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"He's the closest thing I've seen to myself. Russell Wilson has some of it. But Manziel has those similarities even more so than Russell," Tarkenton said. "Manziel is a quarterback savant."
Tarkenton played 18 seasons and led the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances during his second stint (1972-78) with Minnesota. He was 6-0 and 190 pounds in 1961, when he was selected in the third round out of Georgia. Manziel checks in a quarter inch shorter but 17 pounds heavier.
Some worry Manziel's smaller-than-ideal frame will expose him to increased injury and translate into more turnovers. Not Tarkenton.
"People are going to say, 'Well, he's only 5-11¾ tall,'" Tarkenton says. "I wasn't as big, strong and fast as all these other players. But I knew how to play."
We are confident Manziel will be the most productive of the quarterbacks drafted this year. Whether he does it purple, of course, remains to be seen.
Now the question is: How many moves are left?
The Vikings reportedly will still have about $25 million in cap space after the Cassel and Griffen deals are on the books. Some of that needs to be set aside for draft picks. The rest will be a test of the Vikings' priorities and patience.
Here's what we know: It's becoming increasingly harder to win in the NFL without good play in the secondary. The Vikings have two defensive ends who are young, hungry and can sack the quarterback. But they finished in the upper half of the NFL (tied for 13th with 41 sacks) in 2013, and their defense was still dismal.
They must, must, must target a high-level cornerback in free agency. It's the one big-splash move that makes sense in terms of the money they have to spend and their most pressing need. Alterraun Verner is the name most often brought up. He could fetch $10 million a year as a 25-year-old corner with a strong track record in Tennessee. He played all 16 games in each of his four seasons. He had five interceptions last year as well as 22 total passes defended. Put him with Xavier Rhodes. Get full seasons from both. Add more depth in the draft. It doesn't solve all the world's problems, but it's a great start.
We can live with modest, patient approaches at other positions. Find a plugger at nose tackle. Find reclamation project and a late-round pick who can compete for spots at guard. Draft a playmaking linebacker early. But go get that playmaking corner and don't be afraid to splurge.
State Rep. Pat Garofalo went on the apology tour on Monday, a day after his tweet heard 'round the world caused a stir, to say the least. In case you missed it, he tweeted:
"Let's be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime."
In spite of that warning regarding the nature of NBA players (sarcasm here), we ventured boldly over to Wolves practice Monday to see what players and coaches thought about the tweet. For the most part, they smartly tried to stay out of the fray.
"I'm not talking about that," head coach Rick Adelman said. "It's got nothing to do with us. ... I've never even heard of the guy or know who he is."
"I really don't care. I didn't see it, but they told me about it when I got here," Corey Brewer said. "It's his opinion, man. People out there have opinions. He said what he wanted to say. Who cares?"
But we assume you didn't agree with him, right?
"I don't agree. Of course, why would I agree? It's stupidity, but it's his opinion," Brewer said.
Said Shabazz Muhammad: "I don't pay attention to that," he said, before talking about how much he likes his teammates (and deftly avoiding the question).
All players appeared to leave the practice court of their own free will.
Jared Allen has told the Vikings he won't be coming back next season, which should come as no surprise given the team's commitment to Brian Robison and Everson Griffen as well as a general philosophy of moving toward youth.
Before Allen is officially gone, however, let's take one last quick moment to remember this: His six seasons in purple were not perfect -- no player is perfect -- but particularly given the massive expectations after the Vikings gave up a draft haul in a trade and signed him to a huge contract, Allen was everything advertised.
He had 85.5 sacks in six years here, which works out to roughly 14 per season and almost one per game. He played all 16 games every season here, which also should not be overlooked. He was a heart and soul guy when it came to getting the home crowd fired up, and from what we could see he was also a good teammate in the locker room.
Allen arrived at the perfect time, when a team looking to take the next step on defense was desperate for an impact pass rusher. He is leaving at the perfect time -- still productive, so he will get another contract, but just not the right fit anymore.
In short, Allen's six-year run with the Vikings was about as good as it could have been, with the exception of course of the team falling short of the ultimate elusive Super Bowl goal. He will be missed, and his level of achievement should not be forgotten.
Game of the Week: Wild at Stars, 7:30pm today, FSN
It's the first game of the new-look Wild. Matt Moulson will be on the ice for Minnesota, and can start proving himself worthy of what his new team gave up for him. Until then, though, we have time to argue about the trade - and for me to tell you that the Wild gave up too much.
Torrey Mitchell, I don't consider too much; he was a third-line forward that ended up struggling on the fourth line, and if nothing else, it was a mercy trade, a chance for Mitchell to start over fresh. His departure also gives the Wild their second-best benefit of the trade - a chance to take Mitchell's $2.5 million salary for next year off the books.
Mitchell leaving is more or less a wash with Cody McCormick, the tough-guy forward who is likely to replace him at the bottom of the Wild lineup. But it's the two draft picks - a second-rounder this year, a second-rounder in 2016 - that make me wonder if the Wild got the raw end of the deal.
If all goes very, very well, Moulson will score eight, perhaps nine goals in a Wild uniform. He is a free agent when the year is up, which - given the Wild's position in the standings - it is likely to be after one round of the playoffs. Minnesota will likely have to play St. Louis or Chicago in the first round, and Moulson or no, they'll be heavy underdogs to either.
Second-round draft picks aren't exactly the crown jewels of the hockey kingdom, but neither are they worthless. The second round is where teams find second-line forwards and second-pairing defensemen, late-blooming goaltenders and future Selke Trophy winners. All draft picks carry the risk of being busts, of course, but the higher you go, the lower the chance.
So here's the trade: two future top-nine forwards for nine goals and $2.5 million, and an ever-so-slightly-increased chance of not exiting this year's playoffs immediately. That seems like a lot of future to give up for a little bit of present, which is the type of trade that Doug Risebrough always used to make -- which is part of the reason that Chuck Fletcher has been frantically digging in the prospect ditch for his entire tenure as general manager.
In other words, I wish the Wild hadn't made this trade. But I also hope that they'll prove me wrong.
What else to watch this weekend
11:25am today: Chelsea vs. Tottenham (NBCSN). Chelsea need a win to stay atop the league; Tottenham need a win to revive their chances of finishing in the top four. It's a game between a team with everything to lose, and one with everything to gain; now, can Tottenham actually score a goal, for once?
Noon today / 7pm today: State hockey championships (Channel 45). There's a short list of events that rise to the level of "cultural touchstone," that are the kind of event that you can ask others about, whether you know they're a hockey fan or even a sports fan. This is one of them. I recommend that you watch.
12:05 Sunday: Twins vs. Phillies (FSN). I'm going to keep putting baseball on the watch list until it warms up around here. Just one 65-degree day. That's all.
What to read this weekend
Kyle Wagner of Deadspin went to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and came away with the truth about the current state of sports analytics: there's great, useful data out there. But people are keeping it to themselves.
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