The draft has come and gone, and we now have the immediate reactions in our rear view mirror. Draft weekend was something we had all been anticipating, and by almost every account, the Vikings got better. For me, after the first round, I had a college graduation to attend. Unfortunately, I missed the rest of the draft live, other than knowing who the Vikings picked.
And that's a good thing. Because I was way too much in the moment on Thursday night...waaaaay too much. I hung on every pick after Dallas passed on Johnny Manziel, and my liver paid a heavy, heavy price. Hopefully, being able to step back a bit with the rest of the picks gives me a little bit more of an objective viewpoint regarding the rest of the weekend, as opposed to being in the moment when the pick was selected.
Eh, who am I kidding? WOOOOOOOOOOOO WE ROCKED WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Ahem, sorry. Anyway, there's only one song that makes sense. Enjoy:
Your probably too overly optimistic SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Rick Spielman said in his last pre-draft presser that 'you can't be afraid' to go after a QB if you thought there was a guy out there worth drafting. When Blake Bortles, a guy most people pegged to go to the Vikings, went to Jacksonville at three, things got interesting. The fact that Bridgewater's stock fell because of some ridiculous whisper campaign about small hands or skinny knees doesn't bother me in the least, and I would like to believe that 10 years from now, people will look back and go 'how in the Hell did he fall all the way to Minnesota at 32?' Everything I've read about him--from his character, to work ethic, to toughness and ability, screams that he's going to be very good in the NFL. Ball don't lie, as they say, and neither does the tape.
Rick Spielman, GM: When the Vikes passed on both Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel at nine, I was perplexed, but not necessarily upset. That didn't happen until the Browns traded with Philly, and it looked like a first round QB for Minnesota wasn't going to materialize. But all credit here to Rick Spielman, he let the draft board play out, made another aggressive move back into the bottom of the first round, and got the best QB coming out of college. His tenure will ultimately be judged on whether or not he can find a franchise QB, but that seems a bit myopic. In three drafts he's had full authority over, he's been aggressive, netting the Vikings seven first round picks. That's a ridiculous amount of top shelf talent, and he's done it without mortgaging future draft classes.
For example, to get back into the first round to secure Bridgewater, he moved up eight spots, giving up the second round pick and a fourth rounder. He didn't even have to sacrifice one of the two third round picks, which I would have been fine with. So essentially, the Vikings gave up a fourth rounder for TB. That's damn near stealing. He also got value throughout the draft while addressing almost every need the Vikings had. Guard? David Yankey. Linebacker? Anthony Barr. QB? already discussed.
People can say what they want about Spielman's time in Miami, and how he missed on Ponder in 2011, and those are legitimate criticisms. Ponder is, anyway. I mean, isn't there a statute of limitations on things that happen 10 years ago, at least in sports? When you take his entire body of work into consideration, to include free agency, for the life of me, I don't understand all the 'Spielman sucks and needs to be fired' talk. No one is going to agree with every signing or every draft pick, but the way he's maneuvered and worked the draft the last three years, and replenished the roster with free agency, it's nothing short of masterful.
Anthony Barr, LB: To reiterate what I wrote after the first round, a 'solid investment' ranking is probably unfair to Barr. Of all the linebackers I looked at prior to the draft, Barr was the guy I looked at the least, and the one guy I don't know a whole lot about. The more I look at him play, the more I like. He's very athletic and quick, which seems to be a common theme for linebackers in a Mike Zimmer defense. He seems like he could be very good in coverage, yet quick on the perimeter while closing at the point of attack. He doesn't have the experience of a C.J. Mosley, but he doesn't have the injury concerns, either. Barr makes the linebackers better, right now, and since they got Bridgewater at the end of the round, I love this pick.
Scott Crichton, DE: This is a pick I really like, almost as much as any other in this draft. Crichton gives the Vikings some rotational depth on the defensive line, and he's another guy that's fast off the edge. Seriously, the Vikings are really stockpiling some perimeter speed, and I think we're really going to like the attacking mentality and style. You obviously need playmakers to make that aggressive style work, and the Vikings now have said playmakers.
David Yankey, G: Another good value pick, and the Vikings have a long history of taking mid to late round picks and turning them into quality starters on the offensive line. Yankey seems like the perfect candidate here to continue that tradition. A lot of folks thought he might be as high as a third round pick, go getting him in the fifth was fantastic. Yankey, by the way, was the fifth round pick the Vikings got from Cleveland in the first round swap from eight to nine.
I can't give anyone a junk bond rating. Like I said Thursday night/early Friday morning, only a jackass would bag on a guy the day his dream of being drafted or signed by an NFL team is realized. I'll leave that to Skip Bayless. For me, I say congratulations gentlemen. Good luck to each and every one of you.
Buy: Drafting Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings needed...NEEDED...to get a top shelf quarterback, and Bridgewater was the best one. I'll admit I had a serious man-crush on Manziel, but Bridgewater will probably end up being the best choice five or ten years from now.
Sell: The health of my liver waiting for the Bridgewater pick. That was a rough couple hours for everyone, including my liver. It wasn't intended, but it turned out to be a good warm up for Beale Street on Friday. That was a couple of tense hours, especially after the Browns stepped in front of the Vikings to grab Manziel. If my Twitter feed and comments on here were any indication, a lot of you were going through the same kind of stress wherever you were, too. [BROHUG]
Buy: Spielman earned the 'genius' label this year. When I read all these mock drafts that had Bridgewater falling into the second round, I frankly didn't believe them. It just seemed nonsensical to me, and if the Vikings wanted him, they'd need to take him at eight. They didn't, still got Bridgewater, and got a potentially great player on defense, too. Hat tip to Rick. He didn't blink, stayed patient, and knocked it out of the park.
Sell: Spielman being labeled a genius if he didn't get Bridgewater. ALL OF THAT SAID, if he hadn't been able to get a top shelf QB prospect, there would be a lot of recriminations and head scratching going on in Vikingsland right about now. I had said that the Vikes didn't need to get a QB at eight...but they needed to get a QB. I kind of felt that worst case, the draft would fall in a manner that would make either Blake Bortles or Derek Carr the prime candidates for the Vikings. If after having the opportunity to take either Manziel or Bridgewater was there at nine, and the Vikings passed, and then missed out on both of them--there would have been a riot. Well, by 'riot' I mean message board/social media rage. And Mike Zimmer's honeymoon would be over. Fair? No. True? Yes.
Buy: The Draft being an awesome event. If there's a better reality show on TV, with maybe the exception of The Deadliest Catch, I have yet to find it.
Sell: Moving the draft back permanently. It all worked out well for us as Vikings fans, but if the NFL holds the draft when they normally do, Teddy Bridgewater is a top five or ten pick. That extra two weeks of sniping, rumoring, and out and out ridiculousness cost him, potentially, millions. I thought it was a horrible move by the NFL, and I hope they go back to April.
Kids, it's a fun time to be a Vikings fan, recent on the field results aside. We've had three straight great drafts thanks to a smart and savvy GM, a new coach who seems to be the perfect choice, and construction on a new stadium is going on as we speak. Our patience is going to be rewarded. Maybe not this year, but soon.