A edge player at Arizona State, Carl Bradford likely is an inside linebacker for a 3-4 defense like Green Bay's. Bradford was moved around, for a position called "devil-backer," from a number of spots to get that edge rush for ASU.
In 2012, he and Will Sutton became a force in the Pac-12. Bradford tallied up 20.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, while Sutton lead the nation in sacks by an interior lineman. In 2013, though, Sutton decided to change his style, leaving the undersized Bradford to get taken out of plays by double teams.
In Green Bay, that should not be an issue. With the big-bodied B.J. Raji and plenty of quality pressure creators on the defensive line, Bradford will be singled up, should he see playing time in 2014.
Brad Jones is currently the starting weak-side linebacker for the squad, while A.J. Hawk plays the strong-side. Jones hasn't lived up to his 2013 extension, and Hawk only has so many years in him before his play takes a significant drop off. With Bradford's likely ability to fill in either spot, this could either be a short-term or long-term move by the Packers.
Either way, the pick is a slam dunk. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler had Carl Bradford listed as a top twenty player back in February. He currently has him ranked as his fifth outside linebacker in the class (for a 4-3 defense), ahead of players like first-round picks Dee Ford and Marcus Smith.
Bleacher Report's own Darren Page also thought highly of Bradford, giving him a second-round grade in his scouting report.
Carl Bradford was a phenomenal college football player and one of the best edge defenders in the country over the last two years. His consistent disruption in the backfield is the hallmark of his game. Maybe the most impressive aspect to him is the way he sees plays develop, diagnoses, and can always find the football.
That high football IQ is important when considering that Bradford will need a new position in the NFL. His lack of size and length means he has no place at the line of scrimmage going toe to toe with tackles on a regular basis. His movement ability, play recognition, and overall instincts lend credence to the idea that he can play a traditional linebacker spot in a 4-3 defense, even in the middle. The work he does on the edge will also endear him to teams of the 3-4 variety.
A majority of Page's analysis of Bradford is spot on. While many would disagree that Bradford is an edge player for a 3-4 defense, at the very least, he'd be moved around to both inside and outside looks at times.
Ted Thompson has positioned himself in a way where the best players available hit a need for the Packers, and this pick is no different. A special teams, short-term, and long-term contributor for the Packers was selected in the mid rounds—another win for the Silver Fox. Long-time NFL front office member Gil Brandt didn't think he'd slip past the second day.
The best part? Ted Thompson didn't even need to move up for the pick. Value has just fallen in the Packers' lap this year.