A Football Outsiders post on ESPN.com caught our attention this afternoon. Using a number of criteria, they attempted to rank the NFL teams from 1-32 when it comes to the best accumulation of talented players less than 25 years old.
Now, having that many good, young players doesn’t necessarily translate to success, but Seattle was No. 1 on the list last year and won the Super Bowl; crazily enough, the Seahawks sunk to the bottom of the list this year because many of those top young players are a year older and no longer qualify. That is an indicator of just how arbitrary the 25-year-old cutoff is, but it also stands to reason that teams with talent that fall below that age threshold will be in good shape salary-wise and therefore be able to compete.
In any event, the Rams were No. 1. The Bills were No. 2.
And No. 3 — perhaps not surprisingly since they’ve had seven first-round picks in the past three years, but still interestingly enough — were the Vikings. Here’s what FBO had to say about your purple:
The Vikings are the only team to have three U25 players honored with an All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection. However, one of those is kicker Blair Walsh, and while he’s very good, he is still just a kicker. Cordarrelle Patterson was honored for his work as a kick returner last season, leading the league with two touchdowns and in average return (32.4 yards). Big things will be expected this year from Patterson as a No. 2 wide receiver behind Greg Jennings. Tight end Kyle Rudolph made the Pro Bowl in 2012 with nine touchdowns, and Jarius Wright makes it three primary pass-catchers under the age of 25 for this Minnesota offense.
We might be ranking the Vikings at the top if they were committed to immediately starting rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who may prove to be the steal of the draft.
Defensive guru Mike Zimmer gets his first crack at a head coaching job, and he has high-caliber talent to work with after the last two drafts have netted cornerback Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and rookie linebacker Anthony Barr, all in the first round.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see how this mass of talent pans out and how the new coaching staff will influence it. But having the potential to have so many contributors at young ages and relatively low salaries could give the Vikings a chance to compete sooner than some of us might think.
As Minnesota deer hunters expected, the DNR announced Wednesday a conservative deer hunting season for next fall in an attempt to boost the whitetail herd. That means the taking of bucks will be restricted in large parts of the state.
This is a make-or-break home stand for the Twins. The players have said it. Management has said it. Logically, everyone knows it. Though the odds were stacked against Minnesota at the All-Star break, they came out of it with a 44-50 record, 6.5 games back in the Wild Card race. A big home stand — say, 8-2 — would have squared their record at .500 and gave at least the glimmer of meaningful games in August.
But their starting pitching, as it has done every year starting in 2011, failed them. First it was the regulars (Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia) blowing up in a three-game sweep against the Rays.
And now it sure looks as though, through a combination of injuries and their own ineffectiveness, five of the final seven games of the home stand will be started by Yohan Pino (twice, assuming he pitches the finale Sunday after throwing Tuesday), Anthony Swarzak (filling in today for Kyle Gibson), Kris Johnson (Monday) and Logan Darnell (Saturday).
Pino is 30 years old. Johnson will turn 30 in October. Swarzak will be 29 in September and has a 5.79 ERA in 28 career starts for the Twins.
Pino and Johnson were very good at Class AAA Rochester this year, but we really have to wonder if there is much of a realistic chance that either of them is in the long-term plans with the major league club. Swarzak has been a decent long reliever, but we’ve seen what he can do as a starter and it isn’t pretty. Darnell is 25 and was also pitching decently at Rochester, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he can do.
But those other guys … we certainly wish them well, but they’re not exactly the types to breed confidence for the present or the future.
This home stand, given the desperate circumstances, could have been the perfect time to give Alex Meyer, Trevor May, or both of them, a chance on the hill. Meyer is the flamethrowing 24-year-old with 107 Ks in 95.1 innings at Rochester. His last four starts: 24 IP, 5 ER, 24 strikeouts. May had a calf strain that kept him out for a few weeks, but he returned to Rochester and pitched three innings Saturday. Maybe this coming weekend wouldn’t be the perfect time for a debut, but theoretically he could still work 5 innings. He’ll be 25 in September, too, so the clock is ticking.
Instead, it sounds like we’ll be seeing more of the same. The Twins are 1-1 so far in the games started by the fill-in quartet and 1-4 overall on this home stand. It will be up to Swarzak, Darnell and Pino to try to keep a make-or-break home stand that’s already broken from turning into a complete downward spiral.
And it will be up to Twins fans to decide just how far their patience can stretch.
Chris Sheridan was on top of the LeBron James-to-Cleveland story, reporting that it was going to happen before LeBron broke it open with an essay on SI.com.
He already had credibility before that, but he gained more that day — enough that we need to take his report of a Bulls offer to the Wolves quite seriously.
Per Sheridan, Chicago is offering a package of Doug McDermott, Nikola Mrotic and Taj Gibson in a potential Kevin Love deal.
Such a deal is extremely intriguing to the Timberwolves, but there is a catch — it cannot be completed for another 29 days after McDermott and Mirotic signed their rookie contracts Tuesday. NBA rules prohibit rookies from being traded within the first 30 days after they sign. And that could be good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who still have not signed Andrew Wiggins and may not do so until the end of this week. That will give them time to present Minnesota with an offer that can be acted upon immediately.
We still like the Cavs deal better because it offers, in our mind, the biggest chance for a home run player (Andrew Wiggins), but this is a much better fall back plan than anything else we’ve heard, and ans Sheridan notes if it can speed up a Cavs deal, all the better.
Also, it should be noted that if the Cleveland and Chicago deals being reported are true, it makes Golden State’s reported unwillingness to include Klay Thompson in a deal that much more absurd. Thanks for playing, Golden State.