**Former Oklahoma Quarterback Sam Bradford Could Be First Player Selected at the Position
INDIANAPOLIS – Through it all, Sam Bradford said he never worried.
Not through the final months of the 2009 college season, and not when the former Oklahoma University quarterback continuously read and heard speculation about his football future.
Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, sustained a shoulder injury and missed the final months of his junior season this past season, months that turned out to be the final months of his college career when he declared his eligibility for the 2010 NFL Draft.
During that time, observers questioned if the shoulder would recover.
And they questioned if Bradford could regain the status he once had as a likely Top 3-to-5 selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Consider those questions answered.
Bradford, who underwent surgery to reconstruct the AC joint in his throwing shoulder in late October, did not throw at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine in late February, but according to various media re, he answered many questions early this week, turning in an impressive personal workout in Norman, Okla.
As a result, many observers believe he could be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft to the St. Louis Rams.
"I never thought that way," Bradford said when asked at the combine how much he worried about the shoulder and subsequent surgery hurting his draft stock.
"I know a lot of people thought that, but I knew nothing changed. It didn't change anything I've done in the past. It doesn't change my work ethic. I knew I had to work that much harder to get myself back in a position to have that opportunity. I feel like I've worked extremely hard.
"But it's not up to me. I don't get to pick."
Because he was still rehabilitating from the October surgery, Bradford did not participate in workouts at the combine, making the workout in Norman this week the first time he had thrown in front of NFL personnel people since the injury.
"I think most people were here knowing what type of player he was, but you want to see it in person, particularly after his injury," Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren told Mike Mayock of the NFL Network. "He had a great workout. I'm not surprised. That's how he plays the game. That's what he looks like on film.
"I thought he had a really solid, good workout – very accurate. I don't think anyone's going to change their mind as a result of the workout."
Before the injury, Bradford had given NFL scouts plenty to like.
Bradford, after red-shirting his first collegiate season, completed 604 of 893 passes for 8,403 yards and 88 touchdowns with 16 interceptions in a little more than two collegiate seasons. He completed 328 of 483 passes for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2008, becoming the second sophomore in NCAA history to win the Heisman Trophy.
He completed 39 of 69 passes for 562 yards and two touchdowns this season, but in the Sooners' regular-season opener, he sustained a third-degree AC joint sprain one play after becoming the school's all-time passing leader. He didn't play the second half of a 14-13 loss to Brigham Young, then after sitting out three games, Bradford returned to complete 27 of 49 passes for 389 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Baylor.
On October 17, he re-injured the shoulder against Texas and underwent season-ending surgery shortly thereafter.
"I don't second guess that decision at all," Bradford said. "I think if I wouldn't have tried to come back, there's no way I could have lived with that decision. Everyone I talked to at the time said that I could come back and play. No one thought I needed surgery after the first injury.
"So I don't think I made the wrong decision at all with that."
Although Bradford missed most of the season, he said didn't regret returning for his junior season.
"Mentally, I think I made leaps and bounds – just another year in school," he said. "It was another year to mature both on and off the field. I think when I got hurt, when you step away from the game and you're not playing, it really allows you to look at the offense from a different perspective. I think I was able to do that. Sometimes when you're on the field, the coach just calls a play and you just run it, and then afterwards you look back and you're like, 'Well, why'd we run that?' But when you're on the sideline and you see the play come in and see the call come in, you're really able to slow things down, you understand why we're calling that into certain defensive looks. So I think mentally, I gained a lot from this year."
A question many NFL teams have had with many college quarterbacks entering the draft in recent years has involved their ability to adapt from college to the NFL. The ability to adapt from the spread offense many colleges currently employ to the drop-back style employed by many NFL teams is crucial to the success of many draft-eligible quarterbacks, and Bradford said it's a question NFL teams have had for him.
"I feel like my style could adapt to any system," he said. "I think people look at what we did (in 2008) at Oklahoma and just see a spread offense. But if you look at my first year at Oklahoma, we were under center a lot. I believe it was 50-50. We were more of a conventional, two-back, pro-style. I feel like I have the skills to adapt to any system.
"I think people get this misconception that if you play in the spread or play in the shotgun, you don't know how to take a drop. It just shortens your drop. When you're in the gun, you still take a three-step drop. When we were at Oklahoma, at practice every day, our first drops were under center.
"Our coach made us take drops under center. If you threw two out routes, the first one was under center, the second one was in the gun. So I'm very comfortable with throwing under center. It's something I've done since I've been in college, going back to high school. It's nothing new to me."
And Bradford said while because he doesn't select in the NFL Draft, it obviously won't be up to him to decide who goes where in the Top 10. He also said being selected No. 1 overall isn't entirely unimportant to him
"I think everybody dreams about being No. 1," he said. "Through this process, I'm preparing myself. I'm gonna show those teams everything I have. But at the end of the day, it's up to them.
"I'm really not worried about what I can't control."
BREAKING DOWN THE 2010 NFL DRAFT'S TOP QUARTERBACKS
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is expected widely to be the top quarterback selected, with a very real chance that he could go No. 1 overall to the St. Louis Rams. He reportedly threw well at a workout in Norman, Okla., earlier this week, answering some questions about a shoulder injury that cost him much of his rookie season. Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame also is expected by many analysts and observers to be a potential Top 10 overall selection. Questions remain about two other high-profile players at the position: Tim Tebow of the Florida and Colt McCoy of Texas and analysts vary on where each player might be selected, with some observers having Tebow going in the first round and others far later in the draft.
ON THE COLTS' ROSTER
Peyton Manning, 13th NFL season, Tennessee; Curtis Painter, second season, Purdue; Drew Willy, first year, Buffalo.
THE LAST FIVE
The last five quarterbacks drafted by the Colts . . .
2009: Curtis Painter, sixth round, Purdue.
2004: Jim Sorgi, sixth round, Wisconsin.
1998: Peyton Manning, No. 1 overall, Tennessee.
1996: Mike Cawley, sixth round, James Madison.
1990: Gene Benhart, 12th round, Western Illinois.
1990: Jeff George, No. 1 overall, Illinois.
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 15 quarterbacks expected to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft . . .
Sam Bradford*, Oklahoma, 6-4, 236
Jarrett Brown, West Virginia, 6-3, 224
Levi Brown, Troy, 6-4, 229
Sean Canfield, Oregon State, 6-4, 223
Jimmy Clausen*, Notre Dame, 6-3, 222
Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee, 6-3, 222
Mike Kafka, Northwestern, 6-3, 225
Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan, 6-3, 230
Colt McCoy, Texas, 6-1, 216
Matt Nichols, Eastern Washington, 6-2, 219
Tony Pike, Cincinnati, 6-6, 223
Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, 6-3, 214
John Skelton, Fordham, 6-6, 243
Jevan Snead*, Mississippi, 6-3, 219
Tim Tebow, Florida, 6-3, 236
*Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts. *