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With Garrett Bradbury pick, Vikings prove sometimes boring is better

Garrett Bradbury (North Carolina State) is selected as the number eightteen overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL -- After years and years of making splashy picks in the first round of the NFL Draft — from Anthony Barr to Trae Waynes to Laquon Treadwell to Mike Hughes — general manager Rick Spielman went the complete opposite way with it on Thursday night.

And he got it 100 percent right. Sometimes boring is better.

While the Vikings were left to sweat it out in the moments leading up to their pick, they got their guy when Garrett Bradbury was still on the board at No. 18 overall.

“We were nervous,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “Obviously we’ve got a pecking order with some guys that we like. Everybody loved this kid in the draft.”

Who is Garrett Bradbury? He’s a center out of North Carolina State that the casual fan has probably never heard of. He’s also exactly what the Vikings need at this moment in time.

With so much invested invested in Kirk Cousins, who signed a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract a little more than a year ago, it’s about time Spielman made a concerted effort to protect the biggest investment of his career.

It’s a shame it took so long for him to do it.

After signing Cousins to an unprecedented contract last offseason, Spielman neglected to improve the offensive line, arguably the team’s biggest need.

His solution to the problem was signing Tom Compton in free agency, a career reserve player that played like it when thrust into the starting lineup, and waiting until the second round to take Brian O’Neill, a project player that actually ended up working out pretty well.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Vikings, especially Cousins, felt the effects of Spielman not addressing what was already an obvious problem heading into last season.

In 2018, Cousins was sacked a whopping 40 times, tied for 10th most in the league. Oh, and the Vikings finished 8-7-1, going from Super Bowl contender to out of the playoffs completely in no time flat.

No doubt Cousins deserves some the blame. He struggles to side step pass rushers and has a habit of holding onto the ball a little too long.

That said, it’s hard to blame Cousins too much on that front considering he was under seemingly constant duress.

That’s where the Vikings are hoping Bradbury can help. He’s the most recent winner of the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s top center, and offers some position flexibility, too, having started at left guard early in his college career.

“We felt very strongly that this was a unique opportunity to get a very good football player to come into our program,” Spielman said, confirming that the Vikings opted against trading down. “There were a couple guys that we looked at and Bradbury was by far our target tonight when we got into the draft.”

It remains to be seen how exactly the Vikings plan to use Bradbury moving forward. He’s likely the early favorite to start at center with Pat Elflein bumping over to left guard. He could also end up at left guard if the team would prefer to keep Elflein at his natural position.

“We will have to line them all up and see,” Zimmer said. “We are just trying to accumulate the best players that we can get, line them all up, and figure it out as we go.”

All of those scenarios will work themselves out over time. The biggest takeaway from this particular night is the fact that the Vikings have that type of decision to make.

“I can’t put into words how excited I am,” Bradbury said. “I’m kind of speechless right now. Just super excited to come to Minnesota and learn, and meet everyone up there, and just become part of the team.”

Truthfully, there probably won’t be many Garrett Bradbury jerseys spotted around U.S. Bank Stadium next season. And that’s OK, because, well, that’s kind of the point.