Garrett Bradbury C 6’ 3” 305 lbs North Carolina State #65
Garrett Bradbury is an impressive young man who came to Wolfpack as a 224 lb tight end who viewed football as a second sport. He grew up in Charlotte and dreamed of playing shortstop in Major League Baseball, but he soon realized that was never going to happen. Garrett played TE and DE in high school.He had 53 receptions for 918 yds and 12 TDs for his career. He added 67 tackles, 13 TFL, and 5 sacks in his senior season.
Garrett redshirted his first year at NC State as a tight end. He was moved to the defensive line as a freshman but hurt his shoulder and missed spring workouts. That’s when his coach Dave Doeren came to Bradbury with an idea. “Coach was like, ‘We’re kind of thin on the O-line. Would you like to move over?’ I was like, ‘No. I don’t wanna play O-line,’” Bradbury said.
“He called me in and was like, ‘Listen, I’m not asking anymore. We’re moving you to O-line.’ I wasn’t ecstatic but absolutely looking back, it’s the best decision anyone’s made for me. I’m so thankful that he made that decision for me.” Bradbury said.
Bradbury played guard but moved to center two years ago. He has started the last 26 NC State games at center. This year Bradbury didn’t allow a sack. In fact, he didn’t even allow a single QB pressure while playing 99% of NC State’s offensive snaps. Later this year he was awarded the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center.
Also this year The American Football Coaches Association named Bradbury consensus First Team All-American. The AFCA was the fourth different organization to give the Rimington Award winner First Team honors along with The Associated Press, Walter Camp, and Football Writers Association of American. He received second team All-American honors from The Sporting News and Pro Football Focus.
He is a smart kid. He was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll as a freshman and won the Earle Edwards award twice on the team for having the highest team GPA. He played this year as a graduate student and was the Independence Bowl Scholar Athlete Award winner in 2016
When you watch Bradbury play, you can see why he was so honored. He has quick feet and is able to make blocks some centers only dream of making. He has truly great technique and he usually wins the leverage battle.
Here he is against Boston College against a 6’ 1” 305 lb DT.
The defensive tackle is playing off the right shoulder of Bradbury on a play that is designed to go to the right. Even though he is taller by 2 inches, Bradbury is quickly able to win the leverage battle, turn the DT out of the hole, and muscle him to the ground. You can see there is really no hole for the back until he sees Bradbury drive his man to the turf. Then the back cuts off Bradbury’s backside and goes into the secondary for a 15 yard gain.
Just because a block is successful doesn’t mean a play will be also. The offensive line is only as good as it worst block on any play so the entire line needs to be effective. Here are two consecutive plays in the same game that are well blocked by Bradbury but gain few yards.
Both are nice blocks by Bradbury. The first he has a pistol snap, and he is able to get to his man so quickly he easily gains the leverage advantage and bullies him out of the hole crushing him to the sod. The second is an under center snap, and the DT doesn’t want to get bullied again so he fires out to his right trying to gain backfield penetration. Too bad the play is run to the opposite side so Bradbury just keeps him going that way and again buries him in the turf.
This next clip is later in the same series and again is not that successful. The play is read easily and out flanked by a plethora of defenders.
In a one on one block Bradbury is able to square up his man, gain full control of him. and drive him three yards back towards the goal line. This is actually the weakest part of Bradbury’s game,. He can struggle to move larger linemen and anchor against some behemoths. This should improve with time as Bradbury has only been working as a offensive lineman for four years. A good NFL strength coach should help immensely, remember he was building speed and catching passes when he first came to college.
Now this is where Bradbury really shines, in space. He is light and agile on his feet, and he moves smoothly and quickly to the second level. He has a remarkable ability to drift into the second level with ease and find his target, putting a effective block on his quarry. This is a good look at Bradbury and his efficient ability to take his man out of the play. He is technically sound, quick and although you rarely see him throw a crushing block it is usually sufficient to get the job done.
The first thing to watch is the hike to step rate. This is a shotgun snap. The ball is not even halfway to the QB, and Bradbury is already out of his stance moving into position for his block. On this play Bradbury is left uncovered with no help needed by his linemates. The Ball is being run to the A gap to his right side so he slides slightly to his right to get the correct angle. He comes out of his stance low, with great balance using choppy steps to line up his prey. He is able to perfectly square up a 6’4 232 lb MLB, control him so his RB gets a free shot through the hole and isn’t touched until he gets to the second level. His hands got a little wide on this play but not enough to draw a holding penalty.
Pass blocking is always hard for offensive linemen because of the twist, stunts, and blitzes teams try. Offensive lines have to work together and help one another out to keep the QB clean. Bradbury makes all the line calls for his team so he knows where help is needed and supply exceptional help when necessary. Sometimes when he is covered the best thing to do is just stone your man and allow the other four guys and RB’s take care of the rest. this is just such a case.
At the snap the Wake Forest NT moves to his right to allow a blitzing LB to come through his area. Bradbury stays with his man since he knows a RB has remained in to add to the protection scheme. You can see that Bradbury never loses contact with his man, and the NT doesn’t even press the pocket let alone get near the QB. In the end a nice pocket is formed, and the result is a 26 yard gain.
This next play is run from the pistol formation and designed to go off tackle to the left. The defense is slanting to the right (into the play side) with Bradbury covered by a NT who is also slanting to the right. There is also a LB blitz through the A gap to the right of Bradbury.
This play starts on the right hash with the RILB reading the play and penetrating into the hole the RB is suppose to go though. What is nice about this is there is no panic. Bradbury uses his opponents momentum (and even though he is going into the play side) and pushes him far out of the play; all the way to the opposite hash. The play is overpursued by the defense which allows the RB to escape and pick a huge gain and a first down on a second and 11 run. Also even though the NT is slanting he is still trying to gain ground into the backfield. He is actually pushed back ending up nowhere near the play.
In the same game later on it is third and 4 in the third quarter, and NC State is in the pistol again running the exact same play as the last clip. This time Bradbury has a man shaded to is right so he is not going to make it to the play from the interior of the line. Bradbury’s man is the MLB who is free to roam the 2nd level.
I mentioned that Bradbury is great in space so here he is making it through the line and able to come out to get squared up against the big LB. All he is trying to do is prevent the MLB from flowing into the hole that the RB is going to go through (which is off tackle). This is done with perfection, and the MLB is nowhere near the play. The result is a 15 yard gain and a first down. Again this was not some pancake block, but it was effective and that is what the play design asks for.
This last clip is the best of the bunch from a talent stand point and one of the reasons that Bradbury was a Rimington Award winner. This play is a simple off tackle play to the left.
This is the true definition of a reach block. You see Bradbury has to hike the ball to the QB who is in the pistol formation and make his way (play side) to a 3 tech to make a cut off block. This is elite foot quickness by a center and one of the few college players (also James Daniels from Iowa) I have seen make this type play. I know Jeff Saturday was able to make this play, and Eagles center Jason Kelce can do it also. But you are talking about All Pro centers who can also drive a NFL NT off the ball.
He is even able to get squared up on his man to keep him from collapsing the play. This is also not some big lumbering 3 tech. He is fairly quick off the ball but like I said earlier, Bradbury has elite snap to step quickness.
Bradbury is a excellent prospect but he is not a finished product. He still is green at the position and can use a little more sand in his pants, but he has the skill set to be a Pro Bowl player in years to come. Bradbury does bring some position versatility, but he projects best as a center in zone blocking system.
He may take a little time to truly develop, but I have seen numerous interviews with this kid. He seems genuinely sincere, hard-working and smart. He will always talk about how the offensive line has to work together, and he was the unquestioned leader on the Wolfpack line that was rated one of the best in the nation.
I currently have a mid second round grade on Bradbury. His workout results will move that slightly up or down, but he is a quality center prospect who the Jets would be wise to take a hard look at. We may have to finagle around to pick up some more Draft picks, but you may want to do that if everything with this kid checks out like I think it will.
Let me know what you think...