For many Arizona State graduates, Pro Day is the only opportunity they have to show their skills to NFL scouts. For highly touted prospects like Carl Bradford, the Sun Devils' recent Pro Day was yet another chance to demonstrate his value and versatility.
After declaring for the NFL Draft in January, Bradford received an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. The 6-foot-1, 250-pounder participated in combine drills with the linebackers and recorded strong numbers in front of the NFL's top talent evaluators.
Bradford clocked in with a 4.75 in the 40-yard dash, a 37.5-inch mark in the vertical jump, an outstanding 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump, and a 4.30 time in the 20-yard shuttle. Still, the former Devilbacker had something left to prove, and he decided to participate in Arizona State's Pro Day on Friday.
"I just wanted to come out and prove that I am faster than a 4.75 or whatever I had there," Bradford said.
The pass rushing phenom made good on his promise, and delivered an improved 40-yard dash time that will make him one of the more attractive underclassmen in the draft. When asked about his time from Pro Day, Bradford said that he improved by about a tenth of a second, which is a considerable jump.
"4.64, I believe," Bradford said.
Pro Day offered Bradford the opportunity to compete in a familiar setting, as he ran along the home sideline at Sun Devil Stadium as opposed to the turf field in Indianapolis. The difference was measurable for a player like Bradford, who says he's gaining confidence with each training session.
"This is my home turf, I had a good night's sleep, instead of waking up at four, so I felt good," Bradford said.
With dozens of pro scouts in attendance, Bradford was also able to get more personal feedback from scouts who will relay their evaluations to NFL-decision makers. Bradford said the scouts were satisfied with what they saw, and they were positive about his future.
"Good feedback, they loved the way I moved, the way I came out here and did the drills, the way I sink my hips and be coachable so they had all positive things to say," Bradford said.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Bradford's ability to play in the NFL is his unique frame. At 6-foot-1, he could fit into a number of different positions depending on each team's scheme, and that doesn't necessarily mean he'll stay on the defensive side of the football. Bradford said scouts have talked to him about playing inside and outside linebacker, but one team even mentioned the prospect of playing fullback.
"I got positions for me across the board. From rushing, to SAM backer and WILL, I even got 3-tech in passing downs, I got fullback so going back to the Norco (High) days," Bradford said.
An athletic specimen, Bradford came to Arizona State as a dynamic fullback prospect (much like current Sun Devil Chans Cox) before focusing full-time on his defensive techniques. Now, some teams want to see if Bradford can make the transition back to offense and be the force people believed he could become out of high school.
"They were serious and they were still asking me about it," Bradford said. "I think they wanted me to do some fullback drills. The Cowboys mainly were asking me about it."
While some players insist on playing a particular position out of college, Bradford says he wants to help a team in any capacity he can. In an ideal world, Bradford would begin making a difference next season, regardless of whether he plays on offense or defense.
Bradford's mindset reflects his maturity, which also comes across when he talks about his decision to leave Arizona State with a year of eligibility remaining. Though Bradford will likely not become a first-round selection, he believes he accomplished what he wanted to during his time in Tempe.
"I graduated. I came in here, told my mom I'd earn that degree before I would do anything with football so she's proud of me," Bradford said.
With a diploma in one hand, Bradford says he will be blessed with a chance to carry an NFL playbook in his other. With less than two months until the draft, Bradford knows he must continue working hard to achieve his lifelong dream of competing professionally.
"I love it. It's a blessing to even be in this predicament," Bradford said. "It's amazing, a lot of guys don't get this opportunity so once I get it I'm grabbing it and going with it."
House of Sparky's Nick Krueger contributed to this article.