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Bradford Makes Strong Case For No. 1

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  • Bradford Makes Strong Case For No. 1

    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 more I would want to see,” the NFC executive said. “And that will happen.”

    And yet, there is nothing to indicate Bradford hasn’t lived up to his billing as a No. 1 pick. One NFC representative on hand said that after watching the Sooners product extensively, he believed he was as worthy a No. 1 pick as anyone in the last 10 years of the draft. And he called the “total package” disparity between Bradford and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen “a big difference.”

    All of which bodes well for the St. Louis Rams, who hold the first choice and are in need of a young quarterback. The Rams sent a quartet to Bradford’s workout, including coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney. The quarterback had breakfast with Spagnuolo on Monday, as well as quarterback coach Dick Curl and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. But that meeting was less about football and more about Bradford and his thoughts about the Rams. The grit of the football end will come next month, when the Rams host and work out Bradford privately. Not that they didn’t walk away from Monday’s performance pleased.

    “This is shocking – the guy is really accurate. Oh my God!,” Devaney said sarcastically afterward. “What I liked was that he was throwing at the end [of the workout] just like he was in the beginning. There wasn’t any drop-off at all. There was no arm fatigue. He looked as strong at the end of the workout as he did in the beginning. … Early on, just even soft-tossing, it looked like he’s got zip on the ball.”

    Added Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren, “[Fatigue] didn’t affect his accuracy. He moved very well in his last few throws. They asked him to move out of the pocket and he had a lot of juice left. If you were coming down here to learn anything that you didn’t already know, I think you probably came away saying ‘Hey, he’s the guy I thought he was.’ ”

    That assessment fits with what most front offices are seeing at the top of this year’s draft. In one vein, economics have almost made Bradford the de facto No. 1 pick, seeing as the draft slot will pay out quarterback money to whoever gets selected there – a contract that one NFC executive said on Monday will land with around $44 million in guaranteed money and $80 million overall.

    That’s a massive financial risk for one of the prime defensive tackles at the top of the draft: Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska or former Sooner Gerald McCoy. But it’s a manageable financial leap for a healthy potential franchise changing quarterback, if that’s what the Rams believe Bradford is. And one major hurdle later, there isn’t anything that should have given the Rams pause.

    Said an AFC representative on hand Monday: “If it’s a tie between those three players, it’s not really a tie at all – you always go with the quarterback in that situation. But I don’t think this is a tie. [Bradford] looks like everything you’d want.”

Related Topics


  • MauiRam
    Bradford works out for Rams ..
    by MauiRam
    BY JIM THOMAS [email protected]

    NORMAN, OKLA. — Finally, it's a wrap for Sam Bradford. What has been a long, grueling pre-draft process is over for the Oklahoma quarterback. He made his last throw as a non-NFL player early Friday afternoon at his private workout for the Rams, then had lunch with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl.

    Now, there's nothing left to do but hear his name called first Thursday in the NFL draft.

    "This is it," Bradford said at the end of his workout at the University of Oklahoma's indoor training facility.

    Bradford said he'll hang out in Norman most of this weekend, checking out the Sooners' spring football game today. Then it's off to New York for pre-draft interviews and marketing appearances leading up to Thursday.

    "Mentally it's kind of been a roller coaster, and it's been a bit wearing," Bradford said. "There's been a lot of different stages I've gone through. When it first happened with the injury, it was just the whole uncertainty of if I'm ever going to be able to throw again."

    Then came shoulder surgery, months of rehab and the gradual process of building up arm strength.

    "And then it's like how long is it going to take till I get back to my old self?" Bradford said. "After that happens, it's, 'OK, now when are people going to believe that?' And once they believe it, or see it, what are they going to think? Am I going to get back to the (draft) status I once was? Or am I going to drop?"

    Bradford has proven everything he needed to prove about his throwing arm. Some observers, venerable draft guru Gil Brandt among them, feel Bradford has come back from surgery with even greater arm strength. Bradford himself thinks that might be the case, partly because of the extra weight he's added — he's carrying 236 pounds — and partly because of the extra strength he's gained through extensive weight training since the surgery.

    To summarize. ...

    "I feel like I'm back," Bradford said. "And now, it's gonna happen how it needs to happen. It's out of my hands at this point."

    There seems to be little doubt that Bradford will be taken first in the draft — if not by the Rams, then by somebody trading up for him. He has spent a lot of time with the Rams lately, from OU's pro day on March 29, to a Rams Park visit earlier this week, to Friday's private workout.

    Asked about the possibility of playing in St. Louis, Bradford said: "I think it'd be a great opportunity. I don't want to get ahead of myself. I try not to picture things just because sometimes if you have your mind set to go somewhere, play somewhere, and then it doesn't happen, you've got to regroup in a pretty short amount of time.

    "So, I'm not really...
    -04-17-2010, 01:54 PM
  • MauiRam
    On the clock: Rookie QB Sam Bradford adjusting well to NFL ..
    by MauiRam
    By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY
    ST. LOUIS — Sam Bradford can deal with the long hours, complex defenses and challenge to help revive one of the NFL's most depressed franchises.

    That dreaded beeper his head coach uses at practice?

    Drives him crazy.

    Steve Spagnuolo realizes this and loves it. Spagnuolo, the former New York Giants defensive coordinator in his second season as St. Louis Rams coach, has been emphasizing the importance of getting rid of the ball quickly to his rookie quarterback. During seven-on-seven drills, he uses a timer that beeps if Bradford doesn't throw within 2.7 seconds. To raise the stakes, they have an ongoing wager.

    If Bradford doesn't fire the football within the allotted time, he pays $15 to a charity fund. If he beats the clock, Spagnuolo pays $5.

    Bradford on the clock. This was Spagnuolo's idea.

    "Besides the fact that all the money goes to charity, it's probably one of the worst parts of our practice," Bradford, 23, said this week at Rams Park. "It's not my favorite thing, and he knows it. I think that's why he continues to do it."

    Bradford contends there are circumstances, such as a primary receiver on a play being covered, that dictate a quarterback wait a bit longer.

    "I can throw a route totally on rhythm in our progression, and according to the clock it's late," he says. "Which doesn't make a lot of sense. But he's a defensive guy."

    Even so, Bradford is winning the season-long wager with his coach. Sort of.

    "I tell him," Spagnuolo says, " 'Sam, you realize that I can't lose. When you're doing well, I win. And when you're doing bad, you have to pay. So I can't lose. And I don't mind giving money to charity.' He doesn't like that. He wants to have a clear winner."

    This is one way to connect with Bradford, a fierce competitor and perfectionist who won the Heisman Trophy two years ago while starring at Oklahoma and was drafted No. 1 overall in April.

    It hasn't hurt. The Rams (6-6) have won as many games this season as they did in the previous three seasons combined and are in first place in the NFC West. After back-to-back road victories, they head to New Orleans for the next big challenge of trying to upset the defending Super Bowl champion Saints (9-3), who have a five-game winning streak.

    "They're in playoff mode," Spagnuolo says of the Saints. "I'm sure we'll get their best punch."

    That the Rams are in the playoff hunt themselves is nothing short of remarkable. They were 1-15 last season and are in a rebuilding mode. Their chances of making the postseason are boosted by being in the NFL's weakest division.

    Although Spagnuolo won't even publicly mention the playoffs, there is no denying the buzz circulating throughout...
    -12-10-2010, 10:33 AM
  • MauiRam
    Sam Bradford develops chemistry with coach Dick Curl ..
    by MauiRam
    BY BILL COATS Friday, November 5, 2010 12:20 am

    Dick Curl was 47 and at his ninth coaching stop — offensive coordinator at Rutgers University — when Kent and Martha Bradford welcomed their only child into the world.

    Curl would work for another college, two NFL Europe teams and three NFL clubs before he and Sam Bradford would meet up in St. Louis and their lives would intertwine.

    On the surface, it seems an odd alliance.

    "That's sort of interesting, isn't it? It's the old man and the kid," laughed Curl, who serves as Steve Spagnuolo's assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

    Since the Rams selected Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft April 22, Curl, now 70, and Bradford, who will turn 23 on Monday, have been virtually inseparable.

    It's Curl's charge to wring out Bradford's bulging potential and mold him into the best that he can be. It's Bradford's duty to absorb all that he can from the former University of Richmond quarterback and return the Rams' multimillion-dollar investment in him.

    So far, it's been a copacetic union.

    "I have a great relationship with Coach Curl," Bradford said. "He's been extremely helpful just getting me to where I am right now. He's one of the main reasons that I'm as comfortable as I am today."

    As the 4-4 Rams break for their bye week, Bradford can reflect on a half-season in which he completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,674 yards and 11 touchdowns, with eight interceptions, and compiled a passer rating of 75.9.

    On Thursday, Bradford was named the NFL's offensive rookie of the month for October. The Rams went 3-2 in October, Bradford throwing for 1,019 yards and seven touchdowns, with three interceptions. His passer rating was 81.1.

    "We've made progress, but we're still in a learning process," Curl said. "This thing isn't over. We've got a long way to go yet. But we're going in the right direction."

    Iintersecting paths

    Curl, who grew up in Chester, Pa., was a high school coach for 11 years before moving to the college ranks. His first NFL job came in 2000, as a pro personnel assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs, a position he held for two years.

    After a three-year stint with the New York Jets, Curl returned to Kansas City in 2006. He was the Chiefs' assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach before Spagnuolo brought him here.

    As Curl worked his way up, Bradford was building an impressive résumé as an athlete in his hometown of Oklahoma City. He played on elite youth squads, later starring in football, basketball and golf at Putnam City North High.

    Although Bradford was ranked only 17th among quarterbacks in the high school class of 2006 by — behind Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow, among others — University...
    -11-05-2010, 01:35 AM
  • Nick
    Rams new QB Sam Bradford pays a visit to St. Louis
    by Nick
    Rams new QB Sam Bradford pays a visit to St. Louis
    Saturday, Apr. 24 2010
    Sam Bradford wore No. 14 in college, but he's switching to No. 8.

    Yeah, the same jersey number worn by Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Troy Aikman.

    Yeah, the same Aikman that Bradford was compared to favorably by veteran NFL
    scout Dave Razzano.

    "I think he's a little better than Aikman coming out because he's bigger,"
    Razzano said. "He's a little more mobile. He's got just as good if not a better
    arm. He's as accurate as I've seen. I mean, they don't come around like him."

    Bradford wasn't the biggest Dallas fan even though he grew up deep in the heart
    of Cowboys country in Oklahoma City. The Steelers were his team. But Bradford
    was an Aikman admirer.

    "Obviously, he won a lot of games at Dallas," Bradford said. "I think that's
    the one stat that a quarterback wants to have. Wins. That's your goal. That's
    the objective of the team every time you step on the field. He was very good at

    "He's from Oklahoma, too. He went to (the University of) Oklahoma for a year
    even though he didn't stay. So yeah, I just relate to him a little bit."

    If he even comes close to the career Aikman enjoyed, Rams fans will relate to
    Bradford in a big way.

    After a dinner with friends and family Thursday night in New York, Bradford
    said he got a good night's sleep. He flew to St. Louis on Friday morning,
    accompanied by his parents, Martha and Kurt Bradford. Before his pre-draft
    visit last week, Bradford said he had been to St. Louis only a couple of times
    previously as a child.

    "It's actually been quite a while since I've been here," Bradford said during
    his introductory news conference at Rams Park. "Me and my Dad came up and
    watched the Cardinals play when Mark McGwire was having that season (1998)."

    Bradford also played in a youth hockey tournament in the Gateway City. Hard to
    imagine Oklahoma City as a hockey hotbed, but Bradford had a bout of puck fever
    as a kid.

    "I'm not really sure how that happened," Bradford said. "I think I just saw
    hockey on Sports Center and thought, 'You know, that looks pretty cool.' I
    started skating, and then skating turned into hockey. Pretty soon, I just
    absolutely fell in love with the game. We were playing hockey almost every
    weekend in the winter."

    A center iceman, Bradford doesn't remember much about the pee wee tourney in
    St. Louis.

    "I know that we went in the Arch," he said.

    To the top?

    "Yeah, it...
    -04-24-2010, 07:46 AM
  • MauiRam
    Rams have something special in Bradford ..
    by MauiRam
    By Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports

    The telling sign of where the St. Louis Rams have gotten to this season was displayed two Sundays ago in Tampa, more apparent in defeat than in their recent victory against Carolina.

    In the aftermath of an 18-17 defeat in Week 7, the bowed heads and dejected looks were an indication of one thing: The St. Louis Rams have expectations.

    This is what a great quarterback – or at least the early indications of greatness – can do for a team. While beating the Panthers kept St. Louis (4-4) within a half-game of the NFC West lead, it wasn’t surprising to the Rams. What was shocking was the week before, when they dropped a fourth-quarter lead to the Bucs.

    As the locker room doors opened, barely any of the players looked up as reporters walked in. There was only the feeling of dashed hope.

    There was no feeling that, even after going 6-42 the previous three seasons, the team had accomplished something significant. The Rams are ahead of the pace they set over the past three years, but mere signs of competitiveness are not enough. Sam Bradford’s presence and preternatural skills have instilled a different mindset in St. Louis.

    While Bradford, who guided the Rams to a win over Carolina last Sunday with a great show of patience against a bend-but-don’t break defense, and St. Louis aren’t close to greatness by a long shot, the gravel seems to be on the road. The Rams’ roster is bereft of proven talent – particularly at wide receiver and tight end – but the Rams are also a long way from the stumbling, bumbling mess that went 1-15 last season.

    Even when Bradford stumbles.

    His performance in the Tampa loss was a perfect example. Up 10-3 and facing a third-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 2-yard line, Bradford peeled out of the pocket on a roll right after a play-action fake. He tripped, his lanky 6-foot-4, 228-pound frame momentarily looking something like a giraffe gone goofy.

    No panic. Bradford caught himself, regained his composure and found rookie tight end Michael Hoomanawanui for the score, a tight spiral in the perfect spot to the moving target.

    “Great play for a guy that young,” said St. Louis fullback Mike Karney, who spent three years playing with Drew Brees in New Orleans before coming to St. Louis last season. “It’s not just that, it’s everything he does. His arm, his leadership, his athletic ability. Whatever that ‘it’ factor is, he has it.”

    Overall, that was one of a half-dozen times that Bradford rolled right to set up a throw in that game. That may not seem astounding, but one of the main criticisms of Bradford before he was taken No. 1 overall in April’s draft was that he had never operated from under center, instead playing in shotgun his whole career at Oklahoma in a spread-formation attack.

    So much for that concern. In less than half a season, Bradford...
    -11-04-2010, 07:42 PM