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Friday, April 29, 2011

Pondering Christian




- The Vikings' hands were tied. Ponder was their guy, and the feeling (which I agree with) was that he wouldn't slip past Miami (15) and Washington (16). That left them with only two teams (St. Louis and Detroit) as potential trading partners, and neither was interested. Kudos to Spielman and Frazier for sticking to their convictions in the face of local and national criticism.

- Way back on March 3rd, I asked draftnik Michael Schottey which quarterback, assuming Newton and Gabbert were gone, would be a good fit for the Vikings. His response:

"I think Christian Ponder is the prototypical quarterback for the Bill Musgrave Offense in this draft -- good athleticism, enough arm strength, tons of accuracy on the move. He could be a great second round pick..."

Ponder obviously vaulted up draft boards in the past two months, but Schottey nailed it.

- You can't help but notice of Ponder's resemblance to Joe Mauer. Mauer, who also wears No. 7, was ironically slated to play quarterback at Florida State before being drafted by the Twins.

- I was in attendance at the Winter Park Draft Party. Click here for interviews, analysis and fan reaction.

- Passing on Prince Amukamara really doesn't bother me, but seeing Nick Fairley go 13th to the Lions stings a bit.

- If we know one thing about Ponder, it's this: He's the smartest guy in the room.

- I have to wonder how new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave feels this morning. The former Falcons quarterbacks coach has a rookie quarterback on his hands, and last night he saw Atlanta add Julio Jones to their already-outsanding offensive core of Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner.

- You can follow Christian Ponder on Twitter at @cponder7.

- With a below-average offensive line and a rookie quarterback who comes into the league with injury concerns, the Vikings would be wise to add some protection at pick 43. After all, they'll play six games in a division that features Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, Charles Woodson, Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh, Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

4/27/11: Final Vikings' Mock Draft




1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB
It's the wrong pick, in my opinion, but Newton will put butts in the seats, and he has rare upside.

2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, LB
The steam over the past 12 hours has Miller leap-frogging Dareus. Either way, John Fox will be happy.

3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT
A no-brainer.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Fairley, DT
Cincinnati throws a curveball. Fairley might be the most talented player in the draft—from a talent perspective, this is a steal, not a reach. The Ravens and Steelers dominate in the trenches, and I think the Bengals counter here.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB
Paired with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Cardinals look to lock down the NFC West for the next decade.

6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, WR
The Browns are the big winners in this scenario. They might have the worst receiving corps in the league, and they were set on Julio Jones. They never imagined Green would be available.

7. Washington Redskins: Blaine Gabbert, QB
With Blaine Gabbert still on the board and Tennessee licking their chops, Daniel Snyder makes a splash and trades up (with San Francisco) for his franchise quarterback.

8. Tennessee Titans: Julio Jones, WR
Devastated by this turn of events, the Titans decide to team Jones' speed with Kenny Britt's size and possession skills. With Britt's off-the-field issues, this pick helps new coach Mike Munchak sleep at night.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT
Makes too much sense not to happen.

10. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara
While most are calling new head coach Jim Harbaugh's faith in Alex Smith a smokescreen, the fact is this love affair started way back in January. Ultimately, the 49ers get the guy they wanted and add an extra pick from the Redskins along the way.

11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE
Mario Williams finally gets some help.

12. New England Patriots: Aldon Smith, OLB/DE
Bill Belichick covets Smith's raw pass-rushing ability, and none of the players on the Vikings' radar are good value in this slot. It's a rare trade-up for "Hoodie," and the Vikings get back the third round pick they wasted on the Randy Moss debacle.

13. Detroit Lions: Jimmy Smith, CB
One of my favorite players in the draft, Smith is a Darrelle Revis clone who comes with a load of baggage.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT
The Rams' Julio Jones-pipe dream ended over an hour ago, so they decide to solidify their interior defense.

15. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Mallett, QB
Miami takes a chance on the best arm in the entire draft.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Ponder, QB
Jacksonville favors the local Florida State product over Jake Locker.

17. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB
If you've visited this blog in the last month, you know that I'm obsessed with Ryan Mallett and lukewarm (at best) on Jake Locker. Still, at this spot (with a third rounder in the back pocket), I'm fine with the Vikings rolling the dice on a guy with All-World athleticism/intangibles, despite his highly-suspect accuracy. If he's starting midway through 2011, he'll be ahead of schedule.

Monday, April 25, 2011

4/25/11: Vikings' Mock Draft






1. Carolina Panthers: Marcell Dareus, DT
When the rubber meets the road, defensive-minded Ron Rivera won't gamble on the enigmatic Cam Newton.

2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB
I fully expect the Broncos to trade back a handful of spots with a quarterback-needy team, but if they're unable to, this is their worst-case scenario. Dareus was their guy. Peterson, however, makes for an outstanding consolation prize and will flourish under the tutelage of Champ Bailey.

3. Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB
The Bills are thrilled get Newton here. This is the lowest he falls.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR
The stubborn Mike Brown hasn't given up on Carson Palmer—he'll pass on Blaine Gabbert and give the Bengals a breath of fresh air at wide receiver.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, LB
The Cardinals will be very tempted by Blaine Gabbert here, but Miller is simply too good to pass up. They'll go the retread quarterback route when the CBA debacle ends.

6. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR
The Browns' receiving corps is horrid, and they're infatuated with Jones' potential.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB
The notion that Patrick Peterson falls to the 49ers is ludacris—he'll never make it past the Browns, and will likely be gone much earlier. Value meets need with Prince at No. 7.

8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert, QB
And with that, the Vince Young era comes to an unceremonious end.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT
Makes too much sense not to happen.

10. Washington Redskins: Nick Fairley, DT
The Redskins replace one ultra-talented, lazy defensive tackle (Albert Haynesworth) with another.

11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE
Mario Williams finally gets some help.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Castonzo, OT
It's safe and boring, but the Vikings need to get better in the trenches. Castonzo projects as Bryant McKinnie's long-term replacement at left tackle, but will contribute immediately starting at right guard.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

INTERVIEW: Brian Robison's Time to Shine


Money talks, and the three-year, $14.1 million contract the Minnesota Vikings gave fifth-year defensive end Brian Robison in early March spoke volumes about the future of the team's left defensive end position.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Boser's Tweetbeat :: April 21, 2011


This past week over at ZoneBlitz.com, Andrew Tellijohn and I discussed how the NFL lockout could affect the 2011 fantasy football season. With the postponement of free agency/trading and the cancellation of minicamps, we’ve likely already reached a point where the quality of the product on the field will suffer—at least early.

So what does this mean for fantasy football?

Click here to read the rest of the article at Lester's Legends.

Ranking the NFL Uniforms, 1-32


As a full-time retail graphic designer and a moonlighting sportswriter, this article is right in my wheelhouse.

I spend most of my life working with color, composition and trends while daydreaming about hot reads and zone blitzes. No, I'm not an expert on NFL uniform designs. Nobody is—this is still purely subjective.

Here's how I think all 32 teams visually stack up.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Will Carson Palmer Be Traded?


What a headache.

Carson Palmer wants out. According to him:

"I have $80 million in the bank. I don't have to play football for money. I'll play it for the love of the game, but that would have to be elsewhere. I'm prepared to live my life."

Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cam Newton and 10 Potential NFL Draft Busts




"I'm looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego"

- Ryan Leaf

Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ryan Mallett is Worth the Risk for the Vikings at No. 12


“7,000-plus yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons. That’s how I respond to that.” - Ryan Mallett

He's been compared to Peyton Manning.

He's been compared to Ryan Leaf.

There are draft analysts who expect his name to be called before bedtime on Thursday, April 28th. Others project him as a Saturday morning slider (fourth round).

Some teams have removed him from their draft boards altogether.

If there's one thing we know about Ryan Mallett, it's this: the 6'7", 253-lb. gunslinger from Texarkana is the biggest wild card in the upcoming NFL draft by a country mile.


Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Madden 12 Cover Will Not Feature Adrian Peterson



Rest easy, Vikings fans. The Madden Curse will not be coming to Minnesota.

As you surely know by now, EA Sports is running a cover contest for Madden 12. The most recent round of fan voting was tabulated yesterday, and Adrian Peterson trounced Drew Brees (62 percent to 38 percent) to earn a birth in the Final Four.

This is where it ends for 28.


Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is Donovan McNabb Coming to Minnesota?


Make no mistake, the latest "McNabb to Minnesota" story is playing bigger nationally than it is locally—and for good reason.

Minnesotans are privy to the source.

While the headline was picked up by major media outlets and distributed to the masses as credible news, Minnesotans greeted the story with a collective eye-roll. That's just Charley being Charley.


Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Boser's Tweetbeat :: April 7th, 2011






Casual fantasy footballers everywhere have earmarked New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham as their favorite 2011 sleeper. They’re in for a rude awakening. Graham’s a household name inside industry circles. In fact, he’s so so popular that I’m beginning to wonder if he’s being overvalued. Listen, I love him as much as the next guy. A 6’6″, 260 lb. power forward in a pass-happy offense? Sign me up.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Lester's Legends.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Joe Webb and Five Vikings on the Hot Seat


Last off-season, the Vikings' brass had it easy. Returning all 22 starters, including a league-high eight Pro Bowlers, Minnesota figured to be right back in the Super Bowl mix. Free agency and the draft were mere formalities—adding depth and competition are relatively simple tasks.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Bleacher Report.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Polls Closed


As many of you know, I've been running a couple of Vikings polls over the past several weeks. The people have spoken.


COMMUNITY MOCK POLL
We've gone pick by pick up through the Vikings' selection, and at 1.12, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn edges Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Quinn received 12 of the 41 total votes (Solder received 10). Eight players received votes.

After sitting out the entire 2010 season on NCAA suspension for accepting benefits from an agent, Quinn is the biggest wild card in the entire draft. He's been mocked everywhere from No. 1 overall to the mid-first round. He's an elite athlete with blazing speed, and the hybrid DE/OLB projects as a pass-rushing force.

Here's how the Community Mock played out:
1. Cam Newton, QB; Car
2. Patrick Peterson, CB; Den
3. Nick Fairley, DT; Buf
4. A.J. Green, WR; Cin
5. Blaine Gabbert, QB; Ari
6. Marcell Dareus, DT; Cle
7. Von Miller, LB; SF
8. Prince Amukamara, CB; Ten
9. Tyron Smith, OT; Dal
10. Julio Jones, WR; Was
11. Da'Quan Bowers, DE; Hou

12. Robert Quinn, DE; Min


2011 QUARTERBACK POLL
This pole ran for over a month, and 171 voters weighed in. There were 20 options to choose from, including stopgaps, rookies, trade targets, currently rostered players, and one particular "retired" player. Tied to each option was the projected price the Vikings would have to pay to obtain the quarterback's services.

Receiving 15% of the vote, fans chose to trade back from pick No. 12 to select Jake Locker. He was followed by Carson Palmer (12%; trade 3rd rounder), Joe Webb (10%), Kevin Kolb (10%; trade 1st & 2nd rounders), and Kyle Orton (9%; trade 2nd rounder).

Locker's stock has fluctuated everywhere from the Redskins' No. 10 pick, all the way to the third round. As of today, I'd give him a 50-50 shot of being there when the Vikings step to the podium in the second round.

Locker has the size, arm, athleticism, and mental makeup to be a topflight NFL quarterback. His biggest questions revolve around on-field production—particularly his completion percentage and win-loss record.


I'd be very happy if the first two rounds of the draft played out like this, and the numbers suggest that I'm not alone.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Don't Mock Me




I've had the pleasure of acting as the Minnesota Vikings' GM in a full 7-round Mock Draft made up of NFL writers and bloggers. Upon completion of the draft, all 32 teams will be graded by Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com and Aaron Aloysius of DraftBreakdown.com.



1.02 (via Denver) — Blaine Gabbert, QB; Missouri
The Vikings have traded picks 1.12, 2.11, and their 2012 2nd rounder to the Denver Broncos for pick 1.02.

Coming into the draft, we’d put a strong emphasis on the quarterback position, and we identified Blaine as the top quarterback prospect early on in the process. Knowing that he’d be in high demand for any of the teams drafting in the 3-8 range, we moved quickly and confidently when Denver made the No. 2 selection available. We are absolutely thrilled to be adding a player of his caliber at such an important position.

We view Blaine as the complete package — he has the tools and athleticism to excel at the next level, and he has the leadership and character that you look for in a franchise quarterback. Our new offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, was instrumental in Matt Ryan’s development in Atlanta, and we’re expecting similar results here. We feel that Blaine has the ability to step in and deliver the ball to our offensive playmakers from day one, and we look forward to seeing him in purple.


4.09 (106) — Joseph Barksdale, OT; LSU
Joseph is a very talented prospect with first round potential. He needs to be coached up, and our staff is up to the challenge. At 6’5″, 325 lbs., he has prototypical size for a tackle, and has experience on both the left and right sides. Ideally, we’d like him to start immediately on the right side of our line next to Phil Loadholt, with the two competing for the right tackle position. We feel that either Phil or Joseph could slide inside to right guard, giving Adrian Peterson 670 pounds of beef to run behind.


4.17 (114, via Jacksonville) — Tyler Sash, S; Iowa
The Vikings have acquired pick 4.17 from Jacksonville in exchange for picks 5.08, 5.19, and 7.12.



Tyler will be able to play either safety position in our Cover-2, and he brings several outstanding qualities to our secondary that we’ve been lacking. First and foremost, Tyler’s a flat out playmaker — he’s a violent hitter, and as his 13 career interceptions suggest, he has a nose for the ball. Tyler’s a gamer who displays tremendous instincts, energy, fundamentals, and football I.Q.. He’s a maximum effort player who brings the kind of leadership we’re looking for, and we expect him to make an immediate impact in our secondary. We coveted Tyler, and when he was still available midway through the fourth round, we had to move. With Blaine Gabbert, Joseph Barksdale, and Tyler Sash, we believe we’ve addressed our three biggest areas of weakness with three Week 1 starters.


6.07 (172) — Kris O'Dowd, C; USC
The selection of Kris O'Dowd will go a long way in our continued effort to bolster our offensive line. A four-year starter at USC, Kris became the first true freshman starter at center in school history. He's a very intelligent, passionate player, and his impressive 31 bench press reps at the Combine represent the kind of raw power that we're currently lacking at the position. At 6'4", 304 lbs., Kris grades out as a 3rd-4th round prospect whose history of knee and shoulder injuries affected his draft stock. Still, we strongly considered him with one of our 4th round selections, and we expect him to compete immediately with incumbent John Sullivan.


6.35 (200) — DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB; Miami

Last year we took a flier on a prospect with rare athleticism at pick No. 199 (Joe Webb), and we think it's turned out very well. In many ways, we're taking a similar approach here. It's hard not to be enamored with DeMarcus' raw potential. His 4.25 40-yard dash was the fastest at the Combine, and the third fastest in the past decade. In addition to his blazing speed, he has excellent height for a cornerback (6'1"). We felt that DeMarcus' freakish height/speed combination were worth a shot at this point in the draft. At 175 lbs., he'll clearly need to spend some time in the weight room. Moreover, his actual football skills are incredibly raw. Minnesota is the perfect fit for DeMarcus. He won't be pressured to play immediately, new coach Leslie Frazier is a defensive backs guru, and veteran Antoine Winfield provides second-to-none tutelage. Our goal is to turn this amazing athlete into a football player.


7.33 (236) — Jonas Mouton, OLB; Michigan
We're thrilled to be adding a player of Jonas' caliber this late in the draft. Nicknamed "The Assassin," he was highly productive last season, leading the Big Ten with 111 tackles (including 8.5 for loss), two sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. A former safety, Mouton plays faster than his Combine numbers would suggest. He's a big hitter who plays with a lot of intensity, and if he can harness some of his aggression and become more disciplined, he'll develop into a very solid player at the next level.