Unsung Hero: Garrett Bradbury

Fans will be forgiven if they simply believed that everyone played awful on Sunday. The truth, though, is that some Minnesota Vikings played well, and Garrett Bradbury is one of these Vikings.

We’ve spent some time discussing our hopes and expectations for Garrett Bradbury heading into the season. Though he has only played one game, Bradbury has shown signs of taking a next step.

Garrett Bradbury’s Sunday Performance

Coming into the 2019 draft, Bradbury was lauded for his intelligence and athleticism. These traits made him a natural fit for Gary Kubiak’s system, one that relies on smaller, athletic linemen. In spite of the fit, Bradbury often struggled in his rookie year. Unsurprisingly, his worst games came against the best competition. When a team invests a first-round pick in a center, they’re expecting him to be elite.

It’s premature to make any declarations about Bradbury being elite. Nevertheless, his opening game does show signs of improvement. Matching up with Kenny Clark is difficult. So is matching up with Za’Darius Smith. The Packers put both on Bradbury on Sunday (though, admittedly, Clark did leave with an injury). Take a look at one of his reps against Smith:

Overall, this play was a failure for the Vikings. The Vikings had someone for Jaire Alexander; Mike Zimmer indicated that this person missed his blocking assignment. Nevertheless, Bradbury won his rep. The quickest path to Kirk Cousins is directly up the middle, so the Packers put their best rusher on our sophomore center. Bradbury held up just fine.

Bradbury’s Pro Football Focus score is a relatively modest 63.0. This score is a decent step ahead of his overall score from 2019: 57.8. Fans should also keep the context in mind. Bradbury’s main issue last season was consistently performing, especially when facing stronger opponents. Clark & Smith are as difficult as it gets on Minnesota’s schedule.

Bradbury didn’t allow any pressures in pass protection. He did struggle some in the run game. Sometimes, Bradbury got blown up by Clark on running plays. He shows good movement in getting to the linebackers, but doesn’t always sustain his blocks. His athleticism, though, does create issues for opposing teams.

Looking Ahead

The Colts defense isn’t as strong as Green Bay’s, but Bradbury will still have his hands full. DeForest Buckner is a great player. We’re fully expecting that the Colts will scheme their best pass rushers onto Minnesota’s interior linemen, so they’ll likely need to handle more than just Buckner. If Garrett Bradbury can continue to grow, the Minnesota Vikings are in a good position to take positive step on offense.