PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Monday was the first day of the NFL Draft. That's because rehabbing Oklahoma quarterback
According to scouts, "Bradford was accurate from start to finish. He threw several beautiful strikes downfield, hitting receivers in stride some 40 yards from the line of scrimmage. He didn't display a rifle arm, yet showed enough strength to make all the throws."
Bradford, who underwent shoulder reconstruction on Oct. 28, would have had to mess up his 50 balls today, and then not be very good in private workouts with the Rams and Redskins, to not be the first player chosen in the 2010 draft.
I spoke with him before the workout and also with his surgeon,
For the last three weeks, beginning March 4, Bradford had been throwing 100 passes several days a week at Athletes Performance Institute in Pensacola, Fla. ... with, he says, no pain.
"I haven't had pain or discomfort since they turned me loose right after the combine,'' Bradford told me. "I can't believe how good it feels. There's no pain.''
"Now,'' I said, "you're going to get grilled on this Monday, and if you don't tell the whole truth, somebody's going to make a big deal of it. So be honest now.''
"I'm being totally honest,'' Bradford said. "There's been no pain. They told me that after I threw without restriction that first time, I might wake up the next morning or come in to work out the next day and feel something. But there's been nothing. Not one day have I woken up sore.''
On Sunday night, I asked Andrews about Bradford's no-pain declaration, and whether that could be true less than five months after the reconstruction of the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. That wasn't a scope Bradford had. It was a full-fledged reconstruction.
"I've tried to get him to come clean with me too,'' he said. "But he's come through it great. He's full go. The last time I saw him and questioned him about it [nine days ago], he told me, 'I feel stronger in my throwing shoulder than I ever have in my life.' I did everything I could to deliver him to this draft healthy, and I think he is.''
I asked Andrews what he'd say if the Rams and Redskins called and asked about Bradford's condition, and whether the quarterback was ready for the rigors of an NFL camp and season.
Too late. They already called. Andrews, who is a senior orthopedic consultant to the Redskins as well as one of the foremost independent orthopedic surgeons in the world, was unequivocal in his prognosis.
"I talked to the Rams, and told them Sam has no restrictions,'' Andrews said. "I gave him a clean bill of health. And I talked to the Redskins, of course, since I am affiliated with them. I told [owner]
One of the benefits of Bradford having the surgery, then rehabbing at API in Pensacola, is the byproduct of how fit and strong he has become after putting on 13 pounds. He's up to about 235 pounds now, and the former frail-looking passer now looks more like a pro quarterback. "He looks like a man now,'' said Andrews. "The way he's worked is a credit to him. He's one of the most sincere, hard-working kids I've been around. He's in the mold of
Bradford felt the rehab was going so well that he felt confident heading into Monday's workout.
"I don't want to hide anything,'' he said. "I know everyone's coming to see how healthy my arm is, and they're going to see me make all the throws. They're going to see the same player they saw on film in the 2008 season.''
That's when Bradford threw 50 touchdowns passes and won the Heisman Trophy as a Sooner sophomore. And when the 2009 season was twice interrupted by shoulder injuries, that's when Andrews said enough's enough, and the surgery took place.
Though it's possible the Rams could trade down to Washington (or farther) if they got the right offer for Bradford, it's highly unlikely. It would probably take a ransom to get the pick from the Rams. Two years ago, St. Louis passed on
It's conceivable they could trade but only if they really like Notre Dame's
In the great Red River Flood of 1997, the biggest flood of the river since 1826, people from all around North Dakota rallied to sandbag towns to keep them on the map. One of those townies was the athletic director at Shanley High in Fargo,
Baalke is embarking on something a thousandth as important but with a similar sense of immediacy now, with the announcement that the 49ers -- with the 13th and 17th picks in the first round -- have given the 12-year-veteran scout the final say in their draft room. This is in the wake of the awkward dismissal of GM
Today, he and coach
Baalke, 46, grew up a Packer fan in Wisconsin and went on to be a two-time all-conference linebacker at Bemidji (Minn.) State. For six years he was an assistant on the North Dakota and South Dakota State coaching staffs before settling with his wife in Fargo. In 1998, the Jets called out of the blue to interview him for a scouting job; seems a Jet scout had recommended him to Jets personnel boss
To be an area scout. Washington hired him as a national scout in 2001, and he moved to the 49ers in 2004. In 2008, they named him director of player personnel, with only McCloughan above him on the personnel side.
"Until I got the call from the Jets,'' he said, "I had no ambition to work in the NFL. But once you get in the league, your perspective changes. I knew as the job unfolded I could do this job.
"The one fortunate thing that happened to me is that I started with the Jets, and that was a perfect place to start. I saw lots of good coaches -- Coach [
It's the dream of every road scout to run a draft one day. Now Baalke, out of the clear sky, has been handed the keys to a Ferrari. The Niners are one of three teams (New England and Tampa Bay are the others) with three picks in the top 50. What a rush it must be. But Baalke, watching video with pro personnel director
"My job's really the same,'' he said. "Except I'm responsible for the final decision. We'll all team up to evaluate the players and stack the board, but my philosophy is pretty much the same as Scot's, and when Scot left, the board was 85 to 90 percent done. One guy may be the guy in control, but I don't look at it like 'I'm pulling the trigger here.' I have to trust I've learned enough along the way to make the right calls.''
Baalke could play it safe and go linebacker at 13 (
Whatever, the Niners need a backfield threat, at least one offensive lineman, a linebacker and maybe a quarterback. It's a big laundry list, and nothing is promised to Baalke after the draft. He might be back as GM, he might not be. "I'm confident the draft will go well,'' Baalke said, and he sounded it.
Over the last couple of weeks, as I prepare to stick my size 14s into Dr. Z's size-55 shoes for the second time as
Running back (2):
Wide receiver (2):
Tight end (2):
End/Outside linebacker (5):
Inside/middle linebacker (1):
Most likely to fall out of the first round: T Bruce Campbell.
Most likely to be in the first round among those I didn't choose: S
Most likely to rise from obscurity on draft weekend: CB/Return man
It sounds good, and it's an effort, certainly. But it's not going to work. At least, it's not going to force the Colts to show up when they already have their playoff spot and seed clinched.
The Colts have had both opportunities in the last few years. In 2007, Indianapolis played AFC South rival Tennessee, fighting for a playoff spot against Cleveland, in the last week of the season. Indy had its spot clinched. The Colts pulled the plug on full effort by the starters, Tennessee won, and Cleveland simmered at Indy's cavalier attitude in a game of playoff significance. Last year, the Colts had two non-division games at the end of the season, with nothing to play for. Indy again played the starters sparingly, and lost.
The Colts simply won't play all out unless the game has significance to them. Is there more of a chance there could be a playoff significant game when it's a division game? Theoretically, yes, but with the Jags and Titans yo-yoing so often from good to non-factor in recent years, some team in the AFC South has to jump up and challenge the Colts consistently for there to be a chance of a 12-3 Colts team meeting a 12-3 division neighbor in Week 17.
Tomlin was two years ahead of Sharper at William & Mary in the nineties, and he became a mentor of sorts to the young safety. I asked Tomlin at the league meetings if he thought Sharper would play this year, or if he'd take a TV job, tired of the beating he'd taken in his 14 NFL seasons. "I think Darren Sharper is playing football until he's not given the opportunity," Tomlin said. "It's in his DNA. It's how he's wired.''
Sharper told me last year he considered going to play for the Steelers last year before he signed with the Saints, but Tomlin said "we never headed down that road in any realistic form or fashion. We're old friends, and I like to keep my friends and business completely separated. I mean, I hosted Darren on his official visit to William & Mary. We grew up together. Sometimes that's not conducive to a healthy business relationship.''
Maybe not. I agree with Tomlin -- I think Sharper's going to play football this year. When I've talked to him before, he's struck me as being a lot like
Sometimes you hit a home run in this business. Last Sept. 20 in the
"The team that gets possession first ... can only win on that possession if it scores a touchdown. If it kicks a field goal, then the other team receives the ball, and if it scores a touchdown, it wins in sudden death. If the team with the ball first doesn't score, then the second possessing team can win simply by scoring. If both teams kick field goals and the game remains tied after each has had a possession, then OT reverts to the current sudden-death format, where the first score of any kind wins. The same applies if neither team scores on its first possession. Any type of defensive score on the first overall possession of overtime also would end the game immediately.''
That, precisely, is what happened last Tuesday at the NFL meetings.
"Is it truly fair when one team doesn't get the opportunity to possess the ball? I think we've come up with a balanced system that is thoughtful, respects the game, and respects the people who play it.''
"I hate it.''
"I can see the press conference now,'' Payton told me on Sirius NFL Radio the other day. " 'Coach, did you consider going for the touchdown rather than kicking the field goal?' I can write the questions right now.''
That's life in the big leagues. The one thing I've heard in the last few days, from fans mostly, is that coaches who make $4 million a year won't get much sympathy over the burden of having to make a big call with the game on the line.
"I had no idea who Charlie Whitehurst was until there was talk about him. I'd never heard of the guy. I have some friends on the San Diego staff, and they're feeling pretty darn good about the deal."
Mora might be a little prejudiced in making this trade sound boneheaded for Seattle after being unceremoniously fired and replaced by
Carroll faced the music on the deal at the league meetings. "It's really simple,'' he said, asked about dealing so much for a guy who hasn't thrown a pass in four NFL seasons with San Diego. "There are a lot of throws that Charlie had a chance to do over the last few years in the preseason. You can say what you want about preseason being the real deal. When you drop back and you throw comebacks, and you drop back and you throw in-routes and there are guys rushing you, you drop back and you got to move in the pocket and find a second and third receiver. That is definitely on the film clearly.
"It is not the same as week in and week out having to handle the stress and the pressure of the schedule and all of that. That is different stuff that we have to find out, but to see him carry out the demands of the position from a physical side you could see that easily. Plus, our guys had watched him coming out. We had all of those early evaluations just like you have as a draft choice and a college career behind all of that. If it is just one preseason and he only played in a couple of games that is one thing, but he has played in games for years. That was enough for us to see the kind of raw talent that we were looking for and the movement we were looking for.
"We are looking at him coming into this program like he is a very high draft pick and how we would evaluate his background at that point. So we feel good and confident about that. Now we have to develop him in our program and make him a Seahawk and make him a guy that can execute our offense and carry that and we will see how long that takes."
Brees was a high school football star at Austin (Texas) Westlake High. McCoy was a high school football star at Jim Ned (Texas) High.
Brees married a volleyball player at Purdue. McCoy is engaged to a track-and-field athlete at Baylor.
Brees is active in many children's charities and is a benefactor of a children's hospital in New Orleans. McCoy is active with the Children's Miracle Network telethon and volunteers at the children's hospital in Austin.
I return to the real world tonight after a terrific holiday with my two brothers and brother-in-law. Seven spring-training games in seven venues in six days, finishing Monday afternoon on the east coast of the state, in Viera, at Nats-Mets, weather permitting. Notes from some fun days:
Couldn't believe how the ball jumped off the bat of catcher
All in all, a very fun time with my bros. I've got to think it's more convenient to do one of these trips in Arizona, with every team being within 45 minutes of each other by next year.
"Does Tebow sponsor your page?''
No on the sponsorship, but from what I hear, he'll be able to afford to when his new contract with a very big sports equipment and apparel manufacturer is announced very soon.
1. I think the thing about a Super Bowl in New Jersey in February 2014 -- which seems more and more likely with the vote due as early as May --is that too few people are thinking about the precedent it sets for future games in outdoor, cold-weather venues.
Dan Snyder has $40 million in debt service every year for FedEx Field before he even opens the doors; why wouldn't he be stomping his feet for a Super Bowl in a venue that's 222 miles south of the Meadowlands? You think good NFL soldier
2. I think unless the networks stamp their feet quite a bit, the new overtime reform will pass for the regular season when NFL owners meet in Dallas in May. I'm told by two major players who were in the room for the vote last Tuesday that if Goodell had pressed for the rule to be instituted for the regular season he could have gotten at least 24 votes for it.
"But it wasn't the right thing to do,'' one of my sources said. "You don't push that through without talking to your network partners seriously about it beforehand.'' It's true the games could be a few plays longer, but I doubt FOX and CBS (with early games that could be butting up against late-Sunday-afternoon games) will draw lines in the sand on this issue.
3. I think one thing that amazed me at the NFL meetings last week was the 15 or so league and media people who told me they gave their $5 for our "Five For Fighting'' campaign. Thanks to them, and to everyone who has given.
As many of you know, I'm asking $5 (or a donation of your choice) to help the men and women in our Armed Forces -- particularly those who serve at remote bases with only life's necessities and no creature comforts. The donation will help with recreation equipment for the troops in need in Iraq and Afghanistan, equipment like TVs, video games, sports stuff and weights for the 135-soldier company like
Please keep it coming for one more week; I'd like to get at least 10 companies or platoons outfitted. If you know someone who would like to keep the donations coming, please pass along
I'll give you the final verdict a week from today on how many lives you have impacted with your generosity to Mike McGuire and his men, and to some other troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. For now, here's one last missive from McGuire for a while. It arrived in my e-mail box Friday morning, and if you ever think your thoughts and donations don't impact our men and women over there, read this:
"Peter: Getting ready to leave today for 5.5 weeks of field training, gunnery, etc. Time to start turning the screw to the right and tighten hard on these new soldiers. I read a lot of the posts that people wrote on the wall that the USO set up. Pretty amazing stuff. We are all very humbled. I have never kept record of anything I did, but you have managed to do that for me from the beginning. Thank you. My children will appreciate it later in life, as I save every one. Every person who wrote on that wall has a place with me now -- with me and my fellas, Thank you. Peter, you have became the spokesman for the Soldier. You rock ... Our first company from the Battalion leaves here REAL soon. Will keep you posted once they are in place down range. Take care. Mike.''
4. I think the more I hear about
I mean, if they're not truly committed to Dixon in the event he has to play the season, they have to draft a solid insurance policy -- maybe someone like NCAA touchdown record-setter
5. I think it was a good idea for Jets owner
Johnson said he supports the media getting good inside information about his team, because it makes the fans more intrigued by the team. "We don't want to make this the secret to Coke or whatever.''
Uh, Woody: Can you talk to your fellow owners about that?
6. I think I cannot see
7. I think one of the most influential young coaches in the game is getting to be
8. I think
9. I think I'd sign
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Tremendous defense against Cornell, Kentucky.
b. Has there ever been better clutch shooting in the last 12 minutes of a Sweet 16 game as there was in Xavier-Kansas State?
c. Drat. I was really pulling for Northern Iowa.
d. I'm not a college basketball guy (what a shock!), but I'd say people are handing the national title to West Virginia way too soon.
e. One fun thing about driving across central Florida is stopping at an orange grove, getting out of the car, and just smelling the air. Citrusy. Outstanding.
f. Coffeenerdness: Had a pleasant evening writing in the Starbucks in Port St. Lucie Sunday night. That is, until I saw the dead rat in the parking lot.
g. Say hi to me in Viera today -- if there's a game.