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Purple People Readers

A LETTER FROM LOUISVILLE ABOUT TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
In case you missed it, read this well-written letter to us Vikings fans about what we’re getting in Teddy Bridgewater. I already felt great about landing Bridgewater but this letter really seals the deal.
Now, don’t think that I’ve got my purple-colored glasses on and am too blind to see that despite all the talk about Bridgewater’s work ethic and high character, the only thing that matters in the end is his on-field performance.
Christian Ponder is also a great young man, but he can’t play quarterback in the NFL. Being a good human being doesn’t trump your play. If Bridgewater turns out to be a franchise quarterback (which I believe he will be), then his good-guy reputation will further endear him to the fans. 
And that’s a great thing not only for the Vikings, but also the PED-filled and weed-riddled NFL.

A LETTER FROM LOUISVILLE ABOUT TEDDY BRIDGEWATER

In case you missed it, read this well-written letter to us Vikings fans about what we’re getting in Teddy Bridgewater. I already felt great about landing Bridgewater but this letter really seals the deal.

Now, don’t think that I’ve got my purple-colored glasses on and am too blind to see that despite all the talk about Bridgewater’s work ethic and high character, the only thing that matters in the end is his on-field performance.

Christian Ponder is also a great young man, but he can’t play quarterback in the NFL. Being a good human being doesn’t trump your play. If Bridgewater turns out to be a franchise quarterback (which I believe he will be), then his good-guy reputation will further endear him to the fans.

And that’s a great thing not only for the Vikings, but also the PED-filled and weed-riddled NFL.



VIKINGS OTA DAY 1: ADRIAN PETERSON AND HIS PRAYING HANDS CHAIN
The Vikings hit the field for the beginning of Organized Team Activities (OTA). As a fan it’s great to see our favorite team back in action. The Vikings website does a great job of bringing us the highlights in the form of videos and photos. Check out the photo set from today’s workout here.
Most of the photos are what you’d expect, but there was one that particularly stood out because it wasn’t the typical action shot.
The photo (as seen above) shows Adrian with a gold chain hanging out of his jersey. At the end of his gold chain are praying hands. I love this shot because it confirms why we love Adrian. He’s a great player but he’s also someone we can root for because of his work ethic and high character.
We know Adrian is a devout Christian. Obviously, his faith is very important to Adrian and he chooses to wear his chain even while playing football. He probably wears this chain or something similar around his neck 24/7. It’s one more reason for his famous nickname. When it comes to football and God, Adrian is indeed “All Day”.
Skol, yo!

VIKINGS OTA DAY 1: ADRIAN PETERSON AND HIS PRAYING HANDS CHAIN

The Vikings hit the field for the beginning of Organized Team Activities (OTA). As a fan it’s great to see our favorite team back in action. The Vikings website does a great job of bringing us the highlights in the form of videos and photos. Check out the photo set from today’s workout here.

Most of the photos are what you’d expect, but there was one that particularly stood out because it wasn’t the typical action shot.

The photo (as seen above) shows Adrian with a gold chain hanging out of his jersey. At the end of his gold chain are praying hands. I love this shot because it confirms why we love Adrian. He’s a great player but he’s also someone we can root for because of his work ethic and high character.

We know Adrian is a devout Christian. Obviously, his faith is very important to Adrian and he chooses to wear his chain even while playing football. He probably wears this chain or something similar around his neck 24/7. It’s one more reason for his famous nickname. When it comes to football and God, Adrian is indeed “All Day”.

Skol, yo!

BREAKING DOWN TEDDY BRIDGEWATER AND THE CONDEMNATION OF CHRISTIAN PONDER
If you haven’t read Darren Page’s breakdown of Teddy Bridgewater at Vikings Territory, you should do it immediately. One of the best in-depth analysis of Bridgewater’s game and how he fits into Vikings OC Norv Turner’s scheme.
At one point, Page contrasts Bridgewater to Christian Ponder. Bridgewater has the uncanny ability to anticipate where receivers will get open and hang in the pocket long enough to throw a strike. 
The GIF below shows clearly how Ponder lacks anticipation and pocket presence.

Greg Jenning goes in motion and crosses the field to an open zone, but for some reason Ponder does not throw Jennings the ball. Jennings is wide open as you can see in the yellow square below.

Ponder has a clean pocket and has enough time to deliver the ball. More baffling is when he feels slight pressure and runs to his right. All his receivers have run routes to the left. Who was Ponder going to throw to when all the receivers are on the opposite side of the field?
I really like Ponder as a person. I was rooting for him. But this play serves as the final condemnation of his abilities for me. As the saying goes, film don’t lie.
The film on Bridgewater and Page’s breakdown clearly speaks volumes as to why Teddy is an NFL-ready quarterback.
Skol, yo!

BREAKING DOWN TEDDY BRIDGEWATER AND THE CONDEMNATION OF CHRISTIAN PONDER

If you haven’t read Darren Page’s breakdown of Teddy Bridgewater at Vikings Territory, you should do it immediately. One of the best in-depth analysis of Bridgewater’s game and how he fits into Vikings OC Norv Turner’s scheme.

At one point, Page contrasts Bridgewater to Christian Ponder. Bridgewater has the uncanny ability to anticipate where receivers will get open and hang in the pocket long enough to throw a strike.

The GIF below shows clearly how Ponder lacks anticipation and pocket presence.

Christian Ponder Terrible

Greg Jenning goes in motion and crosses the field to an open zone, but for some reason Ponder does not throw Jennings the ball. Jennings is wide open as you can see in the yellow square below.

Greg Jennings Wide Open

Ponder has a clean pocket and has enough time to deliver the ball. More baffling is when he feels slight pressure and runs to his right. All his receivers have run routes to the left. Who was Ponder going to throw to when all the receivers are on the opposite side of the field?

I really like Ponder as a person. I was rooting for him. But this play serves as the final condemnation of his abilities for me. As the saying goes, film don’t lie.

The film on Bridgewater and Page’s breakdown clearly speaks volumes as to why Teddy is an NFL-ready quarterback.

Skol, yo!

THE SEASON OF OPTIMISM
The period right after the NFL draft is an exciting time for NFL fans. Your team has just landed a group of top draft picks and most fans can’t wait to see them workout at rookie mini-camp and OTAs. Vikings fans are no different. We can’t get enough information, photos and videos of the newest team members.
It’s the season of optimism. It’s the preseason before the preseason. That’s why we have to remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself as they say. We have to temper our enthusiasm because there are no pads, no hitting and no veterans like Adrian Peterson to go up against. 
A rookie can look great in shorts doing positional drills and non-contact scrimmages, but it doesn’t mean a thing until training camp starts. Making a one-handed grab against another rookie is cool but without the threat of getting your head knocked off by Harrison Smith, it’s not that spectacular.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but let’s not think a single catch signals the coming of the next Randy Moss. Most receivers can catch the ball with one hand. Not many can do it with the game on the line. That’s when the men are separated from the boys. Or when it comes to the Vikings, the Chris Carters from the Troy Williamsons.
Hearing a player “flash” or make a great play during rookie mini-camp is definitely a good sign. The more times he flashes, the more likely that player will make the cut. Obviously, making more splash plays during training camp carries more weight. Training camp is when it counts. That’s when it’s the whole team in full pads going full bore and full contact. 
Don’t get me wrong. Optimism is great. But not one coach from any NFL team has said anything close to negative during rookie mini-camp or OTAs. A coach praising a player by saying things like “I liked what I’ve seen” doesn’t mean that player is going to be great. In fact, that player could be cut when it’s all said and done. 
As a Vikings fan, I’m generally more optimistic than most. We’ve had our highs (Brett Favre in 2009) and lows (1998 NFC Championship) but I believe things are looking up. We’ve got Teddy Bridgewater, the other rookies and the free agent pickups along with head coach Mike Zimmer, who I believe is shaping the Vikings into the kind of team any football fan would love.
The odds are against us, but with the announcement that Minneapolis is hosting Super Bowl LII, maybe Bridgewater will be a Pro Bowl caliber player by 2018 and the Super Bowl will be a home game for the Vikings.
Yes, I know, maybe I’m being overly optimistic. The regular season can’t come soon enough.
Skol, yo!

THE SEASON OF OPTIMISM

The period right after the NFL draft is an exciting time for NFL fans. Your team has just landed a group of top draft picks and most fans can’t wait to see them workout at rookie mini-camp and OTAs. Vikings fans are no different. We can’t get enough information, photos and videos of the newest team members.

It’s the season of optimism. It’s the preseason before the preseason. That’s why we have to remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself as they say. We have to temper our enthusiasm because there are no pads, no hitting and no veterans like Adrian Peterson to go up against. 

A rookie can look great in shorts doing positional drills and non-contact scrimmages, but it doesn’t mean a thing until training camp starts. Making a one-handed grab against another rookie is cool but without the threat of getting your head knocked off by Harrison Smith, it’s not that spectacular.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but let’s not think a single catch signals the coming of the next Randy Moss. Most receivers can catch the ball with one hand. Not many can do it with the game on the line. That’s when the men are separated from the boys. Or when it comes to the Vikings, the Chris Carters from the Troy Williamsons.

Hearing a player “flash” or make a great play during rookie mini-camp is definitely a good sign. The more times he flashes, the more likely that player will make the cut. Obviously, making more splash plays during training camp carries more weight. Training camp is when it counts. That’s when it’s the whole team in full pads going full bore and full contact. 

Don’t get me wrong. Optimism is great. But not one coach from any NFL team has said anything close to negative during rookie mini-camp or OTAs. A coach praising a player by saying things like “I liked what I’ve seen” doesn’t mean that player is going to be great. In fact, that player could be cut when it’s all said and done. 

As a Vikings fan, I’m generally more optimistic than most. We’ve had our highs (Brett Favre in 2009) and lows (1998 NFC Championship) but I believe things are looking up. We’ve got Teddy Bridgewater, the other rookies and the free agent pickups along with head coach Mike Zimmer, who I believe is shaping the Vikings into the kind of team any football fan would love.

The odds are against us, but with the announcement that Minneapolis is hosting Super Bowl LII, maybe Bridgewater will be a Pro Bowl caliber player by 2018 and the Super Bowl will be a home game for the Vikings.

Yes, I know, maybe I’m being overly optimistic. The regular season can’t come soon enough.

Skol, yo!

ZIMMER AND GRANT POWER LUNCH: OLD GUARD MEETS NEW GUARD WHICH IN THE END IS THE SAME GUARD
I love this photo of current Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and legendary Head Coach Bud Grant. If you don’t follow the Vikings Instagram account, you should. That’s where you’ll find more awesome photos like this one.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall and listen to their conversation. I believe Zimmer is cut from the same cloth as Grant. Both are no-nonsense guys that eat and breathe football.
I’ve said it before and I’ll stick by it until proven wrong, but I believe Mike Zimmer can take the Vikings back to its glory days of the Bud Grant era. Except this time, when we reach the Super Bowl, Vikings will win it.
Skol, yo!

ZIMMER AND GRANT POWER LUNCH: OLD GUARD MEETS NEW GUARD WHICH IN THE END IS THE SAME GUARD

I love this photo of current Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and legendary Head Coach Bud Grant. If you don’t follow the Vikings Instagram account, you should. That’s where you’ll find more awesome photos like this one.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall and listen to their conversation. I believe Zimmer is cut from the same cloth as Grant. Both are no-nonsense guys that eat and breathe football.

I’ve said it before and I’ll stick by it until proven wrong, but I believe Mike Zimmer can take the Vikings back to its glory days of the Bud Grant era. Except this time, when we reach the Super Bowl, Vikings will win it.

Skol, yo!

THE TEDDY BRIDGEWATER STORY

This is a great ESPN Game Day feature on Vikings quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. I think we got a winner on and off the field. 

Skol, yo!

WHY THE VIKINGS WANTED BRIDGEWATER AND NOT MANZIEL AT PICK 22
I know sportswriters like Peter King are respected journalists and by no means am I saying his article on how pick 22 went down is false in any way.
But part of me still doesn’t believe that the Vikings were trying to move up to the 22 spot to take Johnny Manziel.
Here’s why:
1. GM Rick Spielman has said he would never tell or reveal with a trade partner who the Vikings would select. So how do we truly know the Vikings were trading up to get Manziel? From an anonymous person within the organization? Seems suspect to me.
2. I still don’t see any quotes from Spielman or Head Coach Mike Zimmer saying, “Yes, we absolutely tried to move up to get Johnny Manziel.” Or outright confirming, “Yes, we had Manziel as our top-rated quarterback.”
3. What makes better drama and TV ratings on one of the biggest nights for the NFL? “Vikings tried to trade up to get Manziel.” Or, “Vikings tried to trade up to get Bridgewater.”
Manziel was the media darling of the draft. And he was sliding down the board on draft night. Quite the buzzkill when you have the anointed king of football, AKA Johnny Football, dropping. Could the reports have been an attempt to keep Manziel front and center? Possibly. Probably.
4. Vikings – and everyone else for that matter – knew at some point the Browns were interested in grabbing a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks. Since the Browns took CB Justin Gilbert with pick 8, Vikings knew the Browns would most likely take a QB with their pick 26 and didn’t want them to take Bridgewater.
5. Why do I make point 4? A lot of mock drafts had the Browns taking Manziel. Reports surfaced that the Browns had commissioned a study to determine who the best quarterback prospect was and Bridgewater came out on top. Did the Vikings have intel on this fact and tried to move up because they were afraid the Browns would take Bridgewater?
The smiles on the faces of Spielman and Owner Zygi Wilf in the Vikings draft room in this behind-the-scenes video seems like elation from having dodged a bullet and things working out better than they had planned. The Vikings tried to do a pre-emptive strike to nab Bridgewater before the Browns but after being beat out, they were relieved that the Browns took Manziel instead.
6. Coach Mike Zimmer called Manziel’s pro day a “sideshow”. I don’t believe Zimmer is a draft smokescreen kind of guy. He’s a straight shooter. Period.
7. Teddy Bridgewater is a “Zimmer kind of guy”. Hard worker, leader, winner, family-oriented. The two were made for each other.
8. Bridgewater is a pocket passer and fits into Norv Turner’s style of offense better. Manziel is a smart guy (scored high on the Wonderlic test) but he didn’t even call his own protections or audibles at Texas A&M. Not sure if Spielman and Zimmer could expect Turner to work his magic on Manziel to abandon his gunslinger mentality and become a true pocket passer.
Spielman couldn’t afford to miss on a quarterback again after reaching for Christian Ponder. As for Zimmer, he had finally landed his dream job and didn’t want to squander his opportunity. He reportedly said to Manziel, “I’ve been waiting all my life for this chance. Can I trust you?’’ 
For these reasons, I believe the answer for Zimmer was “no.” He, Spielman and the Vikings could not trust Manziel despite his immense talents and “it” factor. In the end, the Vikings got the QB they wanted and his name is Teddy Bridgewater.
Skol, yo!

WHY THE VIKINGS WANTED BRIDGEWATER AND NOT MANZIEL AT PICK 22

I know sportswriters like Peter King are respected journalists and by no means am I saying his article on how pick 22 went down is false in any way.

But part of me still doesn’t believe that the Vikings were trying to move up to the 22 spot to take Johnny Manziel.

Here’s why:

1. GM Rick Spielman has said he would never tell or reveal with a trade partner who the Vikings would select. So how do we truly know the Vikings were trading up to get Manziel? From an anonymous person within the organization? Seems suspect to me.

2. I still don’t see any quotes from Spielman or Head Coach Mike Zimmer saying, “Yes, we absolutely tried to move up to get Johnny Manziel.” Or outright confirming, “Yes, we had Manziel as our top-rated quarterback.”

3. What makes better drama and TV ratings on one of the biggest nights for the NFL? “Vikings tried to trade up to get Manziel.” Or, “Vikings tried to trade up to get Bridgewater.”

Manziel was the media darling of the draft. And he was sliding down the board on draft night. Quite the buzzkill when you have the anointed king of football, AKA Johnny Football, dropping. Could the reports have been an attempt to keep Manziel front and center? Possibly. Probably.

4. Vikings – and everyone else for that matter – knew at some point the Browns were interested in grabbing a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks. Since the Browns took CB Justin Gilbert with pick 8, Vikings knew the Browns would most likely take a QB with their pick 26 and didn’t want them to take Bridgewater.

5. Why do I make point 4? A lot of mock drafts had the Browns taking Manziel. Reports surfaced that the Browns had commissioned a study to determine who the best quarterback prospect was and Bridgewater came out on top. Did the Vikings have intel on this fact and tried to move up because they were afraid the Browns would take Bridgewater?

The smiles on the faces of Spielman and Owner Zygi Wilf in the Vikings draft room in this behind-the-scenes video seems like elation from having dodged a bullet and things working out better than they had planned. The Vikings tried to do a pre-emptive strike to nab Bridgewater before the Browns but after being beat out, they were relieved that the Browns took Manziel instead.

6. Coach Mike Zimmer called Manziel’s pro day a “sideshow”. I don’t believe Zimmer is a draft smokescreen kind of guy. He’s a straight shooter. Period.

7. Teddy Bridgewater is a “Zimmer kind of guy”. Hard worker, leader, winner, family-oriented. The two were made for each other.

8. Bridgewater is a pocket passer and fits into Norv Turner’s style of offense better. Manziel is a smart guy (scored high on the Wonderlic test) but he didn’t even call his own protections or audibles at Texas A&M. Not sure if Spielman and Zimmer could expect Turner to work his magic on Manziel to abandon his gunslinger mentality and become a true pocket passer.

Spielman couldn’t afford to miss on a quarterback again after reaching for Christian Ponder. As for Zimmer, he had finally landed his dream job and didn’t want to squander his opportunity. He reportedly said to Manziel, “I’ve been waiting all my life for this chance. Can I trust you?’’ 

For these reasons, I believe the answer for Zimmer was “no.” He, Spielman and the Vikings could not trust Manziel despite his immense talents and “it” factor. In the end, the Vikings got the QB they wanted and his name is Teddy Bridgewater.

Skol, yo!

THINGS I’VE LEARNED AS A VIKINGS DRAFT-EXPERT WANNABE
Let’s be honest. The term NFL draft “expert” is a bit of a misnomer.
As much as the draft is made out to be a scientific endeavor with all the timing, measuring and performance analytics, it’s still a crapshoot. As many players as Mel Kiper or Todd McShay hit on the nose, there are also glaring misses.
Draft experts – and NFL teams themselves –  are just hedging their bets on whether a player succeeds or fails. A “can’t-miss” player like Tony Mandarich turns out to be one of the biggest busts in NFL history, while Wes Welker goes undrafted and develops into one of the best slot receivers of all time. The goal in the draft process is to get more right than wrong.
As a life-long Vikings fan and amateur NFL writer, I think I’ve gleaned a thing or two over the years based on stories of successes and failures of draft picks. By no means am I positioning myself as someone who knows more than NFL scouts or NFL insiders. With my limited resources and time, below are the 3 things I look for to help me evaluate players.
1. Film Don’t Lie
Obviously I don’t have access to full game tapes of a player or the ability to watch them perform live. All I can base my take on a player is by his highlight videos. Definitely not scientific or exhaustive, I know. But even with that, you can get a good sense of how a player performs.
In the case of Teddy Bridgewater, you can see why he was the best QB prospect under pressure. He avoids the rush effortlessly by staying poised and keeping his head downfield. Bridgewater also doesn’t just lock in on one receiver but goes through his progressions. Don’t believe me? Watch the film.
In contrast, I never saw the same poise watching Christian Ponder’s Florida State highlights. What I saw of Ponder is exactly what he could do with the Vikings. He can hit short to medium timing routes. His deep throws and pocket presence was a question mark because his highlights always featured him with a clean pocket with plenty of time to throw. Perhaps there was a reason why his college highlights never showed him under pressure. Playing for the Vikings, we saw exactly how Ponder handled blitzes – very badly. And his deep throws were at times utterly embarrassing.
2. How Winners Win
It’s not just about winning. Many players come from winning programs. But l think it helps to look at how the player wins. If the player leads multiple comeback victories like Tom Brady did at Michigan, then you shouldn’t discount those performances when grading the player.
The scouts and draft experts fairly graded Brady as a late-round pick based on his scrawny physique, lumbering 40 time, and adequate but not strong arm. But what should have been given more weight was Brady’s confidence and clutch performances. He wasn’t going to give up the starter’s role easily to Michigan’s prized QB recruit, Drew Henson, nor would he easily concede victory when trailing late in games.
Bridgewater showed the same kind of competitiveness as Brady. Bridgewater took an extremely hard hit that knocked his helmet off from Florida LB Jon Bostic in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. But he got right back up and proceeded to shred the talented Gator D. Bridgewater also lead a win over Rutgers while playing hurt with an ankle injury and broken wrist. Bridgewater showed he was physically and mentally tough in those two games.
So it’s important to look at what role a player has in wins. Is he a role player or the guy that makes the play when needed to get the victory?
3. Driving Forces
Grading players is extremely difficult. They’re humans. No one can measure how he deals with adversity. A player can make the leap from high school stud to college stardom but the NFL may be too big of a jump. It’s nearly impossible to know how a player will handle elite competition.
You really need to dig deep into a player’s personal history and psychological makeup. I’m sure NFL teams have methods to investigate a player’s past and psychologically test him. They probably do this at Combine one-on-one interviews and Top 30 meetings. But even then, unless you’re someone who is a good judge of character, it’s hard to know what makes a player tick.
Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. (He’ll be the first one to tell you.) But looking at the limited highlights of Sherman at Stanford, it’s hard to see the brash, talented player he is today. Sherman often looked like a non-factor and quite underwhelming in his “highlights”. (Again, I had a hard time finding college highlight videos of Sherman.)
The only thing that might hint at his success at the next level is that Sherman wasn’t always a cornerback. He converted from wide receiver after he suffered a knee injury at Stanford. Perhaps switching to cornerback was a sign that Sherman was determined to succeed no matter what – that nothing was going to stop him from getting paid to play football.
And you can’t ignore what happens to a player psychologically when he slides in the draft. Sherman thought he’d be taken in round 2, but he didn’t get selected until the fifth round at 154. Sherman used his drop to drive him to prove doubters wrong just like Brady did. Will Bridgewater do the same with his draft slide?
So to wrap up, the draft is a crapshoot and you’re just making smart bets.
I wrote about why I thought Bridgewater should be the Vikings pick and I still stand by it. But for all the talk about Bridgewater and his body of work at Louisville, it doesn’t matter now. The only thing that matters is how he performs on game day in the NFL.
The same can be said of all the Vikings picks. No one knows if the steal of the draft will be Bridgewater as some experts predict. Perhaps it’ll be a late-rounder like Virginia Tech safety Antone Exum. Or maybe it’ll be an undrafted free agent like Missouri Western QB Travis Partridge . Who knows, right?
That’s what I love about the draft even with all the hype – the uncertainty and the promise. After the draft, it’s a new day for your favorite team. It’s a time of endless optimism.
I think the Vikings did a great job in the draft. I’m looking forward to mini camps, OTAs and training camp. All of which can’t come soon enough. Then we’ll truly know if GM Rick Spielman and the Vikings have done a good job of hedging their bets in this year’s draft. I’m hoping we hit the jackpot.
Skol, yo!

THINGS I’VE LEARNED AS A VIKINGS DRAFT-EXPERT WANNABE

Let’s be honest. The term NFL draft “expert” is a bit of a misnomer.

As much as the draft is made out to be a scientific endeavor with all the timing, measuring and performance analytics, it’s still a crapshoot. As many players as Mel Kiper or Todd McShay hit on the nose, there are also glaring misses.

Draft experts – and NFL teams themselves –  are just hedging their bets on whether a player succeeds or fails. A “can’t-miss” player like Tony Mandarich turns out to be one of the biggest busts in NFL history, while Wes Welker goes undrafted and develops into one of the best slot receivers of all time. The goal in the draft process is to get more right than wrong.

As a life-long Vikings fan and amateur NFL writer, I think I’ve gleaned a thing or two over the years based on stories of successes and failures of draft picks. By no means am I positioning myself as someone who knows more than NFL scouts or NFL insiders. With my limited resources and time, below are the 3 things I look for to help me evaluate players.

1. Film Don’t Lie

Obviously I don’t have access to full game tapes of a player or the ability to watch them perform live. All I can base my take on a player is by his highlight videos. Definitely not scientific or exhaustive, I know. But even with that, you can get a good sense of how a player performs.

In the case of Teddy Bridgewater, you can see why he was the best QB prospect under pressure. He avoids the rush effortlessly by staying poised and keeping his head downfield. Bridgewater also doesn’t just lock in on one receiver but goes through his progressions. Don’t believe me? Watch the film.

In contrast, I never saw the same poise watching Christian Ponder’s Florida State highlights. What I saw of Ponder is exactly what he could do with the Vikings. He can hit short to medium timing routes. His deep throws and pocket presence was a question mark because his highlights always featured him with a clean pocket with plenty of time to throw. Perhaps there was a reason why his college highlights never showed him under pressure. Playing for the Vikings, we saw exactly how Ponder handled blitzes – very badly. And his deep throws were at times utterly embarrassing.

2. How Winners Win

It’s not just about winning. Many players come from winning programs. But l think it helps to look at how the player wins. If the player leads multiple comeback victories like Tom Brady did at Michigan, then you shouldn’t discount those performances when grading the player.

The scouts and draft experts fairly graded Brady as a late-round pick based on his scrawny physique, lumbering 40 time, and adequate but not strong arm. But what should have been given more weight was Brady’s confidence and clutch performances. He wasn’t going to give up the starter’s role easily to Michigan’s prized QB recruit, Drew Henson, nor would he easily concede victory when trailing late in games.

Bridgewater showed the same kind of competitiveness as Brady. Bridgewater took an extremely hard hit that knocked his helmet off from Florida LB Jon Bostic in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. But he got right back up and proceeded to shred the talented Gator D. Bridgewater also lead a win over Rutgers while playing hurt with an ankle injury and broken wrist. Bridgewater showed he was physically and mentally tough in those two games.

So it’s important to look at what role a player has in wins. Is he a role player or the guy that makes the play when needed to get the victory?

3. Driving Forces

Grading players is extremely difficult. They’re humans. No one can measure how he deals with adversity. A player can make the leap from high school stud to college stardom but the NFL may be too big of a jump. It’s nearly impossible to know how a player will handle elite competition.

You really need to dig deep into a player’s personal history and psychological makeup. I’m sure NFL teams have methods to investigate a player’s past and psychologically test him. They probably do this at Combine one-on-one interviews and Top 30 meetings. But even then, unless you’re someone who is a good judge of character, it’s hard to know what makes a player tick.

Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. (He’ll be the first one to tell you.) But looking at the limited highlights of Sherman at Stanford, it’s hard to see the brash, talented player he is today. Sherman often looked like a non-factor and quite underwhelming in his “highlights”. (Again, I had a hard time finding college highlight videos of Sherman.)

The only thing that might hint at his success at the next level is that Sherman wasn’t always a cornerback. He converted from wide receiver after he suffered a knee injury at Stanford. Perhaps switching to cornerback was a sign that Sherman was determined to succeed no matter what – that nothing was going to stop him from getting paid to play football.

And you can’t ignore what happens to a player psychologically when he slides in the draft. Sherman thought he’d be taken in round 2, but he didn’t get selected until the fifth round at 154. Sherman used his drop to drive him to prove doubters wrong just like Brady did. Will Bridgewater do the same with his draft slide?

So to wrap up, the draft is a crapshoot and you’re just making smart bets.

I wrote about why I thought Bridgewater should be the Vikings pick and I still stand by it. But for all the talk about Bridgewater and his body of work at Louisville, it doesn’t matter now. The only thing that matters is how he performs on game day in the NFL.

The same can be said of all the Vikings picks. No one knows if the steal of the draft will be Bridgewater as some experts predict. Perhaps it’ll be a late-rounder like Virginia Tech safety Antone Exum. Or maybe it’ll be an undrafted free agent like Missouri Western QB Travis Partridge . Who knows, right?

That’s what I love about the draft even with all the hype – the uncertainty and the promise. After the draft, it’s a new day for your favorite team. It’s a time of endless optimism.

I think the Vikings did a great job in the draft. I’m looking forward to mini camps, OTAs and training camp. All of which can’t come soon enough. Then we’ll truly know if GM Rick Spielman and the Vikings have done a good job of hedging their bets in this year’s draft. I’m hoping we hit the jackpot.

Skol, yo!

VIKINGS SETTING BARR HIGH AND BUILDING BRIDGEWATER TO THE FUTURE
And there it was. A dream come true.
The Vikings were expected to draft a quarterback at some point in the 2014 NFL Draft. But many thought we wouldn’t really have a choice and one of the top picks – Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr – would hopefully just fall to us.
Low and behold, after trading back to the 9 spot with the Browns, Manziel AND Bridgewater were there for the taking. The purple faithful were salivating. So do we take Manziel who most Vikings fans wanted? Or do we take Bridgewater even after his fall from the top projected spot?
We’re the Vikings. So of course the Vikings passed on both. (Insert sad trombone sound effect.)
The Vikings instead selected LB Anthony Barr. I was a bit dismayed because I wanted Bridgewater and thought we should select him at 8 in my previous post. I thought there’s no way we’d get another chance to select the Louisville star. Somebody would take him before the Vikings could trade back into the first round.
After revisiting the scouting report on Barr and watching more videos, my dismay turned to quiet elation. Barr was often compared to LB Khalil Mack, my top pick overall who went to the Raiders at the 5 spot. My concern was Barr seemed to only be a one-trick pony – an elite edge rusher. But Barr is an athletic freak and moves more fluidly than most cornerbacks. Head coach Mike Zimmer envisions him as a 3-down strong-side linebacker. Barr will line up in multiple positions and formations to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
But even after realizing Barr was a solid pick, I still felt deflated by not getting Teddy B. I’m sure most Vikings diehards who wanted Manziel felt the same. It was no secret that at some point GM Rick Spielman would try to trade back into the first round and get our QB of the future. He had to, right? Right?!
Then came word that the Vikings tried to trade up to 22 but were out-gunned by the Browns, who took Manziel. I don’t believe for a second that the Vikings wanted Manziel as was widely reported by several news sources. I think Spielman thought better to be safe than sorry and get Bridgewater then. As I’ve said before, I don’t think Manziel is a “Zimmer guy”.
On the other hand, Bridgewater is a “Zimmer guy”. And we got our guy by taking Bridgewater with the last pick in the first round after trading up with the Seahawks. The Vikings got the player I wanted them to take with their first pick so all was right with the world again. Getting Barr, who is a high character and high ceiling guy, became all the more palatable as icing on the purple cake.
Skol, yo!

VIKINGS SETTING BARR HIGH AND BUILDING BRIDGEWATER TO THE FUTURE

And there it was. A dream come true.

The Vikings were expected to draft a quarterback at some point in the 2014 NFL Draft. But many thought we wouldn’t really have a choice and one of the top picks – Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr – would hopefully just fall to us.

Low and behold, after trading back to the 9 spot with the Browns, Manziel AND Bridgewater were there for the taking. The purple faithful were salivating. So do we take Manziel who most Vikings fans wanted? Or do we take Bridgewater even after his fall from the top projected spot?

We’re the Vikings. So of course the Vikings passed on both. (Insert sad trombone sound effect.)

The Vikings instead selected LB Anthony Barr. I was a bit dismayed because I wanted Bridgewater and thought we should select him at 8 in my previous post. I thought there’s no way we’d get another chance to select the Louisville star. Somebody would take him before the Vikings could trade back into the first round.

After revisiting the scouting report on Barr and watching more videos, my dismay turned to quiet elation. Barr was often compared to LB Khalil Mack, my top pick overall who went to the Raiders at the 5 spot. My concern was Barr seemed to only be a one-trick pony – an elite edge rusher. But Barr is an athletic freak and moves more fluidly than most cornerbacks. Head coach Mike Zimmer envisions him as a 3-down strong-side linebacker. Barr will line up in multiple positions and formations to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

But even after realizing Barr was a solid pick, I still felt deflated by not getting Teddy B. I’m sure most Vikings diehards who wanted Manziel felt the same. It was no secret that at some point GM Rick Spielman would try to trade back into the first round and get our QB of the future. He had to, right? Right?!

Then came word that the Vikings tried to trade up to 22 but were out-gunned by the Browns, who took Manziel. I don’t believe for a second that the Vikings wanted Manziel as was widely reported by several news sources. I think Spielman thought better to be safe than sorry and get Bridgewater then. As I’ve said before, I don’t think Manziel is a “Zimmer guy”.

On the other hand, Bridgewater is a “Zimmer guy”. And we got our guy by taking Bridgewater with the last pick in the first round after trading up with the Seahawks. The Vikings got the player I wanted them to take with their first pick so all was right with the world again. Getting Barr, who is a high character and high ceiling guy, became all the more palatable as icing on the purple cake.

Skol, yo!

VIKINGS AT 8: BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE IN THE 2014 NFL DRAFT
Tonight is the night NFL fans have been waiting for. The NFL draft is just a few hours away. So much has been written about this year’s draft and for way too long because the NFL moved the draft to May. I’ll try not to retread over everything that’s been said because well, everything has been said.
The Vikings are unfortunately in a tight spot. Still in the mix to grab a great player at the 8 spot but just outside from landing an elite player like Khalil Mack.
     
Here’s What I Think Will Happen
GM Rick Spielman will be gun-shy and won’t pull the trigger on a quarterback with pick 8. No Andrew Luck in this year’s draft. If Spielman falters again with a first-round QB pick that turns out to be a bust like Christian Ponder, he knows his job will be bust too. Therefore, I think the Vikings will select a defensive player like CB Justin Gilbert who can immediately help make the rebuilt defense even better. Or the Vikings will trade down to take LB C.J. Mosley and extra picks.

Here’s What I Think The Vikings Should Do
I’d take LB Khalil Mack but he won’t be there at 8. He may in fact go number one overall. It’s hard but I’ll get over not having Mack take the Vikings back to the glory days of the Purple People Eaters. Getting past my pipe dream, then who do we draft? The Vikings need a QB. I love Matt Cassel but he’s not the long-term answer.
Therefore, if Teddy Bridgewater is available (and most draft experts say he’s going to fall), then I say we take him at 8. Why? Two words: Tom Brady. I’m not saying Bridgewater is going to be the next Tom Brady. But we can learn from the Tom Brady story.
You can’t ignore a player’s tape or body of work. Bridgewater performed at a high-level for 3 years while in college. He played hurt, lead comebacks and brought a previously non-existent Louisville football program some national attention because of his play. Brady performed at a high level with multiple comebacks and competed for the starting spot even when Michigan brought in QB Drew Henson as the program’s savior.
Sure, Bridgewater had a “bad” pro day as Mike Mayock labeled it, but Mayock also said JaMarcus Russell had the best pro day he’d ever seen. Pro days don’t mean squat. Again, let’s go back to the film.
What I like most about Bridgewater is how he performs under pressure and while being blitzed. He has great pocket presence. He always keeps his head up looking downfield while sidestepping defenders and then delivers the ball accurately. Brady did the same thing in college and for the Patriots. Bridgewater isn’t a duck-and-run QB at the instant the pocket gets collapsed like Ponder.
If you watch Ponder’s college film at Florida State, you always see him with a clean pocket and all the time in the world to throw. And the throws he made in college, which were short routes like slants and curls, are the same passes he could only do with the Vikings – if the pocket was protected. Again, the film doesn’t lie.
Some ding Bridgewater for his physical stature. His “skinny” knees have caused him to drop possibly even out of the first round. Did you see tape of Brady at the NFL Combine? He looked like the most un-athletic football player ever. Scrawny, slow and lumbering. But what all great NFL QBs have is a decent arm and the guts to stand in the pocket to deliver an accurate throw when the team needs it most. Brady has “it”. I believe Bridgewater has the “it” factor too.
I also believe that Johnny Manziel has the most “it” factor of anyone in the draft. I’ve softened my stance on Manziel and think he’s going to be a good player in the NFL. But I don’t see Manziel fitting in with head coach Mike Zimmer and the personality of the Vikings team he’s trying to build. I can see Bridgewater fitting in perfectly with the other hardworking, character guys that have been on the roster and the new players signed during free agency.
Take Bridgewater at 8. Let him compete with Cassel for the starting QB job. If he can’t beat out Cassel, then let him sit and learn. It worked out for Brady. It might just work out for Bridgewater and the Vikings.

Quick Hits
QB BLAKE BORTLES: Linked a lot to the Vikings at pick 8. He looks and smells like a big time QB. So did Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell. But Bortles may be the biggest bust. Read this great article on why.
QB A.J. McCARRON: A winner. Don’t discount him. I thought he out-threw Bortles at the NFL Combine. He looked relaxed. Nothing seems to bother him. He’s got confidence bordering on swagger.
QB DEREK CARR: He’s got a great arm and is accurate. Except when his protection breaks down. The worst completion percentage under pressure out of all the top prospects. Vikings don’t need another QB who can’t take the heat.
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY Super freak. Physical skills are off the charts. But I question his heart and drive. Saw a lot of film where he looked gassed and gave up on plays. I’ve never seen that in an elite player. Ever.
CB KYLE FULLER: This guy has size and speed. He just makes plays. Period.
FS BROCK VEREEN: Former Golden Gopher. His physical skills have turned heads. Word is that he’s going to be a steal in the late rounds. I wouldn’t be mad if the Vikings take him.
LB C.J. MOSLEY: Prototypical inside linebacker. Big. Fast. Tough. I liked his tape. And he’s high character guy and a leader.
LB KYLE VAN NOY: The guy is everywhere where the ball is. He makes plays and usually in spectacular fashion.

Live Tweeting The Draft
Follow me on Twitter @purppeepreaders. I’ll be live tweeting reaction to the first round of the draft tonight. Hope to hear your takes too!
Skol, yo!

VIKINGS AT 8: BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE IN THE 2014 NFL DRAFT

Tonight is the night NFL fans have been waiting for. The NFL draft is just a few hours away. So much has been written about this year’s draft and for way too long because the NFL moved the draft to May. I’ll try not to retread over everything that’s been said because well, everything has been said.

The Vikings are unfortunately in a tight spot. Still in the mix to grab a great player at the 8 spot but just outside from landing an elite player like Khalil Mack.

Here’s What I Think Will Happen

GM Rick Spielman will be gun-shy and won’t pull the trigger on a quarterback with pick 8. No Andrew Luck in this year’s draft. If Spielman falters again with a first-round QB pick that turns out to be a bust like Christian Ponder, he knows his job will be bust too. Therefore, I think the Vikings will select a defensive player like CB Justin Gilbert who can immediately help make the rebuilt defense even better. Or the Vikings will trade down to take LB C.J. Mosley and extra picks.

Here’s What I Think The Vikings Should Do

I’d take LB Khalil Mack but he won’t be there at 8. He may in fact go number one overall. It’s hard but I’ll get over not having Mack take the Vikings back to the glory days of the Purple People Eaters. Getting past my pipe dream, then who do we draft? The Vikings need a QB. I love Matt Cassel but he’s not the long-term answer.

Therefore, if Teddy Bridgewater is available (and most draft experts say he’s going to fall), then I say we take him at 8. Why? Two words: Tom Brady. I’m not saying Bridgewater is going to be the next Tom Brady. But we can learn from the Tom Brady story.

You can’t ignore a player’s tape or body of work. Bridgewater performed at a high-level for 3 years while in college. He played hurt, lead comebacks and brought a previously non-existent Louisville football program some national attention because of his play. Brady performed at a high level with multiple comebacks and competed for the starting spot even when Michigan brought in QB Drew Henson as the program’s savior.

Sure, Bridgewater had a “bad” pro day as Mike Mayock labeled it, but Mayock also said JaMarcus Russell had the best pro day he’d ever seen. Pro days don’t mean squat. Again, let’s go back to the film.

What I like most about Bridgewater is how he performs under pressure and while being blitzed. He has great pocket presence. He always keeps his head up looking downfield while sidestepping defenders and then delivers the ball accurately. Brady did the same thing in college and for the Patriots. Bridgewater isn’t a duck-and-run QB at the instant the pocket gets collapsed like Ponder.

If you watch Ponder’s college film at Florida State, you always see him with a clean pocket and all the time in the world to throw. And the throws he made in college, which were short routes like slants and curls, are the same passes he could only do with the Vikings – if the pocket was protected. Again, the film doesn’t lie.

Some ding Bridgewater for his physical stature. His “skinny” knees have caused him to drop possibly even out of the first round. Did you see tape of Brady at the NFL Combine? He looked like the most un-athletic football player ever. Scrawny, slow and lumbering. But what all great NFL QBs have is a decent arm and the guts to stand in the pocket to deliver an accurate throw when the team needs it most. Brady has “it”. I believe Bridgewater has the “it” factor too.

I also believe that Johnny Manziel has the most “it” factor of anyone in the draft. I’ve softened my stance on Manziel and think he’s going to be a good player in the NFL. But I don’t see Manziel fitting in with head coach Mike Zimmer and the personality of the Vikings team he’s trying to build. I can see Bridgewater fitting in perfectly with the other hardworking, character guys that have been on the roster and the new players signed during free agency.

Take Bridgewater at 8. Let him compete with Cassel for the starting QB job. If he can’t beat out Cassel, then let him sit and learn. It worked out for Brady. It might just work out for Bridgewater and the Vikings.

Quick Hits

QB BLAKE BORTLES: Linked a lot to the Vikings at pick 8. He looks and smells like a big time QB. So did Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell. But Bortles may be the biggest bust. Read this great article on why.

QB A.J. McCARRON: A winner. Don’t discount him. I thought he out-threw Bortles at the NFL Combine. He looked relaxed. Nothing seems to bother him. He’s got confidence bordering on swagger.

QB DEREK CARR: He’s got a great arm and is accurate. Except when his protection breaks down. The worst completion percentage under pressure out of all the top prospects. Vikings don’t need another QB who can’t take the heat.

DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY Super freak. Physical skills are off the charts. But I question his heart and drive. Saw a lot of film where he looked gassed and gave up on plays. I’ve never seen that in an elite player. Ever.

CB KYLE FULLER: This guy has size and speed. He just makes plays. Period.

FS BROCK VEREEN: Former Golden Gopher. His physical skills have turned heads. Word is that he’s going to be a steal in the late rounds. I wouldn’t be mad if the Vikings take him.

LB C.J. MOSLEY: Prototypical inside linebacker. Big. Fast. Tough. I liked his tape. And he’s high character guy and a leader.

LB KYLE VAN NOY: The guy is everywhere where the ball is. He makes plays and usually in spectacular fashion.

Live Tweeting The Draft

Follow me on Twitter @purppeepreaders. I’ll be live tweeting reaction to the first round of the draft tonight. Hope to hear your takes too!

Skol, yo!