Samford cornerback James Bradberry has been preparing for the NFL draft since January. Bradberry finished his degree during the fall semester and after prepping for the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine with a trainer in Atlanta, has returned home to work out at Samford. WalterFootball.com ranks him as a third- or fourth-round pick. As of April 18, Bradberry visited the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. He’s also worked out for the Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.
It’s a lot different than I’m used to, there’s a lot more traveling and I have to do a lot more talking then I usually do, so I’ve become a lot more comfortable talking with different people. The workouts are a little more intense because you have more time for workouts (without games).
To get more comfortable with all the talking, at the beginning of the process, my agent had me talk to a retired GM and he took us through different questions that we would be asked. When you get toward the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine, I just got to the point where I was comfortable and I was trying to explain my life and give details of my life. I was just being myself because if I script something, I know that I would screw it up. (laughs)
They ask you the same questions over and over and so the answers were really just coming out of my mouth and really, it got annoying! Like, there was one guy over there and I would think, “Why can’t you just tell him the answer?”
The Combine was really enjoyable because I was in front of all these people that I see on TV, but it was also annoying because they (medical staff) are poking at you. I understand because a team is going to invest a lot in you, but that part was really annoying.
I learned a lot of new things about myself at the Combine. My footwork isn’t really consistent every play. I can always be more urgent. I learned new techniques — my press technique, you know, no matter what coach, there’s always someone else out there who had a different way, so I learned three different techniques.
I still haven’t learned how I might fit into the NFL (personality-wise), but I have learned that there are some guys who aren’t as, well, the interviewers always say I come off as a responsible guy, a well-grounded guy, so I have to assume that there are some guys who aren’t like that. I mean, I don’t know that, for sure. In the past, my grammar skills were bad and my momma always said I needed to take more grammar classes, but it turns out, it’s not so bad.
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Samford held its Pro Day on March 8, a little more than a week after the NFL Combine ended in Indianapolis. Bradberry ran a 4.5 40 and had a vertical leap of 36 inches at the Combine.
Pro Day was not stressful for me. I did pretty well at the Combine, so I knew I just had to focus on my position work. The limelight at Pro Day wasn’t as strong. In Indy, the big lights of the dome were shining down and scouts were watching your every move and word. I didn’t really know a lot of people, so I kept to myself. Pro Day was much more fun, it was like being back home and it was really much more comfortable. You can talk to your teammates, compare notes.
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Since Pro Day, Bradberry has been on three visits – in order, to the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. He’ll be at home in Pleasant Grove, Ala., with his family and friends during the draft.
You can hear the buzz around the Raiders! The night I got there was the Final Four, so we went out to dinner and then watched that. The next day, we woke up around 6:45 and then went to the facility and had physicals. I only had height, weight and arm length because I’d had a physical at the Combine. After that, I met with defensive staff … they taught us a play and then each player (there were four cornerbacks on the visit), had to get up there and teach it to everyone else in the room. It was easy, my coach was pretty laid back, so he was easy to talk to.
At the Dolphins, it was pretty much the same thing, the only thing that was different was that we watched film in the cornerbacks’ room. The coaches gave feedback on that, it was me and the cornerbacks coach and a couple of other coaches and we watched film and talked about how I fit into the game. That only gets uncomfortable when they pull up bad plays! But they didn’t do that.
At the Panthers, I just met with some coaches, we didn’t have individual meetings because I’d already done that in the past.
So, for all of it, when I went to Oakland, what really stuck out to me was on the airplane, I flew on a connection through Las Vegas to Oakland, so I’d never been to that part of the country. Football can really take you out of a small town and into a new part of the world. That was really exciting for me.
No matter where I went or who I tried to talk to, I tried to picture myself in a jersey for that team. It’s kind of hard, because you don’t know where you are going to end up. But I’m ready for anywhere or anything that I end up with.