The Minnesota Vikings overcame a drought of poor first-round picks over the past several years by hitting big with rookie sensation Justin Jefferson.
Before Jefferson, however, the Vikings’ first-round selections had been abysmal.
Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner recently named all 32 teams’ biggest draft mistake of the past five years. He had a bevy of blunders to choose from as no Minnesota first-rounders before Jefferson has made a Pro Bowl in their career since Teddy Bridgewater.
While the Vikings have moved on from some of their past mistakes like Trae Waynes (No. 11 overall, 2015) and Laquon Treadwell (No. 23, 2016), their biggest mistake, according to Renner, is still rostered.
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Garrett Bradbury Named Vikings’ Biggest Draft Mistake in the Past 5 Years
Renner deemed center Garrett Bradbury Minnesota’s biggest draft mistake of the past five years despite his integral presence as the team’s starting center.
Here’s his assessment of Bradbury:
The Vikings’ selection of Bradbury has layers of mistakes packed into it. It torpedoed the career of Pat Elflein, whom they drafted the year prior as he was far more suited for the center position. He also is more than likely going to continue to put them in that no man’s land for years to come. That’s because he’s good enough in the run game to not be replaced, but a liability in pass protection. 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.
Pro Football Focus has been harsh on Bradbury this offseason. Anthony Treash recently regarded the 2019 NFL Draft class and gave the Vikings a poor grade for picking Bradbury. Treash’s critique is justified, given Bradbury’s league-worst 5.2% pressure rate among centers.
Former Vikings Lineman Encouraged by Bradbury
Purple PTSD spoke with a former Minnesota lineman who unsheathed a litany of critiques on the Vikings offensive line. The lineman’s identity was undisclosed, however, Purple PTSD hosts a podcast with Mike Tice who remains well-connected to the team.
The lineman didn’t have just rotten tomatoes for Bradbury, who hasn’t been helped by struggling guard play the past two seasons.
“I have no reason to think Bradbury will necessarily be a bust but he is playing very poorly right now. Bad footwork, no anchor in pass pro, off-balance constantly. The most shocking thing is the lack of awareness. Looks lost on the field a lot,” the lineman told Purple PTSD’s Joe Johnson. “When I say bad footwork too I mean it’s loose. He can move his feet but he’s taking massive steps on reach blocks and play-action sets and making it so he literally can’t take a second step. Showed up over and over again against Tampa.”
There’s potential for Bradbury’s career to turnaround, especially by reinforcing the rest of the interior offensive line. However, it seems some problems on the line aren’t solely from a personnel perspective but a broader problem with the franchise.
Minnesota hasn’t drafted and developed a lineman who’s made multiple Pro Bowls since Matt Birk in 1998. Unfortunately, the Vikings likely can’t chase a veteran guard to help the line and will have to return to the draft to develop a rookie guard this offseason.
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