Position: Outside Linebacker/Defensive End College: Nebraska
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The three-year starter at the strong-side outside linebacker position made a successful return to the field in 2006. After missing more than half of the 2005 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Bradley came back to lead the team in tackles (76) and to a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
The coaching staff cited Bradley's performance as the main reason the team was able to rebound in 2006 to battle for the Big 12 title. The talented linebacker not only proved to be a force against the run, but also provided considerable pocket pressure as an edge rusher in passing situations.
Bradley battled injuries (knee) during his career at Highland High School, where he only played football as a junior. He started in the secondary as a safety, played some at quarterback and also returned kicks, helping his team to an 11-2 record and a Class 4A (second largest) state runner-up finish. Bradley also started as a wing on Highland's rugby team that won three consecutive national championships.
He enrolled at Nebraska in 2002, spending the season as a defensive end on the scout team. In 2003, he appeared in all 13 games as a reserve left defensive end, moving to that position after playing at middle linebacker in preseason camp. He managed only six tackles (four solos) with three stops for losses and four pressures as an edge rusher. He also earned Academic All-Big 12 Conference honors.
Bradley shifted to strong-side outside linebacker in 2004, starting 10 of 11 games. He finished second on the team with 67 tackles (38 solos), adding 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also registered five pressures and deflected two passes.
In 2005, Bradley started the team's first five games. The Huskers started the season off with a 4-0 record, but Bradley tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the fifth game. He underwent surgery and sat out the rest of the season. The team would then lose four of its next five games before salvaging the season by winning its last three games. Bradley registered 26 tackles (11 solos) with three sacks, five stops for losses and seven pressures. He also returned an interception for a score.
Bradley returned to the field fully recovered in 2006. He led the team with a career-high 76 tackles (41 solos) in 14 games, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention. He had one sack, six stops behind the line of scrimmage and five pressures. With his increased range and speed from the knee surgery, he wreaked havoc in the backfield, causing three fumbles while recovering four others.
In 43 games at Nebraska, Bradley started 29 times. He finished with 175 tackles (94 solos), four sacks for minus-31 yards and 25 stops for losses totaling 75 yards. He registered 21 quarterback pressures, deflected three passes and returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown. He recovered four fumbles and had three forced fumbles.
Positives: Has a developing frame that could add another 20 pounds for a possible move to rush end, with no loss in quickness Has an athletic, big physique for a linebacker, with good upper body muscle definition, tight waist and hips, good bubble, strong lower body frame and only 10 percent body fat Has adequate timed speed, but keeps plays in front of him and has a good short-area closing burst Works well in space, showing fluid change-of-direction agility Has the balance and body control to stay on the hips of the tight ends and backs in the short-area passing game Uses his hands effectively to press and reroute Chases hard and shows good urgency getting to the ball Hits with pop on contact and has the strong hands and technique to jar the ball loose from the ball carrier (four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles in 2006) Smart, instinctive player who reads schemes well and is alert to play-action and misdirection Explodes behind his hits and uses his strength in attempts to wrap Has the body control to break down in the open field and improved his ability to take angles when making plays in space (did not overrun the play as much in 2006 than he did in the past) Will face up and wrap with intent to punish Has a good work ethic who puts in extra hours in the weight and film rooms Has good vision to quickly locate and close on the ball Makes good body adjustments on the run and is quick to react to misdirection Plays the run with good stoutness at the point of attack, using his hands and upper body strength to stack and control Has enough upper body strength to split double teams and clog the inside rush lanes Holds his ground firmly at the point of attack and is active with his hands in attempts to shed While he won't hesitate to take on blockers, his instincts let him make plays when unblocked due to his quick read-and-react ability, compensating for a lack of blazing speed Won't blow up ball carriers in his tackles, but will secure and drag down Can throw and jerk blockers, if needed, but prefers to fend off, play off and close in on the ball rather than stay and offer combat Has the functional burst to close on running plays along the edge and has the range to string plays out and take away the cutback lanes Will get a little out of control in his pursuit at times, but has the athletic agility to recover Keeps his pad level down to make plays down the line of scrimmage and move through traffic (makes a lot of east/west plays) Knows how to pick up his feet to avoid trash Has the loose hips to get depth in his pass drops, but is better playing in zone than in man coverage Understands zone concepts and is alert to switch-offs, but needs to continue working on taking better angles Very effective on stunts, especially when unblocked and uses his hands effectively to squeeze through the rush lanes Shows good anticipation and explosiveness on the blitz (can dog inside or off the edge) Has the speed to flush the quarterback out of the pocket.
Negatives: Durability is a slight concern due to his 2005 and prep school injuries Has adequate timed speed and a decent straight-line burst, but lacks suddenness moving from sideline to sideline Lacks natural hands and fails to extend for the ball outside his frame (several pass deflections could have been interceptions, but he bobbled and double-caught the ball) Can keep relationship with the tight ends and backs in the short area, but loses sight of the ball in flight and doesn't have the timed speed to mirror receivers past the second level Has good strength, but doesn't always deliver crunching hits to drive back the ball carrier (more of a wrap-up type) Has improved in this area, but still takes some poor angles in pursuit, causing him to out-run the play at times Eyeballs the quarterback too long working in the deep secondary, allowing the receiver to get behind him (struggles to recover when beaten) Better making plays in backside pursuit or on the edge, as he will get a little reckless closing in space.
Compares To: Scott Fujita, New Orleans Bradley has a well-built frame with valid read-and-react instincts He is very effective in backside pursuit or making plays in front of him, but will struggle in man coverage, as he peeks into the backfield too long, letting the receiver get behind him He has some durability issues, but played pain-free in 2006 He hits with good pop on contact and is very effective pressuring the pocket when unblocked With more teams emphasizing the edge rush, Bradley has room on his frame to add more bulk if a team wants to utilize him as a situational rusher He plays with a high motor and can also contribute as a gunner on special teams For teams looking for consistent, steady play, Bradley is a nice fit He is just not going to punish people on a consistent basis, but will make his fair share on non-flashy plays.
2004: Left the Baylor game at halftime with a left knee sprain.
2005: Missed the final seven games after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the third quarter of the Texas Tech (Oct. 8) game.
Campus: 4.71 in the 40-yard dash 330-pound bench press 32-inch vertical jump 32 1/8-inch arm length 9¼-inch hands.
Attended Highland (Salt Lake City) High School Bradley battled injuries (knee) during his career and only played football as a junior Started in the secondary as a safety, played some at quarterback and also returned kicks, helping his team to an 11-2 record and a Class 4A (second largest) state runner-up finish Started as a wing on Highland's rugby team that won three consecutive national championships.
Graduated in December 2006 with a degree in accounting/finance Son of Ann and John Bradley Two-time Big 12 Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll pick Involved in Nebraska's community outreach programs, serving as a volunteer in Nebraska's Lincoln and Omaha hospital visits, with the Special Olympics and as a volunteer speaker during American Education Week and "School is Cool" Week Born Nov. 2, 1983 Resides in Salt Lake City.