Bradbury Is Apparently a Big Dude Now

Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) is tackled by Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) and free safety Darnell Savage (26) after scooping up a fumble on Sunday, January 2, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

In recent years, Garrett Bradbury received a lot of blame for the struggling offensive lines. Some of the criticism was definitely deserved, while others were unfair.

The facts are that Bradbury is one of the best moving centers in the NFL. That helps on the outside zone running scheme, on reach blocks, and in getting to the second level on runs and screens. He can use his speed to get to defenders where bigger centers can’t get.

On the other hand, the trade-off is the missing size. Undersized centers are nothing new in the NFL. Legendary Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff was undersized. However, the weight of defensive linemen is different nowadays, so that’s a problem for Bradbury. There are plays now and then in which he gets easily pushed back into Cousins.

Kirk Cousins / Garrett Bradbury
Aug 18, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury (56) snaps to quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings had to know that when they selected the center with the 18th overall pick. He is the highest-drafted player at his position in the last two decades. After three seasons, it’s fair to say that his play was disappointing. His PFF grades illustrate his struggles.

  • 2019: 57.8 (28th of 35)
  • 2020; 61.4 (25th of 36)
  • 2021: 60.2 (29th of 39)

Bradbury is, mainly because of his athleticism, a solid run blocker. He ranks at about average in the NFL, per PFF. However, the passing game is where he struggles the most. He annually ranks among the worst pass protecting centers in the league. In 2021, he was 35th of 37 eligible players.

5th-Year Option Declined

In the offseason, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t pick up the fifth-year option — for good reason. His salary would’ve reached $13.202 million in 2023. An absurd number, even for an elite center. Bradbury enters his contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season.

After the first practice of the mandatory minicamp, Bradbury addressed his future and the steps he would take to be the best version of himself in 2022. Here is what he had to say, according to Chris Tomasson from the Pioneer Press.

“Absolutely, I love it here in Minnesota, me and wife do. This is an unbelievable locker room, and I think this coaching staff, it’s pretty easy to buy into what these guys are selling.”

– Bradbury, on if he wants to remain a Viking past 2022

Wanting to remain with the franchise is one thing. Convincing the team to be willing to continue employment is another thing. Bradbury knows that and said about his job in 2022 and the declined fifth-year option:

“All I’m doing is trying to get better, learn this system, and look forward to having a good year. … It’s kind of cliché but you control what you can control. And I’ve got this fourth year, and I’m excited with these new coaches and lot of familiar teammates to go out and have a good year and help the Vikings win a lot of games.”

– Garrett Bradbury

The Bigger Bradbury

Decision on Vikings Offensive Lineman Looms
Garrett Bradbury

Bradbury does not just say the right words. He lets his actions do the talk as well. Gaining weight could lead to a huge improvement.

“I’m putting on weight. I probably put on 10-plus pounds since last season, so I’m feeling really good. I’m going to continue to work … in the weight room.”

Bradbury, on gaining weight

He said that he played at about 295 pounds last season. If he can play at 305 pounds, he can match up better with defensive tackles while still having the athleticism as his trump card. He might lose some explosiveness. However, since he’s one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the NFL, losing a small part of it won’t be an issue. He´ll still be extremely athletic while adding some strength to his game.

One of his teammates was asked about the bigger Bradbury. The 2021 rookie and designated left tackle, Christian Darrisaw, said about him:

“He’s definitely gotten bigger, and we’re excited to see what he can do this year.”

– Christian Darrisaw

Not Much Competition for Vikings Center

The organization didn’t add a single center in the draft or free agency. However, they tried to solidify the right guard spot because the best help for a struggling center is starting good guards next to him. Jesse Davis, Ed Ingram, Chris Reed, and Austin Schlottmann were all added to the offensive line and compete for the vacant spot after the disappointing 2021 starter, Oli Udoh, will be the backup tackle.

The new offensive line coach, Chris Kuper, didn’t confirm that Bradbury would start. Chris Reed, the free-agent addition from the Colts, is taking the center snaps with the second team.

2022 is a make-or-break season for Bradbury, and gaining weight is a big step in the right direction. Paired with some tweaks in the Vikings scheme, an improvement is possible.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a fable for numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things to do. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt