After a record-setting college career that landed him a Heisman Trophy, one giant question loomed over Sam Bradford's prospects of becoming the No. 1 overall pick in next month's NFL draft.
How would the quarterback's throwing arm respond to surgery that cost him most of his final season at Oklahoma?
Bradford provided a convincing case Monday that he's well down the road to recovery, completing all but one of his five dozen passes during a workout on his college campus.
"Really positive. I thought the whole workout was positive," said St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney, who has the No. 1 pick in the draft that starts April 22. "I think he answered a lot of questions for a lot of people today."
If Bradford goes to the Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have the opportunity to select one of the top defensive tackles - Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh or Bradford's Oklahoma teammate Gerald McCoy - with the third overall pick. The Detroit Lions pick second.
Bradford's first public throwing exhibition since his surgery featured an assortment of passes ranging from a swing pass to a running back to patterns forcing him to throw to the sidelines and even a post pattern that went more than 50 yards in the air.
Bradford went 13-for-13 during a warmup session and then missed only one of 50 passes in the workout that followed - a slant pattern that was slightly behind Adron Tennell but still hit him in the hands.
"I thought I did very well today," Bradford said. "I showed a wide variety of throws. I didn't just come out and show the basic things, I showed some in the gun, on the move and different throws. I think I showed everyone that I can still make all the throws and my shoulder is just what is was before I got hurt."
Among those there to watch were Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren and San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary. The Seahawks control the sixth and 14th picks, Cleveland picks seventh and the 49ers have the 13th and 16th selections.
"He hit every ball, he was dead on it and looked great. This is what you'd hope happens and he did a beautiful job," Carroll said.
Bradford won the Heisman Trophy in 2008 after throwing for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns with only eight interceptions while leading the Sooners to the BCS championship game. No player in NCAA history has thrown more than Bradford's 86 touchdown passes through his freshman and sophomore seasons.
But after deciding to return for another shot at a national title, Bradford's junior year was cut short. He sprained his right shoulder just before halftime in Oklahoma's season opener against BYU, then returned to play one full game before getting hurt again against Texas.
He had season-ending surgery in late October and declared for the draft, with experts tabbing him as a possible No. 1 pick even though he opted not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine or at Oklahoma's regular Pro Day in order to give the arm more time to heal.
"He lived up to it. He did what he needed to do today. It's a big day for Sam, too, after all of the time off," Carroll said. "He came through in the kind of manner you would expect a big-timer to come through."
Bradford said he had breakfast with Spagnuolo and the Rams' offensive coaching staff before his workout. Devaney also said the Rams plan to have a private workout with Bradford.
"It's another piece," Devaney said of the Rams' evaluation of Bradford. "It's an important piece but it's a piece."
Bradford said every player dreams of being picked first in the draft, but he hasn't given it much thought. And he said it would be up to the Rams whether he'd sign a deal before draft day, should they decide to draft him at No. 1.
"I don't control that. I have no clue how it's going to play out," Bradford said. "If that's how it works, then that's how it works. If not, I'll be excited to hear my name called on draft day."
Bradford admitted being nervous before the throwing session, in part because it was an unusual situation to have one receiver running a pattern at a time with no defense.
"At the end of the day, it's still just a workout," Bradford said. "I'm not going to go to the NFL and throw routes on air to guys. I'm going to have to play against a very good defense week in and week out."
After Bradford was finished, McCoy - a longtime friend who's also in the mix to become the No. 1 overall pick - came rushing over from the sideline to give him a hug.
"I knew he was going to be at his best," McCoy said. "Sam is the best, man. He's a beast. That's why I call him King Sam."