Garrett Bradbury Has Answered the Call


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

Prior to the 2022 season, there was much discussion about the Vikings center position, as there always is. However, this time around, it seemed like we came the closest we ever have to seeing some change from 2019 first-round pick Garrett Bradbury. Amidst all the adversity, Bradbury has answered the call and stepped up as a solid starting center through five weeks.

This Off-season Offered Many Doubts

Before we get into Bradbury’s play this season, let’s remind ourselves how bleak things looked just a couple months ago. Firstly, he did not get the fifth-year option that is available to first-round draft picks. The Vikings went into this season uncertain that Bradbury could be a long-term starting center and potentially certain that he couldn’t be.

In fact, the seeds had already been planted earlier in the 2021 season when Bradbury got benched in favor of Mason Cole for four games. For a player that had just been benched for a month and didn’t receive an extension, it seemed like he was on the way out.

If that wasn’t clear enough, the Vikings brought in both Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann as potential replacements for Bradbury at center this training camp. Both players had separate moments where it looked like they had stolen the job from the 2019 first rounder.

In the end, injuries shut down Reed’s chances at the job, and rather than risk messing up any chemistry on the starting o-line, they opted to keep Bradbury rather than Schlottmann. So far, it’s been proven correct.

Bradbury’s Best Season of His Career

Coming into the season, Vikings fans pleaded that, for once, they’d get to watch average play on the offensive line, especially in pass protection. Not elite, not even all-that-good, just average. Five weeks later, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a group that has played better as an entire unit than the Vikings.

Part of that lies in the growth of young players like LG Ezra Cleveland and LT Christian Darrisaw as well as the emergence of rookie RG Ed Ingram. However, Bradbury certainly plays a role in this as well. In year four of his NFL career, Bradbury has his best overall PFF grade of 66.0. His previous best grade comes from the 2020 season at 61.4.

More important than an overall grade, though, is the fact that his pass-blocking has taken a noticeable leap both in the eye test as well as these metrics. Over his first four seasons, here are Bradbury’s PFF pass-blocking grades:

  • 2019: 38.7
  • 2020: 38.8
  • 2021: 43.7
  • 2022: 72.0

That’s a monstrous leap from putrid to above average. In fact, it is the seventh-best pass-blocking score among all NFL centers graded by PFF. As a result, Kirk Cousins’ pressure rate has fallen under 20% in each of the past two weeks and is down to 24.4% overall through five games.

Overall, for the Vikings to make a deep playoff run in 2022, they needed multiple things to go differently than they had in years past. One of these changes certainly had to be the consistency of their offensive line play. Early on in the year, it looks like that has finally happened, in no small part due to the play of their 27-year-old center.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken


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