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September 12, 2014

Feldy and Phersy's High School Football picks | Week 3

FELDY: Our luck is bound to change, but Phersy and I are both off to pretty good starts. Phersy cheated last week and picked up a game on me. He went 7-0 last week, while I was 6-1. That leaves Phersy at 13-1 and Feldy at 12-2 through two weeks. Maybe we'll get some separation this week, though I doubt it. We always seem to end up tied somehow.

Phersy picks first this week. Here are this week's games:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester John Marshall (1-1) at Austin (1-1)

* Rochester Century (1-1) at Red Wing (1-1)

SFA RED

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville (2-0) at Lake City (2-0)

* Kasson-Mantorville (1-1) at Rochester Lourdes (2-0)

SFA WHITE

* Pine Island (1-1) at Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-1)

* St. Charles (0-2) at Zumbrota-Mazeppa (0-2)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow (2-0) at Mabel-Canton (2-1)

* * * * * * * * * * 

 PHERSY: Feldy, this is a lead I will never relinquish...

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester John Marshall 36, Austin 35: Ugh, I knew you were gonna put this game up there Feldy. Austin has a great offense, led by Brandon Edgar and Nate Conner. But the defense is struggling. And injuries could slow that defense even worse. I think the athletes at JM's skill positions will win out. Barely.

* Rochester Century 21, Red Wing 6: The Panthers will control the line of scrimmage and win against the Wingers, who are coming off an impressive win last week.

SFA RED

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville 20, Lake City 8: This is one of my favorite games of the week. But I think PEM is very solid this year and will push Stewartville in the Red.

* Kasson-Mantorville 20, Rochester Lourdes 18: Interesting game. K-M will look to bounce back after last week's thrashing. Another fantastic game in the Red.

SFA WHITE

* Kenyon-Wanamingo 21, Pine Island 19: Love this game too ... I guess I love em all this week. Pine Island will be looking to bounce back, but K-W is hittin its stride. Both solid clubs

* St. Charles 7, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 6: This was my toughest pick ... and I am 100 percent certain Feldy will just pick the opposite of me here.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow 29, Mabel-Canton 22: I think this will be a better game than people think. But I'll still go with GM.

* * * * * * * * * *

FELDY: Not really sure how to pick a lot of these games. Might leave it up to my 2-year-old; she usually does better than me anyway.

BIG NINE

* Rochester JM 28, Austin 26: This was my toughest decision of the week. I flip-flopped more than those pretty white sandals Phersy wears around the office in the summer time. In the end, I'll take JM's defense and its ability to produce big plays. Plus, it's Week 3 under a new coaching staff in a new system. The Rockets should be getting comfortable. This game is big for both teams in terms of section playoff seeding, too, so some urgency should be involved on both sides.

* Rochester Century 30, Red Wing 14: If the Panthers can hang onto the ball like they did last week (after some turnover issues in Week 1), they should win this one handily and improve to 2-1.

SFA RED

* P-E-M 18, Lake City 15: Just when I thought I couldn't struggle any more with a pick this week than the JM/Austin game, here comes this one. Lake City has played a pair of close games, and they'll keep this one tight, too, but I'll take P-E-M with a late score to win on the road.

* Lourdes 23, K-M 20: What's with all these early-season showdowns in the Red? This seems like it should be a last-week-of-the-season game. It's a coin toss to me. I'll take Lourdes, making K-M probably the best two-loss team in the state.

SFA WHITE

* Kenyon-Wanamingo 28, Pine Island 23: Another tough one to pick. K-W played a good Lake City team tough in the season opener and I think the Knights are playing with a lot of confidence. 

* Zumbrota-Mazeppa 16, St. Charles 14: Yep, I was going the opposite of Phersy here. Both of these teams should be motivated to get their first 'W' of the season. Z-M has had a tough opening to its schedule, playing road games powerful Stewartville and Lewiston-Altura. The Cougars' offense has to be itching to score. 

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow 38, Mabel-Canton 31: Sadly, I agree with Phersy on this one. (Sad that I agree with him, not sad that it'll be a good game). It'll be a closer game than some expect, but I'll stick with the defending state champs until someone proves they're better.

September 05, 2014

High School Football Picks | Week 2

PHERSY: Well that makes a lot of sense Feldy, we tied for Week 1. Go figure. The good news is we both had a good week, checking in at 6-1 each. Not a bad start Feldy, but I'm not sure how long we can keep it up with the fantastic games on the docket tonight.

At any rate, ssssssgo!

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

Rochester Mayo (1-0) at Rochester John Marshall (1-0)

Mankato West (1-0) at Northfield (1-0)

SFA BLUE

Rushford-Peterson (1-0) at Caledonia (1-0)

SFA RED

Byron (1-0) at Lake City (1-0)

Stewartville (1-0) at Kasson-Mantorville (1-0)

SFA WHITE

Triton (0-1) at Pine Island (1-0)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Spring Grove (2-0) at Grand Meadow (1-0)

**************

FELDY: What a slate of games this week! It'd be nice to be in five places at once! Unfortunately we can't be, but we'll be scoreboard watching all night.

BIG NINE

Mayo 32, JM 27: This isn't a must-win for either team, but there's a very good chance this game could decide the top seed in the Section 1AAAAA playoffs.

West 44, Northfield 20: Northfield will be a good team and a tough beat in the Big Nine, but West is the team to beat until someone proves otherwise.

SFA BLUE

Caledonia 26, R-P 21: R-P was impressive last week, but I just can't go against a Caledonia club that has had a chip on its shoulder for almost a year.

SFA RED

• Lake City 24, Byron 16: Lake City knocked off a Kenyon-Wanamingo team last week that I still think will make some noise in the Red. I'll stick with the Tigers in their home opener.

Stewartville 38, K-M 30: this could be the game of the week. Stewie has an experienced group and one of the best QBs in the area.

SFA WHITE

Pine Island 20, Triton 16: Triton had a very tough matchup in its opener, falling to K-M. The Cobras will be better this week, but I'll go with PI scoring late to win it.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Grand Meadow 41, Spring Grove 40: I'm going with the defending state champs until someone knocks them off.

*************

PHERSY: Ugh, I hate it when our picks are so similar...

BIG NINE

Mayo 30, JM 20: This will be interesting. It's a game I'd like to be watching. I want to see if Henry can play as well as he did last week and if JM has someone to cover Michalak.

West 42, Northfield 21: West is the best team in the Big Nine, and I don't think anyone else is close.

SFA BLUE

Caledonia 36, R-P 17: R-P had a stellar performance last week, but I think Caledonia is winning the state title this season.

SFA RED

Lake City 13, Byron 6: Byron struggled a bit, and Lake City won a nail-biter against K-W. Going to be a close game.

Stewartville 35, K-M 21: I don't think this game is going to be as close as others. K-M needs some time. It'll be a much closer tilt if they meet later in the season.

SFA WHITE

Triton 21, Pine Island 14: Here's our one different game, Feldy. Triton is better than the score would indicate last week. It's a talented group that's going to get better as the season progresses. PI needs to replace a lot of talent from last season.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Grand Meadow 42, Spring Grove 32: Jacobson ... enough said.

September 04, 2014

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Sssssgo edition

PHERSY: The Phersy and Fatis Show is back, Ice Hawks fans!

The season gets underway this weekend out in Michigan's Upper Peninsula against the MnJHL's newest team, the Ironwood Fighting Yoopers. The Hawks play Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the road. The first home game isn't until Sept. 27.

We go over loads of information in the first show of the season! If you can't get enough, pick up a copy of today's Post-Bulletin to see other season-preview information. The full season preview will run right before the home opener, and that preview will include player profiles.

Enjoy the show!

PhersyAndFatisShow090514

 

August 29, 2014

High School Football picks | Week 1

FELDY: I was just flipping through the 2014 Pigskin magazine that came out in the Post-Bulletin yesterday, and it tells me we are going to have some outstanding football teams in southeastern Minnesota this season. That could make it tough for me and Phersy to keep our heads above .500 in our picks this season, but we'll try, and we're happy to be here for your mocking and ridiculing pleasure.

Phersy, I won't remind you who won our high school picks contest last season, because I'm sure you remember (it's not the guy who picks first this week). Anyhow, it's a new season, so let's get to it. I'll post the seven games, Phersy will pick first, then I'll add mine.

Happy football season, everyone!

THIS WEEK'S GAMES
(Last year's records in parentheses)

BIG NINE CONFERENCE
* Rochester Mayo (6-4) at Austin (5-5)
* Red Wing (0-9) at Northfield (4-6)
* Rochester Century (2-7) at Mankato East (1-8)

SOUTHERN FOOTBALL ALLIANCE
* Chatfield (13-1) at Rushford-Peterson (6-3)
* Lewiston-Altura (6-4) at Rochester Lourdes (10-2)
* Lake City (3-6) at Kenyon-Wanamingo (4-6)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE
* Randolph (2-8) at Glenville-Emmons (0-9)

************

PHERSY: First off Feldy, I must admit, it took me a while to remember the login and password for this blog. Yeah, it's been a few days since I've been in the old Faceoff blog. But, football season is here, so I'm back in action. Also, hockey season is firing up with the Ice Hawks wrapping up training camp with a scrimmage tonight in Kasson against Steele County ... so Ice Hawks posts coming shortly, including the Phersy and Fatis Show.

Enough of that for now. It's FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS BABY! Yeah, yeah, yeah, Feldy won again last year. After I won like the first 20 years, it's about time Feldy gets things going. OK, time for some picks...

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester Mayo 35, Austin 33: Ugh, I knew you'd put this game up Feldy. I'd love to roll with Big Red, and if this game was later in the season, I would. But I think Mayo's talented receivers (ZRob and Michalak) and QB Jay Alston are enough to carry them to a close victory on Week 1. (Feldy tried to bait me into this one...not gonna work Feldy).

* Northfield 49, Red Wing 7: Of course the two former Missota teams square off in their first game in the Big Nine! Northfield is just on a different level right now. New coach or not, Red Wing will struggle early.

* Rochester Century 21, Mankato East 14: I think both of these teams will be much improved this season. But I look for Century's big offensive line to control the opener.

SOUTHERN FOOTBALL ALLIANCE

* Chatfield 26, Rushford-Peterson 14: R-P will give the former champs a run, but the Gophers are still too strong across the board.

* Rochester Lourdes 29, Lewiston-Altura 6: Lourdes is rebuilding and trying to find new offensive stars, but the Eagles don't truly rebuild, they just reload.

* Lake City 17, Kenyon-Wanamingo 14: Best game of the week right here. Lake City likes what it has back, and so does KW. I'm pumped to hear about how this one comes out!

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Randolph 49, Glenville-Emmons 6: Randolph isn't great, but GE will struggle to score this season.

************

FELDY: Sorry, Phersy, had to put the Mayo-Austin game up. We saw in that game last season that anything can happen. Let's make some picks...

BIG NINE

* Mayo 28, Austin 16: Mayo feels ready to hit the ground running. If the Spartans can find a back to carry the rushing load -- and they do think they have one on the roster right now -- and if the Spartans egos don't get too inflated from what a certain sports reporter is writing about them, this could be a dangerous team. Austin's not an easy place to play, though, and the Pack will give Mayo a battle into the fourth.

* Northfield 33, Red Wing 20: It sounds like the Wingers have some talented leaders with the right attitudes, but Northfield has a lot of kids out (115 in grades 9-12) and experience at the right positions.

* Century 16, Mankato East 6: Like Phersy said, the Panthers have some stud linemen and a few guys who can make some plays offensively. Century will gain some confidence, too, with a good win its opener.

SOUTHERN FOOTBALL ALLIANCE

* R-P 24, Chatfield 21, OT: UPSET ALERT! Well, I have to gain ground on Phersy somehow, so might as well go big or go home. In its opener last week, Chatfield sure looked like it hasn't lost a step from its state championship season of a year ago. R-P is improved from a year ago and, by the way, aside from Caledonia, R-P gave Chatfield one of its toughest tests last season.

* Lourdes 24, Lewiston-Altura 17: Lourdes doesn't lose often, especially at home. But L-A will give the Eagles a battle. The Cardinals won six consecutive games last season before falling to state power Caledonia just 20-7 in a section semifinal.

* Kenyon-Wanamingo 22, Lake City 19: I agree with Phersy (ick, did I write that?), this could be the game of the week. K-W has high hopes, so does Lake City. I'll give the Knights the home-field advantage.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Randolph 38, Glenville-Emmons 20: I generally can't get a 9-man game correct, so let's let a coin flip decide this one. 

August 16, 2014

Hockey: Former Bruin Sanford commits to Michigan State

Posted by: Feldman

The impressive list of former Austin Bruins players moving on to play college hockey continues to grow. Former Bs forward Brennan Sanford announced Friday that he has committed to play for Michigan State University, in the Big Ten Conference.

Sanford has one year of junior hockey eligibility remaining, and he'll likely spend the 2014-15 season playing for the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders of the USHL. Sanford finished last season in Cedar Rapids, where he compiled 3 goals and 4 assists in 33 games. He started the season with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL, where he had 10 goals and 8 assists in 29 games. The trade that sent Sanford to Cedar Rapids brought forward Casey Jerry to the Bruins, last December.

The 6-foot-1, 181-pound Sanford is a native of Holt, Mich., a 12-mile drive from East Lansing, the home of Michigan State.

Here is an up-to-date list of Bruins who have or are playing college hockey. The Bs have sent 21 players to D-I schools in just four seasons.

As you'll see noted in the list below, former Bruins forward Brandon Wahlin has transferred from UMass to Lake Superior State, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Wahlin will now be a teammate of former Rochester Lourdes defenseman Pete Spratte.

BRUINS IN COLLEGE HOCKEY

DIVISION I
F Charlie Adams, Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC)
G Keegan Asumundson, Canisius (Atlantic Hockey)
F Jay Dickman, Bemidji State (WCHA)
D Christian Folin, UMass-Lowell (Hockey East)
D Jon Gehrt, Army (Atlantic Hockey)
F Matt Hansen, Colorado College (NCHC)
F Sam Kauppila, St. Lawrence (ECAC)
F Lucas Kohls, UMass-Lowell (Hockey East)
F Guillaume Leclerc, UMass-Lowell (Hockey East)
G Nick Lehr, Minnesota (Big Ten)
D Charlie Manley, RPI (ECAC)
G Eamon McAdam, Penn State (Big Ten)
G Jason Pawloski, MSU Mankato (WCHA)
F AJ Reid, Air Force (Atlantic Hockey)
F Brennan Sanford, Michigan State (Big Ten)
F Joe Schuldt, Michigan Tech (WCHA)
F Johnny Simonson, North Dakota (NCHC)
F C.J. Smith, UMass-Lowell (Hockey East)
F Easton Viitala, Northern Michigan (WCHA)
F Brandon Wahlin, UMass (H.E.) / Lake Superior St. (WCHA)
D Trevor Waldoch, Air Force (Atlantic Hockey)

DIVISION III
F Drew Anderson, Augsburg (MIAC)
G Tyler Bruggeman, St. Scholastica (NCHA)
D Mike Bond, Bethel (MIAC)
F Riley Colvard, UW-Stout (NCHA)
D Cody Dixon, UMass-Boston (ECAC-East)
F Cory Ellis, Gustavus (MIAC)
F Jeremy Finger, UMass-Boston (ECAC-East)
F Chris Fischer, UW-Eau Claire (NCHA)
F Cody Hotchkin, UW-Superior (NCHA)
F Nolan Kirley, UW-Stout (NCHA)
D/F Eli May, Augsburg (MIAC)
F Nate Mondry, St. John's (MIAC)
F Austin Nelson, UW-Stout (NCHA)
F Sam Olson, St. Thomas (MIAC)
D Connor Quinn, St. Olaf (MIAC)
D Jack Walsh, Gustavus (MIAC)

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).