Bradbury “Predictable” Pick by Vikings
Former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema called it. Yesterday afternoon Lurtsema told Sports Headliners he thought the Vikings would use their No. 18 selection in the first round to draft North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury.
Lurtsema, for decades a savvy observer of the Vikings, didn’t have the inside word from GM Rick Spielman or anyone else as to who Minnesota was going to select last night in the opening round of the NFL Draft. Instead, he made an educated guess based on the club’s need to upgrade the offensive line, the high importance of the center position, and that drafting Bradbury gives the Vikings the option of switching Pat Elflein to guard.
“The center makes all your (line) calls,” Lurtsema said. “He will read opposing defenses, and he’s the one that will call out the blocking assignments.”
Elflein, now in his third season with the Vikings, played center last year but last night’s choice of Bradbury opens the possibility of a position switch for him. “That is not a negative on him,” Lurtsema said. “Sometimes a little move on good athletes makes a big difference.”
The Vikings are developing flexibility in their offensive line. Bradbury also played guard during his career at North Carolina State, and veteran guard Josh Kline, who the Vikings signed last month, has experience at center. That versatility is important Spielman said, “because if you do have a guy that does get hurt, you can move guys around.”
Spielman didn’t commit last night as to what position Bradbury will play but center seems most likely at least initially, and the GM was adamant about his newest player’s attributes. The 6-foot-3, 306 pound North Carolina native not only has size but is athletic. He started his college career as a tight end before becoming an all-conference guard and then winning the Rimington Trophy last year given to the nation’s top center.
Bradbury’s hands measure 10 ½ inches. Spielman said on KFAN Radio last night that Bradbury’s hands are larger than other offensive linemen in the draft. “The hand size is very important for an offensive center,” Spielman said.
Bradbury’s athleticism translates well to the zone blocking scheme the Vikings use. That was a major consideration in the club wanting him and so, too, is his intelligence. He scored well on the mental tests that are part of the draft process. “He was one of the highest guys in the draft in how he came out on those scores,” Spielman said on the radio.
Think it’s glamorous work scouting college players? Scott Studwell, who is retiring as a Vikings college scout, said he’s spent 225 nights a year travelling. “I missed a lot of time with my kids and that is something I have to make up for (in retirement). I also owe it to my grandkids,” said Studwell who played for the Vikings from 1977-1990 and has worked in the front office since 1991.
Spielman said Studwell has been involved with drafting 230 players and a long list of them have earned NFL honors including All-Pro, Pro Bowl and All-Rookie. “You can’t replace a Scott Studwell in your organization.” Spielman said. “That’s an impossible task to do.”
Before Spielman was hired to run the Vikings football operations, owner Zygi Wilf asked Studwell about his friend. Studwell had ambitions about the same job. “I couldn’t tell him anything bad about Rick…,” said Studwell about Spielman who lives a couple of blocks from him in Eden Prairie.
Spielman is the No. 11 NFL GM, per a power ranking of league general managers put out last week by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. In the last four years the Vikings have twice missed the playoffs, but also won two NFC North Division titles and advanced once to the NFC Conference title game.
CORES attendees will hear about the Vikings when Pete Bercich speaks to the lunch group Thursday, May 9 at the Bloomington Event Center, 1114 American Blvd. The ex-Viking linebacker is a color analyst on radio for his former team, and he is also head football coach at Hill-Murray. For reservations and other information, contact Jim Dotseth by Monday, May 6, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Vikings center Matt Birk is among the speakers Saturday (tomorrow) at the “Grow the Game” conference at Roseville Area High School. The discussion and planning gathering is targeted at athletic directors, football coaches and leaders in youth football. More at Mnfootballcoaches.com.
Minnesota senator and 2020 presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar referenced her father’s struggles with alcoholism Monday night on CNN. Jim Klobuchar was one of the first beat reporters to cover the Vikings in the early 1960s and had a contentious relationship with coach Norm Van Brocklin. Klobuchar, 91, has been in recovery for years after a career that included being a reporter and columnist for Minneapolis newspapers.
With cold and threatening weather forecast for Saturday, promotional planners were on target months ago scheduling the Twins Plaid Flap Cap giveaway for tomorrow’s home game with the Orioles.
The 2022 Golden Gophers football schedule announced this week has the team playing its first five games at home for the first time since 1933, but only two of the last seven games will be in Minneapolis.
Condolences to Jim Robinson, the Minnesota Mr. Basketball chairman and longtime basketball referee, following the recent death of son Mark Robinson, 49, after a heart attack. The funeral is today (Friday).