The Vikings picked Garrett Bradbury #18 overall, which was widely expected according to many recent mock drafts. I didn’t expect Bradbury to be the pick, given that the Vikings had not met with him in the pre-draft process and at the owners meeting last month said they were more or less happy with Elflein at center.
Perhaps this is Spielman learning from last year, when the Vikings were said to be high on Frank Ragnow, only to have him drafted ahead of the Vikings. This year it wasn’t so apparent in the pre-draft process, even if most mock drafters saw past it.
In any case, I’m going to go it on a limb, despite the Vikings being coy on what position he’ll play, and say he is the new starting center for the Minnesota Vikings. What they do with Pat Elflein is anybody’s guess, but we’ll talk about that another time.
The Vikings had a few offensive linemen to choose from when they were on the clock at #18, and had offers to trade down according to Rick Spielman, but turned them down. Spielman said Bradbury was, “far and away” the prospect they had highest on their board as the draft unfolded, and there is reason to believe that at face value, even though that’s what most GMs say after their pick.
Clearly the Vikings had a need in the offensive line position group, and after free agency moves center and left guard were the two weakest positions. Bradbury was not only seen as a/the top center in the draft class, but also clearly the best zone blocking offensive lineman in this draft class. Some would say in the past few draft classes. Given those parameters, it makes sense Bradbury would rise to the top of the Vikings draft board.
One can argue that Bradbury wasn’t the best value at #18, but with Chris Lindstrom going well ahead of expectations at #14, he may not have been available much longer either. Certainly not at #50, the Vikings next pick. So, rather than trade down and see what happens, Spielman elected to stand pat and go with Bradbury at #18.
And so far snap judgments of the Vikings pick have been very good.
Sports Illustrated gave the Vikings the only A+ grade of the entire first round:
18. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: C GARRETT BRADBURY
Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball and last year’s fired offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, felt they couldn’t because of shoddy guards. Those guards, Mike Remmers and Tom Compton, are gone. But their replacements, Danny Isidora and Josh Kline, are not much better. Bradbury can take over one of their spots or play his college position at center, moving Pat Elflein to guard. However it shakes out, this is case of player and need meeting together perfectly. New offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski wants to employ an outside-zone scheme to fit Kirk Cousins, who is at his best throwing play-action off those outside zone looks. Bradbury is viewed unequivocally as the best outside zone blocking interior lineman in this draft.
Clearly scheme fit could not have been better, and as a/the top prospect at a position of need, pretty good pick.
Over at cbssports.com, Pete Prisco gave it a B+:
I like this pick. It’s a B-plus for me. The Vikings couldn’t move anybody off the line of scrimmage last year. Bradbury is very athletic, not a very big kid, but he can move. Grade: B+
Not much insight, but still a pretty good grade. He graded nine picks better.
Over at Pro Football Focus (PFF), pretty decent review:
Our No. 41 overall prospect, Bradbury fits a major need on Minnesota’s offensive line. While we may view him as a reach so early in the draft, the pick is not a huge surprise considering Minnesota’s multiple critical holes along the offensive line.
82.9 overall grade ranked seventh among all offensive linemen in the class.
Earned the eighth-highest pass-blocking grade among draft-eligible centers.
Earned the fifth-highest run-blocking grade among all offensive linemen in the class.
Allowed just 10 total QB hits and sacks on 1,513 total pass-blocking snaps in his career.
The biggest negative here is the value at #18, which I discussed, rather than the pick himself.
And at SBnation, Dan Kadar gave the Vikings pick a B+ as well:
A year after giving a massive contract to Kirk Cousins, this is the player the Vikings needed to take. That’s why it became so popular in mock drafts. Bradbury is an athletic center who will get up on the second level in the run game. As a pass blocker, he has quick feet to mirror defenders. With him at center, Pat Elflein can move to guard. Suddenly the Vikings have bolstered their interior in front of Cousins.
Again not terribly insightful- these are quick blurbs after all - but generally positive if not glowing. He graded ten picks higher.
At ESPN, Courtney Cronin had this to say:
Why they picked him: This was their guy all along. The Vikings zeroed in on finding the help they need on the interior of the offensive line and had Bradbury on their radar for more than a year. Despite the tackles that were available to Minnesota at No. 18 (Jawaan Taylor, Andre Dillard, Cody Ford), the Vikings had their sights set on Bradbury and weren’t budging despite fielding phone calls from teams interested in seeing if they wanted to trade back. “Bradbury was by far our target tonight when we got into the draft,” general manager Rick Spielman said. Bradbury provides the Vikings with immediate help at the guard or center position. Without even seeing the 18th overall pick in action with his new team, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the addition will make the offensive line “a lot better” in 2019.
Biggest question: Where does Bradbury fit? Not knowing which position the former N.C. State center/guard is going to play is a good question for the Vikings to answer over the next four months. The position flexibility Bradbury provides Minnesota will allow the offense to tinker around with its current personnel, too. After two years as an NFL center, Pat Elflein could move back to guard, the position he played for three years at Ohio State, while Bradbury fills his spot at center. Spielman noted how critical that quality was when scouting which offensive lineman this team would take. “One of the points of emphasis that we put on was guys that can play multiple positions, especially up front on the ?offensive line because if you do have a guy that does get hurt, you can move guys around and still be very good players,” the general manager said. -- Courtney Cronin
I’m not sure there’s much question, really, what position Bradbury will play. Elflein hasn’t played well at center and it remains to be seen if he’s better at guard.
Over at The Draft Network, they had this to say:
This was a fit that everybody loved. New OC Kevin Stefanski wants to run zone concepts to death, and boy, that’s what Bradbury does at an elite level. He has to fight out Pat Elflein for the center job, or perhaps slot into either guard spot. But it’s not a problem -- this is a dream fit.
They went on to call the Vikings’ pick of Bradbury one of the five best in the first round.
The Vikings offensive line has been crippling over the last two seasons and Bradbury is perfect fit for Kevin Stafanki’s zone blocking scheme. His ability to work laterally, execute long pulls and get to the second level is among the best I have ever seen from an interior offensive linemen. Converting over from tight end in 2015, it’s exciting to consider the ceiling Bradbury has as he continues to learn the position.
Bradbury alone is a great addition to the offensive line, but his addition allows Pat Elflein to move to guard and improves the unit in two spots. I love everything about this selection.
Starting to get repetitive, but understandably so. Bradbury is the best zone blocking lineman in this year's draft, and that’s what the Vikings are going to do.
Walt over at Walter football gave the pick a B+ as well:
I’ve slotted Garrett Bradbury to the Vikings for several weeks, so I wouldn’t have been surprised by this pick heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. However, I expected them to choose Andre Dillard when he slipped to them. Minnesota apparently wanted to stick to the plan and upgrade the middle of the offensive line. Pat Elflein was the worst center in the NFL last year, so he absolutely needed to be upgraded. Elflein will now move to guard, where he should perform better, meaning the Vikings are getting two upgrades with one pick. This is a good choice, as the Vikings absolutely had to bolster Kirk Cousins’ protection.
The one thing I remain skeptical about in several comments is Elflein at guard. I’d like to see competition there too. And a quality draft pick tomorrow and/or Saturday. And if it’s between Reiff and Elflein at left guard, I don’t see Elflein winning that competition.
Chad Reuter at nfl.com gave the Vikings an “A’ for Day One of the draft:
Day 1 grade: A Draft analysis: Bradbury is athletic and tough, considered one of the best center prospects to be picked in some time. Minnesota’s offensive line was in dire need of improvement so this selection will make quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook extremely happy.
Overall pretty universal praise for the Vikings first pick of the 2019 Draft.