It was hard not to notice the impact of Sam Bradford’s pro day Monday down in Norman, Okla. — or the post-workout hype that surrounded this event like the opening night of the NFL Draft.
Bradford was good — real good — in front of pro scouts, coaches, GMs and basically any personnel man in the NFL who has even hinted on drafting a QB in April.
The former Sooner did exactly what he was asked, and despite your view of a pro day on campus -- the staleness of it or the engineered environment that surrounds it – this one was big, and it carried just enough, if not more, hype than the circus surrounding Tim Tebow’s workout in Gainesville, Fla. Because Sam Bradford is expected to come off the board with the first pick of the draft.
The league had to see him through, had to see his footwork and, most importantly, had to see what condition his arm was in after surgery. By missing out on the combine in Indy, this was Bradford’s showcase day to show scouts he has a legit NFL arm, complete with velocity and the ability to throw the deep ball with accuracy.
Remember, this is a prospect who hadn’t thrown a football in front of anyone with a clipboard since October. Because of that, we all wanted to see how he was perceived and how he would be graded.
And after the workout, he now can carry the grade of a No. 1 pick.
Longtime scout Gil Brandt of NFL.com said, “Sam Bradford’s workout Monday in front of representatives for all 32 NFL teams at Oklahoma’s pro day almost left me speechless. And that’s saying something.” Brandt, who has the respect of everyone in the NFL, even went so far as to compare Bradford’s workout with that of Troy Aikman’s when the former Cowboy was coming out of college.
Big words, right? Of course they are, but that’s how the entire league reacted and how the entire league thinks about Bradford right now. Forget the fact that this workout was scripted or that Bradford threw passes to his own receivers in short and T-shirts because the NFL visitors got what they asked for. In their minds, he's a legit No. 1.
What Bradford now faces is another series of tests when he “auditions” for teams during private workouts. The generic script used yesterday for all 32 teams will be gone, and he’ll face team-specific routes in front of coaches. They’ll see how Bradford can run their playbook, complete their simulated game plan. It’s in these workouts that clubs — such as St. Louis — will get that final checkup before they call his name on opening night of the draft.
I get the hype, and I also get that coaches and fans like us can sometimes overreact to a workout — because that’s all yesterday was. It isn’t NFL football; in fact, it’s the farthest thing from Sundays. But when it comes to rookie prospects, these pro days carry weight.
Especially for a guy who’s being thought of as a franchise QB at this level.
Check back this afternoon when NFP scout Wes Bunting breaks down Bradford’s mechanics from his workout.
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