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44 posts categorized "Football"

August 28, 2015

NEW FOOTBALL PODCAST, featuring Feldy and Phersy

UPDATE: The blog software's MP3 wasn't working properly ... so there's a new link below to listen to the podcast on Spreaker. It should be good to go now, just clink the link.

NEW LINK, CLICK HERE

PHERSY: Well, here it is ... our new football podcast.

Hang with us while we tweak the audio and get it to sound more professional ... we're both new to using this podcast equipment. Hopefully by Week 3 we'll be experts.

At any rate, the podcast is where we'll be doing the HS football picks each week this season. Unfortunately for you, you must listen to the whole thing this week to get our picks! 

We hope you enjoy. Please, tweet at us and let us know what you think.

USE THIS LINK ... PLAYER BELOW NOW WORKING

August 04, 2015

Former JM great Jim Scheid dies at 57

Posted by: Feldman

"It's a sad day, but it goes to show life is not fair. It's tough. Rochester has lost a great person." — Former JM hockey star Bruce Aikens, on his teammate Jim Scheid

-----

Six-hundred thirty-six words seems so insufficient to sum up someone's life. Anyone's life, but espeically the life of someone like Jim Scheid, who clearly touched more lives than he knew.

That's how many words are in this story about Scheid, the former Rochester John Marshall athletic standout, who died Monday just three days before his 58th birthday, after a long battle with cancer.

I talked to three of his friends/high school teammates about Jim, and I knew about 5 minutes into my first conversation that I was going to have way more material than I could fit into a print story.

I could have written 6,000 words, probably more.

I never had the chance to meet Jim in person. I interviewed him one time, a little more than five years ago, for a story on all of the Rochester hockey players who moved on to play at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s and early 80s. The Badgers were playing in an NCAA Regional at The X that spring (2010) and it seemed like a good time to do the story.

I don't know why I remember this, but when I called Jim, he was traveling to a youth hockey tournament -- I'm assuming with his youngest son, Ian, who coincidentally I would come to know a little bit over this past year as he played for the Austin Bruins -- somewhere in the northern part of the state. I want to say Thief River Falls, but I could be wrong.

The point is, from all of his friends and family with whom I spoke today, that was Jim. He was always coaching, teaching, helping others -- his kids, friends' kids -- excel at the sports they love, whether it was hockey, baseball, football (Jim starred in all three at JM) or hunting or fishing (which friends say he loved just as much).

Back in late May, Scott Lecy -- Jim's linemate and teammate at JM and Wisconsin -- worked with the Rochester Park and Rec to get the warming house at Allendale Park named after Scheid. When Lecy went to visit Scheid in his home last weekend, Scheid told him with a laugh, "You know, Scott, that's nice, but I never spent much time in the warming house."

Indeed, as Lecy and Bruce Aikens and Randy Wilcox would explain to me, Scheid was the one who called everyone's house -- who remembers a childhood without cell phones?! -- to tell them to gather at the outdoor rink, no matter the temperature. And once there, when everyone else would take a break, Scheid would be the one shoveling off the rink.

Scheid was also an outstanding QB on the football team (he played on JM's 1974 state title team) and an All-State baseball player as a senior. He was inducted into the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame in 2013.

"He was the quarterback in football, first-line center in hockey and shortstop in baseball," Wilcox said with a chuckle. "How much better can you be?"

Scheid, Lecy, Aikens and Wilcox all played on some powerhouse JM hockey teams. The Rockets went 21-3 in Scheid's senior season but lost in the section tournament. The next year, Lecy and Aikens led JM to a state championship. Three weeks later, Lecy was in Madison on his recruiting visit, where he had the chance to catch up with Scheid.

"He knew we'd have a great team that year," Lecy said of the '77 Rockets. "He was just so happy that we all got to experience that. Not just getting to state, but winning it, too."

When I've talked to players from those mid-to-late 1970s JM teams, they all echo the same sentiment: Those teams were great because of the work the players put in away from organized practice. Wilcox talked at length about Scheid using a tennis ball instead of a puck on the uneven outdoor ice at Allendale.

"If you could handle a tennis ball hopping around out there, you could definitely handle a puck," he said.

That makes it fitting that one of the lasting impressions Scheid will leave on Rochester is his name on the warming house of an outdoor rink, where everyone skating on the ice can see it.

---

Jim and his wife, Sandy, have three sons: Tony, Eric and Ian.

I've followed Eric's hockey career from afar; he'll be a senior playing at Penn State this fall.

Ian will play for the USHL's Fargo Force; they made him a 2nd round draft pick a couple months ago after he had an outstanding season with the NAHL's Austin Bruins. I got to know Ian a little bit while covering the team -- it was obvious he didn't care to have the spotlight placed on him, but he always answered questions with thought and never turned me down if I asked for an interview. To know what he was going through off the ice, it's pretty amazing to have watched the season he put together on it.

After meeting Ian and watching him play, I wasn't shocked that Aikens had this to say about Jim Scheid as a high school player:

"I know his parents were big influences in his life. He wasn't a really vocal guy, but was always very down to Earth. He let his actions and play speak for him."

His former teammates describe Jim as a do-it-all type of guy, one who would much rather set up his teammates for a goal than score it himself.

As Lecy and Wilcox pointed out, Scheid earned the nickname "Slip" at Wisconsin, because he was always too slippery for anyone to catch.

"He was so unselfish," Lecy said. "He was always looking to pass and not shoot. ... He was a great athlete and a great guy, and he was easy to like and look up to."

Aikens added: "Jim was a class act. He came to play every night. Fundamentally he did everything well and was a great team leader. He could really pass the puck, very unselfish. He got more joy out of winning than his own statistics. It was a joy to play with him.
"He was the QB on the football team, a great baseball player, and he did it all with class and made it look easy."

October 21, 2014

High School Football picks | Section quarterfinal edition

FELDY: Phersy gained another game on me last week. I'm pretty sure he cheated, but I'll take my lumps and move on. It should come as no shock that the 9-man games did me in. Phersy knew that would happen, which is why he made me pick three of them. I'm contemplating not putting any 9-man games on the list this week. We'll see. We'll see. 

I went 5-2 last week and am 37-12 this season. Phersy went 6-1 to improve to 35-14. We're down to just a couple weeks left, so he needs to gain some ground. Let's see if he can do it in the section quarterfinals. I say no, he won't.

This round's games to pick, lots of 4s vs. 5s:

SECTION 1AAAAA

No. 5 John Marshall (4-4) at No. 4 Century (4-4)

SECTION 1AAAA

No. 5 Winona (1-7) at No. 4 Red Wing (2-6)

SECTION 1AAA

No. 5 Jordan (5-3) at No. 4 Lake City (4-4)

SECTION 1AA

No. 5 Dover-Eyota (3-5) at No. 4 Chatfield (4-4)

SECTION 2AA

No. 5 G-F-W (2-6) at No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa (3-5)

SECTION 1A

No. 5 Southland (5-3) at No. 4 Faribault B.A. (6-2)

SECTION 1 9-MAN

No. 5 Houston (3-5) at No. 4 Lanesboro (4-4)

**********

PHERSY: Feldy might not say it, but he's worried. This would be the choke of all chokes. He's very frightened for this week's picks, as he should be. It won't be long until Team Phersy charges into the lead...

SECTION 1AAAAA

No. 5 John Marshall 34, No. 4 Century 27: Rockets riding high after huge win over West. If they let up, they'll lose. But my guess is they're getting hot at the right time.

SECTION 1AAAA

No. 4 Red Wing 21, No. 5 Winona 0: You know it's a brutal section when the Wingers are hosting a first-

SECTION 1AAA

No. 4 Lake City 14, No. 5 Jordan 7: The Tigers' defense will carry them to a win. Jordan hasn't played the same competition, and that'll pay off at home for LC.

SECTION 1AA

No. 4 Chatfield 21, No. 5 Dover-Eyota 14: It's not going to be easy for Chatfield, and the Gophers aren't playing great. But it's playoff time...they'll dig deep and move on.

SECTION 2AA

No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa 12, No. 5 G-F-W 0: These teams struggled to score points all season. Cougars faced tougher competition and they're on their home field...

SECTION 1A

No. 5 Southland 21, No. 4 Faribault B.A. 20: Upset central? Sure. FBA lost big when it faced good opponents, beat up on lesser foes. Rebels enter with confidence and pull the upset.

SECTION 1 9-MAN

No. 4 Lanesboro 35, No. 5 Houston 14: This was a shutout win for Lanesboro the first time around. Houston scores, but I don't see an upset happening.

**********

FELDY: I'll admit it. I'm worried. Worried about Phersy breaking down and bawling in the office when I win this thing for -- what? -- like the third year in a row. Let's get on with the picks.

SECTION 1AAAAA

No. 4 Century 27, No. 5 JM 25: This is more about what I saw from Century last week than it is a knock on JM. The Rockets are (obviously) playing quite well and coming off an emotional high. But Century moved the ball effectively against Mayo last week, but shot itself in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The Panthers need to clean those things up, or they won't move on. I trust they'll clean that stuff up tonight.

SECTION 1AAAA

No. 4 Red Wing 18, No. 5 Winona 6: Won't be pretty, but the Wingers advance to play Stewartville on Saturday.

SECTION 1AAA

No. 5 Jordan 24, No. 4 Lake City 20: Lake City had played very well in a loss to Stewartville and a victory against Kasson-Mantorville. Then the Tigers lost by 29 to Lourdes (no shame in that; it's happened to most everyone this year) and lost to Cannon Falls last Wednesday. The Tigers will play better tonight, but I'll take the Hubmen on a late score.

SECTION 1AA

No. 4 Chatfield 20, No. 5 Dover-Eyota 13: I agree with Phersy. Chatfield isn't playing well, but it has some veteran players who know what it takes to win in the postseason. D-E will put up a good fight, but the Gophs win on their home turf.

SECTION 2AA

No. 4 Z-M 14, No. 5 G-F-W 11: Cougars get the home-field advantage and move on to the section semis.

SECTION 1A

No. 5 Southland 28, No. 4 Faribault B.A. 18: COME ON, PHERSY! This was gonna be my (mild) upset special! Southland's three losses came to Caledonia, Goodhue and Rushford-Peterson. If you're gonna lose three games, there's no shame in those losses. The Rebels are riding high after knocking off defending Class AA state champ Chatfield.

SECTION 1 9-MAN

No. 4 Lanesboro 63, No. 5 Houston 48: I can't pick 9-man games, so why not expect a fan-pleasing shootout? Gimme the Burros by a bunch. Eeeee-awwww! (Sorry, I really do think the Burros need that sound effect at their home games, to play after they get first downs. That'd be awesome. Someone get me a video if they do that?)

October 10, 2014

High School Football picks | Week 7

FELDY: After last week, I think Phesy is waving the white flag. He is French, after all (he's not, and no offense meant to our readers in France). Let's get going with Week 7 games. I went 6-1 last week to improve to 35-7. Phersy went 4-3, in his defense, trying to make up some ground, but now sits at 28-14. Maybe he better go all 7 different than me over the next couple weeks.

This week's games:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester John Marshall (3-3) at Owatonna (4-2)
* Northfield (5-1) at Rochester Century (4-2)

SFA RED DIVISION

* Lourdes (6-0) at Lake City (4-2)

SFA WHITE DIVISION

* Triton (5-1) at Lewiston-Altura (4-2)
* Dover-Eyota (2-4) at Zumbrota-Mazeppa (2-4)

SFA BLUE DIVISION

* Goodhue (5-1) at Chatfield (4-2)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Spring Grove (5-1) at Lanesboro (4-2)

* * * * *

PHERSY: I stink anyway, so no research, no wise thoughts, just picks...

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester John Marshall 21, Owatonna 14: Rockets need this win badly.
* Northfield 37, Rochester Century 21: Northfield is the second-best team in the conference.

SFA RED DIVISION

* Lourdes 35, Lake City 34: Closer than most think, but Eagles still win a big one on the road.

SFA WHITE DIVISION

* Triton 27, Lewiston-Altura 20: Good game, Cobras steal a road W.
* Dover-Eyota 20, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 12: Sticking with the road theme.

SFA BLUE DIVISION

* Chatfield 29, Goodhue 2: I don't usually bet against the Wildcats, but when I do, it's against a good wrestling school.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Spring Grove 41, Lanesboro 34: Nine-man ... who knows.

* * * * * * * 

FELDY: This can never be easy, so I'm sure I'll lose 3-4 games this week, even if I pick the same as Phersy.

BIG NINE

* JM 31, Owatonna 20: JM's a better team than its 3-3 record shows. Think about it: This team is 4 points away from being 5-1, if it flips 1-point losses to Mayo and Northfield.

* Century 33, Northfield 31: Call it an upset if you want. Northfield is a good football team, but so is Century, and Century has flown under the radar all year, even after beating JM. Time for the Panthers to stand up and be recognized.

SFA RED

* Lourdes 38, Lake City 28: I agree with Phersy, Lake City will keep this one close and it'll be one of the best 4-3 teams in the state afterward.

SFA WHITE

* L-A 24, Triton 20: The Cards are ticked after their first division loss last week and they bounce back with a quality victory against the snakes.

* D-E 24, Z-M 10: The Cougars have really struggled to score this year. That continues this week, and D-E gets its third win of the season.

SFA BLUE

* Chatfield 28, Goodhue 17: What a brutal way for Goodhue to end its season: at Chatfield, then home for Caledonia. Chatfield has lost twice this year and won't let it happen again in the regular season

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Spring Grove 63, Lanesboro 56: As Phersy said, we have no clue how to pick 9-man games. That's a credit to those teams in a balanced SEC, who believe they can win on any given week. Spring Grove put up 98 last week against G-E, so I'll take them to win this week in a defensive battle.

September 26, 2014

Feldy and Phersy's High School Football picks | Week 5

FELDY: Last week wasn't a very shining moment for either of us, Phersy, but especially you. We both were way off the mark on Austin against Faribault and we both thought JM would win a competitive game against Century. Turns out, Century had no inkling of letting it be close. I went 5-2 and am 23-5; Phersy went 3-4 and is now 20-8. Let's put last week in the past and move on to this week's games:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester Mayo (3-1) at Faribault (2-2)

SFA RED

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville (3-1) at Rochester Lourdes (4-0)

* Stewartville (4-0) at Lake City (3-1)

SFA BLUE

* Caledonia (5-0) at Chatfield (3-1)

SFA WHITE

* Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-3) at Dover-Eyota (1-3)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow (4-0) at Lanesboro (3-1)

* Spring Grove (3-1) at Mabel-Canton (3-2)

**********

PHERSY: Feldy, after another awful week, I need to try something new. So I'm gonna rip through these picks, no research, just first team that comes to mind...I have to break this slump!

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester Mayo 28, Faribault 14: Spartans get back on track.

SFA RED

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville 27, Rochester Lourdes 26: Going with road warriors this week?

* Stewartville 47, Lake City 22: Lake City is solid, but Stewartville is elite.

SFA BLUE

* Caledonia 24, Chatfield 7: Caledonia is balanced and the Warriors will be back on top again this year.

SFA WHITE

* Kenyon-Wanamingo 25, Dover-Eyota 21: All road teams, all night long.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow 33, Lanesboro 21: Best team in the state takes this one.

* Spring Grove 35, Mabel-Canton 28: This should be a good one!

* * * * *

FELDY: Let's see if I can put some more separation between me and Phersy...

BIG NINE

Mayo 33, Faribault 21: If the Spartans are the team they expected to be at the start of the season, and the team they still believe they can be, they come out and take it to the Falcons in Faribault.

SFA RED

Lourdes 28, PEM 24: I like Phersy's pick here, but coach Kesler won't let Lourdes relax with its No. 1 ranking. The Eagles will have a big bullseye on their backs (as if they already didn't) the rest of the way.

Stewartville 38, Lake City 21: No one has been able to slow Stewie's offense yet. As well as Lake City has played, Stewartville is as tough a test as they'll face all year.

SFA BLUE

Caledonia 34, Chatfield 19: Caledonia has had this game marked on its calendar for almost a year. 

SFA WHITE

Dover-Eyota 20, Kenyon-Wanamingo 17: I don't think I've picked a K-W game correctly all season. Maybe I'll start this week.

SOUTHEAST

Grand Meadow 36, Lanesboro 23: Sticking with the defending state champion Larks.

Spring Grove 22, Mabel-Canton 20: I'll take the Lions with a late score to win on the road.

August 04, 2014

Points on the Purple Daily: Aug. 4 (will another safety please step up)

Posted by: Feldman

Each week during the Vikings season, me and fellow P-B sports writer Guy N. Limbeck write "Points on the Purple," a back-and-forth column about the Vikings' topics of the day. We'll make this Faceoff Blog version of POTP as close to a daily feature as possible throughout training camp and the 2014 season.

If we've learned anything about new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer through a week-and-a-half of training camp, it's that he still keeps an eagle eye on defensive backs. Zimmer is a d-backs coach by nature and by trade, and watching him in several camp practices, you can tell he notices the tiniest miscue by his corners and safeties.

For example, during a walk-through a week ago, rookie Antone Exum was lining up at safety in a goal-line drill. Exum was only about 3-4 yards off the line of scrimmage and Zimmer stood directly behind him as the offense lined up. Just as the ball was about to be snapped, Zimmer stopped the play. He moved Exum over about 2 steps to his right and a step or two closer to the line. When the ball was snapped, Exum was in position to cut off the tight end's route to the goalpost. Following the play, Zimmer walked over to Exum and was clearly telling him what would have happened if he had stay lined up in his original position. Zimmer's arms were going in every possible direction and he never stopped talking, never stopped coaching.

Now, that's one play in a walk-through on Day 4 of training camp, when guys were only wearing jerseys and shorts.

But the point is, Zimmer is not going to settle for any defensive backs who aren't performing up to his standards for them. That's evident in the safety merry-go-round that we've seen in Mankato. Robert Blanton, Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond have all been talked about as the starter at the safety position next to Harrison Smith.

Blanton and Sanford have both battled injuries or are battling injuries at various times already in camp. Andrew Sendejo, who played 10 games last year when Smith was injured, is just now beginning to practice after missing the first week of camp with a back injury. Veteran Kurt Coleman has also seen time with the first team in camp, but hasn't done enough to earn more trust from Zimmer and his staff.

Zimmer's patience with the revolving door at safety clearly grew thin over the weekend. Sunday he communicated with Chris Crocker, who has played for Zimmer for seven of the past eight seasons (one year in Atlanta, six in Cincinnati). Monday, Crocker showed up in Mankato and was signed, instantly becoming the team's oldest player, at 34 years old. Should he make the team, he'll be in his 12th NFL season. He has 15 career interceptions and 60 passes defended.

Crocker has played both safety and nickel corner in his career.

Zimmer said Monday he wasn't sure if Crocker will play in Friday's preseason opener against Oakland at TCF Bank Stadium. I'd be stunned if we don't see Crocker early in the game, possibly even starting with Smith. Zimmer is obviously fed up with the lack of consistency from the other guys battling for that spot, so why not give Crocker a good look?

Then again, Zimmer pretty much knows exactly what Crocker will give him. And that's why Zim made the call.

Who knows? If Blanton and Sendejo suddenly get healthy, or if Sanford or Raymond or Coleman, or even Exum, step up and play like a starter, maybe Crocker won't make the opening day roster. Maybe signing Crocker is Zimmer's way of sending a message to not only the safeties, but the everyone else on the 90-man: If you're not meeting expectations, you can and will be replaced.

Or, maybe Crocker is Zimmer's security blanket at a position that is most important to him. The Vikings' pass defense was atrocious last season, and the personnel going into this season is mostly the same, so Crocker really couldn't be worse. Could he?

You don't play 11 years in the NFL without being pretty good at your job, so don't be surprised if Crocker is lining up next to Smith on Sept. 7 in St. Louis.

“I think I’ve been accountable, that’s the biggest thing,” Crocker told reporters on Monday. “And (Zimmer) is just so honest. You really appreciate a guy who is going to tell you whether you’re good or whether you’re bad. At the end of the day, you know where you stand. I’ve always played at the highest level playing for a guy like that.”

August 03, 2014

Points on the Purple Daily: Aug. 3 (Looking at a decade of drafts)

Posted by: Feldman

Each week during the Vikings season, me and fellow P-B sports writer Guy N. Limbeck write "Points on the Purple," a back-and-forth column about the Vikings' topics of the day. We'll make this Faceoff Blog version of POTP as close to a daily feature as possible throughout training camp and the 2014 season.

The buzz in Mankato over the past week — just as it is every year — has been about the new guys in purple, and the new guys with whistles. Last year it was the arrival of three first-round draft picks, Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd.

This year it's first-rounders Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater, as well as an almost entirely new coaching staff. There has already been much speculation about Barr and Bridgewater, where their careers in purple will go and how big of an impact they'll have on this organization (at least four Super Bowls, give or take a couple).

That got me thinking back to 2011, when Christian Ponder was the guy who everyone expected to turn the franchise around. And to 2008, when safety Tyrell Johnson was supposed to end the Vikings' merry-go-round at the position for the next 8-10 years.

So I decided to rank the past 10 Vikings drafts (2005-2014), in order of best to worst (mostly worst … I kid … kind of). I actually only ranked eight of the past 10 drafts because the 2013 and 2014 draftees are still too fresh to criticize or praise. Feel free to let me know if I'm wrong...

2007
The picks (8): RB Adrian Peterson (Round 1, No. 7 overall); WR Sidney Rice (2, 44); CB Marcus McCauley (3, 72); DE Brian Robison (4, 102); WR Aundrae Allison (5, 136); LB Rufus Alexander (6, 176); QB Tyler Thigpen (7, 217); WR Chandler Williams (7, 233).
Analysis: Does it really matter what happened after No. 7 overall this year? No. That the Vikings found a long-term DE in Round 4 is just a nice bonus. Rice had the one big year of his career when the Vikings needed it -- Brett Favre made him into a stud in 2009. Getting the best RB in team history -- when someone in the media (possibly me, I won't confirm or deny) wanted them to draft Brady Quinn -- is enough to make this one of the best drafts of the past 10 years.

2012
The picks (10)
: T Matt Kalil (Round 1, No. 4 overall); S Harrison Smith (1, 29); CB Josh Robinson (3, 66); WR Jarius Wright (4, 118); TE Rhett Ellison (4, 128); WR Greg Childs (4, 134); DB Robert Blanton (5, 139); K Blair Walsh (6, 175); LB Audie Cole (7, 210); DL Trevor Guyton (7, 219).
Analysis: Aside from the players drafted, I chuckled when reminded the team's first sixth-round pick was shipped to Washington for a QB. Donovan McNabb. He threw just two more TDs for the Vikings than Kelly Holcomb. Heh-heh. … Rick Spielman made his two first-round draft picks count, filling holes at two key spots for years to come. Wright has provided a lot of speed at the receiver spot, Blanton was in the mix for a starting safety spot before being injured in camp this year, and Blair Walsh has made the Vikings look smart for using a draft pick on a kicker.

2009
The picks (5): WR Percy Harvin (Round 1, No. 22 overall); T Phil Loadholt (2, 54); CB Asher Allen (3, 86); LB Jasper Brinkley (4, 150); S Jamarca Sanford (7, 231).
Analysis: If Harvin had remained a Viking, this draft might be ranked higher, though, the Vikings turned out OK after trading him, essentially getting CB Xavier Rhodes in return. Say this about Harvin: He may have been a headache (no pun intended) for coaches and teammates at times, but you knew you'd get everything he had when he stepped on the field. Loadholt has turned into a solid NFL tackle, a guy you know you don't have to worry about faltering on the right side. Brinkley could be in his second stint as a starter for the Vikes this year and Sanford has started 44 games, though he may not make the roster this year.

2008
The picks: S Tyrell Johnson (Round 2, No. 43 overall); QB John David Booty (5, 137); DT Letroy Guion (5,152); C John Sullivan (6, 187); WR Jaymar Johnson (6, 193).
Analysis: This draft, based solely on the players the Vikings selected, is about as bad as it gets, with the obvious exception of Sullivan. But, the Vikings' use of their first-round pick and two third-round picks this year has to be taken into consideration. They dealt those to Kansas City for DE Jared Allen. When you consider Allen as the team's first-round pick, plus getting a possible Vikings lifer -- Sullivan -- in the sixth round, this draft isn't as terrible as it seems.

2011
The picks (9): QB Christian Ponder (Round 1, No. 12 overall); TE Kyle Rudolph (2, 43); DL Christian Ballard (4, 106); CB Brandon Burton (5, 139); T DeMarcus Love (6, 168); S Mistral Raymond (6, 170); G Brandon Fusco (6, 172); LB Ross Homan (6, 200); DE D'Aundre Reed (7, 215); WR Stephen Burton (7, 236).
Analysis: The Ponder selection seemed like a reach at the time, and it proved to be exactly that. Raymond has started 10 games, but hasn't been consistent enough to lock down a starting job. Ballard was a bust; he decided he just didn't like football. Rudolph and Fusco saved this draft. Rudolph was just signed to a $7M-plus per-year extension and Fusco could be next in line for a nice extension, if he continues his ascension. Burton's moment of fame came in a loss at Indy, when he caught a twice-tipped pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter for a TD. At least he did that. … As a side note, the Vikings didn't have a third-rounder. It was traded to New England for Randy Moss. *sigh*

2010
The picks (8): CB Chris Cook (Round 2, No. 34 overall); RB Toby Gerhart (2, 51); DE Everson Griffen (4, 100); T Chris DeGeare (5, 161); LB Nate Triplett (5, 167); QB Joe Webb (6, 199); TE Mickey Shuler (7, 214); LB Ryan D'Imperio (7, 237).
Analysis: Looking at this list makes me want to throw a temper tantrum like my 2-year-old. Cook and Gerhart are two of the most frustrating picks in the past 10 years. Cook never lived up to the potential he'd show in training camp. Gerhart was a beast running between the tackles, but the Vikings left a lot of tread on his tires and weren't smart enough to trade him — for something, ANYTHING! — last year. They traded up for him in this draft and ended up with pretty much nothing to show for it. The coaches could never figure out how to use a guy with Webb's athletic ability and he's backing up Cam Newton now. Griffen is the only saving grace of this draft, and now he has to prove that he's worth $42.5M over five years.

2006
The picks (6): LB Chad Greenway (Round 1, No. 17 overall); CB Cedric Griffen (2, 48); C Ryan Cook (2, 51); QB Tarvaris Jackson (2, 64); DE Ray Edwards (4, 127); S Greg Blue (5, 149).
Analysis: As much criticism as Greenway has received over the past year or so, he is a two-time Pro Bowler and was a 2nd Team All-Pro in 2012. His teammates voted him the defensive MVP last season (which, I guess, isn't saying much, considering how awful that 'D' was). Griffen was OK at corner, but Cook and T-Jack never lived up to their second-round draft status. Edwards was a decent DE, but it's fair for fans to have expected more from him, playing opposite Jared Allen.

2005
The picks (7): WR Troy Williamson (Round 1, No. 7 overall); DE Erasmus James (1, 18); G Marcus Johnson (2, 49); S Dustin Fox (3, 80); RB Ciatrick Fason (4, 112); DT C.J. Mosley (6, 191); CB Adrian Ward (7, 219).
Analysis: I'm not sure whether to scream or laugh when looking at this list. I've chosen to laugh, because I otherwise might cry. This isn't nice, but here are a few players the Vikings could have taken in the first round: DeMarcus Ware, Shawne Merriman, Thomas Davis, Roddy White and some QB named Aaron Rodgers (I can give them a pass here, though; Daunte Culpepper was coming off a 39-TD, near-MVP season in '04). Still, this draft is beyond cringe-worthy. Aside from the two first-round disasters, their second-round pick, Johnson, was no better. He's best remembered for being pulled off the field in the middle of a drive at the Metrodome because he false-started multiple times. I don't know if Fox ever played a game, I didn't have the stomach to look it up.

• • • • •

2013
The picks (9): DT Sharrif Floyd (Round 1, No. 23 overall); CB Xavier Rhodes (1, 25); WR Cordarrelle Patterson (1, 29); LB Gerald Hodges (4, 120); P Jeff Locke (5, 155); G Jeff Baca (6, 196); LB Mike Mauti (7, 213); G Travis Bond (7, 214); DT Everett Dawkins (7, 229).
Analysis: Two of the nine aren't with the team (Bond, Dawkins), but the other seven already have made significant contributions or are competing for more playing time. Mauti and Hodges are in the mix of six linebackers who are competing for time. Baca should be, at worst, a key backup at multiple spots on the line. The three first-rounders are expected to take big steps forward this season as second-year guys.

2014
The picks (10): LB Anthony Barr (Round 1, No. 9 overall); QB Teddy Bridgewater (1, 32); DE Scott Crichton (3, 72); RB Jerick McKinnon (3, 96); OL David Yankey (5, 145); DB Antone Exum (6, 182); CB Kendall James (6, 184); DT Shamar Stephen (7, 220); LB Brandon Watts (7, 223); CB Jabari Price (7, 225).
Analysis: Best draft class EVER! … OK, obviously way too soon to tell, but depending on how a couple of camp battles go, we could see three starters in this group (Barr, Bridgewater, Yankey) and maybe seven of these guys make the opening day 53-man roster. Those two first-round picks could make this a boom-or-bust draft.

August 01, 2014

Points on the Purple Daily: July 31

Posted by: Feldman

Each week during the Vikings season, me and my fellow P-B sports scribe Guy N. Limbeck write "Points on the Purple" for our Vikings Playbook page in the Weekend print edition. We'll make this as close to a daily feature as possible here at the blog, with a smaller dose of POTP.

The Vikings took a day off early in training camp, so I decided to take two, as well. I'm old. My body needs time to recover.

Limbeck was over in Mankato today and wrote about some of the injuries (and recoveries) the team has dealt with in the first week of camp. Read that story here.

Today's POTP topic: The offensive line is the biggest strength of the offense.

That's a lot to say, considering No. 28 is in the backfield. But, then again, he goes nowhere without a hole being opened for him. ... Well, that's not entirely true, because we've seen A.P. make his own running room. You get my point, though: We're so excited about Teddy, Cordarrelle, A.P. and Jerick that we forget about the big ugly guys up front who do the heavy lifting.

It would seem the only spot up for grabs on the line is left guard, where incumbent Charlie Johnson could be cut or benched and a majority of Vikings fans wouldn't notice or care. Some would even applaud. Don't rule out the possibility of Johnson not only losing his starting job, but losing his spot on the 53-man roster entirely.

The Vikings drafted Jeff Baca in the sixth round last year and, while he was inactive for 12 games, he played in the final three. Baca (6-3, 302) could battle for the starting job at left guard, but he seems more like one of those guys who is a capable backup at any position along the line. That would leave this year's fifth-round pick out of Stanford, two-time All-American David Yankey. The 6-6, 315-pounder was All-America at left tackle in 2012 before moving to guard and earning All-America honors again last season. He even occasionally lined up at tight end.

Even with the uncertainty about the starter at left guard, the line is still the strongest part of the Vikings' offense.

Left tackle Matt Kalil is expected to bounce back after a subpar sophomore season last year. John Sullivan has developed into one of the most reliable and accountable centers in the league. Brandon Fusco at right guard is one of those guys you'd have expected to see in the era when Mike Tice was coaching the O-line. He was a sixth-round draft pick out of D-2 Slippery Rock in 2011 — the Vikings third pick of that round, by the way — who has blossomed into a solid, if not outstanding pro. Pro Football Focus called Fusco "a legitimate All-Pro candidate." That's lofty praise for such a young guy, and a lot of that is probably playing next to the dependable right tackle Phil Loadholt.

Fusco is a free agent after this season, but don't expect him to hit the market. Vikings' GM Rick Spielman has shown he's willing and ready to lock up the young up-and-comers before other teams can court them. Loadholt was given a new deal before last season. He's a no-nonsense guy who just wants to do his job and win football games; he's the anchor of the Vikings' line and he graded out as the No. 98 player in the NFL last year by PFF.

The Vikings also have some depth along the line this year, with two of Baca/Johnson/Yankey backing up the interior spots, as well as veteran Vlad Ducasse, and guys like Mike Remmers and Kevin Murphy at tackle.

As good as the line has been over the past two seasons, it should be even better this season, not having to protect Christian Ponder for half the season.

July 28, 2014

Points on the Purple Daily: July 28

Posted by: Feldman

Each week during the Vikings season, me and my fellow P-B sports scribe Guy N. Limbeck write "Points on the Purple" for our Vikings Playbook page in the Weekend print edition. We'll make this as close to a daily feature as possible here at the blog, with a smaller dose of POTP.

1. Yo, Adrian! Adrian Peterson talked to the media after this morning's walkthrough at Blakeslee Stadium. The MVP addressed a lot of topics, perhaps the most noteworthy is his love for the scheme that new O.C. Norv Turner has put in place. And in doing so, A.P. finally said what we all said for the previous three years: Bill Musgrave's system stunk. A.P. was a little nicer, terming it "predictable." You can read more of what A.P. had to say today in this story.

2. Flip-flopping on Teddy. It was just two days ago that I called the Vikings' starting QB job Matt Cassel's, unless rookie Teddy Bridgewater has a Russell Wilson-like preseason. Do I have to start walking toward the Team Teddy Bandwagon? I'll wait to sprint for my spot until we see a couple of preseason games, but Bridgewater was sharp tonight, leading the second team offense in a practice under the lights at Blakeslee Stadium. He went 12-for-13 passing, the only miss being a whiff by rookie tight end AC Leonard. Bridgewater obviously hasn't won the job yet, but he hasn't hurt himself. Cassel is at least hearing Bridgewater's footsteps behind him now.

3. Considering where a lot of sixth-round draft picks end up (not on NFL rosters), Blair Walsh could probably be considered a steal. Sure, he's a kicker, but he's a darn good one. His rookie season was outstanding (35-for-38 on field goals, 10-for-10 from 50-plus yards). He regressed a bit as a sophomore, with a 26-for-30 season (2-for-5 from 50-plus), but sounds very confident heading into his third year. He made 6 of 7 field goals Monday night, including both of his attempts from 50-plus (50, 52). His lone miss was wide right from 44 yards. Vikes head coach Mike Zimmer has talked all offseason about creating competition at every position, but Walsh can relax and just kick in camp this year; he is at one of very few positions where there is no competition. There are just one kicker and one punter (Jeff Locke) on the 90-man roster.

July 27, 2014

Points On The Purple Daily, July 27: Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

Posted by: Feldman

The biggest news through the first three days of Minnesota Vikings training camp broke late tonight: Kyle Rudolph has been elevated to the top tier of NFL tight ends.

Rudolph, the Vikings' 2nd-round draft pick in 2011 (the year they drafted Christian Ponder in Round 1), signed a five-year, $36.5 million extension on Sunday, with $19.5 million guaranteed.

Tight ends don't get that kind of money for being good blockers in the running game. This big-money deal for Rudy says more about where the Vikings' new coaching staff expects him to go under Norv Turner's offense than what he's done in his first three seasons in the NFL.

This is a great deal for both sides. At 6-feet-6, 259 pounds, not only does Rudolph give QBs Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater a big target, he's also fast and agile for his size. The obvious comparison here is what the New Orleans Saints have done with Jimmy Graham. Of course, it's  not fair to expect Rudolph to catch 85 balls for 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns, BUT at $7.3 million per year, it's clear that Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer expect Rudolph to be a huge part of the passing game.

And that's exciting for Vikings fans, to add Rudolph's pass-catching skills on top of receivers Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright. 

There are some injury concerns with Rudolph, dating back to his time at Notre Dame. Rudolph only played in eight games last season because of a foot injury, but to be fair, Rudolph played in 31 of 32 games during his first two seasons, and he caught nine TD passes in 2012.

With Rudolph's combination of size, strength and agility, Turner has to be salivating about using him in red zone situations, especially when the Vikings have the ball near the goal line. 

According to OverTheCap.com, Rudolph's deal makes him the fifth-highest paid tight end in the NFL, in terms of average annual value of his contract behind Graham ($10.0 M/year); New England's Rob Gronkowksi ($9.0 M/year); Dallas' Jason Witten ($7.4 M/year) and San Francisco's Vernon Davis ($7.35 M/year).

"I'm extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings," Rudolph said in a press release. "I've said all along I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and most importantly, I'm excited about where this team is going."

Rudolph has 109 catches for 1,055 yards and 15 TDs in 39 career games (32 starts).