Sunday, April 19, 2015
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percy harvin

The NFL Draft has the same allure as a record Powerball jackpot.

Men (and some women) from around the globe converge onto the internet for about 11 and a half months to try an predict, analyze, and grade the next year of fresh prospects.  We follow their every move, chart their plays, scour police blotters, and argue about their potential all the way up until their names are called… and then some more.

I’m not going to say that analysts, bloggers, or fans know nothing about these prospects.  They know quite a bit, actually, and it really is impressive how much more the common man knows about Tyrann Mathieu’s pee than he knows about… oh, we’ll go with Darfur here in order to maintain my long and proud tradition of being completely cliche.

While we know quite a bit about these prospects, and know even more about the rosters that make up our favorite teams, the truth is that the ultimate reality show that is the NFL Draft process gets it’s appeal from the fact that it is almost completely, utterly, 100 percent unpredictable.  Outside of some obvious top three picks, the only thing that is predictable about the NFL Draft is that it will be unpredictable (see, cliche after cliche, I can’t help myself).

Now, I have been predicting all offseason long that the Vikings would aim to select Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the first round of this week’s Draft, and wavered on that prediction only momentarily between Percy Harvin’s departure from Minnesota and Greg Jennings’ arrival.

That is why I was shocked to see someone much older, much more experienced, and someone that is supposed to be much wiser than me make a bold and perhaps foolish statement.

As we prepare for the 2013 NFL Draft in these parts I came to the realization that the very first Draft I covered as a blogger, the 2009 Draft class, have all completed their rookie contracts, and I can now be held accountable for the grades I assigned the Vikings back in my first days of blogging at VikingsGab.com.

Every year we dismiss draft grades as useless opinions that couldn’t possibly be accurate prior to these guys even stepping on an NFL field.  With the career paths of the 2009 class now taking shape, however, I thought it’d be fun to go back and see just how useless my grades were exactly.  The entire post of my 2009 draft grades an analysis can be read right here.

WR Percy Harvin (First Round, Pick 22)

What I said then:

GRADE:  “C”          There is no denying that Harvin could become a premier player with his game changing abilities, but he also runs the risk of doing more damage than good if his character flaws come out again.  For now a “C” until he earns the respect of Minnesota fans.  The fact that he was chosen over offensive tackle Michael Oher is another reason why I didn’t give the Vikings a higher grade here.

What I say now:

The Vikings ended up getting an elite talent out of Harvin, but health and character issues did indeed taint his time in Minnesota, which ended up seeing him shipped to Seattle for three picks including the 25th overall selection this year.  Harvin was that year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Pro Bowls as a return man.  I was wrong about Michael Oher being the superior player here, but only one of those two guys is still with the team that drafted him.

Well, the first wave of free agency has come and gone, and there were some fireworks involving our favorite team.  Percy Harvin was traded, Antoine Winfield was released, Greg Jennings and Matt Cassel were signed, and a lot of Vikings were retained.  Now it is time to put a nice exclamation point on this first wave as we wade closer into the second, and else edge towards the Draft.

 

It has been so long since the Vikings have had a top flight receiver on the roster, a traditional number one receiver anyways, that Vikings fans didn’t seem to mind in the slightest that Greg Jennings is a lifelong Packer.

Still, he is putting in some effort to make sure he is a popular guy.

Jennings appeared on KFAN Radio this morning with Paul Allen and really opened up about a number of topics with equal portions of honesty and tact that made for a really impressive interview.

He immediately scored some points by attaching himself to the last Packer that gave Minnesota a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl, Brett Favre.

“Literally, as I got off the plane and (offensive coordinator Bill) Musgrave walked up to me, I’m on the phone with Brett,” Jennings said as transcribed by Viking Update. “I spoke with Brett two or three times throughout this process. He shot me straight. I knew if there was one person that would shoot straight and tell me exactly what I wanted to hear and things I possibly didn’t want to hear, it would be Brett. He did that for me.”

The organization has undergone a face lift since Favre was last on the roster, but many key components still exist, and most of you know I don’t care for the guy but it is still encouraging to hear that a veteran NFL player was willing to give his endorsement of the organization to another player and friend.  Those types of things can prove useful during times like free agency.

Unlike Percy Harvin, who actively seemed to avoid the topic of quarterback Christian Ponder, Jennings went out of his way to paint a bright future for his new quarterback with a positiveness that is sure to have the Vikings P.R. Department sharing a bottle of champagne tonight.

Leading up to the visit, and eventual signing, of wide receiver Greg Jennings there were reports that the Packers were making an effort to keep him and there were varying reports regarding just where Jennings’ market measured up.

We already have discussed that Jennings signed a five year deal with the Vikings worth an average of about $9 million per year.

Now, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel brings us details about just how things ended with the Packers, and also points out that the Vikings and Packers weren’t the only team interested in Jennings.

According to McGinn, Jennings turned down an extension offer from the Packers that averaged $11 million per year, because he was seeking something more in the neighborhood of $15 million.  A concussion during training camp was followed by an abdominal injury that required surgery, and his perceived value obviously took a hit after those injuries prevented him from having a normal Jennings-type season on the field.

After all, Jennings had flat out missed half of the last 22 Packers games, and questions about his long term viability were being raised for the first time in his career.

Despite the injuries and a stacked depth chart, however, the Packers showed significant interest in retaining the 29 year old wide out.  According to McGinn’s sources, Jennings had an offer from the Packers that averaged about $8 million per year.  This was significantly less than what they offered him last year, and way less than the $15 million average he was originally seeking, so Jennings sat tight during the opening days of free agency to see if anyone stepped up.

With the deep-pocketed Miami Dolphins shelling out a bunch of money to Mike Wallace, and Seattle trading for Percy Harvin, the possible landing destinations for Jennings started to narrow.  The New England Patriots did make an offer to Jennings, which averaged about $6 million per year, but those talks didn’t go very far, writes McGinn.

The Vikings, as Jennings puts it, “stepped up to the plate” with their contract offer following a wooing period in the Twin Cities.

It appears pretty obvious that the Vikings paid more than anyone else was willing to, but clearly less than the market thought Jennings was worth last year.  The hope is that Jennings is able to return to his 2010 form and avoid future injuries so that the contract looks less like a desperation move, and more like a bargain.

 

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