"Wow these two guys are studs aren't they? This what what NFL players are supposed to look like."
Mike Zimmer sounds pretty excited about his new players. The Vikings brought their two first round draft picks, Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater, to Winter Park for their first press conference as official members of the Minnesota Vikings.
General Manager Rick Spielman briefly took the podium to kick things off and convey how excited he was about his two newest players. "But this is far from over," Spielman said, acknowledging there's still plenty to be done in the last two days of the draft. As it stands now the Vikings will make two picks tonight in the third round: #72 and #96 overall, but as we know that is subject to change.
But this afternoon was all about the picks the Vikings already made, and their Head Coach is excited to work with them. Zimmer explained how happy he was with getting two players with such great talent and character. He praised Barr's extraordinary athletic ability along with Bridgewater's ability to win before turning over the podium to the men of the hour.
Anthony Barr came across as a player that's very self-assured yet knows he has room to improve. "I have to hold up my end of the deal now," Barr said after thanking the front office and staff of his new organization. "I'm confident in my abilities and now it's my job to earn my keep." Barr is ready to play wherever he can help the Vikings most. "I'm very competitive. Anywhere they place me on the field, I'll be willing to play." Football is in Barr's blood--his father and two of his uncles all played in the NFL.
Barr only played defense for two years at UCLA and still understands he can learn more on that side of the ball. He explained that the biggest learning curve of his transition to that side of the ball was learning to move backwards; everything on offense was moving forward at all times. Barr also packed on quite a bit of mass since the beginning of college days. He estimates that he came to college around 6'3" and weighing 220 and is now 6'5" and 255. (Probably a good thing he switch from running back, no?) Barr is excited to work with Coach Zimmer. "I'm very detail-oriented and Zimmer is a very technical, detail-oriented coach. I'm looking forward to working with him." The process of getting drafted was a whirlwind for Barr; he said he could barely answer the call from the Vikings due to all the calls and texts he was getting and is excited to head back home to "maybe get some sleep".
If Teddy Bridgewater is as composed in the pocket as his is at the podium, the team is in good hands. He was positive, confident, and humble in his first appearance as a Minnesota Viking. He acknowledged the criticism he received leading up to the draft but thought the most unfair knock on him was his "comparison to Willie Beamon. [The quarterback portrayed by Jamie Foxx in the movie Any Given Sunday]. That was pretty harsh."
Bridgewater said that he received messages from current Vikings Kyle Rudolph and Sharrif Floyd last night. He told the media that Rudolph congratulated him but told him to get ready to work as well. Bridgewater knows that the starting role won't be just handed to him in Minnesota. "My expectation here is to compete at a high level and lead this team." He said that he's prepared to work hard and become the starter only when the coaching staff thinks he's ready.
The heart issue that was brought to light during Mike Zimmer's press conference last night was addressed again today by Bridgewater. He explained that the abnormal test result was a surprise but he wasn't concerned when the second test came back normal.
The issue of gloves was brought up, and make no mistakes about it--the new Vikings quarterback is going to wear them. "Best believe that I'm going to continue to wear my gloves." Shockingly, he doesn't have a glove sponsorship deal--yet. Bridgewater and his gloves' main focus will be on protecting the ball to start his career. He only had four interceptions his senior season at Louisville. "You can't win games when you're turning the ball over."
Bridgewater obviously wanted to go high in the draft but believes that everything happens for a reason and that he's in the right spot in Minnesota. He said that Zimmer likes players with a chip on their shoulders and Bridgewater will come equipped with one as he enters a league.
"You can bet that."