Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books.  The usual suspects (Giants and Raiders) continued to do what they do best (suck), and because of those terrible moves, the top O-Linemen fell down the draft board, setting up the Vikings perfectly at pick 18:

All of the talk so far this off-season has centered around getting protection for Kirk Cousins and improving on that 30th ranked rushing attack and 29th ranked Offensive Line.  Garrett Bradbury can instantly help this team in both of those areas, entering the league as the 18th Overall Pick out of North Carolina St.

When the Vikings brought in Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison, we knew with them would come the Zone Blocking scheme. Well, it just so happens that Bradbury is considered an elite player in that type of offense so this seemed like the obvious choice for the Vikings. Here is what Jon Ledyard of TheDraftNetwork.com had to say about our newest Viking: 

A three-year starter at center after converting from tight end as a redshirt freshman, Bradbury has been an outstanding pivot for N.C. State, dominating as a run blocker while growing into a very consistent pass protector. Truthfully, there is very little to dislike about Bradbury’s tape, as he rarely loses a 1v1 exchange and has a remarkable combination of traits and technique that should make him an early and impactful starter in an NFL zone scheme.

The only thing that may bump Bradbury down the board is that N.C. State is almost exclusively a zone blocking team, which could limit the number of scheme fits for him if NFL teams are concerned he can’t operate as effectively in gap/power offenses. I believe Bradbury can be a dominant center across the board with his traits, smarts and technique, but for zone heavy teams he can become one of the best centers in football. Top 10 player in the 2019 class.

Over the years the Vikings have had their share of very good centers, from Jeff Christy, to Matt Birk and then John Sullivan.  One tricky part of this pick is what the Vikings plan to do with current Center, Pat Elflein.  When Bradbury was drafted as the Center, was the discussion of moving Pat already over?  Or will the team let it play out during OTA’s and Training Camp?

It’ll be interesting to see where they plug each guy in, and the results that follow.  Elflein played just 3 College games at LG before moving to RG. Then, in his Senior season, he took over as the starting Center.  The experience of playing another interior spot is there for Elflein, and given his struggles the first two seasons, a move does make sense.  However,  Bradbury spoke at the Senior Bowl about being ready to play any of the interior spots at a high level, so that is also something to keep an eye on.

It goes back to Rick Dennison, and who he sees fitting best at each of those interior positions.   If I had to guess right now, it’d look like this: Reiff/Elflein/Bradbury/Klein/O’Neill.  If you’re taking a guy at 18th overall, he’s going to be the guy staying in his natural position. That’s my thinking.

In his Senior season, Bradbury didn’t give up a single sack while allowed just two total pressures in over 900 snaps.  Then, he won the Rimington Award for Division I’s best Center, nationwide. The Vikings interior lineman alone gave up 19 sacks in 2018… 

Rounds 2-7 will be a treat.  The rumors are swirling, will the Vikings grab another OL at 50?  WR or TE?  It will be fascinating to watch these next few days. You can find Clem’s post for more on all of the options the Vikings now have in rounds 2 and 3.

Garrett Bradbury had to be the pick. This is the Vikings taking the protection of Kirk seriously, and making sure we are getting the best 5 OL out on the field as we possibly can.

Brian Heintz | Minnesota Sports Fan