Behind Mel Kiper's first 2010 Big Board

You can access Mel Kiper Jr's first 2010 Big Board by going here.

One of the more important stories of the 2009 season regarding Sam Bradford has absolutely nothing to do with how the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback plays.

It has to do with whether Matthew Stafford plays -- and how well.

That's because, as Mel Kiper says when discussing his first Big Board for the 2010 NFL draft, "It's really hard to say who would have gone No. 1 overall had Bradford come out this year. But [Bradford] could have very well gone No. 1. It could have happened, no question."

The brilliant play of former Boston College Eagles standout Matt Ryan during his rookie season in Atlanta was a motivator for teams like the Detroit Lions and New York Jets to make the big draft splash -- and major cash commitment -- to quarterbacks early in the draft. If Stafford even gets the "competent with upside" grade for his first season in Detroit that'll say a lot about the guy many had pegged to go ahead of him in 2009.

The biggest thing Bradford needs to overcome, of course, is the fact that he takes snaps under center about as often as he throws picks. "It's a huge hurdle," Kiper says. Both Stafford and Mark Sanchez come from pro-style offenses in college, a big draw for NFL teams desperate to get an accurate projection.

But don't mistake formations for a lack of talent. Kiper can counter the question marks on his current No. 1.

If Bradford benefits from the shotgun, "It doesn't take away from the fact that he has incredible accuracy," Kiper says.

What about the fact that he gained a ton of yards from runs after the catch?

"Bradford doesn't make guys adjust," Kiper says. "He's not just finding open guys, he's reading the game at a higher level because he's finding guys who can make the play after the catch, and allowing for the 15- to 20-yard runs."

Is there a chance Bradford could fall?

Kiper only offers that Oklahoma has lost a lot of personnel on offense -- and Bradford is sure to face a better rush this season. In some ways, that could help him. He'll be dealing with adversity; if he plays even close to how he did as a sophomore with new pressures, it would be almost impossible for him to fall outside the top 10, Kiper believes.

And if he plays better?

Well, then it won't even matter if Stafford becomes a Ryan Leaf this fall.

Other top stories from the Big Board:

Jevan Snead over Colt McCoy?

It's just another classic Texas quarterback tale.

A Texas high school legend spurns Florida to become a Longhorn, where he steps in as a freshman following an injury to the starter, shows some talent and heart, then after being beaten out for the starting job by another Texas high school legend, promptly transfers to another southern school where he becomes a star and ultimately gets drafted ahead of the guy who beat him out for the job back in Austin. (And that Tebow dude who would have beaten him out in Florida, too.)

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