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Jackie Hope: Feeling a little Drafty

Did you feel a draft a couple of weeks ago, or was it just me? You know, May 8-10, when a north wind was blowing lots of rain, and ESPN football analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. was blowing lots of smoke? Yeah, baby, it was the 2014 NFL draft — second only to the Super Bowl for delicious football excitement!

See, football fanatics know the secret to a successful NFL season lies with their general manager’s ability to pick the “best available” players during the spring draft. Like when the Vikings chose Christian Ponder in 2011 as their first-rounder — and the 12th overall draft pick. So does that mean there were only 11 better football players than Ponder available that year? Yeah, Ponder’s way better than Andy Dalton, who was chosen 35th that year. Or Colin Kaepernick, who was picked 36th.

That Vikings’ choice was second only to their 2003 first round pick, when they kinda sorta just forgot to make the 7th overall selection. How do you forget to make a choice? Do you, like, go out for coffee and chat up the barista and then forget what you are supposed to be doing? Nah, that’s what Donald Sterling would do. Oh and BTW, Skip Bayless, another ESPN sharp-shooting analyst, still thinks Ponder is “the man” for the Vikes. Spoiler: Mrs. Christian Ponder works for ESPN. Just sayin’.

This year’s first pick was no surprise. Jadeveon Clowney, from the University of South Carolina, was snapped up by the Houston Texans. Even Mel Kiper agreed that Clowney was the best of the best. And the cutest. OK, Kiper did not comment on Clowney’s cuteness. But, still, he’s hot. Clowney, that is, not Kiper. As if.

This year the Vikings had pick No. 8. Which means they were the eighth-worst team in football last year, out of 32 teams. Yeah, three-fourths of the teams were better than them. But, hey, they got a pretty good draft pick out of the deal. So what did they do? They traded picks with the Cleveland Browns, and went down to the 9th spot in the pecking order for picking. Now that’s something to crow about. Not to worry, however, because the Browns, who also desperately needed a quarterback, drafted a cornerback instead. Dawg, those puppies desperately needed to fill every position in their Dogpile.

Round 1, ninth pick: the Vikings are on the clock. And the pick is in!

No, they did not draft standout quarterback and media darling Johnny Manziel, better known as Johnny Football. And yes, he was still available. Huh? Did anyone besides me say, “Who the heck is that?” when Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Anthony Barr as the Vikings first-round pick? Holy cats, you’d have thought Ron Gardenhire was doing their drafting. Wait, maybe he was. Because he certainly wasn’t managing the Twins worth beans, in their 9-4 loss to Cleveland that day.

Last pick of Round 1 — the final pick of draft’s first day — the Vikes worked a quickie trade with the Seahawks. Because, hey, we already passed along Percy Harvin and Tarvaris Jackson to Seattle. Percy and Tarvaris got Super Bowl rings, and we got Christian Ponder. So Seattle owed us one.

Minnesota’s back on the clock — and the pick is in. Wonder of wonders, they drafted a quarterback! A potentially good quarterback! Teddy Bridgewater! He can throw the ball — in his final year of college he passed for 3,970 yards. Unlike Ponder, who throws the football about as far as a junior high kid puts a shot. He passed for 2,935 in his best year with the Vikings. Now Adrian Peterson has someone to play ball with!

The best moment of the 2014 draft? When the Miami Dolphins took North Dakota State offensive tackle, Billy Turner, as their third-rounder. Non-footballers, please note that Mr. Turner is not offensive. Only his position on the field is offensive. But it is offensive in the best possible way, because the offensive line paves the way for their ball carrier to score. Paves — like in steamrolls over the opposing team. And, according to the NFL Combine report, where prospective players do a sort of screen test for the league, at 315 pounds, Mr. Turner is a real good paver. The Combine also reports Billy can run the 40-yard dash in 5.16 seconds. That is a whole lot of football player moving at a pretty good clip. I don’t think I could run that fast unless a steamroller, or a 315-pound football player, was bearing down on me.

So, the heck with the Vikings. We’re all Miami fans now. No, wait. We got Teddy Bridgewater. Just ordered myself a Teddy Bridgewater Vikings No. 5 jersey. Oh boy, oh boy! Sound the Gjallarhorn! Our opening game is Sept. 7, against the St. Louis Rams. “Skol, Vikings, Skol!”