MMQB Mail: Bradford compares favorably to Ryan; 'FFF' success
Readers raised almost $60,000 in first 24 hours of Mike McGuire fundraiser
If Sam Bradford's arm checks out, he may be better prospect than Matt Ryan was
Mailbag questions on Jimmy Clausen, Thomas Jones, overtime fatigue and more
I'll start this morning with news of how I have the best readers in the history of the web:
In the first 24 hours of our Five For Fighting fundraiser for Army First Sgt. Mike McGuire's 135-member company being deployed to Afghanistan later this year, and for other U.S. troops in the war zones, you've donated $59,744 to the USO for the cause. I asked for $5 per person, but so many of you have done so much more. We've had 2,394 donors (as of 9:30 a.m. today), which translates to $24.96 per donation.
I'm in awe of your generosity. As is the USO.
"Those are the kinds of numbers we see only on New Year's Eve, when people are trying to beat the tax deadline for donations,'' USO online marketing VP Jeremy Albritton told me this morning. "This is an incredible display by your readers.''
The USO estimates that it costs about $20,000 per USO2GO box (the portable entertainment center we're going to send McGuire, and the other platoons at remote bases in Iraq and Afghanistan). So you've raised money for three shipments of video games, recreation equipment, a TV and other off-time stuff that soldiers deployed deep in small pods deep in the heart of the war zones don't have. For McGuire's company, we're also going to send some weight-training equipment, which is not included normally in these boxes. If you'd still like to donate, keep the momentum going for all the troops.
Thanks, thanks, thanks, and I'll continue to keep you updated as the campaign goes on.
When I asked NFL scouts and execs about the quarterbacks in this draft, the one word I heard a couple of times about Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was "frail.'' But when I met the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Bradford for an interview at an Indy hotel late Saturday night, he didn't look frail. He'd bulked up 13 pounds from the Sooners' season while rehabbing his surgically repaired right shoulder at Athletes Performance Institute in Pensacola, Fla., obviously aware that he was going to get some questions about his physical stature. When we met, I thought I'd be meeting a Matt Ryan clone -- a tall kid who needed to fill out. Bradford doesn't look like he needs to fill out right now.
It's interesting -- Bradford as a college player physically compares to Ryan. Both guys exited college -- Ryan from Boston College in 2008, Bradford from Oklahoma in 2010 -- with fine college résumés but physical concerns about holding up to the NFL beatdowns. Other than the bad turf toe Ryan suffered in 2009, he's handled the physical part of it well. If Bradford checks out physically, which is a very big but (Ryan had no such major shoulder surgery entering his NFL career), I've got to think, like Ryan, that Bradford will be a top-five pick in the draft. St. Louis, picking first, and Washington (fourth) are the best bets to get him.
I was curious to measure Ryan, picked third by the Falcons in 2008, against Bradford. Ryan's career completion percentage: .599. Bradford's .676. Ryan's career yards per attempt: 6.92. Bradford's: 9.41. Ryan's career touchdown-to-interception ratio: plus-19. Bradford's: plus-72.
By those measurements, Bradford's a better prospect. And as a couple of NFL coaches told me, his downfield accuracy is good to very good by pro standards right now -- assuming his arm checks out fine.
Ryan is probably more of a leader. Bradford is confident and well-spoken, but the book on him is he's not a rah-rah type. So we'll see how the physical part of his résumé comes out after he throws at his pro day at Oklahoma in three weeks. But I'd be surprised if he gets past Washington at four. And I agree with Adam Schefter, who said the other day he expects the Rams to pick him number one overall if they consider Bradford a no-doubt franchise quarterback.
I asked Bradford if he thought he'd justify such a high pick. "Yeah, I think I would,'' he said. "If I didn't believe in myself as much as I do, I wouldn't be here right now. I wasn't highly recruited coming out of high school, and a lot of people didn't think I belonged playing at Oklahoma. But I did, and I think I'll be able to show people the same thing at this level.''
His arm, he says, has felt "so good, I'm thinking in my mind, 'Why don't they let me throw every day? [He is throwing three days a week.] But I know my trainers and doctors know best. I know I'll be able to throw without limitations and without pain at my Pro Day.'' The Oklahoma Pro Day is set for March 26.
Re the Sean Payton/Jerry Jones/wine spat from yesterday's column:
NFL.com friend Craig Ellenport e-mailed to say the NFL site had a live chat with Payton on Monday, and Ellenport relayed this response from the Saints coach about the incident of taking the Dallas owner's pre-reserved magnum of wine and drinking it Friday at the team dinner at St. Elmo steakhouse:
"After he replied to a question about raising the intensity of the rivalry,'' Ellenport wrote, "I asked Sean if he had spoken to Jerry since the Dallas dinner on Saturday night. He said yes -- he actually stopped by at the end of the dinner Saturday night to see them. Here's Sean's reply from the chat:
" 'I was at the Dallas dinner Saturday -- stopped by at the end of their dinner, and we had some good laughs. Jerry and I chatted, and we had the empty wine bottle right next to us. Jerry was going to bring it back to Dallas with him as a keepsake, but it accidentally broke that night at the restaurant!' "
Ironic Hockey Note of the Day: Fifty hours after Sidney Crosby shot the puck through the legs of Ryan Miller in the most dramatic hockey moment since 1980, guess who matches up at the Igloo in Pittsburgh?
Sidney Crosby. Ryan Miller. (Although I'm told Miller may not play and the Sabres may give him time to recover mentally and physically from the grind of the Olympics.)
Pittsburgh hosts Buffalo tonight in the first post-Olympic game for both. What a weird dynamic. The American crowd will go nuts for Crosby, the Canadian, naturally. Regardless of whether Miller plays, I hope the American crowd also goes nuts for Miller, the American, even though he's the enemy tonight.
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