The odds are against centers being drafted in the first round, but North Carolina State's Garrett Bradbury isn't deterred by that. The Ravens may not either.
Bradbury has become one of the preferred mock draft choices for the Ravens with their 22nd pick. In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay makes Bradbury the Ravens' selection over pass rusher Clelin Ferrell of Clemson.
Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta said the top centers in this year's draft like Bradbury and Erik McCoy of Texas A&M are good enough to warrant first-round consideration.
"I don't know the statistics, but I would bet you that you probably have an average of one center per year, maybe less going in the first round," DeCosta said. "Now this year, it's a little different. I can think of three or four centers in the draft that have a chance to be first-round, second-round picks."
Most scouts project Bradbury as being capable of playing either guard or center, which could make him even more attractive to the Ravens. He was a guard early in his college career before moving into the middle, where he really shined and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center as a senior.
Seven-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda agreed to a one-year contract extension this week, but the Ravens may look to bolster the center and left guard positions this offseason as they fully convert to a run-heavy attack. Bradbury is being widely praised for his versatility and athleticism, traits he has displayed since high school.
"I don't like coming off the field. I want to be on the field at all times," Bradbury said at the Combine. "I love to compete. I've played guard and tackle (as well as center). You need versatility, that's how you stick around in this league."
He came to N.C. State as a tight end and didn't move to the offensive line until his sophomore year. In 2016, Bradbury started every game at left guard for the Wolfpack. The past two seasons, he started every game at center. That's the kind of durability NFL teams want to see.
Centers usually don't steal the show at the Combine, but Bradbury's movement, and his ability to shadow the man across from him, got a lot of attention. The NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah nicknamed him "The Grim Reacher," because of Bradbury's uncommon quick movement and ability to wall off opponents. He's not know as a mauler, but his athleticism allows him to easily get to the second level.
In his latest mock draft, Peter Schrager of NFL Network says drafting Bradbury would help the Ravens make the most of their desire to have a dominant running game. There are many ways Baltimore could go with its first-round pick, but if they decide to take an offensive lineman, Bradbury could be the right choice.
"If the Lamar Jackson era is going to work, the Ravens need playmakers who fit his style and as much O-line stability as possible," Schrager said. "Bradbury had a great week in Indianapolis at the Combine and is projected to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL. Solid pass blocker, great run blocker. Perfect Raven."