As if the Vikings weren’t already generating enough storylines this week, Brett Favre was back in the building at Winter Park earlier today.
Favre?!? At Winter Park?!? #FAVREWATCH is back on in 2015!!!
No, not exactly. I’m told the former Vikings, Jets and Packers quarterback is in the Twin Cities to visit with some old friends. While in town, he stopped by Winter Park to chat with old teammates and buddies in the building.
Favre’s presence got some of the team’s young players pretty excited.
Man I just got to meet Brett Farve!! The legend.. I started sweating and everything! One of the all time greats!! #Vikings #whatafeeling
— Charles Johnson (@MrInkredibleXII) May 29, 2015
Saw Brett Favre today and was too nervous to ask for a picture with him.. So instead I thought about following him on the road. Am I crazy?
— Donte Foster (@fosterdonte) May 29, 2015
But as I said, Favre was only at the facility to say hello. He’s not signing a contract to un-retire again. Teddy Bridgewater has nothing to worry about. So you can keep your news helicopter parked in the driveway for now.
Part 1: Trae Waynes
Part 2: Eric Kendricks
Part 3: Danielle Hunter
You could make a case the Vikings drafted three players in this draft with first round talent — cornerback Trae Waynes in the first, linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second and offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings in the fourth round.
Clemmings was a borderline first round talent, but he slid due to medical concerns of a stress fracture in his foot. The Vikings weren’t worried about the injury and opted to draft him with the 110th overall pick.
The injury concern is noteworthy, but we’ll put that off to the side for just a moment. Clemmings has only spent two seasons at offensive line, so what exactly are the Vikings getting from the Pittsburgh product?
Well, for one, Clemmings is a big, athletic lineman. He’s moves extremely well at 6-5 and 309 pounds. It’s impressive how quickly he’s able to swing out to his right to block on bubble screens or get to the second level to block a linebacker on run plays. Well, he doesn’t just block linebackers. Clemmings essentially tosses them out of the way. You can tell he played defense previously by how aggressive he got as a lineman at times.
The impressive part about his aggressiveness was that Clemmings only had one holding penalty last year, per Scout.com. He fared well as a run blocker and did a good job creating a lane even if he didn’t exactly get good contact on the defender initially. The biggest thing that stood out was how often Clemmings racked up pancakes both in pass and run situations last year.
Though I’m not as harsh on Clemmings’ pass protection, he did lack consistency in that area. Similar to Danielle Hunter, a lot of that just has to do with inexperience and technique issues. Clemmings needs to take advantage of his 35-inch arms and maintain his balance with his footwork. In this example, Clemmings got too wide and the defender worked his inside shoulder to knock him down and get the sack.
Clemmings has never played on the left side either, and I don’t think it’s as easy as many think to throw a raw talent on the left side and expect similar results. He’d be a liability on the left side in pass protection given how uncoordinated Clemmings looked at times protecting from the right side.
But the biggest headache was the pre-snap flags. Clemmings had seven false start penalties last year, per Scout.com. That’s inexcusable.
Clemmings might be my favorite Vikings’ draft pick this year. I love how he plays with an edge on the offensive line and how aggressive he can get, though you’d want to see it on a regular basis. He’s an extremely good talent and the Vikings got him in a great spot where there won’t be pressure to produce immediately as a Day 1 or even Day 2 pick.
But he does have the ability to start right away. Considering the Vikings have worked Fusco at left guard during OTAs, that speaks highly to what the organization thinks about Clemmings’ ability to start at right guard immeidatley. Clemmings also has the capability, if he continues to develop, to be an option at left tackle down the road if Matt Kalil doesn’t improve.
This is all dependent on Clemmings staying healthy, however. The severity of the stress fracture has been downplayed by Clemmings and the Vikings since he was selected, but it was significant enough to scare some teams away. We can’t just dismiss the latter. Though he never missed a game at right tackle for Pittsburgh in two seasons, the bigger concern has been about Clemmings’ longevity in the NFL.
We’ll find out in the next few years which side was right, but I wouldn’t hold this pick against the Vikings even if Clemmings flopped. It was a good value pick for a great talent.
That, at least, is very clear.
Fair or not, the knock on Mike Wallace as an NFL receiver is that he has been a one-trick pony. Few, if any, wideouts can sprint down the sideline faster than Wallace, whose elite speed has defensive backs perpetually on their heels. So if this pony really only has one trick, it’s a useful one to have.
Unfortunately for Wallace, his big-play ability down the field was wasted in Miami, whether it was due to the offensive schemes or quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s inability to consistently throw deep. After averaging 17.2 yards per catch in Pittsburgh, Wallace averaged 12.8 in his two seasons in Miami.
Take last season for example. Wallace was targeted 20 or more yards downfield only 24 times, according to Pro Football Focus. That ranked 21st among NFL receivers. And he caught just six of those passes with one drop.
Wallace has only been here in Minnesota for a brief time, but his early impressions of coordinator Norv Turner’s offense have been favorable.
“It’s a vertical offense [compared to] a short, West Coast offense,” he said. “You go down the field a lot more here, more to what I’m accustomed to.”
While the Vikings didn’t ask Teddy Bridgewater to throw the deep ball a ton during his rookie season, his accuracy on those longer throws improved in the second half of the season, so much that Bridgewater finished in the top 10 in deep accuracy percentage, according to Pro Football Focus.
Wallace said he likes what he has seen from Bridgewater so far this spring, calling the second-year quarterback an “accurate guy” and a “silent killer.”
Bridgewater raved about Wallace’s speed and pointed out during his Wednesday press conference that Wallace was one of the last players who were still out on the practice field, catching passes from the JUGS machine.
“You just have to continue to put the time in. There are days where we stay behind and we complete passes, work on routes that we may have ran in practice that day,” he said. “It’s just putting in that little extra work that’s going to help you do it that next day. It’s just going to continue to help me.”
We only got to watch one practice this week, so it’s impossible to draw any conclusions. But Bridgewater looked Wallace’s way often Wednesday, and Wallace’s leaping grab along the sidelines was one of the day’s highlights.
Wallace, who is lining up at flanker, knows establishing a connection with Bridgewater will take time, but it sounds like they are off to a good start.
“We do a little something extra every day,” he said. “Whatever we didn’t get right on the field, we’ll go out and correct it. Today, we were pretty spot on. Time restrains you from doing certain things right now, so you have to be on and off the field. Every day we do something extra to get better.”