The Vikings added Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater in the first-round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
The crowd fluttered into the Vikings Draft Party with a flurry of excitement at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday evening. Would the team add the savior Johnny Football, trade up for Khalil Mack, trade down, or stay put and select defense? The intensity was racing through the building. When the eighth pick came and the Vikings made the swap with Cleveland, many believed the team was actually coveting Johnny Manziel. Instead, Minnesota pulled the trigger on a defensive player that they really coveted, in UCLA's Anthony Barr.
Barr, a speedy linebacker from UCLA, brings a plethora of raw talent to the table for the Minnesota Vikings defense. In an interview yesterday evening, GM Rick Spielman stressed his ability to be a three-down linebacker, that can rush the passer, and be disruptive in coverage. Mike Zimmer reiterated this message and called Anthony Barr, "A full grown man." He is excited for the fact that the Vikings can coach him and take him to the next level, which is something Zimmer has done throughout his road in the NFL. Barr had 23 1/2 sacks in two seasons with the Bruins after making the transition from running back to linebacker. He was an athletic player that Vikings simply could not pass upon and he certainly has the potential to be very disruptive at a position of need.
We all know Rick Spielman has a history of moving back into the first round and he continued the trend by trading back into bottom of the round again for the third straight year. This time he targeted his quarterback. The Vikings reportedly tried to trade for Johnny Manziel at the 22nd selection, but the Cleveland Browns offered more compensation in the process. Instead, the team felt like Teddy Bridgewater would be the best fit to develop into a franchise quarterback for this team. Bridgwater met extensively with the Vikings staff leading up to the draft and had a fantastic private workout, according to Rick Spielman. Bridgewater is a solid developmental piece that can develop under Matt Cassel for the next two seasons. 'There is no pressure on this kid to come in and play,'' Spielman said. ''We're very comfortable with Matt Cassel right now. We're very comfortable with Christian Ponder. He'll come in and compete and then the coaches will determine if he's even ready to play this year.''
The Vikings wanted to get ahead of a quarterback-needy team in the Houston Texans and did so at he cost of a fourth-round pick. Bridgwater said he felt very comfortable with the Vikings staff and knew like there was a strong chance he would end up in Minnesota before the night was over. He will have time to show he can lead this team and groom as a player, which is a different approach from the stance Minnesota has taken on quarterbacks in the past. They didn't gamble high, took the best player available on defense with their high draft pick, and added a developmental quarterback for the future
The faithful contingent of about 200 people remained to see the Vikings trade into the pick and seemed rather happy about the decision to select Bridgewater. Fans echoed the opportunity he has to develop for the next two seasons behind Matt Cassel.
The Vikings have done a very nice job of adding talent over the last three years, by selecting seven first round draft picks. Barr and Bridgewater are both developmental players that have extremely high ceilings. With the help of the coaching staff and some patience, both of these players can be a part of this franchise for the next decade.
Today the draft enters the second and third rounds, which begin at 6:00 p.m. CST. The Vikings currently hold two picks and will select in third round at pick 72 and 108, this evening.