Tuesday, December 1, 2015

christian ponder

I am sure that Rick Spielman would like to orchestrate an offseason that sees the 31st ranked passing game take great strides forwards.  That is easier said than done, especially when your offseason begins with losing two of your top receivers.

One guy they did retain, however, is Jerome Simpson.  Simpson joined the Vikings on a one year deal last season, after his three game suspension was officially announced by the NFL, with high hopes that he could help ignite some sort of vertical game.  His season was plagued by injury and turned out to be quite disappointing, having never scored a touchdown or even gaining more than 50 yards in any game.

Still, the Vikings apparently see some of that potential there, and are hoping he stays healthy enough to be a legitimate threat in 2013.  They extended him to a one year deal, and the financials aren’t yet known yet, but I am willing to bet that it is equal to, or less than, the $2 million deal he signed last year.

Simpson’s signing was basically a zero risk move that gives the Vikings some flexibility.  He could be better in 2013, having seemed to start developing a chemistry with Christian Ponder towards the end of the year, and will get another chance to stay healthy and put together a full season.

If Spielman manages to fill out the depth chart with high quality playmakers then Simpson, who presents little special teams value, could still be expendable when it comes time to make final cuts.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports has been at the forefront of the Percy Harvin story, including a recent report that Harvin nearly walked out on his team last season, and he is tidying up this whole saga by tossing one last dose of fuel onto the fire.

Cole asserts that unhappiness with the Vikings quarterback situation, specifically Christian Ponder, was a primary driver behind Harvin’s desire to leave Minnesota.

According to two sources, the straw that broke the Vikings’ back with Harvin is when he bemoaned the fact that quarterback Christian Ponder, a 2011 first-round pick, was not good enough. That came even though Ponder consistently fed Harvin the ball.

The rumors of a trade seemed to cause unrest within Vikings fan circles.  The trade itself seems to have divided them.  Now, this report that pins some blame on Ponder may end up causing blogs and message boards to get downright nasty, at least on sites with less refined and civilized readers than we are lucky enough to have here at VT.

Some, like Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman, will question the report and/or Harvin’s sanity since his production was never as high as it was last season, prior to his injury, with Ponder at quarterback.  He was getting manufactured touches, getting touches at running back and on special teams, and was on his way to career highs and MVP consideration before he hurt his ankle in, ironically enough, Seattle.

Others, like this hack blogger who lacks common sense, think that Harvin’s supposed gripes were plenty founded and that Christian Ponder has yet to prove that he has what it takes to lead a championship team.  Harvin’s complaints, despite his personal accomplishments, might just prove that he is a fierce competitor that simply wanted to win football games and was willing to speak his mind when he felt somebody was holding the team back.

He might have learned that from Randy Moss, who once told anyone that would listen that Brad Childress should be fired.

I’m not saying that complaining about your young quarterback is a recommended course of action, but I also can’t call Harvin any nasty names because of it when I, myself, was not satisfied with Ponder’s play in 2012.

What we do know is that Ponder has what appears to be the full support of Rick Spielman and his staff.  Here’s hoping he doesn’t make them regret that loyalty.

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The first mock draft of the offseason is really just a shot in the dark. There are so many unknowns at this point. Who’s actually going to declare at the draft? What will their combine performance be? What kind of scandals/off-the-field issues will take place?

But still, putting these things together are fun. It starts to familiarize everybody with a lot of the names we’ll be hearing for the new few months. It gets us acquainted with some of the opportunities the Vikings may have when they are on the clock for the first time at #23 (unless they trade up, of course). They serve as a starting point for discussion regarding what the Vikings should try and do in the draft.

All around, they’re just a good time.

By the time Adam and I put out our final drafts for 2012 though, I’d say we both did pretty good. As Adam mentioned in his mock draft, we both held strong to our belief that the Vikings would select Matt Kalil with their first pick (despite the endless amounts of rumors floating around up to the very start of the draft). We didn’t guess spot-on for a lot of teams (I had maybe 6-7?) but, for the most part, the draft panned out a lot like we thought it would.

Who knows what the Vikings are going to do this time. Picking at #23 is going to make things a lot more difficult to guess. When you are at #3 (or #4 if you trade down…) it’s a lot easier to surmise what the team is going to do. There are only two other players taken before it’s your turn. In our case this year, there are 22 players that will be taken off the board before we get our turn to select. Talk about endless possibilities.

So, let’s get to what I have in my first mock draft, shall we?

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that I have more quarterbacks being selected in the first round than most people do. In fact, I have two quarterbacks going in the top ten. (Mel Kiper doesn’t even have a quarterback going in the first round!) Sure, a lot of people are going to tell you that there is not a quarterback in this year’s draft class worth the number one pick. Or a top five pick. Or a top ten pick even. I’d agree with them looking at it objectively. But the truth is, a lot of these teams that are desperate for an answer at the quarterback position are not looking at it objectively. They’re looking at it hopefully. They are taking a chance and hoping that the guy they like will be the answer and the future for their franchise. And just like the Vikings did by selecting Christian Ponder much earlier than everybody thought, I believe there are a couple of teams that are so desperate for someone at the quarterback position, they will use their first round pick to try and find that center piece for their offense.

The second thing you’ll notice… Well, let’s just be honest. You scrolled straight to see who the Vikings selected. Okay, let’s talk about my selection for the Vikings.

Terrance Williams 2013 Draft

“With the twenty third pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select wide receiver Terrance Williams, Baylor.”

So, like Adam, I have also selected a wide receiver for the Vikings with their first pick. I have to be really up front and honest with you, I’m not really happy about the selection and was pretty torn when making it.

Here’s the deal: I think there are 4-5 receivers the Vikings could take at this spot that would almost be [hypothetically] interchangeable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I’m not sure that there is a true #1 receiver in this year’s draft class – a sure thing. Somebody who can start day 1 and instantly provide the Vikes with another weapon and someone who can stretch the field. The problem is that, much like the quarterback situation outlined above, I think teams are also more likely to reach on players that they think can somehow provide a spark for them offensively – the playmakers.

In the case of my mock draft, I think there are some guys the Vikings could get better value for at positions of need but we just need a wide receiver so dang bad. There are two or three defensive tackles I think would be great for the  Vikings at this spot. But, realistically, I don’t think the Vikings leave the first round without a wide receiver.

But let’s talk about Terrance Williams for a second because I don’t want to sell him short, I do like what I see from him.

Terrance Williams is a guy who, at 6’2″ and 205 pounds, plays physical and can go up and make a play on the ball. He isn’t blazing fast but he is a straight-line runner who can stretch the field and use his larger frame to overpower and shield off defenders. One of Williams biggest concerns is his route running (as he primarily ran go routes) and his tendency to try and catch the ball with his body.  Those shortcomings are coachable though and Williams has the physical traits to potentially be the type of threat the Vikings could use.

While this is the first wide receiver I have the Vikings taking in my mock draft, I do not think it will be the last. I would not be surprised if the Vikings took upwards of three wide receivers this year. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we are looking at a radically different receiving corp in 2013. In fact, I suspect it.

Make sure to check out the scouting video of Terrance Williams below. Also, here are a couple of names I toyed with putting in that #23 spot instead of Williams:

John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Robert Woods, WR, USC
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Brett’s 2013 Mock Draft v1.0

Joe Webb went from “too talented not to have on the field” to “get him out of here” as fast as any player not involved in a scandal that I can think of.

That will happen, of course, when you put up a stinker the way Webb did in the Wild Card round, against the Packers, that resulted in a 54.9 quarterback rating and a loss.  The quarterback rating doesn’t describe just how bad Webb’s performance was, however, as most of the good came after a whole ton of bad and when Green Bay’s defense had already declared victory.

Many assume that Webb’s inability to show up in the big game means he will be gone as soon as the Vikings can find a replacement.  I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

Besides having all of the same excuses that Christian Ponder has benefitted from this season, such as depleted receiver options and an offensive coordinator that inexplicably went away from his strengths, Webb presents unique value in 2013.

That value stems from a point that I plan on beating to death this offseason: the Vikings have a ton of mobile quarterbacks on their 2013 schedule, as I pointed out here.  All six of the Vikings losses in 2012 came against shifty quarterbacks and they project to play nine games against mobile quarterbacks next year, and that isn’t even counting what Chip Kelly manages to put together in Philadelphia.

That means the Vikings defense has to improve in this area.  Of course a big part of that will consist of offseason personnel moves such as upgrading at linebacker and keeping Antoine Winfield in the fold.  Other than putting the best players on the field to keep these quarterbacks from taking off, preparation in also going to be key.

Who better to prepare a defense, by running the scout team, than a fleet footed, option running quarterback like Webb?

Webb is sure to never be as good as Cam Newton or RGIII, but if he can at least be effective at pretending to be them then he may already have a role carved out for him that keeps him on the roster in 2013.

Besides, at a salary of $575,000, it is hard not justifying him sticking around as an asset to not the offense, but the defense.

Hello, everyone.  Sorry for the absence, right after my latest comments/arguments in the previous thread karma came a knocking and a little something called influenza decided to have its way with me.

The plus side is that my Nyquil induced episode of Fear and Loathing provided ample thinking time about the upcoming free agency period and the Draft.  With the Draft still 100 days away (exactly) I decided I would spend the next few days taking a look at some of the names we can ready ourselves to see on the free agent market.

Up first are the quarterbacks and the rankings, while specific towards the Vikings, are my own and are certainly up for debate.  With both Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman singing Christian Ponder’s praises following this season, it seems unlikely that we can expect any huge moves towards a new starter, but the Wild Card round certainly proved we could use some competition at the backup spots.


The top tier of the quarterback free agency class includes only one name, and is sure to include zero by the time free agency actually rolls around.  Joe Flacco gets the top spot here, but his stock has never been higher after an improbable Divisional Round victory, and he will surely warrant the franchise tag at the very least.

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