Syracuse had some signing day fireworks a couple days ago. The Orange added two lineman to the 2021 class, one on each side of the line. Syracuse received a signature from JUCO offensive tackle Jakob Bradford, followed by former Coastal Carolina commit Chase Simmons.
Bradford is listed at 6’5”, 298 lbs. on cuse.com. He’s unranked as a recruit (JUCO players often are), but 247sports.com rated him as the 66th best prospect overall and 9th at his position. Additionally, he was a First Team All-Conference offensive lineman at Iowa Central C.C., which is one of the premiere JUCO programs annually. For more information on Bradford click here.
This piece focuses on what Syracuse is getting in Bradford, and how soon he could see the field.
Bradford is a BIG body. At 6’5”, 298 lbs. he’s the third biggest combination of size and mass at the tackle position on the SU roster. Matthew Bergeron was 6’4”, 305 lbs. heading into the Louisville game last year, and Aaron Servais checked in at 6’6”, 309 lbs. Bradford will only get bigger as he progresses through SU’s strength and conditioning program.
That big body is on full display right here. You don’t often see tackles pulling on run plays, it’s usually guards but I’m sure the Iowa C.C. coaches wanted to do everything they could to gameplan around Bradford. He pulls left and obliterates the kickout edge defender. If you’re a Syracuse running back you have to be excited about getting to run behind Bradford. He will open ginormous holes like he did on that play.
This play really displays how powerful Bradford’s drive is. The defensive lineman he’s blocking is pretty big, not some linebacker playing off the edge. Bradford just pancakes him effortlessly creating a huge hole in the c-gap.
Once again, great job of crashing down the line and opening a hole for the quarterback. Head Coach Dino Babers can use this power in the trenches to perhaps work some more option game with the quarterbacks going forward.
So we know he can run block, how about his pass protection? This is something the SU o-line has struggled mightily with in the past couple years.
Bradford is very fundamentally sound and you’ll see a couple different techniques he uses throughout his film. On this play he did a great job understanding his assignment in what looks like a man blocking scheme as opposed to zone. When Bradford blocks he isn’t just looking to protect the quarterback and establish a nice pocket, he’s looking to bury his man into the turf.
We’ve gotta throw this one on here, if you were skeptical of the level of competition Bradford was playing against he’s going against a player committed to LSU. You have to be very good to earn a scholarship to play for the Tigers, especially if you’re a junior college player.
In this situation, Ali Gaye (the LSU commit) is trying to bull rush Bradford, but he takes the first, second, and third efforts and stands strong. Bradford has very powerful legs, you can see Gaye try and run right through him but to no avail. Gaye had a sack against Alabama in the 2020 season and recorded 32 tackles as well in his first season in Baton Rouge… so this is great competition for Bradford to prove himself against
Here’s one of those techniques that tackles like to have in their arsenal. The draw technique is typically something you see when teams want to set up screens. Bradford welcomes the defender into the backfield without any initial contact and just drives him sideways when he’s off-balance. This is something you’ll see SU use with Garrett Shrader, Jacobian Morgan, or Justin Lamson to set up a qb draw. Tommy DeVito could probably run it too but he’s much of a running quarterback.
Another play highlighting Bradford’s sound fundamentals and understanding of his responsibilities. On this play you see Bradford give his guard some help with a little chip and then he kicks out in time to grab the blitzing edge defender. That’s very well done, offensive tackles have a tendency to miss the defender off the edge, but Bradford checked both boxes.
How Soon Can He Play?
Bradford steps on campus as a sophomore, and with a college ready frame. He’s also played at the collegiate level (albeit JUCO), but as we’ve covered he’s faced some of the best defensive lineman that the junior ranks have to offer. He clearly has an understanding of both man and zone blocking schemes and gives 100% on every play. Even when Bradford wasn’t involved in the play he’s always finishing blocks and looking to pancake whoever he’s blocking.
Syracuse brings back its entire offensive line from the 2020 season. Bergeron is back at left tackle, Dakota Davis at left guard, Carlos Vettorello at center, Darius Tisdale at right guard, and Servais at right tackle. Barring any injuries I don’t think Bradford will crack the starting lineup this season, usually coaches like to keep the same five in the trenches as much as possible to create cohesion and chemistry. However, if there’s a spot that Bradford could play it’s that right tackle spot. Servais is a solid presence on the outside, but he struggled at times last season so perhaps Bradford plays his way into that spot.
The most likely scenario features Bradford as a swing lineman who can play if there’s an injury or one of the starting five needs a break. Syracuse was so slim in the trenches last year that FB/Wing Chris Elmore had to slide in for the first half of the season. At the very least, Bradford gives SU depth for 2021 and has a great opportunity to start at one of the tackle spots opposite Bergeron in the future. This was an incredible get for Babers and Company, SU extended Bradford an offer in mid-January (very late) and earned his signature two weeks later.