2014 NFL Draft: Carl Bradford brings versatility to pro level

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The Arizona State linebacker can play in several places along the front seven on defense, and he's banking on his skill and versatility to earn him a high draft spot this May.

TEMPE, Ariz. - The term "tweener" has typically been used to describe a player that doesn't quite fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 and isn't quite big enough to play defensive end in a 4-3. For Arizona State's Carl Bradford, it's hard to guess where he'll play in the NFL, but that's something he's embracing with open arms.

At the Sun Devils Pro Day on Friday, Bradford worked out with the linebackers, running positional drills that included simulated drops into coverage. Then, after the linebackers were finished and sitting in the shade with water bottles, Bradford joined the defensive lineman to run through some pass rushing drills.

"I wanted to show them that I could do everything," Bradford said. "The more I can do, the better I can be."

Unlike most "tweeners," Bradford isn't just between two potential pass rushing positions. Some aren't even sure that his best fit is as a pass rusher.

"He was an edge player in college, but I don't think that's what his future is in the NFL. I think he's a middle linebacker," said Eric Stoner of Draft Mecca. "The reason why I think he transitions well to middle linebacker is that his skills as a pass rusher translates well to a flowing, downhill-type of linebacker."

At 6'1, 250 pounds, Bradford is much closer in size to most of the NFL's starting inside linebackers than the pass rushers that populate the sack leaderboards. Teams have evidently taken notice of Bradford's versatility as well and told him that there are a variety of spots on the field he could be used in the NFL.

"I've got positions across the board," Bradford said. "From rush end, to SAM linebacker, WILL, inside linebacker. I even got 3-tech[nique] on a passing down and I got fullback."

Bradford hasn't played in the backfield since he was moved to the defensive side of the ball early in his career at ASU after originally joining the team as a highly-touted fullback recruit. According to Bradford, the Dallas Cowboys have expressed an interest in possibly moving him back to offense.

"Honestly. They were serious and they were still asking me today about it," Bradford said. "I think they wanted me to do some fullback drills."

While it would be a bizarre decision to move a player with 20 sacks over the last two seasons to fullback, the statement is a testament to the multi-faceted abilities of Bradford. The focus at the ASU Pro Day for the two-time All-Pac-12 defender is firmly on preparing to play linebacker in the NFL, though.

"I wanted to show that I can pass drop as a linebacker more fluently," Bradford said. "I had my hand in the dirt in a rush-style defense, so I kinda wanted to show them that I can drop and play linebacker."

On Friday, he sat out many of the timing drills, choosing not to attempt to best his scores in the bench press or vertical jump from the NFL Combine. However, he took another attempt at the 40-yard dash, slashing more than a tenth of a second off his previous time.

"That's another thing I wanted to prove, that I'm not a 4.75 guy," Bradford said.

Bradford finished the NFL Combine with a 37.5" vertical, 10'2" broad jump and 23 bench press reps. He recorded times of 4.30 and 7.25 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill, respectively.

He is scheduled to visit the Arizona Cardinals and meet with other teams in Arizona where he will be training until May; however, no other visits have been scheduled yet.

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