delivering the goods

The NFL Draft delivered its usual bevy of goods. Included in the bag of treats for draftniks and pro football fans in general were stunning picks, last-minute trades, and for the second straight year no running backs selected in the first round. The Vikings made ten selections and seven picks were devoted to shoring up a defensive unit that has to face Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, and Aaron Rodgers twice a year. Trading back from eight to nine with a familiar first-round trading partner in the Cleveland Browns, the Vikings picked UCLA pass rusher Anthony Barr with their first pick. I hesitate to designate Barr with a position as I am eager to see the type of defensive scheme the Vikings will employ. Gone are the days of an even man, Cover 2 alignment perhaps. Barr is an explosive yet unpolished talent who has a quick first step to turn the corner and utilize his athleticism. The team has not seen a standup pass-rusher like him for a while and I am excited to see if he can deliver big plays when rushing the passer. For the third straight year, the Vikings traded into the bottom part of round one to get two first round picks. By offering their fourth-round pick this year to Seattle, the Vikings switched spots with the Seahawks and with the 32nd overall pick, drafted a talented winner in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater, the 2013 Sugar Bowl MVP, demonstrated a great feel for reading defenses at Louisville. The Vikings addressed their quarterback issue by picking Bridgewater, a smart and instictive student of the game who moves well in the pocket and can deliver solid touch and accuracy. His pro day showing highlighted a less than ideal postseason but to paraphrase a parlance from Rasheed Wallace, “the tape don’t lie.” It remains to be seen if he will start week 1 against the Rams and 2010 first overall pick Sam Bradford. But, coming away with a quarterback was imperative, especially a young offensive threat in Cordarrelle Patterson. Mammoth Gophers defensive tackle Rashede Hageman was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons. Hageman is a success story and it will be interesting to see him play a road game at his old collegiate stomping grounds, TCF Bank Stadium when the the Falcons play the Vikings in September. With the picks of Bridgewater and Hageman, I looked around my room and saw a couple of telling reminders that things are changing. The first indicator was a cardboard cutout of Christian Ponder posing with Sofia Vergara of Modern Family fame that I got a grocery store only after asking the manager what they did with cardboard displays like that. “Oh, we just throw it out. If you want it Levi, you can have it.” I choose to add it to my Vikings shrine even though it has absolutely no practical value. Second, is a 2013 Golden Gopher football poster featuring Hageman hanging near the Ponder “shrine.”I wonder, will a Bridgewater Pepsi cardboard cutout featuring the 2014 first-rounder and Julie Bowen be near the soft drinks at the local grocery store? I would think not but the draft was an exciting event to behold, a blend of poker, pageantry, and glory.

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