NORMAN — The announcement finally came, not during an overblown press conference, but via the University of Oklahoma’s Twitter page Sunday afternoon.
Sooner quarterback Sam Bradford will undergo season-ending surgery on his separated throwing shoulder Wednesday, and enter April’s NFL Draft if all goes as planned.
"I’m very disappointed that it didn’t work out differently,” said Bradford, who will have the operation done by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. "Under these circumstances, and after talking to several people, this is the right thing for me to do at this point.”
While the announcement was modest, discussion surrounding Bradford’s draft stock won’t be. In fact, it will be as big as any story line in the entire draft.
Will he be the top quarterback taken? Or will he fall out of the top 10?
Those answers will depend on several factors, notably how quickly Bradford can return and work out for scouts; how those scouts will view him after a sub-par junior season that ended with him reinjuring his separated shoulder; how many teams at the top of the draft will be looking to select a quarterback; and what other quarterbacks are available in this draft.
The recovery time for Bradford’s surgery is expected to take between four and six months. The NFL Scouting Combine is in four months. The draft, in six. Which means Bradford probably won’t be able to work out for the Combine. So his chance at erasing some of the doubt that will surround his recovering shoulder will be during a pro day in either March or early April.
"I’ll be up to the challenge,” he said.
But Bradford would be wise not to hire an agent for a while, at least until he knows his shoulder can meet that timetable. If it can’t, leaving the door open to return to school would be a good safety net, because teams are unlikely to spend high-round money on a player they haven’t put through a workout.
Yet even with a banner showing at pro day, there’s nothing Bradford can do at this point to shake the stigma held by some heading into the draft that he’s injury-prone or that his 2008 success was largely a product of surrounding talent.