Friday, July 1, 2016

christian ponder

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Spielman's best and worst moves
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

(Note: This is a two-part series. The second part focuses on Spielman’s worst moves. For part one, an analysis of the best moves, click here.)

I came into this exercise fairly objectively—while I’ve always been a fan of Spielman overall, I don’t think his work has been infallible. Just before this year’s draft I had a quick online discussion with The Sportive Podcast’s “Clarence Swamptown”—one of Minnesota’s foremost Spielman detractors (at least on Twitter)—and he made some good observations of where the Vikings GM has gone wrong. The conversation gave me some perspective and helped balance the voice of a fanbase that can be overwhelmingly pro-Spielman at times. I will say, though, in the end, I found this two-part series weighted more heavily in favor of the “Best Moves” half. Spielman’s list of worst moves, at least for me, was thinner and more difficult to scrounge together; there were far less blatant failures than there were slam dunks. Perhaps that’s the nature of personnel in the NFL—for example, if you draft a player in the first round, that probably means he’s talented and has a good shot to succeed, so hitting on first-rounders should be the norm, not the exception. Regardless, as you’ll read in the descriptions below, I struggled with this list.

I imagine Swamptown would respond with something to this effect: Spielman’s biggest failures are consistent, smaller whiffs, rather than grandiose, headline grabbing ones (please correct me if I’m wrong, Clarence). And that type of failure—ill-fated mid-round picks, smaller name free agents that didn’t work out, etc.—is probably as important in contributing to a team’s success as the big splashes. It just doesn’t translate as well to a list like this.

Vikings Wonderlic Test
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The turf at Lucas Oil Stadium is a proving ground for hundreds of college football players at the NFL’s annual Scouting Combine. There, potential first round draft picks and sleepers alike try to sprint, jump, and interview their way onto an NFL roster. It’s the blazing 40-yard dash times and impressive bounds that grab the headlines, but often, it’s their work behind closed doors that boosts (or hurts) a player’s stock.

Team interviews can make or break a prospect’s reputation with organizations. Maxx Williams, the former Golden Gopher tight end, reportedly came across as selfish in combine interviews last year, and his attitude may have turned a few teams off in the process. Eric Kendricks, meanwhile, was described as someone who could walk into a defensive huddle as a rookie and immediately gain the respect of veterans.

Sometimes, the fastest, tallest, and strongest players find themselves falling in the draft. All the weight and speed in the world can’t replace one of football’s most important requirements — cognitive ability. It’s why the Wonderlic Test, as parodied as it may be, remains a crucial aspect of the NFL Draft process and a key into the minds of gridiron greats.

Ranking the Vikings first round selections

[Note: This reflection on the Vikings’ success in the first round of the most recent decade’s worth of drafts is provided courtesy of Matt Falk from Draft Season. We highly recommend checking out their site for scouting reports of this year’s top prospects with a Vikings slant.]

Over the past 10 years, the Vikings have done a decent job finding talent in the first round of the NFL Draft. While they’ve have had their share of big misses, they’ve also hit on some stars along the way.

Let’s take a quick look back and attempt to rank them from worst to best.

#12 – 2011 – Christian Ponder QB, Florida St. (12th overall)

It’s hard to not feel bad for Ponder. He really never should of have been the 12th overall pick. Due to where he was selected, fans had some unrealistic expectations. Unsurprisingly, Ponder never panned out and struggled through a rocky four years in Minnesota. You’ve, gotta give the guy credit though; he acted like a true professional during his time in Minnesota.

#11 – 2013 – Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee (29th overall)

Patterson toyed with our emotions during his big rookie season, but has been in a nose dive ever since. While he’s still one of the most dangerous return men in the league, he adds absolutely nothing to the team as a wide receiver. Unless he has a huge turnaround, we won’t be seeing him on the field with the offense, except in August. For now, we’ll just have to get excited when he gets the chance to return a kick.

#10 – 2015 – Trae Waynes (11th overall)

The only reason Waynes is so low on the list is because it’s much too soon to know what we really have in the Michigan State cornerback. He barely saw the field as a rookie, but did show some flashes (along with some growing pains). I would feel confident saying that in a few years, we could see him bumping up at least a few spots on this same list.

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings (6-2) are preparing to enter palatial and historic O.co stadium Sunday afternoon to take on the Los Angeles Oakland Raiders (4-4). To get some insight on the opposition, we welcomed in Asher Mathews (@AsherMathews) of Thoughts From the Dark Side Raiders blog to talk a little Silver and Black.

We talked about the Derek Carr-vs-Teddy Bridgewater debate, how our former boy Bill “3×5” Musgrave is doing things in Oakland, why the Zimmer Hellfire Defense™ vs said offense is the key to Sunday’s matchup, how the Raiders defense can get got by Teddy and the Vikings, and I demand gratitude from Asher as we saved his franchise from the stank of Troy Williamson (because you know Al Davis would’ve loved that speed).

All that and other “Vikings Fans are Sadomasochists!” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Cris Carter spits some honest truth, Blair Walsh continues to be the problem no one wants to talk about, and I teach Di Murphy the origin of “Bye Felicia” on this Wednesday edition of Purple FTW! Also, the episode turned into a Night Ranger tribute episode…

Other “Adrian’s Wilt Chamberlain, Not Lebron” Talkers Include
• Cris Carter’s “Have a fall guy” advice is… Good?
• Blair Walsh needs to get his stuff together
• Debut: The Gerald Hodges Factor
• Adrian is not LeBron
• Teddy to Charles Johnson is an important connection
• Chase Ford balled in MyCole’s absence (Rekindling my love for him)
• Cordarrelle is worthless at this point
• Booing Ponder is like talking smack about your ex when you’re dating Kate Upton
• Trading down in 2012 from 3 to 4 netted us: Jarius Wright and…. BLANTON
• Teddy wants to complete 70% of his passes
• Shorter preseason? Nah
• Randy Moss comeback?
• Why wide receivers never know when to hang em up.
• Di and I breakdown my Vikings 53-man Roster Projection
• If Captain doesn’t listen to Jerry Gray & Mike Zimmer… No
• It’s over, Mike Mauti
• I like Brian Robison again…
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All that and other “Forever All Over Again, Chase Ford” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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