For this edition, I combined offensive guards and centers because the necessary skill-sets are very similar and many of these prospects played both positions during their collegiate careers.
While their value might differ depending on offensive scheme, I like to evaluate them as one group.
There are definitely no generational-type prospects like Quenton Nelson on this list, who I had as my number two overall player, but this group has about a dozen quality names.
As the league moves more towards wide-open offenses that throw the ball out of shotgun and try to get it out quickly on a multitude of screens, mobility and pass-protecting are becoming more important, but there is still a lot of value of what interior offensive linemen can do for you in the run game.
Obviously each team will evaluate these prospects according to their scheme, but for the purpose of this list, I am looking for complete players, who will help my offense move the ball.
#1 Garrett Bradbury, N.C. State
This kid came to Raleigh as an excellent high school tight-end. He redshirted his first year at campus and after an injury he moved to guard, where he played as a reserve in 11 games.
Bradbury would go on to start 26 straight games at left guard and earned honorable mention All-ACC accolades as well as the team’s award for their unsung hero in 2017.
The national recognition however came as a senior, when Bradbury was a first-team All-ACC member and was the won the Rimington Award trophy for best center in the nation.
That athleticism catching passes in high school shows in Bradbury’s mobility to reach defensive tackles, climb to the second level and pull around. His snap-to-step quickness is off the charts and Bradbury displays excellent leg-drive on zone schemes, where he almost forces the guy next to him to get moving a little more.
The ground he covers on outside zone schemes is incredible and he ends up reaching 3-techs in the process at times. Bradbury runs himself into to position to climb, is smooth at moving up to the linebackers and plasters onto those blocks at that second level.
He continues to turn his hips and drives to give the running back a clear path behind his back. While Bradbury has the reputation of being a finesse blocker due to his agility, I have even seen him land on top Clemson’s Christian Wilkins.
When he feels his defender trying to work across because the RB is in range, Bradbury flips his hips and forces that guy to go right through him, He has no problem whatsoever reaching defensive tackles lined up in the A-gap straight-up and even if he gets pushed back he has such body-control that he can re-set his feet and continue to turn pads,
In pass pro he immediately gets his eyes up and his feet ready. Bradbury might need to add some sand to his pants, but he has the lateral agility to stay in front of guys and that also allow him to get in the face of linebackers. When he can help out from the side on a rusher, he really helps negate some great defensive linemen in the ACC.
Bradbury can easily handle protecting one gap and he has such active, quick feet that he moves right along with spin- and other counter-moves. He keeps head on a swivel and is very alert for any types of stunts and blitzes, while showing the lateral agility to cover some of the miscues of the guards next to him.
Bradbury has enough core strength to withstand charging linebackers if he has time to prepare. On 1513 pass-blocking snaps during his career with the Wolfpack, Bradbury has allowed just 36 total pressures,
At just over 300 pounds, Bradbury is slightly undersized and has some anchor issues against the really powerful big guys. He got put on his back on the first one-on-one pass rush rep of the Senior Bowl week, even though he continued to fight and won the majority of his battles going forward.
Bradbury has to give up some ground at times to gain it back when left one-on-one in the zone game, is not the strongest pure drive-blocker on gap-schemes and has to lean quite a bite when really trying to create movement that way.
He will probably better suited to play in a sliding protection offense, where he is not left on an island.
With hips like Shakira, outstanding intelligence, reactive quickness and being technically sound with footwork and hand-placement make, Bradbury is my number one center and overall interior offensive prospect.
I expect him to be a Pro Bowl level starter for a decade plus and he will open up the offensive play-calling to running schemes most teams can’t execute.
Bradbury only solidified that at the combine, when he ran a 4.92 in the 40, put up 34 reps on the bench press, recorded the fastest three-cone drill of O-linemen and looked incredibly agile in on-field drills.