By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 4, 2010; D02
When the Washington Redskins meet with Sam Bradford this week, they'll be trying to decide just how much they like the quarterback prospect and whether they should maneuver themselves to nab him in this month's NFL Draft.
Bradford will be taking notes, too, though he already has some familiarity with Mike Shanahan's brand of football. Growing up in Oklahoma City, Bradford was surrounded by Denver Broncos fans and saw plenty of Shanahan's former team on local television.
"If you look at some of their offenses and look at the things that [John] Elway was able to do, I think it's pretty cool to think that I might have the chance to one day play in that offense," Bradford said in a telephone interview Saturday. "I think that's pretty exciting."
Bradford is scheduled to visit with Washington coaches on Tuesday at Redskins Park. Though the draft is still more than 2 1/2 weeks away, the chase for Bradford seems to have quickly focused on two teams: the St. Louis Rams, who hold the top pick, and the Redskins, who select at No. 4.
As he meets with coaches, Bradford says he's trying to keep an open mind and doesn't feel it's his place to rule out any team.
"You do form opinions on who you like and who you maybe don't like," he said. "But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you think. It matters what they think."
The Redskins are dropping few hints about their draft-day intentions, but many around the league expect Washington to chase a quarterback at some point in the draft. Bradford is rated by most draft analysts as the best of the class, which means the Redskins might have to work out a deal with the Rams to get him.
Shanahan will personally scout the draft's top quarterbacks. The team has already flown in Florida's Tim Tebow and hosted Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen on Friday and Saturday. The Redskins are also expected to bring in Texas's Colt McCoy for a visit this week.
Shanahan declined to reveal whether he believes Bradford is the draft's top quarterback, just saying, "I think he'll be a longtime pro."
"He's a good quarterback obviously. He's very accurate, quick release, very smart," Shanahan said recently. "All of the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback."
When evaluating the position, Shanahan said he's looking "for the total package. Any time you have a quarterback, you like the quarterback to have everything. Very few do."
Many scouts, coaches and analysts left the University of Oklahoma's campus in Norman last week feeling just that way about Bradford. Throwing publicly for the first time since undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery last fall, Bradford impressed those in attendance at his pro day and, for many, solidified his claim to the draft's top spot.
"I felt like I was really going to be able to put to rest some of the questions about my shoulder," Bradford said. "It's the first time anyone had seen me throw. Obviously it was a big day for me. I felt like my performance really did answer a lot of those questions. It's just a huge sense of relief to know that hopefully my arm isn't a question any more and we can all move on from that."
Still, as the draft draws closer, Bradford knows there will be some questions about how he'll adjust to a pro-style offense. Much of his collegiate success came in a spread offense at Oklahoma, and during his pro day, Bradford made sure to start under center, run play-action and showcase his drop-back abilities.
"I don't think people really understand how much I was under center at Oklahoma," he said. "I think they just get this impression -- they don't even give it a chance -- 'Oh, they scored a lot of points, they were in the spread, he was never under center.'
"My first year playing, we were under center 50 percent of the time. Last year, we were in the gun a little bit more, but we were still under center a lot more than what most people think," he said. "I don't think it's going to be nearly as big of an adjustment as some people try to make it seem."
Washington coaches have obviously been keeping a close eye on Bradford. The quarterback said he chatted with Shanahan during the NFL Scouting Combine last month and spoke with the team's quarterbacks coach, Matt LaFleur, in the days leading up to his pro day.
Bradford called the week since his pro day "pretty crazy," and he knows it won't soon slow down. In addition to meeting with other teams, Bradford is scheduled to do a private workout for Redskins coaches on April 15 in Norman, one week before the draft begins.
"I didn't realize going through the draft process is like this. It's been fun, a good experience, and I look forward to coming to Washington and seeing what D.C. is all about," Bradford said of this week's visit.