Sam Bradford Shines at Pro Day Workout
The ones Stoops used to see every Saturday.
"Man," Stoops said to no one in particular inside the Everest Training Center. "I've missed that."
It was about the only miss of the day.
Throwing in public for the first time since undergoing reconstructive shoulder surgery last October, Bradford did nothing during his pro day workout to undermine his status as the projected No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft next month. If anything, he solidified it.
"Best workout I've seen since Troy Aikman," NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt said.
And that was 21 years ago.
"I think I did very well," Bradford said after the 25-minute throwing session that consisted of 63 passes, only one of which touched the ground (and it was catch-able). "I think I showed everyone that I can still make all the throws and that my shoulder is just what it was before I got hurt. It feels great."
Looks good, too. And bigger. The 2010 Bradford model has added more than 20 pounds of torso strength to the body that was slammed to the ground in last year's season-opening loss against Brigham Young, and again, for the last time as a collegian, against Texas a month later.
Since renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews operated on the right shoulder Oct. 28, Bradford has been rehabbing and working toward showing NFL general managers, coaches and scouts -- close to 60 of whom were on hand Monday -- that he still resembles the quarterback who set OU records with 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy in 2008.
The St. Louis Rams, who have the first choice in the April 22 draft, had four club representatives on hand, including general manager Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo.
"I thought it was very positive," Devaney said.
Unlike the circus that was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's workout nearly two weeks ago, Bradford's pro day was a pure throw day -- his OU teammates had their NFL auditions two weeks ago -- and went off without subplots focusing on a new throwing motion or refined mechanics. Bradford was only cleared to start throwing five weeks ago and his agent, Tom Condon, assigned quarterbacks coach Terry Shea to get him ready.
The Bradford on display Monday showed a somewhat tighter delivery release, but the same touch and velocity that allowed him to complete more than 67 percent of his passes for 88 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions in a little more than two seasons with the Sooners.
"This is shocking. The guy is really accurate. Oh my God!" Devaney joked afterward. "What I liked, he was throwing at the end just like he was at the beginning. There wasn't any drop-off at all."
One of Bradford's final throws was a deep post pattern that traveled 60-65 yards in the air -- nearly touching the rafters of the OU indoors facility -- and fell into the hands of wideout Adron Tennell in perfect stride.
"That was impressive," Stoops said. "But which one wasn't?"
At the end of the workout, defensive tackle and former teammate Gerald McCoy, expected to be a top-three selection next month also, ran onto the field and wrapped Bradford in a big Boomer Sooner bear hug.
"He's the man and he showed 'em he's the man," McCoy said. "I knew he would."
Among the interested observers were Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren and coach Eric Mangini, Seattle coach Pete Carroll, San Francisco coach Mike Singletary, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, Pittsburgh GM Kelvin Colbert and Washington GM Bruce Allen.
Even Bradford admitted the setting was a far cry from what he was used to across the way at Memorial Stadium.
"This was a different kind of environment," Bradford said.
There's more of it ahead. The Redskins, who select fourth overall, have a private workout with Bradford scheduled for next week, but the Rams are officially on the clock -- and as such, met with the former Heisman Trophy winner for breakfast hours before his workout.
"It was more about getting to know the person than anything else," Spagnuolo said. "He's been asked 100 times about his shoulder. We just talked about Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams. That's really all."
St. Louis, which went 1-15 last season, is in desperate need of a quarterback, with the team expected to part ways with veteran Marc Bulger later this offseason. They'll take all the steps needed to be sure Bradford is the guy. Last year's No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Matt Stafford, got a six-year, $72 million contract from the Detroit Lions that included $41.7 million guaranteed. Bradford will get even more.
No fewer than four other teams selecting in the top 10 -- Washington, Seattle, Cleveland and Buffalo -- are looking for a franchise quarterback to build around, too.
"To be honest, I haven't thought about it a lot. It's still a ways down the road," Bradford said of his future destination. "I'm just looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the NFL, whether it's with the Rams or anyone else."
The Rams, publicly, were just as non-committal. A lot can happen over the next month regarding that No. 1 pick. And Bradford's not the only quarterback in the pool.
"It's on to Texas, then Notre Dame," said Devaney, referencing the Rams' plans to check out Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen, respectively, as well. "The process continues."
But this was a good step. For all parties.