Packers pick up ASU's Bradford in fourth round
MAY 10, 2014 2:33p ET
The wait is over for Carl Bradford. The Green Bay Packers selected the Arizona State linebacker in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday with the 121st overall pick, making him ASU's highest-drafted linebacker since 2006.
While Bradford admitted Saturday he expected to go earlier than he did, he expressed nothing but confidence he made the right decision to forgo his senior season at ASU and enter the draft.
"I believed I made the right call when I announced it, I stuck with that and it worked out for the best," Bradford said. "Now I'm in a great organization to go prove myself and learn from the best linebacker group in the league.
"I believe my decision was a great decision, and I'm sticking to that."
Draft services projected Bradford as a second- or third-round pick, but he slipped to Day 3 of the Draft. Bradford wasn't the slightest bit disappointed, saying he believes he landed in a great situation with the Packers.
In Green Bay, Bradford joins a team that ranked 25th in total defense and rushing defense last season. He also joins a linebacker group that includes veterans Clay Matthews and A.J Hawk. The Packers this offseason also added veteran LB/DE Julius Peppers, who could help a hybrid player such as Bradford transition to an NFL defense.
"That's one thing I'm really excited about -- I get to learn from some of the best in the league," Bradford said.
Additionally, Bradford finds himself in a situation where he won't necessarily be expected to make a major impact right away. While he'll certainly work to play early and often, Bradford should have the chance to ease into his pro career with a franchise highly regarded for its ability to develop players.
Still, Bradford believes his decision to leave ASU early gives him something more to prove at the next level.
"Just being a younger guy and coming out early, I think I kind of have to prove why I came out and why I deserve to be here," Bradford said. "That's going to fall on my work ethic and my knowing the defense."
In pre-draft discussions, most teams, Bradford said, pegged him as an outside or middle linebacker. Last season, he primarily lined up as a down lineman rushing the quarterback in ASU's hybrid "Devilbacker" position. He said he expects to get his opportunity at outside linebacker in Green Bay but will still see plenty of action as a pass rusher.
"The way they attack is kind of similar to how I played at ASU, and I believe they're going to use me in that same scenario of attacking and playing outside linebacker," Bradford said.
A second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, Bradford led ASU in tackles for loss with 19, including 8 1/2 sacks, and totaled 39 1/2 TFLs and 20 sacks over the past two seasons. He earned an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine but impressed more at ASU's pro day in March, earning workouts with five teams. The Packers were not among those teams, but Bradford said they spoke to him at the Combine.
"The only time I talked to them or they showed interest was at the Combine, and then I really didn't hear much," Bradford said. "Just recently I heard from my agent they were interested.
"Lambeau Field is such a historic place to get to play. I'm just so stoked to go to that place."
A fullback at Norco (Calif.) High School, Bradford converted to linebacker and blossomed as a sophomore in ASU coach Todd Graham's attacking defense. He drew rave reviews for his athleticism and passion, which also worked against him at times, such as when he and Graham got into a sideline argument last season.
Bradford was ASU's second player drafted after the Packers' division rivals, the Chicago Bears, selected defensive tackle Will Sutton in the third round Friday. Bradford had a little fun with the fact that he and Sutton, a highly productive tandem at ASU, will now meet twice per year as division rivals.
"We're going to be big rivals now," Bradford said. "It's too bad he's going to lose two times this year."
Beyond any surprise or excitement, Bradford was simply happy to conclude a stressful process that began when he announced Jan. 13 that he would not return for his senior season at ASU. Watching with family in California on Saturday, Bradford ran a gamut of emotions.
"It's been a crazy day," Bradford said. "I don' think it's hit me fully yet, but I'm sure it will tomorrow when I'm walking on a plane and going there."