3/29: the day Sam Bradford came out of his shell

The day started with breakfast with Billy Devaney. It ended with “a lot of questions answered.” Sam Bradford’s Pro Day has now come and gone, and the Rams have between now and their private workout on the 19th of April to cement contract terms with Tom Condon, and fully push the reset button on this franchise, rebooting around a new quarterback.

For me, the day started at 4:00 in the morning with a call from the SuperShuttle in Phoenix, marking the end of a fine weekend bookending equal shares of debauchery around a live fantasy baseball draft. I was up in the air as Bradford and Devaney broke fast. But by completing 13 of 13 warmup throws, and 59 of 60 passes afterwards, with his trademark accuracy and a number of different simulated approaches from the snap, Bradford apparently showed that he is capable of living up to his scouting reports.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=JBpAeiMe56g

Of course, there was no hitting, no physical pressure in Bradford’s face. But as you can tell from Bradford’s demeanor, his caught-in-exhale slow release of tension that has been mounting over the past six months of seclusion, Bradford faced plenty of mental pressure during today’s workout. If he can put on this kind of show on the single most important day of his professional career (to this point), it erases any questions that anyone could have about his mental makeup.

Bryan Burwell was in attendance and provides some savory details, without the need for typically Burwellian dramatics or over-flowery adjectives:

Bradford came into the Evereat Center and put on a 63-throw clinic. He made every conceivable pass that an NFL scout, general manager or coach would want to see. He threw 10-yard hooks, he threw short seams, he flicked beautiful drag routes and touch-pass swings. He zipped deep hooks and short corners. And right when you were eager to know if he still had that NFL-caliber arm strength to air it out on deep throws, he gassed several balls across the field and left everyone who lined three sides of the practice field buzzing in awe.

… Throwing on a five-step drop with a pump fake, and simulating the needed timing to rip it into Cover-2 defensive coverage, Bradford let loose a throw near the right sideline that when it hit the receiver’s hands maybe 35 yards down field, people in the end zone could hear it pop. I heard that same pop in spring training when a closer threw heat into a catcher’s mitt.

– “Rams should pick Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford

The show was enough to turn Burwell, a noted banner-carrier for Ndamukong Suh, into a Bradford believer. NFL.com’s Mike Mayock agrees.

Does he have a Jamarcus Russell arm? No. Few people do. Does he have a Matt Ryan arm? Yes he does. His arm is good at all the throws, he’s accurate, he can drive the ball intermediate, his deep touch and accuracy is phenomenal.

– “NFL Videos: Bradford’s Big Day

But the Rams have scheduled one more private workout with Bradford, for the 19th or April — just three days before the draft — that they will use to make their final decision. Presumably they will open the playbook just a little, and give Bradford some key assignments. They will likely scrimmage him and ask him to roll through progressions. They might even put on the red jersey and send some defenders into his face, and see how he improvises.

But there’s an odd quirk in the scheduling, as Bradford is also set to work out for the Washington Redskins — Bradford’s hottest pursuer aside from the Rams — on the 14th [corrected]. The Redskins were likely as wowed as the Rams, Seahawks and Browns, all of whom had representatives in attendance. Mike Shanahan could be tempted to demand a trade up, to offer a king’s ransom of picks in exchange for the #1 selection.

Washington has taken a notably conservative approach to free agency this season, under the direction of new GM Bruce Allen. Allen replaced Vinny Cerrato, who negotiated the $100 million dollar deal for Albert Haynesworth.

Daniel Snyder loves to make big splashy deals to show his commitment to winning, but has not had a chance to open the checkbook this offseason. Offering a massive deal to the Rams for the rights to Bradford has to be awful tempting for Snyder at this point.

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