The Minnesota Vikings selected both LB Anthony Barr and QB Teddy Bridgewater in the first round of the NFL draft. After the round GM Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer both talked about their new picks, along with Barr and Bridgewater themselves…
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
We are very excited to get Anthony Barr. He is a tremendous athlete. He is six foot five and ran a 4.47 for us at his pro day. When you look at his shuttle time, just talking about the athletic ability, his short shuttle and his three cones were actually faster than all of the cornerbacks in this draft. He has only played defense for two years; he has great upside as a potential edge pass rusher, and he is also athletic enough to drop in coverage. I know we had a lot of talks on how he would be utilized in this system when we were going through our draft meetings. We feel that he can stand up and play the SAM linebacker position for us. He is very good in coverage but can also be a mismatch as far as putting him on running backs in blitzing situations. I know that Coach Zimmer and his defense is very aggressive. To me, as you look at it, and it is a little like with Cordarrelle Patterson last year, you just do not pass up these athletic-type players because they are too rare and too hard to find; and he is a good football player. Everything that we did background; I talked to Jim Mora (UCLA Head Coach) two days ago about him and just said couldn’t speak highly enough and just great, great recommendations. Going through our mocks and our scenarios and all the intel we felt that if we did not take him here that he was not going to last very long because after Clowney, we felt had the potential to be the next best edge pass rusher in the draft. We were able to move down one spot. We did have some calls. We did not want to go too far down because I felt that there were a couple of hot spots in where he would go right behind us and we were able to pick up an extra fifth round pick with Cleveland and felt very strongly that that was not one of Cleveland’s players. So we got an extra fifth round pick and were able to pick up Anthony Barr.
Q: Where do you see him fitting in?
A: We are going to put him in as a linebacker. Coach Zimmer will address that and then what they will do with him on third downs situations will be determined, whether he is going to give us some pressure as a edge rusher or use him as a stack position and be able to blitz him. There are so many unique athletic traits, and he is such a great character kid in the work ethic and everything that Coach Zimmer and this staff and I have the utmost trust that they are going to find the right spots to put him in and we feel very strongly that he is going to be able to affect the game.
Q: How long have you been thinking he might be a possible first round pick for you and did that influence you in Free Agency in terms of possibly signing linebackers thinking you might take a linebacker in the draft?
A: Well when we went into Free Agency we knew we wanted to address the defense side of the ball. But I also know that the quarterbacks we have to face in this division you have to get pressure on them and as many pass rushers, and I know Coach Zimmer loves to rotate defensive lineman to keep them fresh, we are going to have to do that. If you take a look at our first six ballgames of the season we are going against some pretty good quarterbacks.
Q: When you said he would play the strong side, does that alter what Chad Greenway will do?
A: You can ask Coach Zimmer how that will all play out. We talked about different scenarios and right now we are just trying to get the best athletes that we can on the defensive side of the ball. We will see how it goes through the rest of the draft, but we will continue to look at that defensive side as much as we can because we felt that that is the area that we definitely needed to upgrade.
Q: How much of a learning curve is there going to be for him?
A: The one thing that I noticed when I watched tape on him is you didn’t see anything from an instinctual standpoint. This guy has very good football instincts for only playing the position two years. Where he is going to have to get better, more likely, is just technical things. With the history of Coach Zimmer and his staff that is something that is right in their wheelhouse. That is one thing they do a great job with. We are already seeing the results in a lot of the things with our current players right now.
Q: When you talked to Jim Mora a couple days ago were you certain he would be your guy or were you just having talks to validate your decision?
A: Validate and reinforce what we saw on tape. I got an opportunity to see him play live against Washington this year. The things that he can do for his size is pretty unique. You hear some of the comparisons like the Jason Taylor’s of this world and I know Stud (Scott Studwell) even mentioned Chris Doleman-type athlete. So this guy is very unique as an athlete. It is just now we need to get him in here and start coaching him up and we feel he is going to be an impact player for us.
Q: How much chatter was there in the draft room about Manziel?
A: I have not heard any chatter.
Q: Within your room was there any talk?
A: I am not going to tell you what is going on in our draft room. But today once the draft started there was no discussion and we knew what we were going to do.
Q: Talk about your decision not to take a quarterback.
A: I think there is going to be enough depth in this draft to potentially get a quarterback. Like I said, we have specific quarterbacks targeted at certain points in this draft but I am not going to pass up a potential impact guy especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Q: Did Blake Bortles going third surprise you at all?
A: I am not going to make any comment on any other teams picks but Blake Bortles is a very good football player.
Q: With Jared Allen and Kevin Williams gone did that motivate you to upgrade your pass rush?
A: Yes, when we were able to get Brian Robison under contract during the season, and that was imperative that we got Everson Griffen done, Corey Wooten and Linval Joseph. So we have a lot of guys, and the way that Sharrif (Floyd) has been practicing and his weight loss with how he is looking so far, and now just to add another potential impact pass rusher; but he can almost fill two positions in one. A pass rusher as one, potentially, and as a linebacker.
Q: Do you see him playing the same role as James Harrison did on the Bengals last year?
A: Zimmer can talk further on that when you talk to him, but when we talk in our meetings we see him in the SAM linebacker role, but we see him as a three down player. I do not think you take a player, especially with where we are picking in the top 10 that cannot play or contribute on three downs.
Q: How is Barr in coverage?
A: When we watched him in coverage and you see him buzz to the flat, there is no question that this guy can get flip his hips. You have a six foot five guy that runs a 4.47, we are not going to have any issues, I do not believe, covering down the seams when he has to run vertically. Plus with that frame and that length it makes it very difficult for quarterbacks to see down the seams. He has a unique ability to drop, for that height, his weight and change directions, and his burst, and how he covers the field is pretty rare to see what he does when he is in space and how he closes.
Q: Is it recognition on his part?
A: I do not know if it is recognition or if it is just experience. I thought Jim Mora did a great job with him because he just flipped him over two years ago and the production that he has already shown, never playing on the defensive side of the ball, is what gets us excited because he is just going to continue to get better.
Q: What will his ideal weight be?
A: When he comes in, right now he is 255 pounds, and we have ends that play around 260-265 pounds, we have linebackers that are 245 or 255 pounds so I do not think there is any issue of where his weight is at right now. As he matures and grows as a player we will see where that goes but right now we do not have any concerns about what weight or things he needs to be. He is plenty big enough.
Q: When you are sitting at the 8th pick and taking calls did you have other offers to trade down?
A: Yes. Just like you try and predict what is going to happen and I had a pretty good feeling that he wasn’t going too much farther down.
Q: A lot of the draft experts had him going later in the draft. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I don’t know if they missed the boat, because that is yet to be determined. But I also know from some teams talking that he was pretty coveted.
Q: Did you anticipate the Cleveland-Buffalo deal?
A: No. When you are in there, I do not know who is talking to who, and then as those trades are being made that is when you prepare to react. As soon as we saw Cleveland move behind us, first call we wanted to reach out to Cleveland because they got those picks for 2015 I think, but we also knew that they had multiple picks in this years draft especially in the fourth round.
Q: Are we going to see you again later tonight, and are you going to keep the tradition (of trading back into the first round) going?
A: You never know. I don’t know.
Q: Does Barr and Joseph give you the option to switch from a 4/3 defense to a 3/4 defense?
A: When you can get these type of athletes it gives the coaches the flexibility to do a lot of different things and that is Coach Zimmer’s job. He will figure out what the best way to utilize these players, the best way to utilize their strengths, and we didn’t see very few limitations on how Barr can be used in multiple areas.
Q: Is his upside maybe higher than other guys in this draft
A: Definitely, yes. You can’t coach what he has. It was the same conversation last year with Cordarrelle; you can’t coach what he has from a physical standpoint. All the other stuff is coachable and they will definitely improve and his ceiling keeps going up and up. But he has a very, very high ceiling just because of the limited amount of time he has played on defense.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We’re obviously really excited. You know one of the most fun things about this job is when you call these kids on the phone and how excited they are and the enthusiasm in their voice and how much they want to get going to work, so that was a great phone call we had, but Anthony Barr, he’s a tremendous athlete. When you watch him on tape he looks almost slender at times. But this guy, we brought him in on the top-30 visit to meet with him and he is a full-grown man. He has got great size, he has got great athletic ability, he is very, very intelligent, he’s a very good person. He is the kind of guy that we want to continue to bring into this organization
Q: He is fairly new to the defensive side of the ball, are you looking forward to coaching him up?
A: That kind of really excites me anyways, I love taking guys with talent and coaching that, because those kind of guys you can take them a lot further. The guys who don’t have as much talent and are good you can make them better players. But these kind of guys, you know he played two years at running back and then moved over to linebacker and had a really good year the year before and then a good year again this year, but he is still learning a lot of different things and we will be able to teach him a lot. With all of these players we try to have a vision when we pick them of what we are looking for and how we can use them in different ways and how we can use them to our advantage to put stress on the offense and he was one of the more unique guys we had in the draft here.
Q: You said that you were looking for smart guys throughout this draft process, what did you see there?
A: He is really a first class kid, very, very intelligent. We met with him, as a matter of fact Adam (Zimmer), my son, when we talked to him on the phone he said, “you remember some of that stuff we said to you on the board?” and he was repeating it back to him and that was two weeks ago. He remembered that from just a visit here. I’m really, really, really excited about him. Obviously, there are some guys in that vicinity that we were thinking about, today when we came in here we thought that this was going to be our guy all along.
Q: What is you vision on using him?
A: Well, we try not to tell too many things. I think we can use him in a few different positions. Obviously, he is going to be a linebacker in the base stuff. We have some plans in our blitz package and how we can use him in the substitution packages.
Q: Defense was an emphasis in free agency and now use your first pick on defense, talk about continuing to go that way instead of taking a quarterback that high.
A: Honestly, I didn’t come in and say, “Hey we need a defensive player in this first pick.” I think we were very open in everything we did as far as where we were trying to go and obviously we had some other guys who were rated higher on the board but we did feel like in this spot this was the best player we could have.
Q: Do you anticipate him starting right away?
A: I think anytime you pick a guy were we just picked, you hope. The bottom line is we want competition throughout the whole football team. For me to bring him in here the first day and put him as a starter is probably not going to happen.
Q: Do you envision him and Chad Greenway on the field at the same time?
A: I do, yeah, I do.
Q: Would you move Chad inside?
A: I envision them on the field at the same time.
Q: Rick Spielman talked a little bit about Anthony as a strong-side linebacker; do you see the same thing?
A: Yes, if that is what Rick said then yes. You know, we have talked about it. We have talked about it several times. What I don’t want to do is in my mind I have this vision on how I want to use this guy and I don’t want to tell Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit. I want to let them try and figure that out at some point.
Q: You have worked out a lot of rookie quarterbacks in the last few months, how important is it that you get one in the next couple of days?
A: It’s not as important, no. It’s important to come away with the right one. We don’t want to pick one just to pick one, because now we are wasting a pick. We want to get as many good football players in here as we can get and if there is one there that we really feel good about then we will pick him and if not we will go on to another position. We’re trying to build this thing for not only this year, but the long haul and the more good football players we can get, the more that we can add. We may have to continually look for that. It’s like any position, you look for defensive ends all of the time and you try and find the ones you want.
Q: Have you ever had a guy like Barr on your defense?
A: You know I’m glad you asked that question. I’m trying to think of that. I don’t have anyone with his size and his speed, I’ve never had a linebacker, even thinking back into my Dallas days that has the size and the speed and all of the things that this guy has. Not really, no.
Q: You mentioned thinking about other guys in that area, did CJ Mosley intrigue you at all?
A: I think he is still on the board right now, so I will wait.
Q: How does Barr fit your coverage?
A: Good, good. He’s good. He has got great hips, great feet. He can get into coverage, he can get out of coverage. He can get into breaks, out of breaks. He’s an excellent rusher. So that’s why I’m saying some of those things about this guy and his size. He has got a great first step coming off of the line of scrimmage, he has a great first step in the blitz. So his coverage ability and rush ability and length that he has, I like big guys, I always have liked big guys. He has a lot of unique ability and talent.
Q: Is there any particular game you saw that just wowed you.
A: I probably watched four today, maybe it was yesterday. I probably watched four more the last couple of days. He plays good all of the time. I had the USC game on, Washington game, Oregon game; he had several good plays in all of them.
Q: Given he has only played a couple of years at linebacker, what are you going to have to coach him up on?
A: The biggest part for me, would be that he has been in the outside linebacker rushing a large majority of the time, or he would be a cover down linebacker some, you know he goes out in space. Sometimes he lines up over the guards, but he is right on top of the guards. He will be backed up a little bit in some of our base defensive packages, so that won’t be that hard for him to learn the reads from that position opposed to outside. Typically, our Sam linebacker blitzes a lot more than our Will linebacker. We’re thinking of ways to continually try and pressure the quarterback, as many times as we can and the position he plays is a pressure position that’s why we felt good about him.
Q: Scouts have said his inexperience at the position is a detriment from the coaching side of things, do you see that?
A: Which scout, who said that? Which scout said that?
Q: Mike Mayock said that at linebacker he was a detriment because other guys would have more experience since he has only played linebacker two years?
A: Oh yeah, other guys might have more experience probably from what they are doing. I actually talked to Mike Mayock about him the day before. I don’t think it’s a detriment at all, I actually think it is a positive. When you think about it, the guy has played two years on defense and has done the things that he has does and has the athletic ability that he has and he’s like a fawn. He’s just learning some of these things. It’s not that he is so raw that he is not a good football player, because he is a really good football player. I don’t want anybody to think that because he is inexperienced that he is not a good football player. He will be good. I’m excited about the chance to take him and mold him into what I really envision him to be which I think will be good.
Q: Do you see moving Chad to a different position with Barr being on the field at the same time?
A: Yeah, Chad can play anything. From what I have seen out here in the last four or five days, Chad can play anything. Let’s kind of get this straight, last year the position that they called him, the Sam linebacker, is our Will linebacker now. Our Will linebacker is our Sam linebacker now. It’s completely different from what they have done here before, if that helps.
Q: That related to over/under change on the nose tackle position?
A: Last year what we called the will, they call the Sam. If you’re thinking about press guide to him, Sam or Will.
Q: What you’re trying to do with Anthony Barr sounds a lot like what Denver is doing with Von Miller, do you see that comparison?
A: I think that is a good comparison. We actually have some other ideas that we can use him too, I think.
Q: How was your first round draft as a head coach?
A: Smooth, easy, it was good.
Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr
First of all I just want to thank the Minnesota Vikings for giving me an amazing opportunity. I want to thank Mr. [Rick] Spielman and the Wilfs for believing in me and trusting me to represent their franchise. I was there not too long ago on my top-30 visit and just had a great time. I felt very comfortable with the coaching staff and I’m looking forward to learning from Coach [Mike] Zimmer knowing that he’s a very smart defensive coach, so looking forward to picking his brain and meeting my teammates and getting to work. I couldn’t be more excited to be a Minnesota Viking.
Q: What kind of feeling did you get from that top-30 visit?
A: I wasn’t sure. I felt like they kind of played their cards close to their chest and I just tried to do my best in the meeting room and just explaining how much I know about the game of football and how much I love it. I wasn’t really sure how it went. I thought I did a decent job but I couldn’t really take much from that.
Q: Can you take us through your transition from running back to linebacker? Whose idea was that? Did you support it at first?
A: Well the first couple of years I was playing offense and we were losing games and I wasn’t catching the ball much so I was pretty disappointed. When Coach [Jim] Mora got to UCLA I made it a point to introduce myself to him and I actually asked him, “What do you think about me playing defense?” He’s similar to Coach Zimmer, very fond of the defensive side of the football, defensive minded coach. He agreed to the decision and we kind of ran with it. I didn’t really know what to expect to come out of it. I never thought that I’d be on the phone talking with you guys right now. I’m very confident in my abilities but I wasn’t sure which direction this was going to go in. I’m just happy to be in this position.
Q: Were you just naturally comfortable with the position or did it take a little time?
A: It took a little bit of time. It definitely wasn’t something I picked up like riding a bike or anything. It took a lot of work and did a lot of film study. I know I worked my tail off that offseason. I attribute a lot of my success to my coaches at UCLA and my teammates for trusting me and kind of helping me through the learning curve, the learning process. Some of it required a lot of hard work and I’m just very happy.
Q: What pushed you to bring up that idea? Did you play linebacker in high school?
A: I only played my freshman season to be honest. I didn’t play my sophomore or junior season and missed most of my senior season with the injury. It was pretty much a brand new position to me.
Q: Where did you see improvement in your second year at linebacker?
A: I think mentally, just understanding my assignment and the assignments of those around me. I picked that up in the second year and I became more technical as far as pass rushing went. I think I was able to use my hands better and had a better feel for the game overall.
Q: Where do you see the areas of your game that you need to improve on?
A: My hands, using my hands is what I need to improve on most, getting off blocks and using counter moves are things that are still new to me because I’ve only done it for such a short amount of time. But I believe if I continue to work at it and continue to dedicate myself to it I’ll be okay.
Q: How do you feel about playing in coverage?
A: Actually a lot more this season than my first season at linebacker so it’s something that I worked on every day at practice, something I’m more comfortable at than I was when I first started and something that I’ll continue to get better at as far as the practice.
Q: What comes with the difficulties of playing in coverage against some of those Pac-12 receivers, tight ends and running backs?
A: Just reading receivers, kind of reading which way they are leaning and whatnot in man coverage and again in zone coverage really. Reading quarterbacks’ eyes is what we were taught at UCLA. It was new to me at first, something that is still new to me, but something I’ll get better at as I continue to work at that.
Q: What went behind the decision to stay at home and not go to New York City?
A: I just wanted to be with my family, my friends, people that helped me to get this point. I feel like I owed it to them to celebrate that with them. It’s a really big time in my life and a really big celebration. They can only accommodate so many so I had a pretty big group here, pretty big support system and was very happy that I was able to enjoy this day with them.
Q: Are you familiar with Chad Greenway? And what are your thoughts on playing with him?
A: I’m very familiar with him. I know he’s a Pro Bowl linebacker and I’m just very excited to learn from him, pick his brain and see what I can learn from him. I know he’s a great player, kind of the leader of the defense, so I think it would be awesome just to meet him and hopefully absorb as much information as I can.
Q: When you visited how much did you discuss how much you’d fit in with Mike Zimmer’s scheme?
A: I spent a decent amount of time with Adam Zimmer, the linebackers coach, just watching game film of the Vikings and what they had done in the past and when he was at Cincinnati. I think I can fit into a number of different positions. I think the outside linebacker spot is kind of where they saw me at at the time. I don’t know if that’s changed, but I think I’ll be able to come in and hopefully make an impact right away.
Q: Who are some guys that you watch film of and try and emulate your game after?
A: Well I like watching guys like Von Miller, Aldon Smith, Clay Matthews, Cliff Avril and guys like that.
Q: What do you take away from a guy like Von Miller when you watch him?
A: Just their motor. Clay’s is just awesome, his relentlessness. He might not have the best technique or whatever but he gets the quarterback very often because he just continues to work and continues to work the entire play. I think that’s kind of what I got from him.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
Very excited about what we’re able to do, get back in the first round. Feel very strong about Teddy Bridgewater, everything that you’ve seen on the tape. I actually had the opportunity to see him live three times. The game that really stuck out to me was the Rutgers game two years ago when he came in with an ankle and a broken wrist and brought them back to win the game up in Rutgers. Got a chance to see him play live against Central Florida this year. Every time I had exposure to him and when you watch the tape and with [Coach Mike Zimmer] and Coach [Norv] Turner and Scott Turner, he just seemed to have that knack of when he’s in pressure situations in the game, being able to come through it. We did a very analytical study on all of these quarterbacks. One of the things that really stuck out to us of all the quarterbacks is he was the best against the blitz. So he’s very cool and calm under pressure. He has mobility in the pocket to make plays. I think you’ve seen that in that bowl game this past year. You saw what he did in the previous bowl game down at the Sugar Bowl, I believe it was versus Florida. He went to his pro day and everybody was criticizing the pro day and I’m sitting there with Coach Zimmer and Norv and then talking about well if he “just does this” or “just does that”. We felt very strongly about meeting him the next day going through all of the board work, but we felt we had to go back one more time so we went back down and actually had a private workout with him in Florida and totally different. To see him respond to the way Norv and Scott were coaching him during that workout was remarkable. That said, this guy is what we saw on tape. We brought him up here on the top-30, just had to check out one more time and I just wanted to make sure he got in front of Coach Zimmer to make sure Coach Zimmer was comfortable with him. The other thing that we felt was very, very important was debating whether you sit and wait or do you go ahead and get a guy up there on your board who you really liked at that position and felt just going to make that move up to 32nd was very important. The other thing that comes into play is that 5th-year option, which is a key part of it as well and that was also a part of the discussion of moving up. It was a great day for the Minnesota Vikings. I think we really upgraded ourself and really look forward to tomorrow.
Q: Do you know what was the difference between the pro day and the private workout?
A: The private workout was where we went down there and we showed up and when we showed up, Teddy had all the receivers there and everything was lined up then Norv started coaching him. Some of the flaws you may have seen during the original pro day, as soon as he got coached, those things were getting corrected and getting corrected quickly and you could see the improvement just off the private workout we had with him.
You know his mother is a very unique individual too. We spent a lot of time socially with him, went out to dinner with him and his agent. It was funny, his mother is a breast cancer survivor, she works directly with kids whose mothers have had breast cancer. We were down at the pro day, the second one that we went and worked him out, and I asked him, “Is your mom coming over to watch?” and he said, “No, it’s more important, one of the kids that she was working whose mother had breast cancer had passed away and she thought it was more important to go that funeral.” I remember sitting at dinner and talking to his mother, who has worked for the transportation department for the school system down in Miami and she’s been there for 26 years and I asked her, “Your son is going to get drafted here and you’re going to get a chance to retire,” and she said, “I’m not retiring. I want to get my 30 years in. That’s what I said I was going to do, that’s what I’m going to do.” Those type of things, and Teddy is just like that. Those things are just so unique on how he was brought up and what a great job his mother has done.
Q: Were you surprised how far he fell after how high he was projected coming into the season?
A: You know that’s what is so great about this draft. Coming out of the season, before all of the pro days, it’s amazing how sometimes that can influence things. It can influence things from a media standpoint, but you always have to go back to that’s why you’re out there on the road, that’s why you’re watching these players play live, that’s why you are watching these players on tape. You have to always go back and rely on what you see and trust your judgment on that.
Q: Do you think it’s better that if you got him at #8 that you’d bring him along slowly but people would wonder when he’s going to play but at #32 there will be more patience from everybody. Do you agree?
A: Yeah, he’s got time. We’re very comfortable with Matt Cassel and with Christian Ponder. Teddy will come in and he has plenty of time to sit there and develop. One of the things we wanted to do if we got another quarterback was not force him in before he’s ready to play and it may be that outside perception that at eight he has to play, but internally we know what we have in our current quarterbacks and we know whatever quarterback we were going to take that he has definitely time to sit back, to learn, to develop and we can be patient with that.
Q: Is it the intention going into it this year that he’ll sit for a year?
A: That will be determined by the coaching staff. We haven’t even gotten him in the building yet. All that is you know is try to get all the players we can in here and then that’s up to Coach Zimmer and Norv as these guys progress and they are very, very smart at that as far as knowing when and who to play.
Q: Does it help at all that Coach Zimmer had that experience of going to the playoffs in Cincinnati with a rookie quarterback?
A: Well it’s part of it, but I think Coach Zimmer has had that experience. I know Coach Turner had a strong voice in this as well as we sit there and went through all of that. But there is no pressure on this kid to come in and play. We are very comfortable with Matt Cassel, we are very comfortable with Christian Ponder right now. They will come in and he will come in and compete and then the coaches will determine when and if he’s even ready to play this year.
Q: At what point did you start getting antsy about these quarterbacks you were interested in?
A: I never get antsy. You just sit there and kind of watch it unfold.
Q: How hard did you try and trade into #22?
A: There was talk out there. We are always pretty aggressive just calling around just to see if there is a potential of moving back up into the first. I think this is the third time I’ve done this. We were able to find a trade partner and we were fortunate enough to get two (first-round picks) this year.
Q: Coming into this did you feel that linebacker and quarterback were your two biggest needs?
A: Well we’ve got a lot of needs. We will continue to address needs as we go through the draft. We have two 3rd-round picks starting off tomorrow so you guys won’t be bored tomorrow just sitting here watching the draft. I suspect that there will be more movement.
Q: Is it true that you were trying to trade up to #22 for Johnny Manziel?
A: That’s all the speculation and anything we do I’m going to keep internal.
Q: Did you feel that the price for moving around may not have been as high as previous years?
A: It depended on who you were talking to. Some teams asked for the moon, other teams were reasonable.
Q: It felt that there was no other prospect that you spent as much time with. Is that accurate?
A: No, we spent a lot of time with these prospects but I think the one thing I wanted to make sure and I wanted our coaches to make sure was that after we spent that time with Teddy, we spent the time with him at the combine then we went and spent the two days with him at his pro day, but I just wanted to make sure, and felt it was very important to go back down there and do another thing privately with him. Then I thought it was very important to come up because we liked him so much to have him come up here and we spent some time with him up here again. I like to do everything that we can possibly can to make the best decisions we can.
Q: When was the private workout in Florida? Were you going to do that regardless of what happened at his pro day?
A: We were going to do that regardless because we had interest in him and that was, I would say, in April. I just can’t remember the exact date. We were at a lot of places this spring but I know it was in April.
Q: Is moving back into the 1st round still a thrill for you?
A: Oh yes. This is what this day is, this is what the draft is all about. It’s a thrill to watch our team play but this is a chance every year, what we’ve done in free agency and now this is a chance to put the final pieces together on making significant moves to help improve your ball club. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be able to be a part of this draft and to do the things we were able to do the last couple of years.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
First of all let me just say this is the first time that I’ve been able to be in our draft room and those guys are professional in there. They do a great job, they work like crazy in finding ways to get players, the way we analyze all of the players, the way we sit and talk and communicate with one another. I was amazed sitting in there tonight and just listening to a lot of the things. The correspondence between Rick [Spielman] and the Wilfs and George [Paton] and Scott Studwell, they do a fantastic job and I was extremely, extremely impressed with that. In talking about Teddy, you know the thing I like most about him? He wins. He wins, everywhere he’s ever been he wins. Starts as a freshman in high school, he wins. Starts as a freshman in college and wins. This guy has something about him. I probably shouldn’t say this but I’m going to anyway. He came in, one of the reasons why we had him come in is because we had to get him another physical because he a little thing about his heart. He came in and he got the physical done and I said, “How are you doing?” and he said, “Good,” and I said, “How’s your heart?” and he said, “Well they said it was too big.” He’s got a great rapport. He got a lot of those Miami kids to go up to Louisville and play there and so I feel really good about him.
Q: What was it like sitting through this as a head coach?
A: It’s very similar. When I was a defensive coordinator it was a lot of the same. You let the guys that are experts do their job and the trades and we’ve already discussed everything as far as where you want to go. It wasn’t hectic. It was nice and smooth and those guys are professionals in there. They do a great job.
Q: What did you see from Teddy in terms of leadership and intangibles?
A: His character is so high. I keep talking about the kind of players that we want to come in here and to represent the Vikings, to represent the fans here. He’s a guy that is going to be here all of the time, he’s going to study, he’s going to work, he’s going to be a great advocate of the community and I think the Minnesota Viking fans are going to be very proud of him.
Q: Do you think Teddy represents the character and identity you want of this football team?
A: You know he’s got an aggressive offensive personality and I’m a little more aggressive defensive personality, if that makes sense. I think that’s important that he and I kind of think alike and Norv and Scott both did a great job. They went all over the place, they used the Wilfs’ jet, and finding the players, working out all of these quarterbacks. Norv really, really liked Teddy Bridgewater. He’s talked to me several times about him about the potential that he has to be a great quarterback in the NFL and I don’t want to speak for Rick but we wouldn’t have moved up just to get anybody. Somebody asked me earlier today would we take a quarterback in the 3rd round and I said, “It has to be the guy that we want.” This was obviously a guy that we wanted, that’s why we moved up to get him because this is a guy that we feel really, really strong about.
Q: Where do you fall on whether or not a quarterback is ready? How do you determine that?
A: That was probably a different situation when I was in Cincinnati. We didn’t really have any quarterbacks at that time. Carson Palmer had just left. As I said before, I’m all about competition. I want the best guys to play, the guys that can do the best job. I understand there is a fine line with young quarterbacks of getting them beat up and those things but we have a very good offensive line here and we have, in my opinion, two good quarterbacks. I was watching them throw today and they were throwing the heck out of the ball today. I told them today, “Norv and Scott are doing a great job of coaching these guys.” Teddy will play when we feel like he’s ready if he’s the best guy, which we hope that he will. We always want to have competition in our football team at every position. The more good football players we can get, the better off we are as a team.
Q: What did you see from Teddy in that private workout?
A: Actually I wasn’t at the private workout. I had to go back and do something. I’ve watched him a lot on tape, we had his workout tape and then these guys went down there, like you said, for a private workout and they came back and was drooling when they came back.
Q: Was this heart thing something only the Vikings doctors saw?
A: I don’t know what it was. It was nothing. It was a little blip on something and then he had to do a new MRI or something like that but it was nothing.
Q: He said on his TV interview that he knew somehow he was going to end up with the Vikings. Could you feel that connection?
A: Yeah, you know he sat down in my office. He came in there and I asked him a bunch of questions and we talked about football and we talked about a lot of different things and I asked him, “What do you think is the best situation for you?” and he said, “Coach you are going to think I’m blowing you smoke but I think the Minnesota Vikings is for me. This is really where I want to go.” I usually can read guys pretty good and I think he was very sincere about it. It didn’t surprise me when he said that on TV.
Q: From a defensive coach what makes him hard to defend?
A: Well the biggest thing is he wins. He wins. He makes the players around him better, that’s one thing. He has the arm strength to get the ball anywhere he needs to but he also has mobility as much as most all of the other quarterbacks. I think the combination of all of those things. We did the most in-depth study that you can do. We talked about hand size, we talked about 3rd-down conversions, we talked about against the blitz. There were so many things that we put together on this study. It doesn’t mean anything. I still go on the tape. People talk about the workouts and things like that. It’s what do you do out here on the football field. How do you perform there is the number one thing. Saying that, he’s great against the blitz, and young guys are going to get blitzed. He’s calm under pressure, he’s a great leader, he brings guys in there, like I said before, guys from Miami come in there.
Q: Why do you think his pro day went so wrong?
A: Well, I don’t know if this was it but in the private workout with us he wore his glove. I was listening to him today doing an interview and he said one thing it taught him was to stay true to yourself. He plays all of these times wearing a glove and he comes out on his pro day, supposedly the biggest day, which really isn’t. The 44 games he played in college are the biggest days, this is just one day to show off in front of the NFL Network and everything. He said, “You just learn to stay true to yourself.” And then he came out with us with the glove and threw it all over the place.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
I want to start off by saying thank you to the entire Vikings organization for selecting me tonight, I feel honored and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this great organization. Thanks to Coach Zimmer, Rick Spielman the GM and coach Norv Turner, Scott Turner. I felt very comfortable working out for those guys. I felt that the relationship that we had through this entire process it helped get me to this point this far. I look forward to doing great things with this team and eventually competing down the long run.
Q: You said you felt a connection with the Vikings, what was it about that relationship?
A: Prior to the draft I met with the Vikings about four or five times. I was able to establish a relationship with Rick Spielman, Coach Norv Turner, Scott Turner through that entire process when they came out to visit me, even when I worked out for the Vikings I felt very comfortable being on the board and on the field so I think that is what it was.
Q: Did you spend as much time with any other team as you did with the Vikings?
A: Actually, I didn’t. I spent the most time with the Vikings.
Q: What was different between the private workout with the Vikings and your pro day?
A: Well for one, I wore my glove and felt comfortable being around the coaches. It was another opportunity to showcase my talents, just had a great day overall. Coach Turner, he was coaching me up as I was going through the process and I was able to just take that great coaching and apply it to the field.
Q: What is the usage of the gloves when you’re indoors, what kind of impact does it have?
A: It just helps me grip the ball better. Grip the ball better. It’s something I will continue to do.
Q: Why didn’t you wear the gloves at the pro day?
A: It was a decision that I made based off the way that I was trying to practice for the pro day, but I walked away from the pro day I was able to learn a valuable lesson to continue to do what got you here and do what you’re comfortable doing.
Q: What did you take away from the pro day, it seemed the media was a little vicious?
A: My take away was just that I have to get better and that’s what I’m all about, getting better, making the people around me better. I was able to embrace the fact that I didn’t have a great performance but I was able to continue to move forward and make myself a better player.
Q: Coach Zimmer said you had a meeting and you told him you felt the Vikings were the best fit for you, what made you think that?
A: I feel that the Vikings have everything in place, the primary positions. I feel that position by position, you look in the backfield you have the best running back in the National Football League, you have the best group of receivers in the National Football League, one of the best offensive line’s up front blocking for and protecting the quarterback. I feel that I could fit well with Coach Turner’s offense and I could come and make an impact.
Q: What was it like hearing talks about being the first overall pick to being the 32nd pick?
A: The biggest thing was you can’t buy into what’s being said about you. My agent told me the first time I met him, who cares that I’m the number one quarterback. I had that mindset that I feel that I am the best prospect in the draft, but everything happens for a reason. From me being projected number one, to going 32nd I’m just blessed and I’m happy to be a Viking.
Q: Do you intend to come in and compete for the starting spot week one?
A: That will be up to the coaches. I feel that I will probably be able to compete and start whenever I show that I’m the best guy at the position.
Q: What’s the deal with your heart, why the check-up?
A: I just had an abnormal heartbeat. I think it was one-percent, one beat, less than the normal beat, so I came back up to Minnesota and got the physical and EKG and everything tested and it came back positive, said that I had a good heart.
Q: Did any other teams check on your heartbeat?
A: I don’t think so.
Q: Was this something you were aware of or was it a totally new thing that came up?
A: Yeah, I wasn’t aware of it. It came up at the combine and I was freaking out about it, but I knew that once I got started, or started running on a treadmill that my heartbeat would be normal.