Rams reward Bradford with a bevy of new weapons

  • By Vic Carucci NFL.com
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NEW YORK -- Matt Ryan undoubtedly is thrilled the Atlanta Falcons gave him another game-breaking receiver in Julio Jones. Ditto for the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who will throw passes to Randall Cobb. And you just know Ndamukong Suh has to be happy that Nick Fairley will share the load in the middle of the Detroit Lions' defensive line.

Still, it's unlikely that any of those incumbent players is wearing a bigger smile than Sam Bradford. If there's a category for the individual player receiving the most help from the 2011 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams' young quarterback is the hands-down winner.

The Rams clearly went to great lengths to enhance the production of the top overall choice in last year's draft by giving him a tight end in the second round (Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks), a wide receiver in the third (Boise State's Austin Pettis) and a wide receiver in the fourth (Hawaii's Greg Salas).

Although they did make North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn their first-round choice, the Rams clearly were confident enough in their overall foundation that they believed they could place so much emphasis in one area: Improving the passing game.

The Rams know their chances of taking the next step and becoming a serious playoff contender heavily rely on their ability to get greater production from Bradford, who had an outstanding rookie season that likely would have been even better if his receivers held onto the ball when St. Louis chased a playoff spot at the end of the season.

The Rams' scouts, like others around the league, were particularly enamored with Kendricks' sure hands. He also has good size (6-foot-3, 243 pounds) and quickness. He could quickly develop into a go-to underneath target for Bradford.

Pettis' most impressive statistic is 39 career touchdown receptions in college. He, too, has good size (6-3, 205 pounds), and talent evaluators like the way he maximizes it to consistently make plays over the middle.

Like Kendricks and Pettis, Salas also shows exceptional concentration when it comes to catching the ball. That seems like just what the doctor ordered for Bradford.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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