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Updated: May 9th, 2014 12:06am
Zulgad: Spielman waits until end of first round to get latest QB of future

Zulgad: Spielman waits until end of first round to get latest QB of future

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

When in doubt call the Seattle Seahawks.

That seems to be the mantra around Winter Park when the Vikings are looking to make a deal, and was the case again late Thursday night during the first round of the NFL draft.

Wanting to land a quarterback, and having just missed on getting Johnny Manziel, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman dealt second- and fourth-round selections to the Seahawks in order to move up to the final pick of the first round in order to take Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.

That gave the Vikings their latest quarterback of the future, although it probably will be made clear in quick fashion that Matt Cassel is the starter for 2014. Bridgewater's job will be to learn.

If social media is any indication, there are a number of Vikings fans who feel their team got the wrong guy.

Manziel was the quarterback many wanted and the Vikings apparently came close to being able to get him when they reportedly closed in on a trade for the 22nd pick with Philadelphia.

However, the Cleveland Browns, still in possession of a first-round pick (No. 26), came in at the last second, trumped the Vikings' offer and took Manziel.

The Vikings "settled" for Bridgewater, which is a bit humorous considering there was a point last summer when he was projected as the top pick in this draft. But thanks in part to a poor Pro Day, his stock had plummeted to the point where some mock drafts had him going in the second round.

The Vikings made sure that didn't happen and, thus, now are confident that offensive coordinator Norv Turner can develop Bridgewater.

The Vikings did two key things by getting Bridgewater in the first round.

First, they were able to jump in front of the Houston Texans, who could have targeted Bridgewater with the first pick of the second round. Second, they now will have a fifth-year option to use on Bridgewater, if he turns into the player they expect.

This is the same option the Vikings recently declined on Christian Ponder.

Ponder, of course, was the 12th pick in the 2011 draft and officially can be declared a bust. Vikings fans have reserved plenty of their angst for Ponder and Spielman, who are seen as a package deal by some.

Spielman, who is no stranger to trading with Seattle and last offseason sent wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, is hoping that Bridgewater's development will help sever his connection with Ponder.

Short term, Spielman should be happy that the Bridgewater selection diverted some of the attention away from his decision to pick UCLA running back-turned-linebacker Anthony Barr with the ninth pick in the opening round.

Many Vikings fans took to social media to vent about the Barr selection, especially after Minnesota made a trade with Cleveland to move from eighth to ninth. Whether it was a general dislike for the Barr pick or the fact the Vikings didn't take Manziel, there were a few tweets that indicated Spielman might not be fit to do his job.

One name you didn't see much from the disgruntled fan base was that of new coach Mike Zimmer.

That was interesting considering the decision to go with Barr almost certainly was as much driven by Zimmer as it was by Spielman.

Don't agree? Connect the dots on the pick and you will.

Spielman clearly wants to see Zimmer succeed. As general manager, he is the guy who hired the former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator after Leslie Frazier was fired following the 2013 season. Spielman is as tied to Zimmer as he will be to Bridgewater.

Zimmer is the first coach that Spielman has had a direct role in hiring. Brad Childress had final say over the 53-man roster and Spielman didn't join the organization until well after Childress had been hired.

Frazier, who replaced Childress as coach during the 2010 season, had the interim tag removed from his title because owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were impressed by what they saw him do.

Spielman was asked for his opinion on the Frazier hire, but, keep in mind, the original plan in place was to give them an equal say in the decision-making process. Spielman wasn't technically Frazier's boss.

That changed after the Vikings went 3-13 in 2011 when the Wilfs decided to promote Spielman to general manager and give him final say over the roster and other football matters.

That means this is the third draft that Spielman has been in charge of running. One of the most important things for him to do is make sure he gets the type of players who fit Zimmer's defense as well as offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense.

Before you get too upset about the Barr pick, keep in mind most of us don't have a clear understanding of exactly what Zimmer will do defensively.

Barr was believed to be a better fit as a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4 than he will be in a 4-3, but the effective NFL defenses are so multiple these days that it's a mistake to just assume Zimmer is a 4-3 guy.

Barr had 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss during his junior season, and then had 10 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles last year. Lindy's draft preview compared him to DeMarcus Ware. That's not too bad.

There is a chance the Vikings could have traded down again and still gotten Barr. However, if you are going to go after the GM for making the pick that he did at nine, then you also have to direct some of that criticism at Zimmer.

Early Thursday night, no one seemed willing to do that. By later in the evening, the angst about Barr had subsided over the intrigue caused by arrival of Bridgewater. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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