Top QBs are on Rams' radar

Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
02/28/2010

INDIANAPOLIS For the two best quarterbacks in this year's draft, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, this NFL scouting combine has nothing to do with skill and ability. It's all about good health.

Forget about what the coaches and scouts think, the people they need to impress are the dozens of doctors and trainers here from all 32 NFL teams.

Bradford is still healing from surgery to his throwing shoulder; Clausen from right toe surgery. They will not work out here; but they got a grueling workout from all the medical people. Both players are very much on the Rams' radar, particularly Bradford, when it comes to consideration for the No. 1 overall pick.

Bradford underwent a reconstruction of the AC joint after injuring the shoulder for the second time last season. ShopSTL Marketplace

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"They just went in, and with like a nylon braid, put the clavicle back in place and pretty much re-secured the joint," Bradford said.

More precisely, Bradford said the injury was a Grade 3 separation of his shoulder. He initially suffered the injury in the Sooners' 2009 season opener against BYU. Six weeks later, on Oct. 17, he did it again against rival Texas.

"From what I heard from doctors after the second (separation), for my long-term health, if I wanted to continue playing football and get stronger in the weight room I needed to have the surgery," Bradford said.

Bradford was scheduled to meet with Rams officials Saturday night here in Indy, as was Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. After spending a couple of hours Friday getting examined and questioned by the combine doctors and trainers, Bradford said the initial feedback he got on his injury was encouraging.

"I think it checked out really well when I went through the team physicals," he said. "No one found anything they weren't expecting to find. I'm in a great rehab program right now my throwing sessions are really starting to pick up in intensity."

Bradford said his last throwing session consisted of over 100 throws. He isn't experiencing any soreness after those sessions and says his arm feels great. During his combine examinations, Bradford said, medical officials are testing his arm strength and range of motion.

For now, Bradford has been throwing every other day, and estimates that his arm strength is at 85 percent. During those workouts, Bradford says, he's "putting as much as I can" on his throws. "I feel like if you want to get your arm stronger, that's what you've got to do," he said. "I've gotten stronger every time I've thrown."

Rams general manager Billy Devaney said Friday that besides Rams doctors and Dr. James Andrews (who performed the surgery), the Rams want a third opinion on Bradford's shoulder from an independent doctor.

"That's fine," Bradford said. "I have nothing to hide. My shoulder's fine. They can get whoever they want to to look at it, and I don't think it's gonna change. I think they're going to see it's strong, it's healthy, and it's better than ever."

The proof will be in the throwing. Bradford's pro day is March 25 in Norman, Okla. Arguably there has never been a pro day so important for a top player's draft stock.

"Extremely important," Bradford said. "Obviously, it'll be the first time that I've thrown in front of pro scouts since they've seen me play versus Texas when I got injured. So I think everyone's really anxious to see my arm and how it looks after surgery."

A dazzling display on March 25 could catapult Bradford to the top of the Rams' draft board. But what if he's just so-so?

"It makes you pause," Devaney said. "Sure it does. Then you're projecting. Then you're saying, 'Yeah, I think he's going to be OK.' That's a hell of a projection."

Meanwhile, Clausen is saving his workout for April 9 in South Bend, Ind., as he continues to recover from toe surgery. Clausen suffered the injury in Game 3 of the '09 season, during the first half against Michigan State.

"I tore two (tendons) in that game, and I played the rest of the season taking painkillers for every single game," Clausen said. "At the end of the season, I got another MRI, and for playing on the two torn tendons, my sesamoid bones (which are at the ball of the big toe) retracted about one centimeter."

He underwent surgery to re-attach the tendons with two pins, and as Clausen put it, "move those sesamoid bones back up for me." Not unlike Bradford, Clausen said he got pretty good feedback Friday when he ran through the combine medical gauntlet.

"They said it looks really good and it's healing," Clausen said. "They told me just to take my time and not push it too much."

Even though Clausen apparently made the injury worse by continuing to play last season, he says he has no regrets.

"All they told me (initially) was that it was turf toe," Clausen said. "So I just had to gut it out for my team, and went out there each and every game and tried to give it my best."

Even on a bum wheel in '09, Devaney said, there was a lot to like about Clausen.

"There's a bigger body of work on Clausen (than Bradford)," Devaney said. "The guy is unbelievably impressive, his accuracy and all. We just want to look at arm strength you just can't judge that all the time looking at tape. The other stuff athletic ability, the knowledge, he's got the really good temperament we're fine with all that. We just want to see him throw the ball live."

Which makes Clausen's pro day pretty important as well.