When Sam Bradford decided to return to Oklahoma for his junior season, he certainly didn't do it to sit on the sidelines and watch.
Unfortunately, except for a game and a half, Bradford did just that after suffering a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder against BYU. Bradford missed the next three games, but returned to play against Baylor and lead the Sooners to a win.
After re-injuring the shoulder against Texas, Bradford opted to end his season and his college career by having surgery and declaring for the NFL Draft.
It was a sad and heartbreaking end to a career that should have had another chapter. No one likes to see a great player and a great guy have to suffer like that. Regardless of who you root for, you always want to see the great, classy guys play and be successful.
Now Bradford turns to his pro day and the NFL Draft. Bradford is continuing his rehab after his shoulder surgery was successful back in October. He is progressing well according to reports. However, he has said that he will not participate in drills during the combine that starts later this month.
Sadly, these reports, along with the pedigree that Bradford carries with him mean absolutely nothing to NFL scouts and executives unless he performs well at his pro day. And that my friends is a very disappointing thing to me.
No one cares that Bradford is college football's all-time most efficient passer and holds the Oklahoma career marks for career passing yards, season passing yards, season touchdown passes, career completion percentage, season completion percentage, need I continue?
All that people are worried about is one single area of his body and forget about just how good this kid really is. Why all the pessimism?
To a certain extent, I understand the pessimism that NFL executives have about Bradford. Almost every draft board has him going in the top five and that means a fairly lucrative first contract. Executives don't want to give that to him if he takes one hit and is done for the year with another injury.
ABBA obviously wasn't made up of businessmen and women when they wrote the song, "Money, Money, Money."
"Money, money, money. Always sunny in the rich man's world."
It's definitely not always sunny in the world of the NFL executive. Just look at how stingy they are with spending money on risky players!
However, do the positives outweigh the bad? I certainly think so. Bradford is probably the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft. He is big, strong, has a strong arm, is very accurate, and is very smart and makes good decisions with the football.
Another big thing about Bradford is that this was his first really major injury, so he has a history of staying healthy and is not made of glass.
Bradford is projected by many to be drafted by the Washington Redskins who are now under the direction of Mike Shanahan. Can you imagine the potential Bradford has to grow as a quarterback under Shanahan's tutelage?
Bradford is going to be a solid, if not great, NFL quarterback. It would be nice for people to see that and quit worrying about a slight hiccup in his career path.
With a solid showing at the combine, Bradford should be able to silence his critics and prepare for a long and solid NFL career.