The Philadelphia Eagles selected Shaun Bradley (not to be confused with 76ers bust Shawn Bradley) with pick No. 196 in the 2020 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about him, I reached out to a Temple football outlet: OwlScoop.com. Owls writer John DiCarlo was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you recap his college career?
Bradley is another example of an underrecruited Temple guy who managed to earn his way into the NFL. He put up good numbers as a senior in South Jersey at Rancocas Valley High School (nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns as a running back and 19 tackles and an interception on defense), but he only had FCS offers from Wagner and Rhode Island before Temple jumped into the mix later on. Because he missed his entire sophomore season with a hand injury and most of his junior season with a knee injury, he didn’t have much film to garner offers.
So he came to Temple as a grayshirt candidate, completing classes at Rowan College at Burlington County in the fall of 2015 before enrolling at Temple in January of 2016 in time for spring ball. He played sparingly as a freshman in 2016 before his career took off in 2017 as a sophomore, when he locked down the starting middle linebacker spot and led the team with 85 tackles and finished fourth on the team with 10 tackles for a loss. Then he earned a single digit as a junior - current Temple players in the NFL like Haason Reddick, Matt Ioannidis, Tavon Young and others have done the same – and started to flash the big-play potential that helped Temple land some impactful wins. He sealed a nonconference Big Ten road win for the Owls at Maryland with an interception return for a touchdown, and he came up with an interception in overtime later in the season to close out a win over then-No. 20 Cincinnati.
Playing for his third different defensive coordinator in four seasons due to the coaching changes from Matt Rhule to Geoff Collins to Rod Carey, Bradley led the team in tackles again this past season, this time with 87 stops and 8.0 TFLs.
2) What are his strengths?
Bradley showed a propensity for making big plays in big games, as evidenced by his pick six at Maryland and the game-sealing interception in overtime against a ranked Cincinnati team as a junior. And back in September, Bradley stopped Maryland running back Anthony McFarland, an eventual fourth round pick of the Steelers, on a fourth-down, goal-line stand that helped Temple beat a 21st-ranked Terrapins team. He also fared well at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he posted the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash time among all linebackers at 4.51 seconds. Any head coach or defensive coordinator at Temple I talked to always described him as extremely motivated and coachable, and he was the unquestioned team leader in that locker room this season.
3) What are his weaknesses?
I wouldn’t put Bradley in the category of some of the more dynamic playmakers and first-round picks like Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, and he might lack the ideal length and wingspan to disrupt passing lanes. Some scouting services questioned Bradley’s ability to shed blocks and work around offensive linemen. While I think that might have been the case on some occasions, he was often able to make plays on other downs with higher end straight-line speed and the ability to shoot gaps and make big plays in big games as previously noted.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
Maybe a bit lower than I expected considering he held his own at the combine and had the college production to back it up as a three-year starter, but I wouldn’t say I was totally surprised to see him go in the sixth round. So just about right would be a fair description.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
He’ll start out as a willing contributor on special teams, but I could see him playing more frequently in the future and enjoying a solid NFL career for five-plus seasons in the right system.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Trite and cliché as it may sound, Bradley really does approach everything he does with a chip on his shoulder. Most of the 25-plus Temple players who are currently on NFL rosters weren’t ranked much higher than 2- or 3-star recruits with few high-major offers, and Bradley fits that mold. And while more draft-eligible college players are electing to sit out bowl games to protect their pro futures, Bradley chose the opposite path and elected to play in last December’s Military Bowl against North Carolina. As a member of new Temple head coach Rod Carey’s player leadership council, Carey said his star linebacker told him this last summer when that subject came up: “Don’t worry about that here, Coach,” Carey said in recalling the conversation. “We got beat in the bowl game last year and every single one of us is playing in this game.” Carey has often referred to Bradley as the best leader he’s ever been around.
BLG’s take: Bradley will likely at least contribute on special teams as a rookie. He has a path to getting defensive snaps since the Eagles lack ideal talent and depth at linebacker. Bradley might actually end up ahead of 2020 third-round pick Davion Taylor on the depth chart in the short-term. The former, 23, has more experience and is older than the latter, 21. Bradley obviously won’t be handed anything; he’ll have to earn his opportunities. He might eventually become a starter down the road after he adds more strength. Methinks Eagles fans could end up liking this local guy. He seemingly brings some attitude to the table.
Spider graph via Mockdraftable: