The job was Bradbury’s to lose with a fresh start in a new regime in Minnesota, however, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and first-year coach Kevin O’Connell appear willing to take a step toward finding a new center, says KSTP’s Darren Wolfson.
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Vikings are ‘Active’ in Exploring Trades for a Center
Appearing on SKOR North on August 11, Wolfson revealed that the Vikings are “absolutely looking at alternatives” for Bradbury amid what could be the worst training camp of the fourth-year player’s career.
“I think internally, they are absolutely looking at alternatives, although I don’t sense there’s any free agency steam,” Wolfson said, adding that the Vikings are still out on signing the best free-agent center available in J.C. Tretter. “There are centers in other team’s camps. Trade dialogue is active right now. It’ll pick up in the next 7 to 10 to 14 days. My sense is the Vikings are at least exploring the possibility of trading for a center, someone that’s on a roster right now. I would look more at AFC teams compared to NFC teams.”
Wolfson’s report comes after O’Connell openly said there is a competition for the starting center spot. While Bradbury has dominated the first-team reps in that regard, Austin Schlottmann and Chris Reed, both guards by trade, have taken snaps at center with the second team.
Bradbury, the 18th overall pick in the 2019 draft, came out of college undersized and has struggled, being overpowered by nose tackles in pass protection over the past first three seasons. He finished the 2021 season ranked the 29th best center in the league by Pro Football Focus (PFF). He ranked 38th in pass protection among 40-graded centers who played a minimum of 20% offensive snaps with a 43.7 pass-blocking grade last season.
Bradbury put on 10 pounds in the offseason to help with his anchor. However, it appears to have been enough, as nose tackle Harrison Phillips has bulldozed Bradbury numerous times in training camp.
And while O’Connell has remained supportive of his incumbent starting center, patience is wearing thin if Bradbury cannot come up with a turnaround performance the rest of training camp.
“I can promise you, Kevin softened his stance to us reporters and fans,” Wolfson added.
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It May Not be Ruin for Bradbury
While The Athletic’s Arif Hasan called Bradbury’s training camp “disastrous,” Bradbury may not be in as bad of shape with elevated guard help surrounding him.
A second-round pick in 2020, Ezra Cleveland is entering his third year in the league and second year starting at right guard. Former Miami Dolphins veteran Jesse Davis has had a hold of the starting right spot but has since seen some challenges from third-round rookie Ed Ingram out of LSU.
Bradbury’s lowlights of training camps have largely come during 1-on-1 drills where, unlike a live game scenario, he is on an island.
If Minnesota truly has a right guard who can perform better than Oli Udoh last season, and Cleveland takes another step forward in his career, Bradbury’s woes in pass protection could be dampened with help from his fellow interior linemen.