Bradford looks like near-certain top pick

Sam Bradford throws during a workout for NFL officials. St. Louis owns the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Sam Bradford throws during a workout for NFL officials. St. Louis owns the No. 1 pick in the draft. (Sue Ogrocki/associated Press)

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bradford looks like near-certain top pick

Quarterback Sam Bradford threw 63 passes before NFL talent evaluators Monday at Oklahoma University in Norman, Okla., and from all appearances did everything needed to solidify his standing as the No. 1 pick in the April 22-24 NFL draft.

He was scheduled to a follow a 50-pass script and, according to Yahoo's Charles Robinson, only one pass hit the ground. Bradford, who said in a post-workout interview that he'd only been throwing for "4 1/2 - 5 weeks" after undergoing shoulder surgery, threw a variety of passes and looked very sharp. His passes seemed to have zip and were accurate. He showed no visible signs of pain in his shoulder.

It would seem unlikely, at this point, that Bradford will be picked anywhere besides No. 1.

The question becomes which team will grab him at that spot. Do the St. Louis Rams lock him up and start negotiations right away? Or do they entertain trade offers? (It's worth noting that one of the first people to greet Bradford after his workout was Rams Coach Steve Spagnuolo.)

Most NFL teams were in attendance Monday. General Manager Bruce Allen was among the contingent for the Redskins, who have the fourth overall pick. According to Robinson, more than 50 coaches, scouts and executives were on hand, including representatives from the Raiders, Eagles, Colts, Browns, Patriots, Seahawks, Jaguars and 49ers. They weren't all there for Bradford, though, as the day also provided an opportunity for teams to get a closer look at Oklahoma's receivers.

"I thought I showed everyone that my shoulder's what it was before I got hurt," Bradford said.

Cerrato backs Clausen

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has publicly raised questions about the leadership skills and maturity of Jimmy Clausen, widely considered to be the No. 2 quarterback prospect in the draft. The Redskins have the fourth overall pick and Coach Mike Shanahan is believed to be interested in selecting a quarterback. Draft analyst Mel Kiper, McShay's ESPN colleague, has praised Clausen, saying he grew into an outstanding leader at Notre Dame.

And Kiper is not alone in believing Clausen could become a top NFL quarterback.

Vinny Cerrato, formerly Washington's executive vice president of football operations, shares Kiper's assessment of Clausen. Cerrato, who worked at Notre Dame in the late 1980s under Lou Holtz, said he has spoken with many people at the university about Clausen -- and all of them gave him favorable reports.

And as a favor to agent Gary Wichard, one of his longtime friends, Cerrato recently spent four days in California helping several of Wichard's clients, Clausen among them, prepare for predraft interviews. In a phone interview late last week, Cerrato acknowledged he, too, at one time wondered whether the media buzz about Clausen was accurate. But he said he quickly learned Clausen is nothing like his detractors claim.

"I think Todd McShay started that, you know?" Cerrato said. "I'd like to know who Todd McShay talked to at Notre Dame about Jimmy. That's what I would like to know, because I was at the school and talked to everybody. And there's a lot of people there that were there when I was there, so they'll tell me the truth. And, you know, the truth is he came in as the No. 1 player in the country. And he was [former coach Charlie Weis's] first recruit. So I think the older players kind of weren't crazy about that part. He was a little immature when he first arrived. He matured each year. He was only there three, and he matured each year.

"Here's what they told me: As a sophomore, he didn't get many votes to be captain. As a junior, [he] received every vote of all the members of the team to be the captain. And everybody told me [he was] a totally different kid from sophomore year to junior year. Really grew up, matured, became the leader of the team [and] took charge of everything. . . . He's a totally mature guy. I mean, you know what he is? He's a gym rat. He's a football junkie. He loves to talk about football. He loves to watch film. He's very smart about football coverages, all those things. And you know what? He plays with a passion. That's the thing."

Buchanon signs

The Redskins have signed cornerback Phillip Buchanon, an eight-year veteran who will give the team much-needed experience in the secondary.

Buchanon played last season with Detroit and though he's expected to be slotted behind DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers on the depth chart, his arrival could mean the team doesn't have to rely on young cornerbacks Kevin Barnes and Justin Tryon if an injury arises. He could also find himself on the field in nickel packages.

Buchanon was set to earn $3.5 million from the Lions before Detroit released him earlier this month. ESPN.com reported the Redskins signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, plus another $750,000 in incentive money.

The Redskins will be Buchanon's fifth team in seven seasons. He's still looking to match the level of success he enjoyed when he first entered the league. A 2002 first-round pick out of Miami, Buchanon had 11 interceptions in his first three seasons with Oakland but has had only seven in the five seasons since then.

-- Rick Maese and Jason Reid


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