Vikings Training Camp Predictions: Garrett Bradbury Steps Up
Once again, the Minnesota Vikings enter training camp with question marks along the interior of their offensive line. Particularly, right guard and center seem to continuously be the culprits of Minnesota’s concern. Garrett Bradbury has not lived up to the first-round expectations that he was drafted with in 2019, and that right guard spot has continuously been a revolving door.
That said, 2022 feels like the year where they finally figure it out. Obviously, Bradbury was so bad at the beginning of 2021 that he was benched for four games from weeks 9-12. In his stead, Mason Cole had a few decent games, but he also had a complete stinker in week 11 against the Packers. Cole is now a Pittsburgh Steeler though, so he is no longer an option to play. It really comes down to Bradbury, Austin Schlottmann, Chris Reed. At the end of the day, I expect Bradbury to come out on top for a couple reasons.
Firstly, Bradbury seems to have taken on the challenge that the Vikings have given him when they didn’t pick up his fifth-year option. The center has put on some extra weight to make him harder to move around. He’s going into this season knowing he must improve, and his work ethic shows that.
On top of that, the conclusion to the 2021 regular season went much better for Bradbury than the start did. Bradbury dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line in Minnesota’s Week 14 win. Of course, he also had a poor game against the Los Angeles Rams just a couple weeks later, allowing four pressures, a sack, and being penalized in the Week 16 loss. The consistency needs to improve for sure, but he showed flashes last year.
Finally, let’s not pretend that Bradbury is a total slouch. He gets knocked a lot because his pass protection is dreadful. This is fair, but he is a spectacular center when it comes to run blocking. He is a big reason why Dalvin Cook has been able to find running lanes in the middle of Minnesota’s offensive line over the years. This alone puts him above players like Schlottmann and Reed.
Obviously, the Vikings offensive line needs to be much better in 2022. It is just one of many areas that need improvement from 2021. Garrett Bradbury doesn’t even need to be spectacular this year. If he can just become average as a pass protector, it will prove to be a vast improvement over what Minnesota has seen over the past few years.