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Comparing Sam Bradford at Age 25 to Aaron Rodgers at Age 25

sam_bradford

Put your seatbelt on, because this is going to be some real offensive type shit (potentially even more so than Bryan Fontaine’s article). By the time you’re done reading this you’re either going to think I’m a crackpot, or Sam Bradford is comparable to Aaron Rodgers… ok, fine there’s a 99% chance you’re going to think I’m a crackpot. Actually I am a crackpot. There’s no real debate on that point. But…bear with me here.

Here is Aaron Rodgers’ stat line from his age 25 season:

Year Age GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A
2008 25 16 6-10-0 341 536 63.6 4038 28 5.2 13 2.4 71 7.5 7.5
Career 78 52-26-0 1752 2665 65.7 21661 171 6.4 46 1.7 93 8.1 8.6
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2013.

Here is Bradford’s 2012 season, when he was 25 years old:

Year Age GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A
2012 25 16 7-8-1 328 551 59.5 3702 21 3.8 13 2.4 80 6.7 6.4
Career 42 15-26-1 873 1498 58.3 9378 45 3.0 34 2.3 80 6.3 5.8
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2013.

Rodgers was ahead of Bradford on most of the categories except for interception rate where they were tied. But Rodgers wasn’t ahead by a huge margin.  He was just ahead. Here’s the other thing: When Rodgers was 25 he got to throw to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Jennings was coming off of a 12 touchdown season and Donald Driver had already been a 1,000 yard receiver in his career when Rodgers took over the starting job from Brett Favre. Sam Bradford’s best receiver last year was the undrafted/career red zone inefficient Danny Amendola. It’s also worth noting that of the categories where Bradford was behind 2008-Rodgers, Amendola is not the kind of receiver likely to help out. He’s not going to help your TD% and he’s not going to help your yards/attempt. Rodgers’ lead on Bradford could be expected just by the kinds of receivers that each guy had.

So Sam Bradford didn’t have an equal season to Rodgers when Rodgers was 25, but he was in the ballpark and he was there with nobody to throw to. This year he’ll have a few more guys to throw to both because the Rams added guys and because some of the guys from last year are a year older. One point I’ve made in the past related to Green Bay is that they don’t expect their QBs to go out with no one to throw to. They draft receivers. They try to get bargains, but they draft receivers. Here’s a list of Green Bay draft picks at the receiver position going back to 2006:

Games Receiving
Rk Year Rnd Pick Player Pos Tm G Rec Yds TD College/Univ
2 2006 2 52 Greg Jennings WR GNB 96 425 6537 53 West. Michigan
3 2008 2 36 Jordy Nelson WR GNB 73 217 3276 28 Kansas St.
4 2011 2 64 Randall Cobb WR GNB 30 105 1329 9 East. Kentucky
5 2007 3 78 James Jones WR GNB 90 251 3488 34 San Jose St.
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2013.

The Rams have only recently started to make the investments at receiver that the Packers were making from 2006-2008 (when they already had a perennial 1,000 yard receiver on the roster in Donald Driver). Over the past three drafts they’ve taken enough receivers that I think it’s reasonable to expect them to succeed just based on a numbers game. One or two of the group has to succeed, and then the Rams also just signed Jared Cook. Receivers matter a lot, and probably more than you think. Here’s something I wrote about this issue last year, using Advanced NFL Stats (ANS) numbers to make my argument:

Consider that for the 2006 season, ANS credits Tom Brady with .11 WPA/game.  In 2007, his WPA jumps to .38 WPA/game.  Consider also that for the 2008 season, ANS credits Matt Cassel with .18 WPA/game and then that number dives to –0.15 WPA/game when Cassel leaves the Patriots for the Chiefs.  So the effect of adding and removing Randy Moss/Wes Welker was +0.27 in WPA/game for Tom Brady when he gained those WRs and it was –0.33 for Cassel when he lost those WRs!  Also worth pointing out is that Matt Cassel with Moss/Welker was worth more in terms of WPA than Tom Brady before he had them.

So let that sink in while we go back to the drawing board and try to come up with an even more outlandish Sam Bradford article.

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