Friday, October 28, 2016

rick speilman

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Five(ish) thoughts on Sunday night's win over the Packers

Bradford is the best passer
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1. Sam Bradford is a better passer than Teddy Bridgewater.

I KNOW. I know it reads like a reactionary take, and there’s more to playing quarterback than prowess as a pure passer. I’m not trying to pick on a player who is unavailable due to injury, nor am I trying to throw out a splashy take based on one game. But I really don’t think this take is even hot; it was obvious in Bradford’s first start with the Vikings, he is a superior passer to Bridgewater at this point in their respective careers. This was an idea many astute observers floated before Bradford first took the field for Minnesota, and it was supported Sunday night. Sam Bradford is a natural passer—his arm strength is upper-echelon and his throws against Green Bay were extremely accurate. He had two beautifully placed touchdown passes, and he was decisive and poised against nearly constant pressure. And he’s been with the team for two weeks. You can see how he could be a good fit for a Norv Turner, vertical passing offense, and understand why Spielman targeted him via trade. That first round pick seems fully justified today.

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Vikings 2016 Draft Party
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Rick Spielman’s curriculum vitae grew a bit during the 2016 NFL Draft where he again presided over the Minnesota Vikings as the team’s General Manager. Not only did he become the first to select a European player that has never played in America, Germany’s Mortiz Boehringer, but Boehringer also became the first 2016 rookie to sign his initial contract.

Some skeptics (like myself) wonder if the selection of the German wide out didn’t have more to do with expanding the franchise’s business market than it did actual on-field opportunity, but it is a fun storyline regardless of future success, so there are no complaints here.

Spielman made another move on Draft Weekend, however, that cannot be denied of its value and puts him in a position to again make NFL history.

The first day of the NFL Scouting Combine is in the books.  It started with weigh-ins and measurements of the offensive linemen and tight ends.  Overall, it was pretty uneventful as nobody showed up three inches shorter than listed by their college and nobody had freakishly short T-Rex arms.

For the Vikings and their fans, it seemed all eyes were on the top left tackles in the class, which of course includes USC standout Matt Kalil.  Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, however, left the door wide open to consider other prospects to protect Christian Ponder’s blind side.

“There are some very good left tackles coming out in this draft, not only Kalil, but there’s a lot of other guys that are going to be able to play left tackle in this league,” Spielman said. “You want to look at their ability to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Does he have the athletic skill set and does he have the feet and does he have the arm length to do everything to make him competitive at left tackle?”

While Spielman made it clear he has an open mind about the Vikings plans this April, he also didn’t kid anyone about how he views Kalil as a prospect.

“His brother turned out to be an extremely good player, a Pro Bowl player,” Spielman said. “Kalil is very talented at left tackle. He has all the feet and skillset that you’re looking for. He has the arm length. He has the nasty demeanor. The finish, when you watch him on tape, to finish run blocks. I feel he’s going to be a very good left tackle in this league as he grows in the position and moves forward.”

Spielman went full circle again, in an effort to keep the world guessing about their strategy, by suggesting that perhaps left tackle is overrated as a position.

“There’s the adage that you go back and forth on – is the left tackle that important or is it more important to have playmakers on offense? Because as your quarterback evolves, he learns the system, he gets the ball quicker out of his hand and all of a sudden that left tackle doesn’t need to be a Pro Bowl left tackle. He can be a functional left tackle because the quarterback evolves and he’s got playmakers. I just remember Aaron Rodgers and how the media were criticizing their offensive line when Aaron Rodgers took all those sacks his first year as a starter. Now, their offensive line has gotten better, but Aaron Rodgers has also gotten better … and they’ve got tremendous playmakers around him.”

Kalil himself spoke with the media on Thursday.

“For my dad, ‘Let’s play football’ means let’s go do kick steps and let’s work o-line drills,” Kalil said of growing up in a football family. “My first time going to Servite (High School in Anaheim), I tried to play tight end as a freshman and my dad went on the field and said ‘No, he’s playing left tackle.’ That pretty much ended that dream.”

“I would have been a sweet tight end,” Kalil said. “Maybe like an Anthony Munoz catching touchdowns.”

Kalil is trying to use his time as Indy to show that he has bulked up a bit and will be an improved run blocker.

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