Garrett Bradbury was drafted by George Paton when he was with the Minnesota Vikings with the 18th overall pick in the 2019 draft. According to overthecap.com, there are 18 UFA centers on the market. Bradbury might be the best of them, but that’s debatable.
Bradbury is a smaller lighter center (6-3, 300) who wins with quickness and smarts. Much like fellow 2019 draftee, Dalton Risner, he has been mostly healthy, starting 57 of a possible 66 regular season games during his career. He missed four games in 2021 and five games in 2022, though, after starting every game during his first two seasons. The Vikings did not think enough of his play to pick up his 5th year option. That means that they have been disappointed in his play and they think the can upgrade at center for less than his option would have been.
By PFF his yearly overall grades have been: 58.1, 61.4, 60.2 and 70.2. Bradbury’s 70.2 this past season was pretty good. The three best centers in the league scored 89.9, 89.5 and 79.0 (Creed Humphrey, Jason Kelce and Ethan Pocic).
Of the 13 UFA centers, only 4 played 90% or more of the snaps last season: Connor McGovern, Jake Brendel, Austin Blythe and Scott Quessenberry. Another five played between 60 and 70% of the snaps including Bradbury and Pocic.
Based on draft pedigree and his play in 2022, Bradbury could set the market, or teams could be able to negotiate him down because of his poor/average play during his first three years in the league and his nine missed games over the last two seasons.
For comparison McGovern has been able to play 98% or more of the offensive snaps every year in the league since he was inserted into the Bronco line-up in 2017. McGovern’s PFF overall grade in 2022 was 69.6, essentially the same as Bradbury. McGovern could be the one setting the market because of his strength (he’s a weight-room beast and much stronger than Bradbury despite being comparable in size) and his durability.
If you trust ESPN’s top 10 RBWR (run block win rate) and PBWR (pass block win rate) for centers, neither McGovern nor Bradbury were on either list, but Pocic was on both. Graham Glasgow was on the RBWR for centers at 6th with a 72%. Other free agent centers who were top 10 last season include Bradley Bozeman, Sam Mustipher, Jake Brendel and Bill Price. Only Mustipher and Pocic of the UFA centers should up in the top 10 in both PBWR and RBWR.
The top 10 for centers in PBWR win rate ranged from 95 to 98% while for RBWR it ranged from 71 to 77%. As a team the Broncos were 9th in PBWR with a 62% overall (this surprised me). The best team in the league in 2022 was the Chiefs at 75%. For RBWR the Broncos finished 4th at 72%. This also surprised me. How does a team with the supposed 4th best run blocking OL and the 9th best pass blocking OL finish dead last in scoring?
Why the Broncos should sign Bradbury
Paton’s familiarity with him, might allow him to convince Sean Payton that Bradbury is the piece that the Denver Broncos OL needs to turn into a much better unit than the injury-ravaged one we saw in 2022 (which did not seem like it deserved the rankings that ESPN gave it). Bradbury would most definitely be an upgrade over Lloyd Cushenberry, but he might actually be a downgrade from Glasgow, who is still under contract for 2023.
Bradbury was playing his best last season and that might portend good things from him over the next three or four seasons.
Bradbury is a fairly good pass blocker, despite not showing up in the top 10 in 2022 for PBWR. His career blown block rate on passing plays is 2.6% and his allowed sack rate is 0.7% - 14 sacks allowed on 2018 pass block snaps.
Why the Broncos should not sign Bradbury
Bradbury gets pushed around in the run game, much like LC3. In fact Bradbury is one of the few starting centers in the league who has been worse than LC3 in terms of blown block rate in the run game according to SISdatahub.com. Bradbury’s BRB (blown run block) rate over his career (%): 2.3, 4.5, 3.1, 4.1. Compare those to LC3’s: 3.7, 3.4, 5.7. They are fairly comparable and both are terrible.
As a rookie, Tyler Linderbaum had the best RBWR among centers in 2022 - better than first and second team AP All-Pro centers Jason Kelce and Creed Humphrey. Tyler had a blown run block rate of 1.1%. Linderbaum is about the same size as Bradbury.
Bradbury also has a fairly high stuff rate which is also not good. His stuff rate was 2.2% during the last two seasons. In 2022 he was stuffed 6 times on 267 run blocks. Compare that to Linderbaum who was stuffed once on 466, or Kelce who was stuffed twice on 464. FWIW LC3 was stuffed three times on 167, but that is still a lower stuff rate than Bradbury.
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