The Battle for the Vikings Starting Center Spot Is On

C Garrett Bradbury
Aug 18, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury (56) looks on during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite bringing in a new general manager and coaching staff this offseason, the 2022 Minnesota Vikings roster looks nearly identical to the 2021 roster in a lot of ways. They have the same QB, same skill positions, and even the same kicker and punter. That said, the battle for the Vikings starting center spot seems to be on if you take any stock in Kevin O’Connell’s recent comments.

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Garrett Bradbury was drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft by Rick Spielman to help solve an offensive line problem that has plagued the Vikings for much of the 21st century. Per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, Kevin O’Connell declined to name Bradbury the starting center for Week 1.

This comes on the heels of a couple very rough days of practice for Bradbury, and during these days, Chris Reed coincidentally moved to the center spot with the second team. Perhaps this move was just that, coincidence. However, it’s very easy to put two and two together and come up with a theory that the Vikings are preparing Reed to take over that starting center spot at some point. O’Connell confirming that there is an ongoing competition for this spot only makes this assumption easier.

Bradbury spent four games on the sidelines during the 2021 season after a disastrous start to the year. In his stead, Mason Cole took over the center duties. After his time on the sidelines, Bradbury returned and seemed to improve his play with a renewed sense of purpose. However, these are Bradbury’s PFF grades in each of his first three NFL seasons:

  • 2019: 58.1
  • 2020: 61.4
  • 2021: 60.2

He’s never recorded a pass-blocking grade higher than 43.7 in a season, either.

I wanted to be optimistic about this situation heading into the 2022 season, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so with each passing day. O’Connell’s comments only make that even tougher. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. I suspect Reed will be the Vikings starting center by the time September 11th rolls around.