UCF QB BLAKE BORTLES had his pro day today, and it was well attended by many execs/coaches from around the NFL, and the Vikings had the heaviest of heavy hitters there.
Blake tore it up from what I hear, and the emerging steam surrounding Bortles is he will be the top selection in the May draft. Some feel his best college game came at Penn State when he beat current Texans coach BILL O'BRIEN. Bill, whose team owns the top pick in the draft, may be thinking "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
I am buying into the hype and, indeed, feel Bortles will be the first QB selected in the draft and, too, will go to the Texans. If that's the case what does that mean for Our Beloved Vikings? Let's do a mock that has a right to change as the info is gathered:
1-HOUSTON: Bortles. The Texans can come back in the second round and get a quality WR to help the kid, but I am being told O'Brien "loves Bortles" and that information comes from learned, reliable football minds.
2- ST. LOUIS: After dedicating a high pick to WR TAVON AUSTIN last year the Rams will skip Clemson WR SAMMY WATKINS. They also will skip JADAVEON CLOWNEY because of the money/depth tied to the DL and will take whichever OT they deem best. I feel good about this take.
3- JACKSONVILLE: HC GUS BRADLEY, the former DC for the Seattle Seahawks, will jump at the chance to splash with Clowney, and this will continue the defensive makeover he is cultivating down JAX way.
4- CLEVELAND: Here's where it gets tricky, and this is a major swing pick for the Vikings because the Browns have another pick later in the first round and can land a QB there. Watkins is the right choice here in my opinion, and bookending THEGREAT JOSH GORDON with this guy gives the Browns some significant offensive power no matter the QB.
Thing is, though, this offseason has been so problematic for Cleveland that elite fan base will clamor for JOHNNY FOOTBALL, and he would create a buzz within that covenant because he's mercurial and can be exciting.
The closer we get to the draft, though, and off information I gained while at the Indy Scouting Combine, I am not sure teams trust Manziel enough to invest this much into him. Take Manziel here and he's immediately the face of your franchise, and my gut feeling is he is not ready for that role. Need to think this one out, though. For now I am putting Watkins on the Browns.
5-OAKLAND: The right guy to take here is OLB KHALIL MACK, who will help that porous defense immediately. No QB, Khalil Mack, the guy I want the Vikings to select.
6-ATLANTA: Feels like whichever stud OT is available here will go the way of the Falcons. No shot they select a QB, which means Manziel and BRIDGEWATER still are available, and the Vikings might have to decide between them. With Atlanta's sweet offense I'd move on OSU CB JUSTIN GILBERT to solidify things on the back end of a sketchy defense.
7-TAMPA BAY: With MIKE GLENNON into his second year and JOSH MCCOWN signed via FA this is not a QB spot for the Bucs. Not sure who they will take but it will not be a QB. I'd move on ERIC EBRON, the freakishly talented TE from North Carolina.
8-VIKINGS: So, with Bridgewater and Manziel available here what's the best thing to do? All the right people at the combine kept telling me it's a bad draft to invest in a QB this high, instead finding more value later in the draft. I believe those takes but like Teddy more than Johnny.
Despite his shabby pro day, Teddy Bridgewater has been described as the most pro-ready QB for more than a year, and with MATT CASSEL on the roster there would be no need to rush him into action. Same goes for Manziel, who would have a chance to simmer while Cassel cooks.
This is a very tricky scenario. The fans at the draft party will start chanting "Johnny" and I am not sure the team likes him enough to select him here. The player taken will not be as widely accepted as Johnny Football because (a) we need a QB for the future and (b) Manziel has mega swerve to his game.
Would it be too much of a reach to take stud Alabama MLB C.J. MOSLEY here, then trade from 40 into the back end of the first round and take the best safety available? We would be as defensively strong up the middle as we have been in years. JOSEPH and FLOYD up front, Mosley in the middle, and HARRISON SMITH and say Louisiville S CALVIN PRYOR on the back end. That's very, very enticing.
What if they skip Bridgewater and Manziel and select talented OLB ANTHONY BARR from UCLA? They'd need to feel he can be a three-down 'backer, and by all accounts his talent is immense. Then they would count on drafting a QB around 40.
Thing is, there seem to be many teams looking to move up to the end of the first round/early second round to find a QB like A.J. MCCARRON or JIMMY GAROPPOLO, which means teams selecting at the back part of round one will be in great leverage spots, and teams moving up will have to overpay to get what they want.
I want the Vikings to end up with Mack at 8 or trade back and amass picks in a very deep draft. But if Teddy Bridgewater is available I'd need to think long and hard before passing on him. Seriously, his tape is great, he's a pocket-passing guy NORV would love and wouldn't have to start posthaste. I have liked and still do appreciate Bridgewater more than any QB in the draft and would love to see him wear our colors. I trust him more than Manziel.