Norman — Sam Bradford spoke to reporters Monday afternoon for a little more than 10 minutes in the same polite tone he always does. The press conference was nothing like the very loud statement he made earlier in the day during his workout for NFL coaches, executives and scouts earlier.
It was just 63 passes, in less than 30 minutes. But it was the performance NFL draft gurus had been waiting to see.
Bradford’s performance left little to the imagination.
“I thought Troy Aikman had the best pro day that I’ve ever seen. This is equal to what Troy did. It was unbelievable. There wasn’t one pass that was not a catchable ball,” NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt said. “The other thing is the guy just gets rid of the ball so quickly. The St. Louis Rams are very happy that they finished last.”
The Rams have the No. 1 overall pick in next month’s NFL draft. Bradford has been rumored to be No. 1 on their draft board. The 2008 Heisman Trophy winner did nothing to change during his precise performance at the Everest Indoor Training Center.
Bradford’s workout was one of the most anticipated of the 2010 NFL draft evaluation period. The Oklahoma quarterback hadn’t thrown a pass in front of an audience since re-injuring the AC joint in right shoulder more than five months ago. Twenty-one NFL teams were represented in Monday’s workout at Oklahoma’s Everest Indoor Training Center, including the teams with the first four picks in next month’s NFL draft (St. Louis, Detroit, Washington and Tampa Bay).
Those in attendance watched Bradford throw an array of passes to former teammates: wide receiver Adron Tennell, tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Brody Eldridge and running back Chris Brown. Josh Reed, who has played for Buffalo the last eight seasons but is now an unsigned free agent, also served as target.
In all, only one of the 63 passes hit the turf. It would have been ruled a drop by any standard. The accuracy, which defined Bradford during his collegiate career, was spot on.
“I thought he had a great workout. Nothing he did surprised me really,” Cleveland president Mike Holmgren said. “I think you wanted to look at how he recovered from his injury and he made all the throws. He had a really good workout.”
St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Bill Devaney were both at the workout, along with several assistant coaches. Bradford even ate breakfast with Spagnuolo before taking the field.
The Rams, which hold the No. 1 overall pick, have remained tight lipped on who they’re looking to take. But they had to like what they saw.
Bradford, who has bulked up his 6-foot-4 frame to 236 pounds, showed off a strong arm and the ability to still deliver the ball with touch. He threw passes using three-, five- and seven-step drops, while both stationary and on the move.
The workout was conducted by former NFL coach Terry Shea, who helped guide Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford through the process last year.
Bradford had no issue with the results.
“I thought I did very well today. I showed a wide-variety of throws,” he said. “I didn’t just come out and show the basic things, I showed some in the gun, on the move and different throws. I think I showed everyone that I can still make all the throws and my shoulder is just what it was before I got hurt.”
How well that right shoulder has healed will be the deciding factor in whether Bradford is the No. 1 overall pick. As OU fans will have a hard time forgetting, he only played what amounted to about seven total quarters last season due to the shoulder injury.
Bradford underwent surgery Oct. 28 and went through an extensive rehabilitation process at Athletes Performance in Gulf Breeze, Fla. All the work on the field was done away from the NFL’s scrutiny. Bradford didn’t workout at the NFL combine in February or at Oklahoma’s Pro Day March 10. A lot of his draft stock hinged on Monday’s performance.
“It was different. It’s something I’m not used to. I don’t think anyone is really used to it until you get out there and actually do it” Bradford said. “In a game, you’re throwing against a defense and there are more people. The environment when you are just throwing for general managers and coaches, people that are going to make very important decisions, obviously it’s extremely nerve wracking but I think it was comforting having my teammates out there with me today.”
Most of it was simple 10-20 yard routes, but one of Bradford’s last throws of the day was a 65-yard deep post route. It nearly touched the ceiling of the 65-foot tall facility before settling into the arms of Oklahoma wide receiver Adron Tennell, who never broke stride.
That pass, Bradford’s 61st of the day, turned some heads.
“His accuracy was just about perfect today,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “And he came back at the end of the workout and threw a couple more deeps just to show he had it in him to do it. It was a big day for him.”
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org