Like most realistic Vikings/football fans, I have no idea how all these draft picks will work out, and the hope is our team hits on several who can help now. There's plenty to praise for me and plenty on which to speculate like (a) the compensation received for trading from eight to nine, (b) did we take the right guy at nine and the position-related direction taken by our leaders.
The team took three CBs very late in the draft and many will wonder why we didn't act earlier on that spot. Fair question. We selected a back-up RB who has played myriad positions during his collegiate career and looks like the next JOE WEBB. Was that the right approach?
Nevertheless, here are some of the players and my thoughts on why we did what we did:
OLB ANTHONY BARR (9th overall): Wasn't a surprise to me, and they preferred him over OSU CB JUSTIN GILBERT, who went a spot ahead of the UCLA guy.
The approach here plays into a theme I feel HC MIKE ZIMMER is establishing. Find talented defensive guys with some question marks and with whom the well respected defensive mind can work. There's no denying Barr was spectacular given he only played two years of defense at a high level, and he made as many splashy plays as any high-ender in the draft.
Clearly Zimmer felt we needed a pass rusher who can trouble the quality QBs in the division and I feel landed a good one in Barr.
QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER (32nd overall): He threw 427 passes last year and only had four picks. He handles pressure. He's very accurate. Did his perceived bad pro day and smallish hands cause him to fall behind BORTLES and MANZIEL? This time last year he was touted as the best college QB in the game.
I want Teddy to be given a fair chance to win the starting job. I don't want the team to treat the entire offseason as if we have the luxury to let Bridgewater simmer behind CASSEL and PONDER. I want him to enter rookie camp Friday and the rest of the offseason prepared to win the starting job and lead us into action at St. Louis. If it doesn't happen so be it.
DE SCOTT CRICHTON (Rd. three, pick 72): This looks like another player who fits what Zimmer wants; position flexibility, tough against run and from afar sounds like a BRIAN ROBISON-type guy. He was a three-year starter as Oregon State and was described to me as " a very tough guy who doesn't stop until he hears the whistle."
RB JERICK MCKINNON (Rd. three, pick 96): This kid from Georgia Southern played CB, QB, RB and FB with GS. OC NORV TURNER is incredibly excited to work with him, and he appears from afar to be the team's new JOE WEBB. Maybe we have some "Wildcat" in store for him? Maybe he'll be given a chance to compete at CB? McKinnon is very fast and explosive and has the feel of a guy who will be up on Sundays. Even with this pick I am not ruling out MATT ASIATA as ADRIAN'S back-up, but McKinnon gives the OC myriad options.
OL DAVID YANKEY (Rd. 5, pick 145): He's huge and plays G and OT. BRANDON FUSCO should start at RG and CHARLIE JOHNSON, JOE BERGER, JEFF BACA, VLADIMIR DUCASSE and Yankey will fight for the other starting spot at G. Seems like Yankey moves man well in the running game.
The final five we selected rounds six and on will battle for roster spots, and I think RICK SPIELMAN wanted to end up with three seventh-round picks to make sure he doesn't get beat on priority rookie free agents he wants he for rookie camp late next week.
In Barr, Crichton, McKinnon and EXUM (sixth-round CB/S) it's clear he wants tough guys who seem to eat and breathe football. The dedication to the craft is the reason I always felt Zimmer wasn't super high on Manziel. There will be talented players already on this roster who will go from mediocre to good and good to very good with the motivation of this new HC.
Given the way Zimmer took unheralded players in Cincy and molded them into performers good enough to lead his defense to high-end respectability I am excited for him to work with guys like JOSH ROBINSON, SHARRIF FLOYD, SHAWN PRATER and GERALD HODGES.
I take the #Faith approach into the offseason until proven wrong and am super excited to see what our new staff can do with this team. Fans should be thrilled to see what Norv can do with JARIUS WRIGHT, CORDARRELLE PATTERSON and even WRs RODNEY SMITH and ADAM THIELEN. It's all new at Winter Park, and hope springs eternal.