Bradford goes first to Rams in NFL draft; Suh 2nd
AP Football Writer
NEW YORK – Starting with quarterback Sam Bradford going to the St. Louis Rams, the first NFL draft in prime time was a showcase for the Big 12.
The Oklahoma junior became the eighth quarterback since 2001 taken atop the draft. He was immediately followed Thursday night by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska, the AP Player of the Year, and DT Gerald McCoy, Bradford’s teammate with the Sooners.
Bradford, the 2008 winner of the Heisman Trophy, joins a Rams team that was 1-15 last season and scored a league-low 175 points. The Rams cut incumbent Marc Bulger in the offseason.
Bradford appeared in only three games in 2009, his junior year, before undergoing right shoulder surgery. His recovery has been so complete that the Rams didn’t hesitate to make him the future face of the franchise.
An hour before the draft, Bradford, looking dapper in a gray suit, admitted he was nervous.
“The butterflies are flying around right now,” he said.
A little while later, he could relax – at least until he gets on the field behind the Rams’ weak offensive line.
“The phone call was that moment, but I had a feeling I would get that phone call tonight,” Bradford said of hearing from the Rams just before his name was announced.
His selection opened the first NFL draft to begin in prime time, and was greeted with a mixture of cheers and jeers by the audience at Radio City Music Hall.
Detroit then chose Suh, considered the best defensive tackle prospect in more than a decade. He won the Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski trophies in 2009 and comes off a dominant Big 12 title game in which he had 12 tackles with 41/2 sacks.
He was greeted by “SUH, SUH,” as he walked onto the stage holding a Lions jersey.
McCoy should boost a Tampa defense that once was feared but flopped last season when it yielded 400 points. He displayed his Buccaneers jersey to the crowd and pumped his fist high in the air as “Pirates of the Caribbean” played on the loudspeakers.
The Big 12 draft party kept rolling when Washington took Oklahoma All-America Trent Williams to fill a huge hole at tackle left by the retirement of Chris Samuels. Williams engulfed commissioner Roger Goodell in a hefty bear hug onstage.
Tennessee safety Eric Berry, also an All-American, went fifth to Kansas City, breaking the Big 12 stranglehold. Berry, noted for his versatility, also has the potential to play cornerback.