One of my commenters yesterday mentioned Oklahoma’s offense yesterday, and in doing a little Internet digging on the subject, I came across this draft analysis of Sam Bradford that I thought was worth sharing.
First, on the issue of mechanics and footwork, the author reiterates some of the points that Tom Luginbill made:
… Most of the passes in the Sooner playbook are out of the shotgun formation. That brings us to perhaps the biggest concern that GMs have about not only Bradford but almost all of the college spread formation quarterbacks—what about his footwork? The QB is under center for nearly all plays in the NFL.
Traditionally, shotgun or spread offense rookie QBs struggle with the 3, 5 and 7 step drops fundamental to the NFL passing game. Many high pick shotgun/spread formation QBs have failed. Nearly always their downfall has been due to footwork/accuracy problems. It is nearly impossible to have NFL level accuracy by a quarterback that lacks consistent footwork. The passing windows are microscopic compared to those in college even in good conferences. Timing of the throw is critical and timing is determined by footwork.
But there’s another point he raises that’s noteworthy.
A second and nearly equally significant concern is the ability of Bradford to make pre-snap reads. An NFL quarterback must be able to read the defense before the snap to determine if the play needs to be changed or not. The Oklahoma system involves the team looking to the sideline to get the play. The reading of the D is done by the coaching staff in the booth, relayed to the sideline and given to the QB.
In the NFL, the QB must make the reads. Is the opponent going to blitz? Are they in zone, man or a combination coverage? Each of these possibilities requires different patterns and play calls. Many of the Big 12 QBs have never been responsible for making those reads. The problem is made more significant by the multiple defenses the NFL uses. While he had NFL quality receivers, they were not facing NFL quality defensive backs. These guys are bigger, faster, smarter, and hit a lot harder than any college conference defenses.
There’s an interesting lab experiment coming up in the NFL. Look at what Ryan and Flacco did this past season. Compare them to how Stafford and Sanchez handle the game this year. And then next year, see how Tebow, McCoy and Bradford – three quarterbacks likely to be the top rated group, all out of spread/shotgun attacks – adjust to the pro game. Or, if HeismanPundit’s on to something, how the pro game adjusts to them.