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On the Draft Board: LSU offensive lineman Anthony Bradford

Kansas City could use some help on the offensive line.

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LSU v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

There’s one thing we know that the Kansas City Chiefs value in their offensive line: versatility. Position coach Andy Heck wants his backup guards and tackles to be capable of playing in each role on the line.

So it makes sense for the Chiefs to have shown interest in versatile LSU offensive lineman Anthony Bradford. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported a team visit with him this past week.

Bradford has starting experience as both a right guard and a left tackle during his time with LSU. Most analysts evaluate him as an interior offensive lineman.

Here’s what to know about him:

Background

Bradford grew up in Michigan, where he participated in football, basketball and track and field. The starting right tackle at Muskegon High School eventually became a became a four-star recruit, accepting an offer from LSU over Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State.

After waiting through a redshirt season — and another year where he didn’t see the field — Bradford emerged as a redshirt sophomore, starting one game at right guard and four games at left tackle before an injury cut his season short. In 2022, Bradford started 11 games at right guard and one game at left tackle.

Bradford was invited to the NFL Combine, checking in at 6 feet 4 and 332 pounds. He met some offensive tackle thresholds with 33 1/2-inch arms and 9 1/2-inch hands.

He posted impressive athletic testing results with such a large body, running a 40-yard dash in the 83rd percentile among historical offensive linemen and recording a very impressive 10-yard split of 1.66 seconds. His 34 bench-press repetitions were in 93rd-percentile historically.

Film evaluation

Last season, Bradford played 736 snaps at right guard and 79 snaps at left tackle. In 2021, Bradford played only 45 snaps at right guard, but 291 snaps at left tackle. I was only able to watch one of his 2021 games, in which he started at left tackle against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Bradford’s powerful hands are the first things that stand out in this film. He grips inside with good placement and a strong punch — and can then use his size to sit down and press the defender back. While his feet aren’t very smooth, he does get out of his stance quickly. That gives him a chance against speed rushers.

His long arms also show up in these plays. He can extend (and get his hands latched) even when a rusher is coming around the edge. His lack of foot quickness can be exploited by the right speed rusher — but this isn’t because he lacks the arm length to scoop them out.

You see the power show up even more in the running game, where Bradford excels. On down blocks, he quickly crashes down on the defender to the inside, driving his legs through the length of the play. His strong hands make it hard for these defenders — especially linebackers — to work their way through him.

When he gets a chance to strike an off-ball defender in the open field, he can place a hand strike that will make them regret coming his way.

How he fits with the Chiefs

If Kansas City selects Bradford in the middle rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, he would come in right away as high-quality backup guard — and could eventually compete to become the starting right guard. In the short term, Trey Smith’s ability (and experience) will make him the unquestioned starter — but Smith is under contract for only two more seasons. Left guard Joe Thuney also has two years left — and Bradford could step in there, too.

Even if guard is his best position, it’s likely the Chiefs would also train him as an offensive tackle. While Bradford may not be as tall (or as long) as Lucas Niang, he has similar mass — and possesses the same playing style. With an offseason of training under his belt, Bradford could find himself in the mix at right tackle — but over the long term, he probably wouldn’t be the ideal solution there.

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