NFL Draft 2014Rumors

2014 Minnesota Vikings: Vikings Slightly Preferred Manziel to Bridgewater, Get Over It

At some point, you’re all going to get sick of how much I trust some insiders. But I operate in that way, and I feel like I can filter out information that feels smokescreen-y, even if I don’t attempt to do much of that in the rumor roundups I occasionally post.

Today, there’s more drama from the 2014 NFL Draft.

Albert Breer, who spent all his time covering the draft hunkered down with the Vikings, fully published his “insider look” at the Vikings draft process, and what the Vikings went through in order to get Teddy Bridgewater.


A couple of things about this: first, if you’re not going to believe this, no argument will convince you. Not because the weight of the argument is so compelling, but the specificity, matter-of-factness and access involved Breer’s story is telling and if you don’t believe it, you don’t. There’s enough information from traditionally extremely reliable insiders (Jay Glazer, Paul Allen and to a lesser extent Ian Rapaport) to indicates as much, and only two reports (one from Benjamin Allbright who I like and another from Kurt Warner who…?) that contradict them, without much of a track record.

Further, the initial reports by Glazer, et. al were confirmed a day later with a separate report from those who claim to have access to sources who were in the war room. If you don’t believe them, fine. Many of them have a strong history of being historically accurate and not much incentive to lie.

As it stands, that’s the truth as I see it. I’ve indicated in the past that I think that this issue is slightly more complicated than it seems. The board was such that Manziel was ahead of Bridgewater by a small, almost-negligible amount but were on the same tier. But that board reflects Spielman’s opinion.

Everything I’ve heard about Norv Turner, including that sycophantic take by Sid Hartman (it’s not my only information), strongly implies that Turner valued Teddy above everyone else in the draft. That would further imply (that’s two causal leaps, for those keeping track) that Spielman preferred Manziel’s upside (he said that Bridgewater was the best QB on film) to Teddy’s readiness.

You should know my feelings on that.

Regardless, it’s a settled question in my mind, and more importantly irrelevant. I’ve always felt Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the draft, and it’s awesome that the Vikings got him, as flawed as the process may be.

Should the Vikings have missed on Manziel AND Bridgewater, they were prepared to take Jimmy Garoppolo at 40 and Tom Savage at 72. Consider ourselves lucky.

The whole piece is fascinating, as it details the entire process, including several meetings with each quarterback and multiple visits with different purposes behind each visit.

There’s a bit on how they tried to trade:

Assistant GM George Paton and VP of football operations Rob Brzezinski started making calls at No. 20 and went on down the line. They made a run at No. 22, but an Eagles source said the Vikings‘ offer wasn’t close to Cleveland’s — the Browns gave up No. 26 and No. 83 to take that selection and grab Manziel — largely because Philly would have had to drop down 18 spots in a deal with Minnesota, while the swap with Cleveland merely moved the Eagles four spots down.

There’s a bit on how they did end up trading down one spot to the Browns:

The perception had been created that Minnesota wanted cornerback Justin Gilbert, which facilitated a trade back one slot with Cleveland that netted Minnesota a fifth-round pick.

And who they would have taken, along with the thought process behind it:

The Vikings had Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater on the same horizontal tier of their board, with Manziel slightly ahead — technically, Manziel was No. 1 and Bridgewater was No. 2. Both were a bit of a stretch with the eighth pick, but both were worth more than the 40th pick, which was Minnesota’s second selection. Minnesota categorized the quarterbacks in buckets, with Garoppolo viewed as worthy of being taken with that 40th pick and Savage viewed as a third-round consideration.

And finally, how they plan for the draft:

All the while, Spielman and his personnel people were running through dozens and dozens of scenarios. It’s not an accident that the Vikings have traded back into the bottom of the first round in three straight drafts. “Those guys (in the first round) are the best players. So if you get an opportunity to get the best players possible, why not do that? … Historically, your best chance of hitting is in the first round.”

One four-hour, marathon session of mock scenarios actually included the scenario that came up on Thursday — so the Vikings were ready.

But yes, the Vikings wanted Manziel, and I’m glad they couldn’t make the choice. Now to await the Super Bowl.

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  1. Adding to the drama, Tony Grazzi at ESPN Cleveland reported that Browns GM Ray Farmer wanted Bridgewater after having conversations with him before the draft. It was after those conversations that the Browns’ $100,000 analytical study finding Bridgewater the best QB in the draft was published.

    Anyway, Grazzi reported that Farmer had Bridgewater’s name on their card when they traded up to #22, only to have Haslam override him and choose Manziel, who multiple reports said he was ‘in love with’.

  2. Sure sure, this all SOUNDS convincing, but I’m going to withhold my final opinion until I hear from Justin Bieber’s hairdresser.

    1. Unbelievable. This just goes to prove that there are indeed rubes that are so fanatical that they become blinded to reality even when facts are staring them straight in the face. These are the people who made this into a “controversy” otherwise it was never that big of a deal. The Vikings tried to move up for Manziel, but because Cleveland had an extra first-round pick, they couldn’t compete with Cleveland’s offer. Thus, the Vikings moved on. What were they supposed to do? Curl into the fetal position and refuse to participate in the rest of the draft unless the league allowed them to draft Manziel?

      With that said, I don’t have anything as tenable as a verbal assurance from Justin Bieber’s hairdresser (doesn’t his mother do his hair?), but I believe that I can provide a few items that buttress Arif’s “theory”. The first is an interview of Associated Press sports writer Jon Krawczynski by Dan Barriero this afternoon. Krawczynski, who was covering the Vikings draft at Winter Park, stated: “I can tell you with 100% certainty that the Vikings, when they were trying to trade to twenty-two, were trying to trade there for Johnny Manziel… there is no doubt that Teddy Bridgewater was their Plan B.” (Also noting that there wasn’t much difference between Manziel and T-Bridge in the Vikes’ assessment.)


      Then there’s this:

      Why that is significant is because it infers that a difference in opinion existed as to who they should draft — enough of one to have the Wilfs weigh in. Manziel isn’t a Norv Turner QB. And albeit Bridgewater may not have an ‘Aikman-like’ arm, which would be preferable for Turner’s Air Coryell-style offense, his arm is at least as good as Phillip Rivers’ arm (whom, of course, Turner coached in San Diego). Furthermore, is it just coincidence that Turner was the one guy in the entire league that complimented Bridgewater at his pro day?

      Which brings us to the real controversy in all this: Why was Spielman arguing against the QB Turner wanted? Did not Spielman admit that he has yet to “get the quarterback position right” in all his years as a GM/personnel director? Did Spielman not state that one of the reasons they hired Turner in the first place was that so Turner could help them find a QB? Is not Spielman the guy responsible for drafting Christian Ponder whereas Turner was the guy responsible for pounding the table in San Diego for Drew Brees? The temerity (and ego) Spielman must possess to think that he knows more about QB’s than Norv Turner is both astonishing as well as disconcerting. Most people don’t remember this because it happened so long ago and in the aftermath of what was the embarrassing Fran Foley debacle, but the hiring of Rick Spielman at the time was considered to some in the media as a bit controversial. Apparently in both Chicago and Miami Spielman had a reputation for wanting to do everything his way and dismissing other peoples’ opinions about as quickly as they were proffered. There appears to be evidence accumulating that that may indeed be the case (e.g., cutting Winfield in the manner that he cut him against the protests from the coaching staff).

      It’s possible that Spielman was just doing what he believed the Wilfs wanted him or told him to do (i.e., take the guy who’s most likely to sell jerseys), but he of all people had no business sticking Turner with any QB other than the one he preferred. Combine that with the fact that there’s been some reports that Zimmer really had to pound the table to get Spielman to pull the trigger on Barr, and it’s going to be very interesting how Spielman’s relationship with these veteran coaches evolves down the road.

      1. Damn! That ended up being a lot longer than I thought. It just goes to prove that if you read Arif’s stuff long enough his style tends to rub off on you.

      2. I don’t want to jump to conclusions here, but you did appear to respond to my post with this excessively long diatribe that doesn’t really bring the funny. For THIS long time poster, I gotta say that this place has gotten a little weird during my absence; lots of rudeness and VERY serious conjecture over fairly irrelevant matters. Having said that, let me be clear: I was making light of a situation I don’t give a rat’s ass about at this point, with the draft over. I thought I was making that clear with the reference to Bieber’s hairdresser. Who Spielman may or may not have targeted, AT THIS POINT, is less important to me than how many hairs adorn Rush Limbaugh’s taint.

          1. Right??? This place used to be fairly light-hearted and fun! What the hell happened? Oh well, popularity brings this sort of thing. PFT is beyond gross at this point. Let’s bring it back to the glory days one post at a time old friend!

            1. my thoughts exactly, tomb…..and I’ll just leave it at that……I’m hanging around cuz arif is putting some great info…..

      3. All good points Xlevity (What the hell does that mean anyway?)
        It WILL be interesting to see the relationship with our GM and Zimmer and Norval play out.
        I’ll guess that it will turn out well.
        Zimmer and Norv are professional enough to offset any conflict Slick Rick can provide.
        If it’s true that Rick tried to overrule Turners choice at QB, this relationship could become very interesting.

      4. Your dislike of Speilman confuses me. I’m happy he tried for Manziel and would have been just fine if he traded a future first with our second or third for him. As for Bridgewater fitting Norv Turner’s system better that’s a terrible reason to draft a quarterback, there’s no guarantee Turner will stay here even 2years look at Cleveland. As for Speilman doing what he wants, that’s a good thing; that is a trait successful bosses have. You also ripped the ponder pick, that was before Speilman had final say, he also has been phenomenal at drafting every other pick.
        (Sorry for bad grammar and structure, typing on a cell phone is no fun)

      1. Fran! Man it’s nice to see an old-schooler round here! Work’s been out of control. Our plant manager retired, and we’ve had to pick up the pieces.

        1. Ever since Arif started writing here, it has brought some VERY serious Viking fans over.
          Most are good sorts but serious dudes!
          I don’t look for Arif to be around here too much longer.
          He’s jut SO uninformed and drones on and on. . .

          He’ll be the head of scouting with the Vikings this time next year.
          Then, all these serious types will have to move on because we’ll bore them to death.

          1. I haven’t read a whole lot Arif yet, but yeah he’s got his stuff together, that’s for sure.

        2. work? manager retired? yeah, right!

          don’t believe that hogwash, fran, and it wasn’t even rehab. he was raping, pillaging, and burning, of course! what else does a viking do when he gets bored? but then, that ‘plant’ reference could now have a whole new meaning up there for drifting off…

          1. Ha! All good points, especially the part about the “Plant’ makes a lot of sense . . .

        1. Been wondering the same thing. Coach disappeared about the time you did, so I naturally assumed you two had snuck away somewhere to fish Walleye or Lakers. Or wrestle.
          Freds, no idea. haven’t heard from him in quite a while.

          1. That’s weird. I do have Coach’s personal email address. Normally I respect privacy, but I think I’ll prod him and see how he’s doing. I don’t know Fred’s, so hopefully the crotchety old bastard’s OK….

            1. I think I saw Freds on the Draft day live chat but I was in and out and din’t get much chance to say hello.

              1. Welcome back guys, I was beginning to feel like everybody was gone in the wake of these Arif fans who have been posting everywhere.

  3. So even though Norv thought higher of Teddy, Rick was going to go all in with Johnny? I don’t think there’s any question where Zimmer’s opinion fell on this. I’ve been a Spielman defender, but it really makes me question his judgement when he’s willing to disregard his top two coaches’ preferences in favor of his own. Especially when Norv has such a successful history in evaluating quarterbacks. Thank [insert preference here] the Browns saved Rick from himself.

    1. GMs always disregard their coaches’ opinions. The only one that doesn’t is Bill Belichick… naturally.

      furthermore, can you blame him? those Triangle of Authority drafts were horrible compared to Rick’s.

      1. The GM is also listening to his scouts who have been tracking the players a lot longer than the coaches. In this case, I’m glad Rick lost, his track record with QB’s is pretty bad.

        1. Hmm. Might any of this have anything to do with Scott Studwell resigning? Usually when someone offers the ‘ole “want to spend more time with the family” reason/excuse there’s more going on than anyone involved in the situation is willing to admit.

        2. Only time will tell but Speilman has hit 1.000 since becoming GM. I see Bridgewater as McNabb(not as a player but as a move) where the GM deferred to a naive overzealous coach who saw highlights not talent like Speilman does.

          1. Geez Skol, I hope you’re not saying Zimmer or Tuner are naïve?
            Those two have years and years on Speilman.
            Don’t get me wrong , I like Speilman but if he did in fact argue against Turner’s pick at QB, I say that was naïve.

            1. It’s not all about experience, it’s about results. Jerry Jones and Al Davis had been around forever and I’d want them drafting for anybody but me.

    2. Like any secure GM, he included input from his final coaches but had the final say. Just because he didn’t fall in lockstep with the coaches doesn’t mean he disregarded it entirely.

      Things aren’t always one or the other.

      1. The issue lies in the mixed results of his and his scouts’ prior evaluations. Going into the draft, Rick’s job was hardly viewed as secure. Even with the accolades from the media and the Wilf’s devotion to their employees, it’s not.

        Many speculated that the success or failure of the next quarterback would determine his future. That’s why the news that he would overrule Norv’s preference on a quarterback surprises me. The same scouts used to scout Ponder were used in this process so that’s a wash. The only variable that changed to give him a better chance at success was the addition of Norv and Co.

        Good leadership (and good judgment) means trusting those with the proven track record. That’s all speculation though. We don’t know what conversations occurred. Norv may have absolutely loved Manziel. They will never say, at least not in the near future, because it’s not in their interest to undermine Bridgewater by saying everyone preferred Manziel.

        Four years from now, Rick will either have an excuse for the lack of a quarterback or sit quietly with the knowledge that the Browns bailed him out. I believe it will be the latter.

        1. I agee with this for the most part. But the problem is, Spielman is now in a no win situation. If T-Bridge is successful, Spielman doesn’t deserve any credit since he obviously wanted Manziel — in fact, the Browns would deserve more credit than he does. On the other hand, if Manziel goes off and T-Bridge busts, Spielman can’t really say “I told you so” being how he had every opportunity to have drafted his guy at #8 (or #9).

          1. No win situation? Seems you’ve left out a couple of scenarios:
            What if both Teddy and Johnny are successful?
            What if neither is successful?
            Here’s a bold prediction: as long as Bridgewater outperforms Ponder and TJack, Spielman will be fine. If he doesn’t, he’s done Minnesota. Which would be a shame — being undone by the QB draft crapshoot, after the fine job he’s done overall in the last several drafts.

  4. Interesting stuff. I’m surprised that a team would be nearly indifferent toward Manziel and Bridgewater, since they’re such different players and people (which is why I didn’t initially trust the “we tried to get Manziel” story).

    I’m happy with the way it turned out, though. I wouldn’t guarantee Bridgewater’s success as a pro, but I’d rather have him than any other QB in the draft.

    The article doesn’t say whether the Vikes would have selected any of the other QBs they examined (other than Garoppolo (OK) and Savage (yuck)), or if so, where. Which leads me to a hypothetical for Arif: if the Vikes had failed to trade up and Bridgewater and Carr had been off the board at 40, which QBs would you have targeted and in what rounds?

    1. I know you didn’t ask me but… I would have tried to target Mettenberger or Murray in the fourth and grabbed a backup plan in someone like Renner in the seventh. OR, wait until next year…

      1. Murray looked OK to me. I kind of liked Fales as a later round guy (not necessarily QBOTF). I could have gotten excited about Garoppolo (I particularly like how quickly he gets the ball out), though he might take a couple of years to get ready (and he may never get around the issues with pressure).

        Mettenberger looked like an NFL QB to me at times, but seemed to make more than his share of boneheaded throws. That’s just from watching a handful of games, though. I think the character issues are troubling with him as well.

    2. That will be the interesting part in all of this for me. Most people will be comparing Manziel to Bridgewater from here on out. But for me, I’ll be more likely to compare Bridgewater to Garropolo since I was an advocate of staying pat in the second-round, conserve their draft picks in a deep draft and see who falls to you at #40. (That’s the way Ron Wolf did it, and that’s the way Ozzie Newsome has always done it… two GM’s I have always admired.) Assuming Houston would have taken Bridgewater, the Vikings still would have been able to get Garropolo in the second-round and kept there fourth-round pick; which could have been used on a DB or Tre Mason/Terrence West (whom it has been rumored they preferred over McKinnon).

      The fact that the Patriots deemed Jimmy G. as a worthy successor to Brady bodes well for the young man I would think.

    3. My guess is that Murray and Fales were on their shortlist as well. I would have targeted Fales with a 5th-round pick (even though in hindsight, targeting him with the 6th would have worked) and Murray with a 5th if Fales fell through.

      Brett Smith in the 7th would have been an easy decision, too.

  5. It is a bit disquieting to learn that we seriously considered Manziel, Garoppolo, and Savage. Yecchh. Maybe it is a good thing that Studwell stepped down.

  6. I could probably see the Rick / Norv split

    Given Rick’s excellent run on QB picking
    sometimes the best deals are the ones you do not make.

    While you can be totally self centered and be a successful QB in the NFL (Brett Farve) Cleveland does not have megatron on the team to pull out throws made into triple coverage. I think defenses in the NFL will be a ruder awakening for Johnny than Teddy.

  7. I cannot Manziel and am so glad we didn’t pick him, but even I concede that Manziel is a far, FAR more dymanic runner. So if they had them virtually even that speaks volumes about much of a better passer Bridgewater is in their view. Honestly I still don’t believe they had Manziel higher, how could they? Turners offense is complex and Bridgewater schematic fit. Manziel … He can run and that’s great but do not need a QB with poor mechanics to make plays with his feet. IF they truly had Manziel slightly higher then again…thank God things worked out the way they would. I would have despised my favorite team had they taken Manziel. The guy is a complete tool. As it is we have anti Manziel in Bridgewater and I couldn’t be happier.

  8. I admit that I was one of those fans who wanted Manziel. I bought into the media hype. I wanted the extra attention for the Vikings. I wanted the risk and reward scenario. When reading the Glazier report, I felt very upset before pick 32. Inside I hoped we might be able to get Bridgewater and something told me we’d trade with the Seahawks for him. Thank God it happened! Now that a few days have gone by and I read more on Bridgewater, I feel he’s the right choice. In the end, he’s who we got. It’s interesting to see how it came about, but all that matters is he’s a Viking! Let’s hope and pray he brings us to the long awaited promised land called the Super Bowl!

  9. Just so I can calibrate, ARIF: how many post-secondary classes in statistics did you take?

  10. No one will probably read this way down here, but does anyone think it’s possible the Spielman is floating this story that he wanted Manziel so that if Teddy flops and Manziel succeeds he can say, “but I tried my best to get the right QB, I just didn’t have enough ammunition.” This way he is covered no matter what happens, unless both guys turn out terrible I guess. I’m not saying I believe this, I just like rolling possibilities around in my mind.

    1. That wouldn’t surprise me. It’s all pretty cloak and dagger, but in the end, I think we got the QB that fits Turner’s style and Zimmer’s character. And I think Teddy will be much better than Johnny in the long run.

    2. Hell no. Spielman couldn’t use that excuse, If he truly felt that Manziel was the QB he would have taken him at 8 and not risked the chance of waiting and ultimately losing him. It would not cover him from saving his job I can tell you that much

    1. Look carefully. Never claimed to know the amount, claimed to not care…but distinction shminctition, amirite??????

  11. I found it a touch concerning that Slick Rick had Manziel rated higher than H2O.

  12. This article restored some of the faith I’d lost in Speilman. The Barr pick is soso as I’ve been up and down on him throughout the process. The Bridgewater pick threw me for a loop as I thought Rick was smarter than that but if the coaches wanted Bridgewater and his guy was gone I now understand. Let’s hope we keep Rick through three more years of mediocrity and he gets his guy in 2017/8.