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Tuesday, March 30, 2010
From Alex Smith to Sam Bradford

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Facebook friend Darren asks: Didn't Alex Smith have a great pro day as well? I remember Gil Brandt saying it was one of the best pro days he ever saw and he got a standing ovation. Not saying that Sam Bradford will be bad, but don't get too excited.

Mike Sando: Good memory. Smith did generally impress at his pro day and Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel evaluator working for NFL.com, was among those offering positive reviews. Those reviews were accurate. Unlike Smith, Bradford used his pro day to prove his shoulder had sufficiently healed from surgery. That made Bradford's workout more significant than Smith's workout back in 2005. As with all pro day workouts, the ones featuring Smith and Bradford were set up to make both look sensational.

Life in the NFL is much more difficult. The deck was stacked against Smith in San Francisco to a degree not fully appreciated at the time. If the Rams draft Bradford and handle him the way the 49ers handled Smith, they won't realize a full return on their investment, either.

So many pre-draft reports are accurate without necessarily telling us how things will turn out. One line of thinking before the 2005 draft was that the understated Smith and then-49ers coach Mike Nolan would be highly compatible. In reality, mistrust came to define their relationship.