Norv Turner said that, after studying the quarterbacks available in this year’s NFL draft, Teddy Bridgewater, whom the Vikings traded up to select with the last pick in the first round, impressed him the most.
Asked if Bridgewater reminded him of any NFL quarterbacks he had been associated with, the Vikings offensive coordinator said: “I really think that each guy is his own guy, but the guys I have been around, he’s got some similarities in his body type with [former Chiefs standout] Trent Green. I think he makes decisions and stays in the pocket like some pure drop-back passers, but he has got some elusiveness. He’s kind of a mixture of two or three guys. I think one of the guys is [former Rams Super Bowl winner] Kurt Warner, because he has got a great pocket presence, and he has a real quick release.”
Turner added: “Obviously [Louisville] won their games. Like Coach [Mike] Zimmer said, all he does is win. Thirty-one touchdowns, four interceptions, he talked about in his news conference, he protects the ball, he knows how to manage the game. I think he has a real big upside because I think he can continue to get better and grow.”
Turner said that one of the most impressive things in watching Bridgewater was the steadiness of his play.
“How consistent he is,” said Turner. “He’s not a peaks-and-valley guy. I think he’s a guy that comes out and plays at a high level through extended periods of time, and he does not have a lot of negative plays.”
Turner added that while he likes the group of quarterbacks on the Vikings roster, the team will remain open to any of them being the Week 1 starter.
“I think people who know Coach Zimmer and the way he wants to approach this thing is this thing is going to be built on competition,” Turner said. “Coach Zimmer made it clear from the start that we’re going to play the best guys. I think everybody is going to have an opportunity to play, and in time the best guys will play. I like our quarterback situation a great deal. You have a veteran [in Matt Cassel], you have Christian [Ponder], who has played well, and obviously we added a young guy that we think has a big upside.”
Turner said Bridgewater’s elusiveness should help him be an effective scrambler in the NFL.
“He’s an outstanding athlete,” he said. “He runs well. He plays faster than his 40 time. He’s in the 4.7s, but he’s an elusive player and he has great vision on the field.”
Turner loved where the Vikings picked Bridgewater in the draft.
“At that pick I thought it was a great move to move up and get him on the first day of the draft, a first-round pick, it helps you five years down the road in terms of his contract,” Turner said. “I think if we waited until [Friday] he wouldn’t have been there when we picked at eight [in the second round].”
Turner is now looking forward to working with the rookie for an extended period of time.
“He’s here until we break in late June,” Turner said. “Under this new system with the draft being later, he’ll come in Monday with our veteran players, all our rookies will, and start meeting. Then we’ll have the rookie minicamp next weekend, and it’s all football for him now until we break for a little bit of summer vacation.”
Talking to the coaches, they don’t expect Bridgewater to be ready to start this season and say that Cassell and Ponder should battle it out for the No.1 spot, but they are all extremely excited about the young quarterback’s potential.
Wild coach Mike Yeo is in the last year of his contract, a three-year deal that is up at the end of this season.
Yeo’s status at one time during the season might have been in doubt, but he should be in line for a new multiyear deal with a big raise after the job he has done of late, leading the Wild over Colorado in the first-round series and being tied with the heavily favored Blackhawks 2-2 in the second round.
Club owner Craig Leipold has made it clear the status of the coach is in the hands of General Manager Chuck Fletcher.
“We’ll sit down the staff at the end of the year, and that has been the plan all along here, to sit down once the season is over, with not just the coaches but the front office staff here,” Fletcher said.
“I have a lot of people we need to speak to here in a short period of time, but the coaches have done a great job.”
Rest assured, win or lose the Blackhawks series, Yeo deserves to return with a multiyear contract and a nice raise, and he will get it.
• With Ra’Shede Hageman and Brock Vereen going in the first four rounds, the Gophers have their first NFL draft picks since Eric Decker and Nate Triplett were selected in 2010. It’s also the first time since 2001 that the Gophers have had two players go in the top four rounds. In 2001 Willie Middlebrooks went in the first round and Karon Riley and Ben Hamilton went in the fourth round.
• That was a good break for Vereen to be drafted by the Bears since head coach Marc Trestman followed the Gophers like no other college team this past season and knows what Vereen can do and was very high on him apparently. ... And Jerry Kill could brag about the fact the Jimmy Ward, a safety he recruited and coached at Northern Illinois, was the first-round pick of the 49ers, one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.
• When asked about playing running back his first two years and linebacker his final two at UCLA, Vikings No. 1 draft pick Anthony Barr said he felt he could see some time as a running back as well as being a full-time linebacker in the NFL.
• Sammy Watkins, the Syracuse wide receiver who was drafted fourth overall by the Buffalo Bills, has some interesting connections to the Twins. Watkins was a high school teammate of Hudson Boyd, a star tight end who was selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2011 draft and is now a relief pitcher for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Watkins is also the cousin of former Twins infielder Tommy Watkins, who is now the batting coach with the Kernels. Tommy Watkins was one of the most respected and well-liked players in the Twins organization, playing 10 years in the minors before getting called up in 2007. He played nine games in the pros, hitting .357 with two runs scored.