Bradford makes his case to be draft’s first pick

Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford threw Monday for the first time in front of NFL officials since undergoing surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. With the No. 1 overall pick hanging in the balance, the National Football Post breaks down his workout and offers our take on his performance.

Size

From a physical standpoint, this is not the same Sam Bradford. There was a significant difference in his overall girth through his arms and chest, and he looks to have filled out nicely over the past year. He was also a lot thicker in his lower half and now possesses a body ready to take the pounding of an NFL season.

Arm strength

I knew coming in that Bradford had a stronger arm than given credit for, but his ability to cleanly spin the football outside the numbers with zip and accuracy really stood out. He did a great job consistently generating power from his lower half, and the ball seems to jump out of his hand quickly. Some passes did tend to float on him when he was asked to roll against his body, and in no way does he possess elite-caliber arm strength. However, I would say with certainty that he has more than regained his arm strength from the 2009 season and looks capable of making any throw asked of him.

Footwork/mechanics

Bradford’s footwork was another question I had going into his workout, but he answered with impressive results. Balance is the one attribute that really jumped out when watching him take snaps from under center, as he did a nice job getting a deep drop initially on his first couple of steps before quickly tightening up his footwork and regaining his balance on throws. He looked natural moving his feet and quickly squaring his body into throws and certainly has the kind of athleticism needed to buy time in the pocket while keeping his trigger consistently cocked and ready to fire. If I had one complaint, it was that his footwork wasn’t nearly as crisp and he had trouble handling the ball when asked to work off play-action fakes. This caused some of his passes to come out a tad slower than ideal, but it’s something he can easily clean up with time.

Ball location

Typically during a throwing session, if a QB doesn’t have confidence in a pass pattern, he will throw slightly behind receivers in order to allow them to adjust to the ball and still complete the pass. However, the accuracy and overall ball location of Bradford in his workout is the main reason he deserves to be the top overall pick. His touch down the field on bucket throws was absolutely brilliant, and he consistently hit his receivers in stride as well as showcasing the zip and accuracy to throw receivers open on all other levels of the field. Bradford’s accuracy is special; there’s no question about that. But it’s his ball location on throws that separates him from all the other quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

Overall

It was the signature performance Bradford needed to solidify himself as the draft’s No. 1 overall pick -- simple as that. He was accurate, polished and showcased the kind of arm needed to make every throw at the next level. Plus, he now has a frame ready for the NFL game and looks poised to become the Rams’ first selection and franchise QB.

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