If a man’s ears do indeed burn when someone not present is talking about him, then Adrian Peterson’s agent probably spent the past hour with his head in a bucket of ice water.
ESPN analyst Bill Polian, the newly-elected Pro Football Hall of Famer and former NFL general manager, just conducted a conference call with reporters. I climbed aboard the runaway NFL draft hype train and asked Polian the following question:
“In a trade scenario, what would you consider Adrian Peterson’s value in terms of draft picks, and would you trade for him on draft night if you hadn’t talked to him or had him take a physical beforehand?”
Polian laughed because apparently he has spent a lot of time barking about this situation and the actions of Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, who hasn’t exactly been Mr. Subtle in expressing how much better off Peterson would be somewhere other than Minnesota, which, by the way, has him under contract for three more years, including a $12.5 million agreement for this season.
“I’ve had a lot to say on this subject on [ESPN's NFL] Insiders,” he said. “Let’s take away the hypotheticals for a moment and say the following: Despite anything his agent may say to the contrary or his, quote, people, whoever they may be or say to the contrary, the following are the facts. He has a valid contract, a multi-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. And if the Minnesota Vikings decide that they want him to play football for them, he will play football for them or play football for no one.
“So I think that is a fact. It’s very clear-cut. It’s black and white, despite any protestations to the contrary. Secondly, if you were to be interested in trading for him, that means that the Vikings control the ability to move him. No one else. So there is no third party interaction here. This is a question of whether or not the Vikings want to trade Adrian Peterson to someone else. So I think those two sets of facts have been lost in all of the noise that surrounds this situation almost since last January.
“The third part of the equation is where does he stand with the league? I presume that question will be answered at some point in the foreseeable future. But it has not been answered yet. And that certainly affects any potential trade. I hasten to add that if the Vikings would be willing to entertain one — and they have said just the opposite, at least from where I can tell recently — trying to determine what’s fair compensation for him in a trade assumes that the Vikings would be willing to enter into such a transaction. Not that someone else decides that it should take place.
“So compensation is [Vikings General Manager] Rick Spielman’s call, and I’m not going to farm his land. The fact of the matter is that he has a very, very fair contract, in my opinion, from his perspective. He’s the highest-paid back in the league, I believe. And he has a multi-year contract. So he would be ostensibly available for three more years if any team ever trades for him. To me, that mitigates whatever his age is. He’s also had a year off, which is probably for a running back a good thing. So the extent that his age is a factor if you were going to move him, I don’t think it is a factor because he’s under club control for the next three years.
“Could you make a trade for anybody on the clock? Of course you can. But the question of whether or not that player will report is another issue. And that’s unknowable at this time. I would be, as a general manager, I would be very wary given what’s gone on up to this point that he would report and honor that contract. I would have concerns about that if I were trying to make a trade.”
Twitter is often all about timing and phrasing. If you miss your window or word something the wrong way, good intentions can drift into bad results in a hurry.
This is particularly true of brands, and even more particularly true of brands that are struggling. I offer up Example A from this morning, when the official Twins twitter account sent out this tweet:
Relive the #TwinsHomeOpener with this awesome photo blog recap: http://t.co/eJt7pYdNJ0 pic.twitter.com/WIKaCG36RF
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) April 14, 2015
It’s pretty harmless, basically trying to get fans to look at some photos from the home opener. Sure, the Twins are 1-6 and were blasted 12-3 by the Royals, but there were still some nice moments.
However, I imagine the use of the word “relive” served as a launching pad for things to get ugly in a hurry in the @ replies. Let’s take a spin through a handful of the ones that are safe for print:
@Twins Who in their right mind would want to relive that?
— Jodi Halvorson (@jodi_halvy) April 14, 2015
@Twins What if we want to wipe the entire debacle from our memories. The team is making me relive mid-90s.
— Brandon Bohning (@BrandonBohning) April 14, 2015
@Twins yaaay lets relive getting spanked 12-3
— Aarin Lipner-Riza (@aarinlr) April 14, 2015
@Twins I’d rather not relive it, thanks.
— Paul Molitor (@sirpaulmolitor) April 14, 2015
@Twins wow. You set yourself up for negative comments with that headline.
— Pat Zandstra (@racer2738) April 14, 2015
Our first defensive player we’ll examine is Nebraska defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory. For some, he’s known as the guy that tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine in February. For Gophers fans, Gregory is the guy that couldn’t shed a blocker against the run (more on that later).
There’s a few players like Gregory in this draft that can be projected as a defensive end or an outside linebacker depending on the scheme. The list includes Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr., Missouri’s Shane Ray and Kentucky’s Alvin Dupree. But we’ll focus on Gregory for now since he’s been the most talked about prospect among the bunch, for better or for worse.
Gregory spent a season at Arizona Western Community College before transferring to Nebraska. Gregory initially signed with Purdue out of college but didn’t qualify academically.
By the Numbers:
Sophomore (13 games): 66 tackles (40 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, one interception, one forcedfumble
Junior (11 games): 54 tackles (23 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one interception, one forced fumble
Gregory returned his only interception his junior season for a touchdown and also had a pair of blocked field goals as a senior. On paper, the stats look great for a Big Ten defensive end. Gregory displayed a little bit of everything at 6-5 and 235 pounds. As raw as he is, he has a knack for getting at the quarterback.
Combine/Pro Day results:
40-yard dash: 4.64 seconds
Bench press (225 pounds): 24 reps
Vertical: 36.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches
Gregory was happy enough with his combine results that he only participated during individual drills at his pro day. He ran a similar 40-yard dash time at the combine as Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, listed at six feet and 228 pounds.
But back to the marijuana issue, however, that has clouded Gregory’s stock since the combine. It appears a few people have docked him for it, and it was a very dumb mistake, but I might be in the minority that won’t drop a prospect off a big board in 2015 for marijuana. Reports that he wasn’t impressive during team interviews would be a bigger concern in my book if I was reviewing Gregory from an off-the-field perspective.
This tweet is also concerning. Can you trust a man that thinks New Orleans is boring?
Idk what the big deal about new Orleans is. Seems pretty boring to me lol wrong time of year maybe??
— Randy Gregory (@RandyGregory_4) April 14, 2015
I will pass on Gregory’s ability as a defensive end, however. He’s not an NFL defensive end. At 235 pounds, he’ll need to gain weight if he wants to become a 4-3 defensive end. The biggest question is how will he move at 250-plus pounds? I’m not sure but Gregory’s range at his current weight is one of his biggest strengths.
As a defensive end with his hand in the dirt, Gregory would give me anxiety as a defensive coordinator against the run. He struggled on run plays because Big Ten offensive linemen could shove Gregory out of the way with ease. Gregory at times would be so focused on pass rushing that he’d run himself of plays, similar to what we used to see from Jared Allen during his final season with the Vikings. He’s still young and raw though, so I’d think that’s correctable at this stage in his career.
The two games that stood out last year watching Gregory against the run were Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here’s a good example of what I mean against Wisconsin. He’s lined up on the left side, couldn’t contain and running back Melvin Gordon escaped for a big gain.
On the flip side, Gregory is a good pass rusher pretty much anywhere you put him. He could use improvement blitzing as a linebacker, but he has a good variety of moves. Gregory’s performance against Miami is a great example of what he’s capable of doing as a pass rusher. Here’s a rep against offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, projected as a first or second round pick, where Gregory bull rushes to the quarterback on the right side. Flowers weighed in at 329 pounds at the combine, almost 100 pounds more than Gregory.
There aren’t too many examples of Gregory dropping back into coverage that I’ve seen, but he has the speed and range to cover tight ends and running backs. It’ll likely become an area of emphasis to improve in coverage wherever he goes because I don’t see him being used more at defensive end than linebacker to start his NFL career. I can see how in certain situations, like Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on third downs, a team could use him on the defensive line to maximize its pass rush.
Similar to Barr, Gregory should pray that he lands on a team with a defensive-minded head coach or an excellent defensive coordinator that will develop his raw ability. But he’s an outside linebacker. And anyone who tells you otherwise at this stage in his career is wrong.
Verdict: As a defensive end, don’t believe the hype. As a linebacker, he can be the truth if he’s got a solid coach to develop him.
Backers of a pro-soccer stadium near downtown Minneapolis are seeking a sales tax exemption on construction materials, Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters ahead of his afternoon meeting with Dr. Bill McGuire.
The Wolves have had abysmal draft lottery luck in their franchise history. They have never improved their position. On a handful of infamous occasions, they have fallen a slot or two below where they were projected to pick based on record, winding up with lesser players than they should have had.
There is no guarantee that this curse will be lifted on May 19, 2015, when another very important draft lottery will be held to determine the order teams choose in June. But this much is guaranteed:
By virtue of unexpected results from the Knicks and by excelling at the one thing this franchise has really excelled at over the years — losing — the Wolves have positioned themselves quite nicely.
Minnesota has lost 11 consecutive games and 22 of its last 25, including last night’s 100-88 loss to the Pelicans. The Knicks, meanwhile, looked to easily be on track to claim the league’s worst record … but they have won three of their last five, including last night’s stunning win over the first-place Hawks. That has infuriated a New York fan base that had warmed to the idea of tanking because now, with one game left in the season, the Knicks are one game better (17-64 to 16-65) than the Wolves).
As long as Minnesota loses to OKC on Wednesday — the Wolves are playing with a decimated roster and the Thunder is battling for a playoff spot still — the Wolves will be assured of having the worst record (and the best lottery odds).
In addition to giving the Wolves a 25 percent chance of the top pick and about a 2 in 3 chance of having at least a top-3 pick, it would ensure they would fall no further than fourth in the order.
On a team that doesn’t figure to attract top free agents, one more high pick is a big deal. We’re not saying the ends of losing justify the means of picking high because you never know how these things are going to turn out and tanking is a concept we still can’t stand.
But for those who have lamented the luck of Minnesota teams over the years — including the Vikings a few years back, who lost out on draft position with a late-season win — this seems to be a reversal of that.