Search
Archives
Categories

Archive for the ‘Xavier Rhodes’ Category

Blogging has been light the last few days because I watched (obsessed over?) the NFL Draft. I’ll admit that I’m a homer. That doesn’t mean I’ll just blindly trust that GM Rick Spielman and Coach Zimmer picked players that they couldn’t believe were still there. Still, Spielman has built some trust with his last 3 drafts.

Let’s see what others are saying about the Vikings picks, starting with LB Anthony Barr:

“He’s only been a defensive end for two years. He needs experience. When you watch the tape, does he look like Jason Taylor or what? There’s a lot of upside, and (new head coach) Mike Zimmer and his staff will get it out of him.” — Mike Mayock

Barr started his time at UCLA as a running back. The fact that he was a feared pass rusher the last 2 years tells me he’s got great natural talent but that he’ll become a great player with Zimmer’s coaching. NOTEWORTHY: Anyone that’s 6’5″ and runs a 4.6 forty is a freakish athlete.

Teddy Bridgewater:

“That (pro day) workout is something I’ve been fighting for a couple months now. His pro day didn’t confirm what I saw on the game tape. But he needs to get stronger. Bridgewater has the intangibles; he’s smart.” — Mike Mayock

Bill Polian, the guy who drafted Peyton Manning said that Bridgewater a) was excellent at manipulating safeties with his eyes” and that he was excellent with his pre-snap reads. Those statements tell me that Bridgewater a) is willing to work hard to be the leader of the offense and b) has the smarts to be a top quality QB. Finally, Bridgwater’s character is off the charts outstanding.

David Yankey:

“This is a great fit for the Vikings. They believe in physical players and Yankey is a phone booth brawler. Trust me, I know (Vikings general manager) Rick Spielman and (head coach) Mike Zimmer, and this is the kind of player they bang the table for.” — Mike Mayock

Simply put, Yankey, barring injury, will be the starting left guard for the Vikings by midseason. He’s a Stanford kid so he’s smart. He’s physical and he’s played every position on the line except center. That they got him in the fifth round screams exceptional value.

Antone Exum:

“Exum is a well-built individual, and showed good fluidity in pass coverage and also an ability to track the ball well. Exum was a highly regarded player two years ago, but suffered a knee injury playing basketball in January of 2013. Exum came back to play in the 2013 season, but only played in three games and did not play at the same level as the previous season.” — Gil Brandt

Exum played the side opposite Chicago first round pick Kyle Fuller when healthy. He’s considered to have great versatility because he can play in the slot in nickel packages or play safety. The other thing that’s worth noting is that he isn’t afraid to hit people in run support.

The Vikings did a great job the last day of the draft. Exum and Yankey are excellent examples of that but they aren’t the only examples of how Spielman worked the draft for maximum value:

Shamar Stephen:

Analysis

Terrific size. Very athletic for a big man. Generally plays on his feet. Occupies blocks. Flashes the ability to lock out and reestablish the line of scrimmage. Has raw tools to work with. Scheme versatile. Solid personal and football character.
Draft Projection: Round 3

Anytime a team picks up a third round talent at a position needing depth in the 7th round, that’s an outstanding value pick. While it’s impossible seeing him beating out Vikings NT Linval Joseph, it’s easy to see him providing much-needed quality depth at the position.

Brandon Watts, OLB Georgia Tech:

Rare timed speed. Very quick to the perimeter and covers a lot of ground. Easily keeps stride with tight ends in the slot and offers solid man-coverage ability on backs. Can carry receivers vertically and buzz the flats. Lines up on the edge and offers some pass-rush potential. Is fluid and loose-hipped dropping into coverage.

If Watts makes the Vikings, it’ll be because he impressed on special teams. Still, this is a worthwhile pick because it’s a last round pick spent on a player who has the physical tools to work with.

Various websites have given the Vikings high grades for this draft class. They certainly sent a message to the NFC North QBs that they’d better prepare to get hit often under Mike Zimmer. They also solved their QB problems with Bridgewater. Finally, they stockpiled talent for their secondary in the 6th and 7th rounds, thanks in large part to the outstanding depth in this draft.

Let’s remember that Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman were fifth round picks for Seattle in years that weren’t half as deep as this year’s draft.

This draft, combined with the players the Vikings have picked in the first round in 2012 and 2013, will help the Vikings compete for the NFC North championship within 2 years. Let’s remember that Spielman picked franchise left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerstone safety Harrison Smith in the first round in 2012 before picking DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes and WR/KR extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round last year.

One of my favorite Vikings writers is Mike Wobschall. His Monday Morning Mailbag report is essential reading for all Vikings fanatics. For quite awhile, there’s been a debate raging amongst Vikings fans on whether to win as many games as possible each year or whether to tank and get a franchise QB. This Q & A from this morning’s MMMB tees things up perfectly:

Q: After a rough start to the year, I was hoping to get the best draft picks, which unfortunately means losing. Watching the way we are playing right now, it is impossible to hope for losses. Adrian Peterson’s strong finish last week that willed us to that win set the tone for everyone in the organization. It was also great to see Matt Cassel’s fire and leadership today, as well as improved secondary play. You can’t help but love the team dynamic that is showing up this late in the season, despite a tough year. Skol Vikes. — Zach S.

A: One thing to consider on the topic of losing draft positioning with wins in a “lost season” is that when you win games it means certain and various aspects of your team are performing well. Most likely, and in the Vikings case this season, those aspects that play well and thus help yield wins are going to be core members of the team in future years. You have to balance the value of having slightly higher picks with additional losses against having slightly worse picks with a few extra wins.

I’ll take the wins every time, no questions asked.

This is where I disagree with Mike Wobschall from a theoretical standpoint. After yesterday’s games, the Vikings likely won’t get a Top-3 pick, which is what’s needed to get a franchise QB or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Yesterday, Matt Cassel played ok for the first three quarters before lighting things up in the 4th quarter. He has an opt-out clause in his contract, which would allow him to become a free agent after the end of this season. I have nothing against Cassel. It’s just clear that he isn’t a long-term solution to the Vikings’ QB problems.

There’s nothing wrong with losing lots of games one season so you can get that long-term solution at QB. From a tactical standpoint, it’s saying ‘We won’t win this year but we’re setting ourselves up for Super Bowl runs for a decade.’ That isn’t surrender. It’s a tactical retreat to regroup and restock.

The Vikings did that two seasons ago. Their reward was drafting Matt Kalil with the 4th overall pick, then using the pick they got from Cleveland to trade back into the first round and drafting Harrison Smith. They’re Vikings cornerstones for the next decade, with Kalil anchoring the offensive line and Smith co-anchoring the secondary with Xavier Rhodes for the next 8-10 years.

Getting a franchise QB would be huge, especially in light of Cordarrelle Patterson’s monster game yesterday. CP, as his teammates call him, is a total beast. He’s big, athletic, fast and willing to dish out punishment to defensive backs. With a franchise QB, they could become annual threats to win a Super Bowl championship.

One QB who hasn’t attracted much attention is San Jose State quarterback David Fales. CBSSports’ Rob Rang sang his praises in this article.

The Vikings will surely finish with a top-10 pick. That might be enough to get Fales, a QB that Rang describes as being able to make all the throws, is accurate, has good touch and awarenesss.

One thing that Mr. Wobschall and I agree on is that Rick Spielman is the right man making the draft day decisions. In the last 2 drafts, Spielman has picked 6 Pro Bowl-caliber players in Kalil, Harrison Smith, Blair Walsh, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman has put some impressive pieces of a championship puzzle together on this team. What they need is a QB who doesn’t just manage games but a QB who wins games by putting the team on his back. That certainly isn’t Christian Ponder. Long-term, that isn’t Matt Cassel. Long-term, the solution might be David Fales.

Finally, the Vikings need a new head coach. As much as I respect Leslie Frazier as a man of integrity, he isn’t the man to put a championship-caliber system together.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,