

Despite his astonishing performance in 2008, the loss to the Gators in the National Championship game has left Bradford feeling as if he still has something to prove, and he has made that his mission for the 2009 season. With teammates like offensive tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jermaine Gresham, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and linebacker Ryan Reynolds all returning for another year, Bradford feels confident that he can lead the Sooners to their first National Championship since 2000. Thanks to a schedule that includes opponents like Brigham Young, Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State, he will have plenty of opportunities to prove his dominance against top-tier talent. It will definitely not be an easy road, but Bradford is another year older, another year wiser, and I expect that he will turn in yet another season of staggering numbers on his way to his second Heisman Trophy!

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The 2009 Heisman Trophy Inside Track Debate – It’s Tebow’s Season

August 14, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that Colt McCoy is the Heisman frontrunner and Bleacher Fan’s argument that Sam Bradford is the Heisman frontrunner.

Kickoff to the 2009 college football season is less than three weeks away! It has been a long time since last year’s BCS Championship game! Every offseason seems long, but this year’s seems really long. Maybe it is because three high profile quarterbacks chose to return to school instead of chasing after the fame and fortune of the NFL. Those three profile quarterbacks will be profiled today as we debate who has the inside track to becoming this season’s Heisman Trophy winner. I believe that Tim Tebow is a step above Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.

The Florida Gators are a consensus number one. They play an exciting style of football in the country’s best conference (sorry, Bleacher Fan). Depending on how the season shakes out, they are sure to be on national television virtually every week. Therefore, exposure is not a question and never has been, not when Tim Tebow and Chuck Norris are often used in the same joke sometimes. (You know you have all gotten those email forwards comparing the two with Tebow’s name being inserted in the place of Norris! If you haven’t gotten the email, here is a list of Tebow jokes! It is pretty funny.).

Tebow’s credentials speak for themselves. He won a national championship as a freshman and as a junior. As a sophomore, his team struggled somewhat with so many underclassmen on defense, but Tebow flourished, easily winning the Heisman trophy. He made a late charge last year, but Bradford was just having too strong of a season, as was McCoy.

This season, he is almost (thanks to Steve Spurrier or his director of football operations Jamie Spernois) a consensus all-SEC pre-season coach’s pick. Coming off a season in which he accounted for 42 touchdowns (30 passing and 12 receiving), how could you not rate him as the preseason favorite? Since January 11th, when he announced he was returning for his senior season, he was been perceived as one of, if not the, favorite to hold the trophy up in December. But, Tebow will tell you he did not come back for the Heisman. He did not come back for individual trophies and records. He came back for one and only one reason. He came back to win his third BCS Championship. If he wins a third national championship, and has an outstanding senior season, he has to be considered perhaps the greatest college football player ever. Perhaps that is a debate for early next year.

I know there are a lot of Tim Tebow haters out there. Some of them live in Athens, Georgia. Some of them live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Heck, they are scattered all across the nation, as some feel Tebow gets too much love from the national media. But, love him or hate him, there really is not any question as to who the pre-season Heisman favorite is for the 2009 college football season. His numbers and his play completely back up that assessment.

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