Hey kids. GO BUCKS, BEAT OREGON!
There, now that that's out of my system, I gotta say--man, it's good to have a bunch of great New Year's Day bowl matchups back on TV, isn't it? The BCS was cool and all, but stretching the bowls over a week was one of the big detractors for me, and I'm glad I got to see so many great matchups over the course of 12 hours of football.
And while I was watching these games, I started to get some early thoughts about the upcoming draft, and some guys I'd love to see in purple. I have no idea where these guys will grade out, nor do I have any idea on what the Vikings are thinking in terms of personnel. Heck, I can barely figure out what I want to have for lunch (home made clam chowder soup, if you were wondering) much less know what the Vikings off season plan is at this point.
No, this is just more of a 'man, I'd love to see this kid wearing purple' kind of exercise. And I'm also just going to be talking about guys that played in games yesterday, and that I know are either seniors or have declared for the draft, with the exception of a certain FSU QB. Nothing more, nothing less. Cool? Cool.
Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston as the top QB: This doesn't have anything to do with the Vikings, thankfully, because we got our guy, and honestly, I'd take Teddy Bridgewater over both of these guys 14 times out of 10. Both Mariota and Winston have major league arms, but the big difference to me is Mariota's decision making versus Winston. Mariota seems to play within himself more and let the game come to him, where Winston really tries to force the action. Consequently, Winston makes some really questionable throws, and for every eye-popping thread the needle throw, he has a head scratching 'what was he thinking' moment. If I was a GM, taking all the off the field stuff into consideration, I'd avoid Winston like the plague.
As for Mariota, there already seems to be a mini-whispering campaign starting amongst the NFL types that like to find fault in everyone and everything, and I think it's a damn shame. He's a quiet leader, not a hint of off the field trouble, plays to his strengths and limits his weaknesses, and just wins. Sounds kind of like a guy were familiar with around here, and I hope whatever team that ends up with him is as happy with as Marcus Mariota as we are with Teddy Bridgewater. I think Mariota is a special kid, and Ohio State has one hell of a chore ahead of them.
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Wisconsin: Yeah, he's a Badger, which makes him mostly hated around these parts, and I accept that. College rivalries are special that way, and it's okay. But let's face it, whether you think Adrian Peterson will return or not, he has more years behind him as a Viking than he does in front of him, and it's time to think about his eventual replacement. And Gordon would be a great option, as I think he's the best back coming out in the 2014 draft. I love his vision, top end speed, ability to break tackles, and make yards after contact. The only concern I have for him going to the next level is his pass catching ability, as he only caught 19 passes all season. Still, a backfield of Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, and Melvin Gordon sounds pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota: Wow, that's all I can say about Williams. In a passing attack that was at times really limited, Williams' play stood out, and his catch, run, and hurdle for a TD briefly gave the Gophers the lead against Missouri yesterday. Williams is a guy that is going to do well in the NFL, as he has a great combination of size, speed, and hands. What a talent. His only knock is staying healthy, but he did ap retty good job of that this year with the Gophers, only missing a small amount of time. A guy like Williams and Kyle Rudolph in Norv Turner's offense? Yes please.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State: Gordon takes up a lot of the running back talk, but Langford is one hell of a back. I don't think he has quite the vision of burst Gordon has, but I do think he's a little bit of a stronger straight ahead runner at the point of attack, but that's arguable. He also has a limited resume catching passes, as he only caught 11 in 2014, but did catch 28 in 2013. That's a pretty respectable number when you consider the run oriented offense he played in at Michigan State, and I think he's going to do well at the next level.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama: Collins hurt his shoulder in the Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State (WE BEAT BAMA WOOOOOOOOOOO), and I don't think it's any coincidence that Ohio State ended up gashing Alabama on the ground. Still, Collins is a flat out baller, and even when hurt, he was flying around and making plays, giving up his body, and making some big hits. It was a gutty performance that makes me want the Vikings to draft him even more today than I wanted them to yesterday.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: I thought Ohio State did a fantastic job of bracketing Cooper and limiting his big play ability...yet he still caught 9 balls for 71 yards and two TD's. Seriously, if that's keeping Cooper in check...man sign me up, yo. Ohio State had him bracketed deep and underneath on just about every play, and he was still able to pile up catches and score two TD's. Cooper is going to be really good at the next level, and would look great catching passes from Teddy Bridgewater.
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: One guy that's kind of been overlooked, though, is Devin Smith. The Vikes desperately need a big play, deep threat guy if Cordarrelle Patterson can't step up, and there's no one who defines 'big play' more than Smith--he averaged almost 28 yards a catch as a senior, and over 37 yards a catch when he scored a TD. I'm not sure what more you want when it comes to defining 'big play receiver', but that's just me.
With the draft still quite a ways off, we'll have plenty of time to talk about these, and many other guys. Still, this is just a snapshot of impressions I got of some more notable players, and honestly, if the Vikes end up with one or more of these guys on draft day, I'll consider it pretty successful.