In a move that has surpised exactly zero point zero percent of the Vikings fan base, rookie center Garret Bradbury has been named the team’s starting center, per Denver Mafia Don Gary Kubiak, courtesy of living legend Sid Hartman.
I had surmised before the draft that if the Vikings selected Bradbury (or another interior lineman), incumbent Pat Elflein would remain at center, and the new guy would kick out to guard. Of course I was wrong, and this is reason 7,412 why no one should ever trust any prediction I ever make. With the selection of Bradbury, a pure center, keeping him at his natural position makes sense, even though it means the Vikings will be starting a rookie at the center position for the second time in three years.
And for Elflein, the more I think about it, the better off I think the move will be for him as well. The Vikings are going to run a zone blocking scheme, or some variant of it, and that requres a lot of pulling from the guard position. Before he was a Rimington Award winner at center in college for Ohio State, Elflein was first team all Big Ten as a guard, and a second team All American. Elflein’s strength is pulling to the edge on a run or to the perimeter as a lead blocker on a screen, and I thought he was one of the best pulling guards in OSU history. He almost always set the edge quickly and efficiently, and rarely lost a one on one battle as a lead blocker.
Obviously, pulling is easier to do from the guard position than it is center, so this really plays into the strength of both players. Bradbury doesn’t have to learn a new position, and Elflein returns to a position where he can maximize his greatest strength.
As we head to training camp, it appears the Vikings offensive line will look a whole lot different than it did this time last year:
LT: Riley Reiff (same)
LG: Pat Elflein (replaces Tom Compton, who replaced Nick Easton)
C: Garrett Bradbury (replaces Elflein)
RG: Josh Kline (replaces Mike Remmers)
RT: Brian O’Neill (same)
I’m warming up to this new look on the offensive line, and I am eager to see how this all pans out.