The Green Bay Packers used this year’s fourth round pick on Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford. There were probably not many followers of the Packers who were more excited than I was and I’ll come clean right here and now: I’m an ASU alum and a season ticket holder. It was homerism at its finest when the pick was announced and I expressed my excitement all the way down the road I was driving on at the time.
In a story written shortly after Bradford was drafted by Ty Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the opening paragraph talked about how the Packers seemingly chose to ignore conventional wisdom when they made the pick.
At 6’1″ and with 30″ arms, Bradford’s measurables didn’t necessarily scream “3-4 outside linebacker”. I always chuckle a bit when I hear scouts and media talking about a player’s arm length. I see how it can be helpful, but so many football players have had very successful careers with “short arms” before.
Still, Bradford isn’t the type of player you envision when you think of a good pass-rushing linebacker. By contrast, the Packers brought in undrafted rookie linebacker and Adrian Hubbard out of Alabama. Hubbard stands at 6’6″ and 245 pounds. Bradford was drafted, in the fourth round. Hubbard wasn’t, largely because of a potential heart condition.
In football and the NFL, measurables simply don’t tell the whole story. In Bradford’s case, they barely tell the story. By now, many have heard how Bradford lost his father, Roy Bradford, early last year to a heart attack. At home in Louisiana, Roy collapsed suddenly into his son’s arms and was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived.
The loss of any family member, under any circumstances, is a hard pill to swallow. In Bradford’s case, it was no different. ASU head football coach Todd Graham talked in Dunne’s piece about how Bradford didn’t talk much about the loss of his dad and that it was clearly affecting him. The grieving process is different for everyone. Bradford went through the tough part and had his ups and downs.
Then came last season where he used all of that emotion, both good and bad, to finish out his collegiate career with a second-straight solid season for the Sun Devils. Eight and a half sacks along with an key interception returned for a touchdown late in the season against UCLA. Below are highlights from that game with Bradford as a feature. Fast forward to 2:16 to see that particular play.
A linebacker who has shown an ability to get to the quarterback and who plays with a good amount of emotion and fire. Sign me up! Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said the team’s defense will be better in 2014 and that he wants more play makers on that side of the ball. Bradford tallied 20 sacks over his last two seasons so he knows what a quarterback looks like and how to bring him down. Green Bay has at least chosen a guy with the right resume for that they want to accomplish this year.
Draft picks are anything but a sure thing. Many have been drafted early only to fade out before their careers even begin. Others are drafted late and have Hall of Fame careers. Bradford’s story in the NFL is an unknown at this point, but his story says he’s worth watching and there is likely more to come.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: