What are they smoking down there near Lake Michigan? Trading away picks for quarterbacks who like to throw interceptions; drafting more quarterbacks; limiting growth to five overall picks. Times are tough in Illinois.
By the time they draft their first selection, most fans had tuned out of the NFL Draft. Pick 75 was a free safety, Major Wright, from Florida. The Bears best pick may have been at 141, where they added Joshua Moore, a cornerback from Kansas State. Then, with pick 181, they added another QB despite glaring needs all over the place. Dan LeFevour was one of the many QBs to drop off the charts, expected to go about three rounds earlier. The Central Michigan thrower is respected, but c'mon, he is a MAC quarterback.
Grade: Incomplete (I cannot fail students who try .. I think they tried).
I almost thought they would go a whole draft without taking a wide receiver, but with pick 255 they chose Tim Toone from Weber State. Watch him be better than all their first round picks of years' past.
The Lions had six picks, having traded up to get Jahvid Best with the 30th pick (with the Vikings). Of course, Ndamukong Suh, 2nd overall, is the focus of the draft, and he should be very good. But Best is small, and has a history of concussions already. The much needed corner was drafted at 66th, a slow one from Iowa, Amari Spievey. OT Jason Fox taken at 128th, fits a need. Detroit had two of the three first round picks for the North. They should improve the most, but, that is a misnomer.
Grade: B. Feels like an A compared to last 10-15 years with Matt Millen and friends.
Green Bay Packers.
After witnessing the Vikes batter Aaron Rodgers senseless for a couple of seasons, and Chad Clifton hobbling around like a one-legged sloth, we knew linemen would be chosen. But how many?
The Packers are close to the Vikings, and definitely a choice for wild-card early predictions, if not ready to usurp Minnesota. Green Bay had three selections at 23rd, 56th, and 71st. They added Bryan Bulaga, an OT from Iowa; Mike Neal, a DT from Purdue; and Morgan Bennett, a free safety from Georgia Tech. Of the three, Neal was the biggest stretch,as many 'experts' felt there were better DTs on the board. And back-to-back Big Ten athletes? Don't they watch the Bowl games? As expected, the Pack added a 2nd OL with the 169th pick in Marshall Newhouse, a OT or OG, from TCU. He could be a nice find. Late, Green Bay found James Starks, a 6'2, 220 RB from Buffalo, with the 193rd pick. He may make the squad as GB running backs are not that good.
Grade: B-. I expected more from a smart organization, I hold them to a higher standard than Detroit or Chicago, whom both are horrid at this draft thing.
It was the draft to protect Brett Favre's return. Minnesota got him some protection in Toby Gerhart and Chris DeGeare. And we addressed some of the defensive concerns, but not all. Lifers were wondering why no Jimmy Clausen or late Tony Pike selections?
I love the efforts Favre gave us last year, and think he will return. With Chester Taylor gone, Minnesota had to find a replacement, and Gerhart from Stanford comes with high hopes. Experts wondered if Ben Tate of Auburn would not have been a wiser choice, but Gerhart could be a great extra blocker in passing situations, at least as good as AP; hopefully as good as Taylor. CB Chris Cook of Virgina, 34th pick, helps a sore spot as the team wonders what Cedric Griffin can bring after the late injury of 2009-10. Lito Sheppard, a Childress reunion player, will help. Experts love the choice of Everson Griffen, DE of USC, with the 100th pick. A potential steal as he dropped from early round possibilities. Pick 167 was local phenomenon Nate Triplett who played as Delano. He is a beast who could rival Farwell on special teams. Pick 199 is Joe Webb, a running quarterback from Alabama-Birmingham, who may move to WR or that funky Wild-Cat spot.
Grade: B+. I wanted Vikes to address OG earlier, and QB later. But there is a reason I am not in the draft room. Assuming my home team knows more than I do, I give them the best grade. Because I can.
Virginia's Chris Cook filled a need, we seemed to be down to the water boy against the Saints in the defensive secondary. I though we needed help at safety as well, but landing Cook makes sense. DT Brian Price of UCLA went right after this selection, and many hoped the Vikings would address an aging, albeit very good, defensive line. But Cook made sense, what with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matthew Stafford our opponents in nearly 40 percent of our games.
Stanford's Toby Gerhart was a decent pick. He is big and fast and replaces Chester Taylor. Some thought he was not the best running back available at the time. Ben Tate of Auburn ran under 4.4 and had an outstanding 40 inch vertical leap at the combine, But Gerhart will be a crowd favorite, blasting through tackles, running faster than his big body should. Hopefully, he is not a fumbler.
Trading up to get Gerhart, the Vikings forfeited their 3rd round selection, With the dropping down to the 34th pick earlier, however, the Vikings did switch 4th round picks with the Lions. So after a long wait, the Vikings landed Everson Griffen, a 1st round talent DE from USC. Griffen came to USC ultra-respected. He was a star running back (scored 22 tds) in high school along with his DE talents. He has a recent history of not playing to his potential, as he actually lost his job in 2008. But he came back with a vengeance in 2009.
All in all, good stuff. But where is the offensive line help?
The Minnesota Vikings began their storied history in 1961. One of the immediate rivals was the border Green Bay Packers. Monday Night's game will be the 96th regular season affair. In 2005 the two teams met in their only playoff battle in Green Bay. As of now, the Vikings are 45-50-1 lifetime against the Packers. The rivalry has been a roller-coaster or wins and losses. In the Dome, the head-to-head results are: 14-12-0 Minnesota.
The Metrodome has been home to the Vikings since the 1983-1984 season. The first time that Green Bay visited, Lynn Dickey led the Packers to a 29-21 victory. Dickey would win again in 1984. Zorn, Wright, Majkowski, Dilweg, and Tomczak would follow. When Brett Favre took over in 1992, our record versus Green Bay in the Dome was 3-6. The next sixteen years would be our rival led by Favre. Minnesota was 10-6 in those years.
In 2008 Aaron Rodgers started his first time in the Dome. Most people recall last year's 28-27 win that ended with Mason Crosby missing a 52 yard field goal. Rodgers was 15-26 with no interceptions. He threw for 142 yards. Adrian Peterson was the hero, running for 192 yards and a score. Chester Taylor added 113 total yards and a td. The game was not as close as the score indicated.
The Dome's history ends for the Minnesota Twins either in a day, or two, or sometime after this season. The football games will continue in the Hefty Bag, as will the sell-outs, and all the hype that makes Packers vs. Vikings games something special. Hope those who are lucky enough to have a ticket get there early. I suggest the grill be ready by 3 PM, we need you loose and loud.
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