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Vikings take center Garrett Bradbury with No. 18 pick in NFL draft

Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State is selected as the No. 18 overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Minnesota Vikings need help on the offensive line, and they got it Thursday night, April 25.

With the No. 18 pick in the NFL draft, the Vikings selected center Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State.

“This was one of the guys that we had targeted, because of his natural athletic ability, his strength he plays with,” said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. “We’ve been through a hundred scenarios leading up to tonight, and there were a couple guys that we looked at, but Bradbury was by far our target tonight when we got into the draft.”

He’s the first offensive lineman the Vikings have taken in the first round since Matt Kalil went No. 4 in 2012. And he’s just the second one they’ve taken in the first round of the past 17 drafts.

Bradbury, a fifth-year senior in 2018 with the Wolfpack, will help a line that often struggled to protect quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was sacked 40 times in 2018. He also will help with coach Mike Zimmer’s desire to run the ball better.

If Bradbury stays at center, the Vikings could move incumbent starting center Pat Elflein to left guard. But Bradbury also can play guard.

Minnesota’s starters last season at guard were Mike Remmers on the right side and Tom Compton on the left. Remmers was released and Compton signed as a free agent with the New York Jets after not being offered a deal to return.

The Vikings last month signed Josh Kline as the expected replacement for Remmers. So the Vikings will need to settle on a starter at left guard.

Bradbury is a native of Charlotte, N.C.

After redshirting in 2014, he didn’t get a start in his first active season of 2015. He started at left guard in 2016 before being the starting center his final two years.