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Recently, PFF (Zim’s fav website!) published an article outlining every team’s biggest draft mistake of the past five seasons. At the top of the article, very sensibly, is a photo of Mitchell Trubisky holding his Bears jersey with Roger Goodell. Ryan Pace buffoonery aside, perhaps the most intriguing component of the article is their assessment of our beloved Minnesota Vikings. In PFF‘s estimation, Garrett Bradbury is the Minnesota Vikings’ biggest draft mistake from the past five seasons. Is this actually the case? Is Bradbury a bust?
The Bust Candidates
Over the past five drafts, Rick Spielman has made some excellent decisions and some terrible ones. The same could likely be said for every GM, so by no means should this read as either a criticism or praise. Instead, this is merely a basic observation.
Pro Football Reference, God bless them, provides a full draft history of every NFL team on their site. The Vikings have made some tough picks in the first round.
The obvious candidate is Laquon Treadwell. In the 2016 draft, the Vikings made Treadwell the 23rd pick. In his rookie year, Treadwell had one lonely catch for fifteen yards. His most productive season resulted in a mere 302 receiving yards. That’s a slow first half for Justin Jefferson (I exaggerate, but you get the point). Is Bradbury really worse than Treadwell?
Otherwise, perhaps the most notable name is Mike Hughes. True, Hughes has had to overcome a lot of injuries, and he demonstrates some tremendous athletic abilities. Even still, he has struggled when he has actually been on the field. His highest PFF grade comes in 2018 when he was sheltered by having Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander in front of him on the depth chart. We also shouldn’t forget that he only played six games before suffering a season-ending injury. In three years, Hughes has only played in 24 games.
In other words, there are at least two other Vikings who could claim the ignoble status as Minnesota’s greatest draft bust of the past five seasons.
Is Garrett Bradbury the Answer for Our Minnesota Vikings?
We return to perhaps the more pressing question: is Minnesota Vikings third-year center Garrett Bradbury a bust? At the end of the day, Treadwell’s and Hughes’ struggles don’t absolve Bradbury of poor play.
For the most part, the play has been up and down for Bradbury. His athletic ability makes him a perfect fit for the scheme. He has the capacity to climb to the second level and spring Dalvin Cook for long gains, as you’ll see in the video above.
That being said, there are legitimate concerns about his anchor. He can be bullied in pass protection. It’s commonplace to see the iOL overwhelmed on obvious pass plays, and it’s hard to know how much we can expect Bradbury to improve here.
In PFF‘s mind, the pass protection issues are the reason for his spot on the list: “He has earned pass protection grades of 41.4 and 38.8 in his first two seasons. The icing on the cake is that the next two centers drafted — Elgton Jenkins and Erik McCoy — are two of the best interior linemen in the NFL.”
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that seeing iOL drafted behind Bradbury have tremendous success is unbelievably frustrating. That being said, Bradbury still provides average play at the position. Plus, he just completed his second season. Let’s at least give the guy a third full season before assessing this pick. For Bradbury to be a success, he’ll need to elevate his pass blocking to at least an average level while simultaneously raising his run blocking to elite. If he does, Minnesota will be pleased with their selection.
Take a look at the video below. You’ll see Garrett Bradbury put his Minnesota Vikings in a great position. His task on this play isn’t an easy one. He needs to reach the outside shoulder of the defensive tackle, turning his man to create a lane for Cook. You’ll see Bradbury do a great job. He gets his rear end between the DT and Cook; it’s the perfect block.
Has Bradbury struggled? Of course. Do fans have legit reason to be concerned? Yes, I think so. Does that mean Bradbury is a draft bust? By no means. Let’s give the kid a chance. He showed improvement in his sophomore season. Let’s hope he takes a big step forward as a third-year player.
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