Had Sam Bradford left the University of Oklahoma after his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2008, he, not Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, likely would have been the No. 1 overall draft pick of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
Bradford did stay in school, though, a decision he says was not motivated by the likelihood of playing for a team that went 0-16 the season before, writes Justin Rogers of MLive.com
"None at all," Bradford said when asked if playing in Detroit factored into his decision. "I went back to school just because I felt I wasn't ready for the NFL. At that point I had only played two seasons. I think I was still 20, 21-years-old. I just felt I could really use another year in school to mature, both physically and mentally.
"Even though I came back and got hurt, I still feel that year helped me develop as a person."
Bradford's decision has clearly worked out for both sides. Though his final college season was marred by injury, he was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010 and should continue to improve if the team adds more talent around him, while Stafford is on the brink of becoming a perennial Pro Bowl selection.
Financially, Bradford gained an additional $8 million in guaranteed money by waiting another year before turning pro. In the final draft before rookie compensation was significantly scaled back, Bradford signed a six-year, $78 million contract that contained $50 million in guarantees, while Stafford received "only" $41.7 million in guaranteed money on a $72 million contract.Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.