EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson was doing his due diligence on a bevy of prospects up front and had a question for Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
Moments after Minnesota selected North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury with the 18th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, Zimmer shared the anecdote:
"Obviously there's a lot of great defensive linemen in this draft, and [Patterson] came in and said, 'Who's this center from N.C. State? This guy's a really good football player.' So that even intrigued me more, because of the way he was playing against these top-level defensive linemen in the ACC."
Bradbury was tabbed a pick after the New York Giants selected one of his former conference foes, Dexter Lawrence. The defensive tackle became the third Clemson defensive lineman to be selected, joining defensive end Clelin Ferrell (fourth overall by Oakland) and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (13th overall by Miami).
Zimmer said it's not uncommon for a prospect on offense to stand out to defensive coaches and vice-versa.
"Yeah, you know, we try, like if I'm watching a corner or a safety, we talk about — like when we took [running back] Dalvin [Cook], there was a lot of defensive players that noticed him on tape. So it happens a fair amount, and Andre is never afraid to come in my office."
Patterson wasn't the only coach that Bradbury impressed with his body of work.
Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak spent the previous two seasons evaluating prospects for the Broncos before being hired by Minnesota in January.
"Gary Kubiak had the opportunity to, basically all fall, evaluate a lot of college football players, and this was one of his favorite guys with the offensive group," Zimmer said before explaining that Bradbury had gotten Patterson's attention.
"I think the offensive staff did a really nice job of sitting in there and talking about each one of these guys and their skill sets, and really all the offensive players in the draft," Zimmer added. "But [offensive line coach/run game coordinator] Rick Dennison — you know, the one thing about these guys (Kubiak, Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani) being together, they know the exact type of guy that they're looking for, and along with [Offensive Coordinator] Kevin [Stefanski], I think that this guy will be a really good fit, and then scouts, obviously — everybody loved this kid in the draft."
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said he was able to scout Bradbury in-person against Wake Forest this past fall and he "really stood out on the field."
"This was one of the guys that we had targeted, because of his natural athletic ability, his strength he plays with," Spielman said. "[He] had a great Senior Bowl, great combine, fits everything from the criteria standpoint, not only positionally and schematically but also the character, the passion for the game, the smarts, everything that we look for as we build this offensive line."