EAGAN (FOX 9) - “It’s been a crazy 24 hours.”
Garrett Bradbury is still soaking everything in as the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings on Friday. His life changed forever just after 9 p.m. Thursday. With his family by his side at his Charlotte, North Carolina home, Bradbury’s cell phone rang during the first round of the NFL Draft.
General Manager Rick Spielman was on the other end asking, “Ready to come up to the north and be a Minnesota Viking?”
Bradbury’s answer was short and simple: “Yes I am, yeah.” But the road to get there was filled with hard work, position changes and finding a perfect fit on the N.C. State offensive line.
Bradbury got a full tour of his future practice facility, TCO Performance Center, Friday morning. He checked out his new locker and was happy to pose several times with his No. 56 jersey. He also traded in his red and black N.C. State athletic gear for a sharp suit and purple tie as he addressed Twin Cities media Friday afternoon.
“There was a lot of emotions. It was unbelievable. The phone rang, and I just kind of blanked out from there on,” Bradbury said of getting the call from the Vikings as the No. 18 pick. “Heart was pounding. It was just so much hard work, so many people that have invested in me. Truly a dream come true. Kind of speechless.”
Spielman said after a thorough evaluation process that included seeing Bradbury at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, the Vikings knew they "were getting one heck of a football player.”
Bradbury was a consensus All-American at center for N.C. State last season, winning the Rimington Trophy as the top center in the country. He also was in the running for the Outland Trophy, which goes to the top interior lineman in college football.
He was selected First Team All-ACC last season and didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure in 1,026 snaps. He’s the first offensive lineman taken by the Vikings in the first round since Matt Kalil in 2012, Spielman’s first season as general manager.
After months of evaluation and drills, Bradbury is looking forward to being on a football field again and earning the respect of his new teammates.
“No one is going to listen to a rookie coming in barking orders trying to lead anyone. So I'm just going to come in and work. That's what I've always done, whether it's a freshman or a senior, now I'm going to be a rookie,” Bradbury said. “I'm just going to come in, work, earn the guys' respect, compete, and figure out my role and maximize it to the best of my ability.”
If you ask his college coach, his athletic ability is off the charts. He’s 6-3, 300 pounds and ran a 4.92 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He can “power clean the gym” and started his N.C. State career at tight end, but had to switch to defensive line after out-growing the position.
He eventually found a home on the offensive line, playing tackle before switching to center for his final college season. His character is what impressed Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren the most, and stuck with Spielman and the Vikings’ front office.
“He’s a great human being, he’s fun to hang out with, he cares about people. He treats people with respect. You would want your children to be like him,” Doeren said Friday via conference call. “He’s as classy a person as you’re going to be around, but as competitive as one at the same time.”
On the field, he’s as competitive as it gets. He never wants to come off, and the only time he did his senior year was after 679 straight snaps. The Wolfpack were blowing out ACC opponent Louisville 52-10 at the time. In addition to playing 1,026 snaps without a quarterback pressure last year, Bradbury played 1,000 out of a gradeable 1,022 snaps two years ago.
“I don't want to come off the field. I love to play football, and wherever that is on the offensive line, I don't care, I just know we don't rotate. That's something we pride ourselves in,” Bradbury said.
Spielman called Bradbury “the perfect fit” after drafting him Thursday night. He’ll need Bradbury to help the Vikings’ improve a run offense that was 30th in the NFL last season. He’ll also be tasked with helping protect Kirk Cousins, who was sacked 40 times last season, the second-most in his career.
For now, Bradbury is just thankful his phone rang Thursday night and is getting his opportunity. He said he owes it to his family.
“It's everything. This is their day as much as it is mine. They've done everything for me my whole life, helped me get where I am, and there's no one else I'd rather share it with than friends and family I was with last night and obviously my dad being here today,” Bradbury said.