Monday, September 21, 2015

The Vikings Looked Way Better… But I Have Had My Heart Broken Before.

The Vikings Looked Way Better…

On Sunday, September 20th, the year of our Lord 2015; the Vikings duked it out with the Detroit Lions. The young Vikings team was nearly unrecognizable. They appeared to have poise, determination and just a pinch of dirty; as they rallied from a devastating week one embarrassment (click here if you are curious about how I felt about that game) to a glorious week two triumph!

In the name of brevity, I am breaking this piece into two sections. The first portion will be the “reasons to party” section. This is where my opulent gush of child-like giddiness and blind optimism will be found. This section will still be factually driven, but I may not be able to stop myself from finding greatness in those facts!

The second section will be the “R-E-L-A-X” field of this piece. Coming off of the first section, and entering this one will probably feel like math homework as a child. You celebrate after a half of an hour of toil to solve a problem, but then you realize that there are still 14 more to go.

Reasons to Party:

1.      The Vikings won their first Divisional game!
a.      Last season, the Vikings did not win a NFC North Divisional game until week 17. This year, the skol boys man-handled the Lions in their second week!

2.      Adrian Peterson is back.
a.      This past week against the Lions, the former MVP was explosive, elusive and exciting to watch! He broke a 20+ yard gains on a run and a reception for a grand total of 192 total yards (140 more that last week). I say AP is still the best in the league until proven otherwise.

3.      The Offensive Line played much better.
a.      Granted, the Detroit Lions run defense is a mere shadow of what it was during the 2014 NFL Season; but that doesn’t change the fact that they managed to open up holes for AP and only allowed Teddy Bridgewater to be sacked once the entire game. For an offensive line that is starting 3 backups… they played very well.

4.      The Defense was a whole new animal.
a.      The Vikings defensive front held the Detroit Lions to 38 yards rushing, had eight hits on the quarterback and one sack. The Linebackers and secondary did not allow a Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate to reach 100 yards, and did not give up a single 20+ yard play the entire game. The Detroit Lions offense has a lot of weapons, and the Vikings defense did a very good job at bottling them up.

5.      Teddy Bridgewater returned to form.
a.      The young Quarterback was very hard on himself and his team after last week’s flop performance. He admitted that he was too nervous to play efficiently, and he promised to rectify the situation this week. Bridgewater did not light up the world, but he was accurate, poised and smart. He made plays with his arm and his legs when we needed him to, and was a huge part of the Vikings win.


1.      The Lions were projected to take a step back this year.
a.      The Detroit Lions were a very formidable opponent to many last year, and finished the season 11-5. This year, after a few off-season losses, the Lions are usually projected to finish with a record in the range of 8-8. The Lions still have a lot of talent on their team, but we all know that they aren’t the 2014 smash mouth Lions.

2.      Penalties are still an issue.
a.      The week one Vikings were summed up by mental errors and apathy. Though the apathy appears to be gone, the aftershocks of the mental errors are still evident. The Vikings had 10 penalties that cost them 97 yards in week two. Games will have penalties, but they need to tighten this up.

3.      The Green Bay packers are still the top dog.
a.      The Vikings managed to put of 351 yards against the Detroit Lions yesterday. Last night, the Packers tallied 361 total yards vs. Seattle. The Lions have a decent defense, but it is not the legion of boom (even if they are short one member). The Packers are riddled with injuries, and were short two more last night (Eddie Lacy, Davante Adams). They still managed to beat the Super Bowl favorite by 10 points.

Last week had many Vikings fans’ hopes and dreams for a comeback season on the ropes. We all know that they still have a lot to improve upon, but I think it is safe to proceed forward with caution. The Vikings are still a young team that will give up a winnable game here and there, but the talent and potential is still alive and well!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Vikings Sucked... But I Have Some Excuses.

The Vikings Sucked…

Last night, the Vikings were blown out by the San Francisco 49ers in an embarrassing display. The obviously lacking conditioning along with the complete absence of awareness seemed to be epidemic as each Viking player unveiled their porous effort and mental incapacity. All of the hype, excitement and intrigue that surrounded the young team going into last night’s game quickly dissipated with each blow from the supposedly collapsing 49ers. I stayed up to watch the whole thing knowing that this horrid performance would spark an angry blog post. I am red-eyed, irritable and surviving on a cup of highlander grog; so I feel I am in the perfect state to birth this tantrum.

First, I would like to give credit where credit is due. The 49ers offensive line had an outstanding performance against a defense that many thought would be a top five contender. They ran the ball effectively, and controlled the time of possession battle. 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick made very few mental errors. He didn’t force throws, he ran when he needed to and was very much in the driver’s seat of their offense. Lastly, Carlos Hyde looked more like AP than Adrian Peterson did. He was aggressive, patient and showed off a barrage of physical gifts. All in all, hats off to the coaching crew. They were creative and prepared.

Now… here are a few words on the vapid performance of an over-hyped and entitled crew of under-performers known as the 2015 Minnesota Vikings.

I would like to start this petulant rant by stating that the offensive line was horrid. They allowed five sacks to a team that lost their two best pass rushers in the off-season. It seemed that every time the 49ers blitzed, Teddy was on the ground less than a second after the pigskin made contact with his gloves. Joe Berger is not a center! A fact which was not helped by our running backs inability to pick up the blitz! Four out of five sacks came from a linebacker or safety shooting right through Joe Berger’s and Brandon Fusco’s would-be blocks! Not only were they awful in pass protection, but the even more glaring pitfall is their cringe-worthy attempt to create holes for the running game. Awful performance!

Next, let's chat about our defensive line. This is a crew that is supposed to be in the upper echelon of pass-rushing and run-thumping goodness. WHERE WERE THEY?! They tallied one sack in an entire game against an offensive line that lost Michael Iupati and Anthony Davis this off-season. I am willing to bet a significant amount of money that most 49er fans couldn’t name a starting offensive lineman for their team except for Joe Staley and maybe Aaron Boone. Entering this game, I and many others thought that Kaepernick would be running for his life and that Carlos Hyde would at least struggle. A dream that faded after his second rushing Touchdown. Unlike the Minnesota’s offensive line, our defensive line doesn’t have the luxury of the injury excuse for their piss-poor performance. BE BETTER!

Lastly, I would like to talk about our coaching. The Vikings ran Adrian Peterson 10 times the entire game. WHAT?!?! He still looked explosive on the few occasions with where he was provided with a smidgen of daylight, so I don’t get the logic. He spent the majority of the night on the sideline, while Norv just watched Teddy struggle. The second year quarterback was obviously nervous and very inaccurate, but AP was still planted on the sideline. Even when Teddy got into a rhythm for small portions, they didn’t change up the play calls with a nice pass/run mix. It was boring, and reminiscent of a Mike Tice offense. I think we all expect more.

The other coaching quandary that is baffling me is the decision to leave Gerald Hodges in the game. Is he good in pass-coverage? Sure. He is not a run-stopping MLB. He is a weak-side line-backer who will be best suited to take over for Chad Greenway in a year. Meanwhile, we have Audie Cole going bad on the sideline who is our pure, run-stopping, thumper middle linebacker! Come on! Recognize the need, and the talent you have on the bench!  

Hey! I have been here for three years now, and this is crazy, but I get 15 tackles and a turnover every time you start me!
Though that was one of the worst games I have ever had the displeasure of enduring… There were some positive takeaways.

The first positive takeaway from last night was the blocked punt and return. The Vikings continue to hold on to Marcus Sherels and he is always a key contributor on special teams. He had a decent punt return and an awesome scoop and return on the blocked punt. They are rare, but exciting!

The second positive takeaway is everything that Anthony Barr did. He managed to pressure the quarterback once or twice, rack up 12 tackles and a batted down pass. Harrison Smith gets a shout out for the lick he put on Kaepernick, and Xavier Rhodes and a pretty good game as well.

The third positive takeaway is the pass defense. Minnesota only allowed 165 yards through the air, one pass of 20 yards or more and no touchdowns.

The fourth positive takeaway is that, despite a bad interception and a few errant throws, Teddy Bridgewater still had a 71.9% completion percentage and 231 yards in a game where he was pressured often. Though it may have felt bad, it really wasn’t the worst start in the world for the young quarterback. We may need to have more realistic expectations for Teddy.

The last positive takeaway that I have is that despite a mental error, T.J. Clemmings played very well. He needs some work on run-blocking, but he is a natural pass protector.

Lastly, I have some qualifiers that might give last night’s game a little perspective.
  1. The Vikings offensive line was missing its two best players.
  2. Despite the hype, last night was Teddy Bridgewater’s 12th start in the NFL. He is still a young QB who is going to be prone to a little nervousness for the season opener.      
  3. Though the Vikings were particularly bad, it was the first game of the season. Keep that in mind.

Though this game should definitely alter your expectations for the Vikings 2015 season, I don’t think it is the appropriate time to start panicking. It is possible that the 49ers are more than we expected. The Vikings have some serious issues to address, but I don’t believe that all is lost. 

P.S. If I ever have to sit through a game that is commentated by Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer again... I might die.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Vikings 2015 Season Predictions: Weeks 1-4

A while back I read an article by Aaron Schatz on ESPN insider. This article entailed early record predictions for the NFC North Divisions. I have to say that I didn't agree with a lot of his predictions all around the NFC, but the NFC North was particularly bad.

Here is a picture....

I know... It is painful if you are a fan of any of these teams. He has every single team trending down, except the Chicago Bears... Seriously? Every off-season almost every analyst I see is singing the Bears praises, and what have the Bears delivered? Nothing. Last season, they were supposed to supplant the Green Bay Packers as the head of the NFC North. Anyone remember how they finished?

Here is another picture just to let it sink in.
That's right... in last place. The Chicago Bears ranked last in the division as well as in every single category you see above, but that doesn't stop Aaron Schatz from predicting a two game jump to second place in the division? based on what??? a single draft!

Let me get this straight... You are counting on a rookie receiver, a rookie defensive tackle, the replacement of Charles "Peanut" Tillman with Antrel Rolle and the addition of Pernell McPhee to win you two more games? I think we should all remember that Brandon Marshall will be gone. I understand that he had an injury filled year last year, but counting on a rookie receiver who had one good year in college to exceed the production of Brandon Marshall is pretty outlandish...

Why are the analysts always so high on the Bears?

For a great article on this recurring phenomena, click here! My bro Max Rymer hits the nail on the head!

After a slightly heated introduction, I would now like to get to my Vikings season predictions!

Oh! One more thing, the Bears will finish 4-12; you heard it here first. 

For those of you who have followed my blog around this time of year for the past, you know how this goes. I will cover the Vikings Regular Season four predictions at a time, and with as little bias as I can possibly allow. If you have read a couple of my previous blogs, you know that I think the Vikings are looking at a 10-6 season. Now, I will give you my thoughts game-by-game.

Mr. Schatz has the Vikings winning one less game than last year. I grant that he wrote this before he knew about AP's return, but he knew about the Free Agency moves and the draft... yet he still has them at one game worse than last year. I hate him.

Week 1: San Francisco 49ers: Win

San Francisco has lost about half of their starting players to injury, retirement, suspension and Free Agency. Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington, Vernon Davis, Reggie Bush, Carlos Hyde and Kaepernick make up a pretty decent set of weapons; but they have lost 2 of their starting offensive lineman, and a good portion of their starting defense. It is going to be a rough year for the 49ers. Why? Because Colin Kapernick isn’t a good enough quarterback to win games if the defense isn’t helping him win the time-of-possession battle. 49ers are in for a rough year. I predict they will go 5-11.

Why: The Vikings are just the better team all around. I would take Bridgewater over Kaepernick, AP over Hyde/Bush, the entire defense and offensive line of the Vikings over the 49ers, but the receiving corps are too close to call. The two leading receivers for the 49ers are both over 30, but Torrey Smith provides a good option.

Week 2: Detroit Lions: Win

This is the week of the season where we see how much the Detroit Lions defense has regressed. They have gone from a defense that never needed to blitz because their front four owned the line of scrimmage, to a defense that is decent against the run but not able to pressure the QB with the front four. Ansah is their only legitimate sack threat, and he has yet to break 10 sacks in a season. They should have competent linebackers and defensive backs, but don’t expect Glover Quinn to repeat his performance form last year. Levy will be one of the best again, but the rest of the linebacker crew isn’t anything to write home about at this point. The offense has potential to be very good. I think Johnson and Tate play two different roles that will complement each other well, but I am not a believer in Stafford. He had two receivers over 1,000 yards last year and only managed to throw 22 touchdowns, while still throwing 12 interceptions. Stafford will once again throw less than 30 touchdowns and about 15 interceptions. The Lions will go 8-8.

Why: The Vikings will keep the Lions guessing. For the first time in years, the Lions will have to look at consistent blitz packages. Teddy will eat them up over the middle, and the Vikings offensive line should be able to handle the much less impressive defensive line of the Lions. The Vikings defense should be able to keep the Lions offense off-kilter.

Week 3: San Diego Chargers: Win

Dare I say: three in a row! The Chargers are going to have an average offense and an average defense. Without Antonio Gates, Phillip Rivers throws 19 touchdowns last year… needless to say, I think they will struggle mightily in the Red Zone without him. Melvin Gordon has yet to show that he is worthy of his pick, though I think he will break out eventually. If Mark Ingram is now a 2nd round fantasy pick, we have every reason to believe in Melvin Gordon. That being said, the Chargers have a good pair of cornerbacks that will be able to give any team trouble on the outside, but unless Denzel Perryman is the miracle man… they will be eaten up over the middle. The Vikings front four will eat up their offensive line, and Rivers will very likely throw a couple of pressure interceptions. I think the Vikings walk away with this one. The Chargers will take a step back and go 7-9.

Why: The Vikings will eat up the Chargers with short passes, a dominant run-game and constant pressure on the quarterback. The Vikings will be able to have success single-covering the Chargers receivers with Gates out.

Week 4: Denver Broncos: Loss

This is where the Vikings first winning-streak ends. The Broncos have the most well-rounded team in the NFL right now… hats off to you John Elway. On the defensive side of the ball, names like Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward are enough to make Norv Turner wet himself; but then you look on the offensive side and in addition to Manning, Thomas and Sanders… now it looks like they actually have a promising running game. If that’s not enough, they also have plenty of depth and young talent. Towards the end of last season, it appeared like age may finally be catching up with Manning, but until I see more evidence of a decline I can’t really rely on that. Though I do think this is a winnable game for the Vikings, I don’t think they will win. The Broncos have too many threats on both sides of the ball. They can pressure the QB and cover our receivers. The game is slated to take place in Denver, so let’s just hope it rains because Tom Brady’s friend thinks Peyton Manning falls apart under less than desirable conditions… The Broncos will be 12-4 this year.

Why: The Broncos are the Yankees right now. They have bought all the talent in the world, and now they just have to win. They have more talent, with more experience. I jus think the Vikes will be out of their depth.

2015 Vikings Final Roster Prediction

Teddy Bridgewater
Shaun Hill

Running Backs:
Adrian Peterson
Jerrick McKinnon
Matt Asiata

Full Back:
Zach Line

Wide Receivers:
Mike Wallace
Charles Johnson
Jarius Wright
Cordarrelle Patterson
Stefon Diggs
Adam Theilen

Tight Ends:
Kyle Rudolph
Rhett Ellison
McCoyle Pruitt

Offensive Lineman:
Matt Kalil
Brandon Fusco
John Sullivan
T.J. Clemmings
David Yankey
Joe Berger
Carter Bykowski
Tyrus Thompson
Mike Harris

Defensive Lineman:
Sharrif Floyd
Linval Joseph
Tom Johnson
Shamar Stephen

Defensive Ends:
Everson Griffin
Brian Robison
Scott Crichton
Danielle Hunter
Justin Trattou

Chad Greenway
Anthony Barr
Audie Cole
Gerald Hodges
Eric Kendricks
Edmond Robinson

Xavier Rhodes
Captain Munnerlyn
Terrence Newman
Trae Waynes
Jabari Price
Marcus Sherels

Harrison Smith
Andrew Sendejo
Robert Blanton
Antone Exum Jr.
Anthony Harris

Blair Walsh

Jeff Locke

Long Snapper:
Kevin McDermott

PUP: Josh Robinson
IR: Phil Loadholt

Upset Pick: Edmond Robinson beats out Michael Mauti for a spot.
New Trends: Vikings keep 6  Wide Receivers and 5 safeties.
Maybe: Vikings only keep 2 QB's. Heinecke will most likely sign to the practice squad so he will be accessible if we need him.

Here is to hoping: Vikings keep Marcus Sherels and Josh Robinson, by cutting one of the safeties that loses the competition (my money is on Sendejo not being on the team all year).


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Automatic Fail: New England Patriots

When I was in college, the professors would always hand out the syllabus on the first day of classes. We would sift through each of the professors individual preferences and standards, but there was always one point on every syllabus that was exactly the same: the automatic fail.

The automatic fail is just a simple rule that states, "if you are caught cheating in any way, shape or form; on any assignment or exam, you will automatically fail the course."

Throughout my years at the institution, we went through a syllabus in every class on the first day of every semester. Some professors would even take two or three days just to ensure that the students understood the full measure of the rules and regulations. The funny thing is that, in all my time there, not one student ever protested the automatic fail rule.

A couple of days ago, Roger Goodell handed a hefty punishment to Tom Brady and the Patriots organization for the "Deflategate" scandal. The punishment is as follows: Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL Season (though he is already appealing that ruling), the Patriots have been fined to the tune of one-million dollars, they will lose a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. So far, the reaction to this punishment has been mainly negative. Most of what I am hearing and reading is that the ruling is far too severe for "just letting a little air out of the footballs". The New England Patriots owner and close personal friend of Roger Goodell said:

"Despite our conviction that there was no tampering with footballs, it was our intention to accept any discipline levied by the league. Today's punishment, however, far exceeded any reasonable expectation. It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence."

The battered billionaire also thanked the fans for their support and assured them that the whole

organization shared in their disappointment.

Why is the punishment too harsh? well... it isn't too harsh, but why does everyone think it is?
During my morning commutes to work, I listen to the top Minnesota sports radio station, KFAN. In today's segment of the Power Trip Morning Show, they had the popular WCCO-TV Sport's director, anchor and reporter Mark Rosen in studio. Rosen often sits in during the morning show to offer his thoughts and joke around with Chris Hawkey, Corey Cove and Paul "Meatsauce" Lambert. This morning Rosen hit the nail on the head when it comes to deflategate. He said that "Goodell is just so inconsistent." He continued to say, "This is a guy who originally handed out a two game suspension

when Ray Rice (Former Baltimore Ravens Running Back) clobbered his fiancee."
The issue here is not the punishment at hand. The issue is the fact that Goodell's inconsistency in delivering justice stems from a fanbase reaction, rather than a code of ethics and rules... or a syllabus.
Ray Rice, eventually, was banned from the league (and then reinstated... but still a free agent), but nobody was up-in-arms over the two game suspension ruling until the video of him "clobbering" his fiancee surfaced.

Adrian Peterson was not suspended at all in the 2015 season after he whipped his child with a switch (tree branch), until NFL sponsors threatened to pull out if he continued to play. Then he was, immediately, placed on the NFL Commissioner's Exempt List. Goodell's reasoning for not suspending Peterson immediately was that he was waiting for the legal system to come up with a verdict.

Similar issues have arised with Greg Hardy, Aldon Smith, etc...

The only shred of consistency that I can find in Goodell's justice system is that he initially punishes more severely for the on-field issues.

He suspended Jonathan Vilma for a whole 2012 NFL season for the "Bounty Scandal". Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith also served suspensions. The Saints front office and Head Coach were also severely punished. Sadly... None of the players suspensions played out to their full effect.

In 2007, the New England Patriots were in the news for the "Spygate Scandal". In this instance, Bill Belichick had some of his cronies filming the signal calling of the New York Jets at their practices. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, the New England Patriots were find $250,000 and they missed out of a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft because they made the playoffs. Had the Patriots not made the playoffs, they would have been docked a second and third round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

As you can see, when it comes to on-field issues... Goodell's first move is fairly concise. When it comes to off-field issues, he seems to stumble around. Goodell either needs to let the legal process do its thing and then dole out punishment, or he needs to have a set list of punishments for legal infractions. There needs to be a standard to which everyone is informed. That way we don't get in these murky waters of "fair" and "unfair" punishments.

When it comes to the Patriots, I honestly believe that they should have an asterisk by their 2014 NFL Title in addition to the punishment that was handed out (the punishment that will likely never be served to the full measure). The Patriots cheated. It doesn't matter if they would have won anyway, it doesn't matter if the inflation of the ball actually doesn't make that much of a difference. I believe they should be punished and have their winnings flagged, because they knew what they were doing was cheating.

I believe in the automatic fail.

I believe in firm rules and regulations.

I believe there should be an NFL syllabus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NFC North: Draft Grades

Welp... just like that NFL coverage drops to a minimum. There will be a few posts about the rookies and a few veterans' extra-curricular activities, but NFL fans are looking at a fairly dry three months. What are we to do? Talk about baseball? Not Likely! Instead we will write, argue and theorize about what the future holds for out beloved teams in the upcoming season.

Allow me to do just that in this brief overview...

Unlike many fans, I have always been a big believer in draft grades. I don't believe that a draft grade tells you what you will have, but rather what you should have. The draft is like a chess game, and I would like to take a look at who, theoretically, won in the NFC North.

This year was fairly devoid of big pick trades, so I will be looking at each of the four teams picks based on potential talent and need.

First Up: Detroit Lions!

After a rather productive year with the second best defensive front in the league, they let three of the starters on that front go to free agency. Zyggi Ansah is the one left standing with Suh (Miami), Fairly (St. Louis) and Johnson (Tampa Bay) all heading for places with better weather (but just about the same amount of gang activity). They also lost star running back Reggie Bush (after being shown up by Joique Bell) and a couple of no-name, roster-filler types.

You would think, given the depth of the offensive line prospects in this years draft class, that the Lions would go for a top DT to replace the whole that Suh and Fairly are leaving... Right? Wrong.

At 28th overall, the Lions draft Duke's offensive guard Laken Tomlinson.

Tomlinson is a solid player, but come on! You just lost the best defensive tackle in the game! I know they picked up Haloti Ngata, but he is 31 years old and a run stopper. He has never been a big quarterback sacking type of defensive tackle. They obviously are not going to match the type of production they had last year, but wouldn't you think the Lions would want to get a talented rookie to pair up with Ngata rather than Tyrunn Jones? Who is that you ask? Exactly.

This isn't the worst choice considering that the offensive line is a need for them, but I think the defensive was a much bigger need.

The best pick was selecting Alex Carter in the third round. He is a tall athletic corner with good speed and quickness. He will need to learn to play press coverage better if he is going to be in the NFC North, but he should be able to replace the aging Rasean Mathis (34) soon enough.

Outside of these two picks, the Lions likely drafted Ameer Abdullah in the second round to replace Joique Bell after letting Reggie Bush go. Not a bad idea, and a good value pick. They filled some depth at other positions and called it a day.

Overall Draft Grade: C-

Next: Chicago Bears!

The Bears Defensive picture still has a long way to go. They lost Charles "Peanut" Tillman and added Antrel Rolle, which is a step down in my opinion. The biggest issue is the gaping hole in the middle of the field. They have a very unproven and weak set of inside Linebackers. Unless Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic show they are worth the picks the Bears spent on them, the Bears will be gashed over the middle. They signed Pernell McPhee to play opposite of Jared Allen. He will provide a good boost to their defense. They also lost Brandon Marshall, De La Puenta and Roberto Garza; however they did well in answering these needs in the draft.

With the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft the Chicago Bears selected Kevin White. With the loss of Brandon Marshall, this pick just makes sense. White is a freak athlete at 6'3" and 2l5 lbs. This blazing fast West Virginia talent may need to do a little work on his route running and his left side of the field skills, but with a 4.35 official 40-yard dash time... he will make Jay Cutler look a little better than he is.

My favorite pick of the Bears is adding Eddie Goldman in the second round to their new 3-4 Defense. Goldman's powerful ability to stop the run will make him a perfect fit for the new defensive scheme. He isn't much of a pass rusher, but he won't have to be in the Bears defense.

The Bears also nabbed Center Hroniss Grasu from Oregon (who will develop into a good center) and Running Back Jeremy Langford. Drafting another running back doesn't make much sense to me considering they already have an Pro-Bowl starter and two promising backups, but planning for the future can't hurt. I would have liked to see them draft an Inside Linebacker, because that is a gaping need at the moment, but a fine draft nonetheless!

Overall Draft Grade: B+

Third: Green Bay Packers!

The Packers just seem to have a secret sauce that their players can't leave alone. Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga both agreed to less money to stay with the Packers when they renewed their contracts this off-season. They also renewed B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion to one year contracts.

However, it seems the Packers may have not done their due diligence regarding depth. They entered the draft with five servicable linebackers after releasing A.J. Hawk, Jamari Lattimore and Brad Jones. Ted Thompson only drafted one Linebacker in this years draft, so I would hope he has something up his sleeve, The Packers run a 3-4 defense, so I would think they will need at least two more before the season begins.
Not only are the Packers short on Linebackers, but they are also leaving the draft with only seven proven offensive lineman. With Bryan Bulaga's injury history, I would think that the Packers will be active in the undrafted rookie market.

That being said, the Packers had a very productive draft. In the first round, they picked up a Safety/Cornerback tweener Damarious Randall. ESPN Insider scouting report states that Randall is the best pure coverage Cornerback in the draft this year. The popular conception is that Dom Capers is going to turn him into a nickel back and short route coverage player. He is a smaller, but vastly athletic player with an aggressive demeanor. I would say that the Packers are looking to turn him into a Antoine Winfield style of player.

The best pick for the Packers was their fourth round pick of Inside Linebacker Jake Ryan. Ryan is the prototypical ILB who has good straight away speed and can be a force against the run right away. He has middle-of-the-pack quickness, and can struggle in coverage at times. That being said, if he picks up on the Packers schemes quickly, he will provide Dom Capers with an opportunity to leave Clay Matthews on the outside to secure a solid pass rush.

The Packers also drafted Quentin Rollins in the second round. Rollins is a raw but athletic Cornerback with a basketball background. He had excellent production in his one year of college football at the University of Miami (FL) where he totaled 7 interceptions and 9 passes defended. He will take a little time, but he has all of the physical skill in the wold. Along with Rollins, the Packers picked up Ty Montgomery to take some of the Special Teams responsibility from Randall Cobb and Brett Hundley to be a much needed quality backup Quarterback.

The Packers shored up a couple of their needs, but I would have liked to have seen them take an offensive lineman at some point to add depth. After the Seattle playoff game, however, I can understand stacking up on secondary talent.

Overall Draft Grade: B

Finally: Minnesota Vikings!

The Vikings entered the draft desperately needing a Cornerback after Captain Munnerlyn didn't pan out the way they thought he would and another year of realizing that Josh Robinson is better suited in the Nickel Back slot. They signed the very aged veteran Terrance Newman, who played with Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati to get some maturity and leadership in their defensive secondary. At 36 years old, I don't think the Vikings should expect too much from him this year. The Vikings also needed an offensive lineman and to add some depth at receiver as well.

Now that Charlie Johnson is no longer a Viking, there is no excuse for Matt Kalil to not return to being a serviceable Left Tackle. The Vikings also added Babatunde Ayegbusi out of the Polish league. He is a monster of a man, but we will have to see how his skills translate to the NFL.

The Vikings, to not much surprise, attacked their Cornerback need right out of the gate at the 11th overall pick by selecting Trae Waynes out of Michigan. Waynes was touted as the best overall Cornerback in this years draft class. He is very fast and a good size for an NFL Cornerback, but there are concerns about his speed and agility when covering the quick, short routes. He is a cover CB, so he should have success against the NFC North's receivers. He may need to be eased into covering slot receivers.

The Vikings have two picks that I would classify as their best pick. The first is their second round selection, Eric Kendricks. Kendricks is the best coverage Middle Linebacker in this year's draft. He came out of UCLA, and played with Anthony Barr in college (they were roommates!). Kendricks lacks the ideal size, but his game doesn't have many holes. I would compare him to Chris Boreland... let's hope he doesn't retire as early. I am an Audie Cole fan, and he is much more of the size that the Vikings would be looking for in the middle, but I think that Kendricks will win out this battle. Either way, with Mauti, Cole and Kendricks the Vikings have plenty of young talent and depth at the Middle Linebacker position.

The next pick that I would say that could be the Vikings best pick is Offensive Tackle T.J. Clemmings. This was an absolute steal of a pick in the fourth round. Though Clemmings is raw and has only played on the offensive side of the ball for two years, he was the 7th ranked Tackle in the draft. Remember... Anthony Barr was a former Running Back with only two years of defensive experience.

The Vikings also added Stefon Diggs who will help out on Special Teams and provide an option as a true slot receiver. They also added the freakishly athletic Defensive End Danielle Hunter, a receiver type Tight End and a couple more depth players on the offensive and defensive line as well as another OLB.

I would have liked to see the Vikings draft a true number one receiver. The Vikings have a host of talent at the Wide Receiver position, but they don't have a true, big-bodied number one receiver. With Norv Turner, the Vikings want to stretch the field. Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson will help that effort, but a Devante Parker would have been a good addition.

Draft Grade: A-

There you have it. I think the Vikings had the best draft, followed by the Bears, Packers and Lions. Remember that the best draft, does not mean the best team. You would have to be a fool to think that the Packers will not enter this season on top of the division. I do think that the Vikings will be second, the Lions will be third and that the Bears will be last, but that is not just due to the draft.

Here are my takeaways for each team:

Packers: They need to add depth
If the Packers don't add Linebacker and Offensive Tackle depth, they will have trouble staying strong if their starters at these positions are taking 90% of the snaps. You have to believe that Ted Thompson will do something to patch it together, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed again in next year's draft.

Vikings: They need a true receiver
The Vikings struggle scoring in the Red Zone. If AP is back this year, the Vikings will be much more successful, but they need a big bodied receiver who can go up and fight for balls. Norv Turner is not a West Coast style coordinator, so the Vikings won't truly find their rhythm until they can successfully stretch the field on a consistent basis.

Lions: They need to figure out their running situation
Earlier in this post, I ranted that the Lions have lost their identity in their front four. They have a talented enough LB crew to have a good defense despite the loss, but they need to figure out their run game. They can't depend solely on the pass all of the time. Matthew Stafford is not talented enough to consistently throw 50 times a game and deliver consistent success.

Bears: They need help with their Inside Linebackers
The Bears have a veteran defense virtually all-around. They have added some youth, but they have not had a strong over-the-middle pass defense since Bryan Urlacher left. It doesn't appear that they have the answer yet. This needs to be addressed or teams will have their way with them in the short and medium portions of the field.

This is a very early analysis, but it looks very hopeful for the Vikings this year!

Christian Ponder: Can You Really Blame Spielman?

Wow... it has been a while since I have written, but now that we are entering the most boring part of the NFL season (that time where we cling to baseball to get us through til August) I have decided it is time to start talking again. Since we have just finished the draft, I would like to speak to one of the draft's most controversial and interesting topics: Quarterback drafting.

This year we had two Quarterbacks taken back-to-back with the first and second picks overall. Many people thought Winston was the better QB, others thought Mariota was the better QB and some thought the two quarterbacks shouldn't have gone so high. Every year, I attempt to sift through all of the intangibles, measurables, immeasurables, and numbers to ascertain the best Quarterback prospect (along with every other position) in the draft. This year, like most from my vantage point, I had a hard time making heads or tails of the top QB's. I decided to look back at past drafts to see what history tells us about these types of situations. Here is what I found for first round QB's over the last ten years:

Eli Manning - San Diego Chargers (Immediately Traded to the Giants)
Phillip Rivers - New York Giants (Immediately Traded to the Chargers)
Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers
J.P. Losman - Buffalo Bills

Alex Smith - San Francisco 49ers
Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
Jason Campbell - Washington Redskins

Vince Young - Tennessee Titans
Matt Leinart - Arizona Cardinals
Jay Cutler - Denver Broncos

JaMarcus Russell - Oakland Raiders
Brady Quinn - Cleveland Browns

Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
Joe Flacco - Baltimore Ravens

Matt Stafford - Detroit Lions
Mark Sanchez - New York Jets
Josh Freeman - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sam Bradford - St. Louis Rams
Tim Tebow - Denver Broncos

Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Jake Locker - Tennessee Titans
Blaine Gabbert - Jacksonville Jaguars
Christian Ponder - Minnesota Vikings

Andrew Luck - Indianapolis Colts
Robert Griffin III - Washington Redskins
Ryan Tannehill - Miami Dolphins
Brandon Weeden - Cleveland Browns

EJ Manuel - Buffalo Bills

Out of the 28 above Quarterbacks, I would take five of them in the first round knowing what we know now (Rivers, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Ryan, Luck). I would say that 12 out of the list are bonafide busts (Losman, Campbell, Young, Leinert, Russell, Quinn, Tebow, Locker, Gabbert, Ponder, Weeden, Manuel) and 11 are of a later-round value (Manning, Smith, Cutler, Flacco, Stafford, Sanchez, Freeman, Bradford, Newton, RGIII, Tannehill).

I know that some would argue that Manning, Flacco, Stafford and maybe even Cutler deserve the first round grade. I would disagree, and let me show you why. First, I will show the resume of the middle-talent first round QB: Phillip Rivers. Then I will hold these four Quarterbacks' resumes up against Rivers.

Phillip Rivers:
36,477 Passing Yards over 9 years as a starter (4,053/year)
251 Touchdowns over 9 years as a starter (27.89/year)
64.7 Career Completion Percentage
95.7 Career QB Rating
121 Interceptions over 9 years as a starter (13.44/year - 2.07/1; TD/INT ratio)

Eli Manning:
38,712 Passing Yards over 10 years as a starter (3,871.2/year)
253 Touchdowns over 10 years as a starter (25.3/year)
59.0 Career Completion Percentage
82.4 Career QB Rating
176 Interceptions over 10 years as a starter (17.6/year - 1.44/1: TD/INT ratio)

Jay Cutler:
26,748 Passing Yards over 8 years as a starter (3,343.3/year)
174 Touchdowns over 8 years as a starter (21.75/year)
61.7 Career Completion Percentage
85.2 Career QB Rating
125 Interceptions over 8 years as a starter (15.625/year - 1.39/1: TD/INT ratio)

Joe Flacco:
25,531 Passing Yards over 7 years as a starter (3,647.29/year)
148 Touchdowns over 7 years as a starter (21.14/year)
60.5 Career Completion Percentage
84.8 Career QB Rating
90 Interceptions over 7 years as a starter (12.86/year - 1.64/1: TD/INT ratio)

Matthew Stafford: *2009, 2010 seasons cut short - Injury
21,714 Passing Yards over 6 years as a starter (3,619/year)
131 Touchdowns over 6 years as a starter (21.83/year)
59.6 Career Completion Percentage
83.6 Career QB Rating
85 Interceptions over 6 years as a starter (14.17/year - 1.54/1: TD/INT ratio)

As you can see... statistically there is quite a discrepancy. If you don't think that these numbers represent that big of a margin... here are Andy Dalton's numbers (a true second rounder).

Andy Dalton:
14,758 Passing Yards over 4 years as a starter (3,689.5/year)
99 Touchdowns over 4 years as a starter (24.75/year)
61.6 Career Completion Percentage
85.2 Career QB Rating
66 Interceptions over 4 years as a starter (16.5/year - 1.5/1: TD/INT ratio)

Eerily similar, if not better, to Manning, Cutler, Flacco and Stafford's numbers...

Now that I have bored you with a bunch of statistical analysis, I am sure that some of you would say that because of Manning's and Flacco's rings... they deserve to be in the first round. I would say you are wrong. Russell Wilson, Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer are also among a list of Superbowl winning QB's. I wouldn't say that any of them are worthy of a first round selection. They are serviceable Quarterbacks, but they are not of a first round grade.

What is my point after all of this mumbo jumbo?

There is absolutely no way to tell if a college Quarterback is going to translate to the pro level. In 2007, there were 11 QB's drafted. JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn came off of the board in the first-round, and Matt Moore went undrafted (really bad year for QB's). Moore might have had the best career in his QB class. Why was Jason Campbell a first-rounder, but Ryan Fitzpatrick was a 7th round supplemental pick?

We all know the Tom Brady story...

Why do Quarterbacks bust?

I don't know... could be scheme, surrounding talent, offensive line, the yips, physically unable(?) or any other number of reasons; but from what I see... drafting a QB is a crap shoot. Most first-round Quarterbacks go higher than they deserve to, and some should have never been drafted in the first place.

That being said, I don't think you can demand Rick Spielman's head for drafting Christian Ponder when most of the other GM's in his position have made the same or worse mistake. At the end of the day... there is just no way to be certain.

Good ole' hindsight.