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Is Sam Bradford No. 1? Pro day will show QB's worth to Rams

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  • Is Sam Bradford No. 1? Pro day will show QB's worth to Rams

    By Jim Corbett, USA TODAY

    When Sam Bradford shows off his surgically repaired throwing shoulder at his March 29 pro day in Norman, Okla., the St. Louis Rams should get a good indication whether the quarterback factors into their plans as the clock ticks toward their first overall pick in the April 22 draft.
    Rams general manager Billy Devaney, coach Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams staff must decide whether to pull the trigger on the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.

    ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says the top pick in this year's draft is Bradford's to lose after the quarterback met with Devaney and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur last week at the Athletes' Performance Institute training facility near Pensacola, Fla.

    THE HUDDLE: Rams deny they're trying to obtain Donovan McNabb
    DRAFT ORDER: First-round selection order

    "Unless something is fundamentally wrong — his throwing motion has changed, if he's not getting nearly as much zip on the ball, if there's something that just jumps out at you and is alarming and creates concern — I don't think his pro day will affect that opportunity to be the No. 1 pick," McShay says. "It's the (Rams') biggest need and the most important position."

    Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma are widely considered the best players in this draft, rare talents at a valued position.

    But if Bradford proves healthy, he's the best quarterback at the NFL's most critical position. And no matter how good Suh and McCoy appear, a franchise quarterback makes their worth pale.

    In a quarterback-driven league, the Rams have two designated drivers — banged-up veteran Marc Bulger and perennial backup A.J. Feeley, two potential bridges to whomever they designate as their future.

    So the pressure is on Bradford to win his pro day and win over the Rams.

    "Franchise quarterback trumps all," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock says. "No matter how good you think Suh and McCoy are, if you believe Bradford is a franchise quarterback — and by the way, your building is kind of empty of franchise quarterbacks — Bradford has to be the first discussion.

    "If the medical question is blessed by their doctors, it makes it easy.

    "The Rams passed on (Mark) Sanchez and Matt Ryan (in the 2009 and 2008 drafts, respectively). Do they want to pass on another potential franchise quarterback?"

    What will Spagnuolo be looking for on Bradford's pro day?

    "I'll be looking for the presence, how he is around teammates because he's in his own setting now," Spagnuolo said. "Then, medically, (assessing) the shoulder. I'll try and grab him early by myself just come away with an overall impression."

    Some feel Bradford would have been the first overall pick last April had he come out, ahead of Matthew Stafford, who went first overall to the Detroit Lions, and Sanchez, chosen fifth by the New York Jets, who traded up 12 spots to get him.

    "I really felt if Sam Bradford had entered the draft last year, he would have been the first player chosen. I thought his accuracy separated him from Matthew Stafford and also (Mark) Sanchez" former Cleveland Browns general manager and current Philadelphia Eagles consultant Phil Savage says.

    "If he clears this medical question, I cannot see any reason why he wouldn't go No. 1 overall. He has the size and enough arm strength."

    Bulger has led the team in passing yards every year since 2002 — when he replaced Kurt Warner— but has started all 16 games once in that span and missed seven games in 2009.

    "If you're in the market for a potential franchise quarterback, he's as good a bet as any who have come through the last number of years," Savage says of Bradford.

    "At some point, the Rams have to pull the trigger on a quarterback."

    Bradford returned to Oklahoma in 2009 coming off his 50-touchdown, eight-interception Heisman Trophy season, when he completed 67.9% of his passes.

    Unfortunately, Bradford's decision to return to Oklahoma came back to bite him when he twice injured his throwing shoulder.

    "The biggest concern is the last two times he hit the ground, he basically wasn't able to play anymore," Savage says.

    Bradford had successful AC joint surgery performed by James Andrews on Oct. 29. Medical checks at the scouting combine last month showed no setbacks.

    "That (pro day) will be the final test. Everything up until now he's passed with flying colors; the medical reports are excellent," Devaney told the NFL Network on March 17.

    "He's an impressive guy. We, like a lot of people, are anxious to see Sam throw the football."

    More and more, Bradford's name is the one atop mock drafts.

    Mayock suggests the Rams entertain all options, particularly since the Washington Redskins, who hold the fourth overall pick, also might want Bradford. Their new regime of coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen inherited sixth-year quarterback Jason Campbell, a first-rounder in 2005.

    "Washington could come to you and say, 'Take Jason Campbell — and our fourth overall pick,' " Mayock says. "You stay open for business.

    "But the first question you have to answer internally is, 'Do you think that kid is a franchise quarterback?'

    "I don't even think the Rams know right now. I don't think they can know."

Related Topics


  • Nick
    Prisco: If Rams want to win, Bradford is easy -- and only -- choice
    by Nick
    If Rams want to win, Bradford is easy -- and only -- choice
    Feb. 27, 2010
    By Pete Prisco Senior Writer
    Tell Pete your opinion!

    INDIANAPOLIS -- When was the last Super Bowl you came away from thinking that a defensive tackle decided the game?

    Now you know why the St. Louis Rams have no choice but to take a quarterback with the first overall pick in the April draft.

    That quarterback should be Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.

    Forget the charade, Rams. Forget the two top defensive tackles. As good as Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy are as players, that position doesn't come close to being as important as quarterback.

    You don't win championships with defensive tackles.

    You win with great passers.

    The Rams were 1-15 last season. Their offense was horrible. The passing game was the problem. They were 28th in passing and had just two pass plays of 40-plus yards, the lowest number in the league.

    Starting quarterback Marc Bulger, who missed time with injuries, is talking retirement and the Rams might not want him back if he doesn't.

    When Rams general manager Billy Devaney met with the media here at the combine, he said the Rams have pretty much narrowed their possibilities with the top pick -- provided there is no trade -- to four players, the two defensive tackles, Bradford and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

    "We know this," Devaney said. "It if comes down to that right now, there are four guys that will be given consideration."

    There is still a lot of work left to do before decision day. We have the combine, pro days and two months of evaluation.

    And then there's the most important part of all: Is Bradford's surgically repaired shoulder as good as new?

    Bradford suffered a shoulder injury while being tackled in a game last September against BYU. He came back for a game, but the reinjured the shoulder against Texas. That's when his season ended.

    Bradford had surgery in October, performed by esteemed surgeon Dr. James Andrews, but he's not all the way back to where he can throw. So he isn't throwing here at the combine, but will instead wait for his Pro Day workout in Norman on March 25.

    "We'll get with the doctors, our medical people, as soon as we get back to St. Louis," Devaney said. "That'll be a big decision, and a lot will go into that. We'll probably have more than one opinion on that. We want to get as accurate and thorough information we can, so we'll find out after this process is over. Yeah, that's why we're putting it on the doctors. You hope so. You'll get obviously all the tests, but we've got to see him throw.

    "I think his [pro] date is the 25th of March and in my mind we may go in again right...
    -02-27-2010, 03:22 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Bradford Makes Strong Case For No. 1
    by r8rh8rmike
    Bradford makes strong case for No. 1

    By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
    Mar 29, 7:07 pm EDT

    NORMAN, Okla. – When Sam Bradford heard the Troy Aikman workout comparison from an analyst, he had to be forgiven for his slight shrug. Twelve days after watching some hyperbolic television snippets following Tim Tebow’s workout at the University of Florida, Bradford knew what to expect if he performed to his capabilities.

    So when the former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback wrapped his largely flawless 63-pass effort in front of more than 50 NFL coaches, scouts and executives, he girded himself for some of the hype that was bound to come with it. Tebow can have the circus. Bradford will take the business. And judging by the direction he’s headed, business will open with him becoming the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft.

    “When it’s all said and done, I know it’s just a workout,” Bradford said, leaning against a wall inside Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium. “But I know that for me, it might have been more important than usual because I got hurt this year. People haven’t seen me throw and play in a while. I think there were a lot of questions about how my arm was going to come back from the [shoulder] surgery.”

    Where it concerns workload and health, Bradford whisked through his latest benchmark, stretching his scheduled 50-ball regimen to a briskly paced 63 passes. And by the time he was through, he’d gone through the entire route tree with only one pass hitting the turf. And as one NFC assistant pointed out, “That one could have been caught.” The workout included all the passes coaches expected to see, including a handful of deep outs and deep posts that put plenty of stress on the throwing (right) shoulder that Dr. James Andrews surgically repaired last October.

    While analysts are prone to placing grandiose labels on what such a workout means, there may not have been a single person more dialed into reality than Bradford. He’d rather be measured against healthy, 2008 Heisman Trophy-winning Sam Bradford before the proclamations move on to someone even bigger.

    “This was just me answering questions,” said Bradford, who was limited to just three games in 2009. “And I felt like I answered a lot about my arm strength, my accuracy, my throwing motion. I feel like everything came back the way I expected it to. I feel good about my arm. Now hopefully I won’t have to answer questions about my shoulder anymore.”

    Even with his latest showing, that’s not likely. One NFC executive said any personal workout with Bradford – and he’s got them scheduled with the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams – will include a more rigorous run than Monday’s script. That means more out routes, more posts, more throwing on the run and plenty of snaps from an actual center, rather than the simulated ones he has been taking.

    “If it was me, there is still...
    -03-30-2010, 08:55 PM
  • RockinRam
    Rams rookie QB Bradford staying grounded as he learns the ropes
    by RockinRam
    By Steve Wyche

    ST. LOUIS -- The about face is radical.
    Before the April 22 draft, the mention of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford as the Rams' savior drew ire and scorn -- seriously. Supporters of this woebegone franchise wanted no part of him, even though they were exasperated with oft-injured veteran Marc Bulger. To them, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the answer, not a shotgun quarterback who barely played last season because of a shoulder injury.
    The Rams, 1-15 last season, wisely paid no attention to public sentiment and selected the quarterback they desperately needed with the first overall pick. Since then, sentiment has flipped. The tall, strong-armed kid from Oklahoma who shares a lot of the same Midwestern values as the people here is nearing folk-hero status before he's even played a game. Bradford drew a standing ovation when he recently threw out the first pitch at a Cardinals game.

    In this town, that's a huge deal.
    Bradford isn't quite comfortable with the adoration or attention, especially when he's around his teammates who've actually taken snaps in the NFL. During a recent building of a playground at a needy neighborhood school, Bradford denied media requests for interviews because he didn't want to upstage his teammates, telling reporters to speak to players like current/temporary starting quarterback A.J. Feeley instead. Smart move.

    "That's something that I am conscious about," Bradford said in an exclusive interview. "I understand that being the No. 1 draft pick is a huge honor, but I also realize I haven't done anything yet at the pro level. I have a long way to go before I am where I want to be. I have to put in so much work to get there.
    "Being a rookie quarterback you do have to have confidence in yourself and be able to walk into the huddle and take command. The guys who are on the field with you have to believe in you. There's a little bit of a balancing act, and I'm trying to do it the best I can."
    He's doing better than that. Publicly, the Rams are saying all the right things. For instance...

    "He's everything and little bit more," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "He's got a long way to go. This thing's a process. He's been terrific with it. He's the ultimate team guy. He is singled out a lot because of what he means and where he was picked, but he always asks, 'Can I do it with the other rookies?' He gets that part of it, which is huge. This is all about team; it won't be about one person."

    Here's where the real message kicks in:
    "But in this league," Spagnuolo said, "the focus is on the quarterback, and he understands that."
    In other words, at some point soon, Bradford will have to scrap the rookie persona -- at least in the huddle and in the meeting rooms -- and take control of a...
    -06-15-2010, 10:20 PM
  • MauiRam
    Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..
    by MauiRam
    By Clark Judge Senior Writer
    Dec. 9, 2010

    There is a lesson in the overnight success of the St. Louis Rams, and the lesson is this: Never, ever, ever pass up the chance to draft a franchise quarterback. The Rams didn't, and look where they are now -- on top of the NFC West.

    I don't care that it's the worst division in pro football, nor do I care that 8-8 -- or less -- might be good enough to win it. What I do care about is that the St. Louis Rams are credible, competitive and whole again, finding ways to win games that a year ago they would've been out of by halftime.

    Their defense is better. Their running back is a load. And their quarterback is so good that 12 games into his rookie season he's already the best in the division.

    I'm talking, of course, of Sam Bradford, whom the Rams chose with the first pick in this year's draft. In one season the guy has made such an impact that the Rams already have five more wins (they're 6-6) than they did last season (1-15) and are in play for their first playoff spot since 2003. I don't know if they make it, and, frankly, it doesn't matter. They're already a success, and they're a success because they solved the game's most important position.

    Bradford is to the Rams what Matt Ryan was to the 2008 Atlanta Falcons -- a steady, competent and confident young quarterback whose big plays have the club back on the NFL map.

    Not that long ago, St. Louis was a team of no consequence, stuck in the no-passing lane because it didn't have much of a quarterback, offensive line, defense, you name it. In fact, aside from star running back Steven Jackson it was hard to find anyone with a pulse, and the results speak for themselves: In 2008-09, the Rams were 3-29, and over the last three years they won as many games (6) as they have this season. During the last six seasons there wasn't one winning year.

    To say the Rams were bad is an understatement. They were horrific, and I remember last season asking GM Billy Devaney how long he thought it might take to make them competitive again. He said one year. I thought he was joking. Then he drafted Sam Bradford.

    "When we were down in Oklahoma (prior to the draft), we talked to his teammates, coaches and everyone around the program," said Devaney, "and the one thing that jumped out at us was the amount of respect they had for him. They all had the same thing to say. And it was that quality, as much as his competitive nature and talent, that attracted us. We were sure the players in the locker room were going to accept and respect him, and they have."

    Then he paused. "He's a quarterback," he said.

    Now, you'd have to know Devaney to understand he gushes about his own rookies as readily as Detroit wins road games, and you can't blame him. The guy's been around young players who flashed...
    -12-09-2010, 11:55 PM
  • viper
    Scott Wright: Rams pick QB Sam Bradford #1
    by viper
    I came across Scott Wright's mock draft dated 12/17/09. He has the Rams picking Sam Bradford, QB from Oklahoma as the no. 1 pick in the draft. He also has Terrance Cody, DT, Alabama going no. 21 to the Miami Dolphins.

    Is this old news? Has he updated his mock since then? I'm quite suprised by those two picks in particular. I found it here:

    What do you guys think about us taking Bradford with the 1st pick?



    Washington’s Jake Locker would have been the slam-dunk pick for St. Louis but he is going back for his senior year, which complicates things for the Rams. Do they just move to the next best quarterback and take either Sam Bradford from Oklahoma or Jimmy Clausen from Notre Dame or do they try to address their defense with Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh? Steve Spagnuolo is a defensive-minded coach who loves to put pressure on the quarterback and right now the Rams don’t have any difference-makers up front so Suh would make a lot of sense. However, everything revolves around the quarterback position and the Rams just can’t afford to pass on a potential franchise signal caller. The Bradford / Clausen debate will likely go down to the wire but in the end I think Bradford gets the nod due to his superior intangibles. Bradford might have been the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft but he opted to spend another year in college. Unfortunately that didn’t work out as planned and he wound up missing most of the season with an injury to his throwing shoulder, which required surgery. Despite the questions about his health / durability and concerns about the spread system he played in with the Sooners it looks as though Bradford is still in line to be a Top 10 pick as long as there are no red flags in the medical checkups. Even though Bradford doesn’t have a cannon for an arm he possesses good size, is an extraordinarily accurate passer with a quick release and also extremely smart. Much like Atlanta fans who were clamoring for Glenn Dorsey over Matt Ryan there will surely be those who want the Rams to go with Suh. St. Louis will entertain that thought but at the end of the day they have to pull the trigger on a quarterback.

    -01-18-2010, 12:35 PM