Arizona State redshirt junior linebacker Carl Bradford has elected to forego his senior season with the Sun Devils, and has made himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, according to Sports Business Journal Reporter Liz Mullen. Over the past two seasons in Tempe, Bradford racked up 20 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss as Arizona State's "Devil" linebacker.
Mullen broke the news on Bradford when she tweeted that Bradford had signed with NFL agents.
ASU DE/OLB Carl Bradford has signed with Athletes First. A1 NFL agents Dave Dunn & Justin Schulman will rep him for the NFL draft.— Liz Mullen (@SBJLizMullen) January 13, 2014
As of noon on Monday, neither Bradford or Arizona State had given official word on the linebacker's NFL Draft status. However, Mullen's tweet listed specific agents so all indications point to her report being accurate.
Bradford is projected to go as high as the second round by some draft analysts who believe the Arizona State product has tremendous upside as an edge pass rusher at the next level. Bradford is listed at 6-foot-1 and 241 pounds and would fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
The Norco, Calif., native had a breakout 2012 campaign in which he registered 11.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. Bradford, along with defensive tackle Will Sutton, has anchored the Arizona State defense for the past two seasons. Like Sutton, Bradford saw his numbers dip a little in 2013, however he still recorded team highs with 19.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
Bradford's departure leaves a major vacancy in the Arizona State defense. The Sun Devils were expecting him back to provide leadership on a young defense in 2014 and a steady pass rush against opposing offenses.
With the loss of Bradford, Arizona State will return just two of its 11 starters from the 2013 defense as "Sam" linebacker Salamo Fiso and field safety Damarious Randall will be back. The Sun Devils also return sophomore Jaxon Hood who started a few games for Arizona State, but he struggled with an injury and lost his starting spot to Davon Coleman.
Bradford's decision also breaks the trend set recently of Arizona State superstars returning to school. After earning Consensus All-American honors, Will Sutton passed up NFL money to play his senior season in Tempe. Sutton's decision was followed by Sun Devil basketball star Jahii Carson who won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and came back to work on his game for one final season this year.