The Green Bay Packers run an aggressive 3-4 defensive scheme and having smart, instinctive linebackers is the key towards having a strong defense. Dom Capers preaches versatility and there aren’t many players more versatile than fourth-round pick Carl Bradford. Coming out of Arizona State, Bradford has played inside and outside linebacker and that is just another example of how versatile he is.
The two linebackers at Arizona State before Bradford were Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Magee. Both have gone on to be good NFL players. But Burfict has gone on to become one of the best linebackers in the league. Bradford reminds me of Burfict coming out of college in terms of their read-and-reacting ability and their ability to tackle consistently.
The problem with Bradford, however, is that he is extremely small to play inside linebacker in the NFL at 6-foot-1, 250 pounds. Because of his size, many will delegate Bradford to play the outside linebacker position, but that transition might be difficult as well, considering Bradford ran a 4.71 40-yard dash and he has problems shedding offensive linemen when getting after the ball-carrier. With all of that being said, Bradford has the tweener label and that’s definitely not a good thing.
A.J. Hawk hasn’t had a competent linebacker next to him in years. Although he is undersized for the position, Bradford’s best fit in the NFL is at the inside linebacker position. The middle linebackers in the 3-4 usually are always finding the ball in the backfield. The Packers will have a great pass rush in 2014 led by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, but having a linebacker combination of Hawk and Bradford is one that possesses a ton of talent.