Vikings Deal Picks, Draft Barr And Bridgewater
They hit on the linebacker early, then squeaked in at the end of the night to grab what they hope is their quarterback of the future.
The Vikings drafted UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr at No. 9 -- passing on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel twice in the process -- then traded back into the first round with Seattle at No. 32 to get Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Vikings reportedly tried to trade back into the first round to take Manziel, but the Cleveland Browns grabbed the former Heisman Trophy winner at No. 22. So they sent their second- and fourth-round picks to the Seahawks to get Bridgewater, who threw for 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions with the Cardinals.
Bridgewater was originally predicted to be a top 10 pick early in the college season, but after a pro showing at his pro day workout, he slid down the draft board. The Vikings had a private workout with him in Florida, and general manager Rick Spielman said he liked what he saw.
"Some of the flaws you may have seen during the original pro day, as soon as you saw him getting coached, those flaws were getting corrected," Spielman said.
Barr was a running back at UCLA two years ago before making the switch to linebacker and racking up 23½ sacks in his last two seasons.
"I've never had a linebacker, even thinking back to my Dallas days, that has the size and speed and all the things that this guy has," said Mike Zimmer, who was participating in his first draft as a head coach.
The Vikings started the night with the eighth overall pick, but traded down one spot with Cleveland, picking up a fifth-round pick to do it. The Browns took Oklahoma State defensive back Justin Gilbert, another player the Vikings were believed to have been interested in, and Minnesota pounced on Barr the next pick.
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Barr ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.44 seconds and the Vikings hope he can bring some much-needed athleticism and playmaking to an undistinguished linebacker corps. Spielman, the general manager, said he's heard comparisons to Jason Taylor, Chris Doleman and Von Miller, and evaluated Barr as the best edge pass rusher in the draft after No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
The Vikings have been searching for a young franchise quarterback ever since Daunte Culpepper went down with an injury in 2005. The Jacksonville Jaguars chose Blake Bortles at No. 3 and Spielman apparently envisioned pulling off a similar deal to last year, when he traded back into the first round to grab receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Spielman couldn't quite pull off the deal at 22, but didn't stop there. Spielman said it was important to get a quarterback in the first round, which gives them a chance to have a fifth-year option on Bridgewater's contract and keep him under team control for a year longer than had they taken one in the second round.
"I felt very confident tonight that I was going to end up in Minnesota some way, somehow," Bridgewater said on NFL Network.
With veteran Matt Cassel re-signed for another two years in the offseason, Bridgewater doesn't necessarily need to feel the pressure to start right away.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.