Over the past few weeks for the Vikings 2014 Rookie Preview series, I tried to make my predictions as to how the rookie seasons would go for the Vikings top draft picks. Unfortunately, as I got closer to the top of the draft, the harder those predictions became.
Luckily, NFL.com and former NFL scout Bucky Brooks have my back.
Brooks predicted the rookie seasons of 10 first round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, including both of the Vikings first rounders, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and linebacker Anthony Barr. Brooks gave his thoughts on the best-case and worst-case scenario for each player’s rookie season before finally making a prediction for their first NFL season.
For Barr’s worst case scenario, Bucks writes that Barr is “still a raw player at the position,” so the Vikings have to be careful with his development.
“The Vikings have to carefully weigh the pros and cons of loading him up with responsibilities before he is fully comfortable with the pro game,” Brooks said.
But Brooks likes what he is hearing about Barr’s potential role on Mike Zimmer’s defense as a Von Miller-type defender at the SAM linebacker position, as he says in his best-case scenario for Barr.
“This would allow Barr to use his hands to jam and disrupt big-bodied pass catchers at the line, while also tasking him to set the edge on run plays,” Brooks said. “He could become a designated edge rusher in the Vikings nickel package, giving the unit a dynamic defender…Given Barr’s athleticism and production as a pass rusher at UCLA, the hybrid role could pay immediate dividends for the Vikings.”
Brooks ended up predicting that Barr would total 65 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and an interception in his rookie season. While those aren’t defensive rookie of the year type numbers, that’s a very optimistic prediction for Barr that I’m sure the Vikings would be thrilled with.
If Barr can put up those type of numbers in only his first pro season, the sky would truly be the limit on his potential.
Brooks is also very high on the potential of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Brooks thinks the worst-case scenario for Bridgewater is him not starting for most of the season, saying “a prolonged incubation period would be a major disappointment.”
But in his best-case scenario, Brooks writes “Bridgewater is not only the most pro-ready quarterback in this class, but he lands in the best situation to succeed as a young player.”
Brooks cites all the weapons the Vikings have on offense as reasons why Bridgewater could succeed early as a rookie.
For his rookie season, Brooks predicts that Bridgewater will throw for 3,200 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 62 percent completion percentage. For perspective, Brooks predicted that Johnny Manziel will throw for 300 more yards than Bridgewater, but for less touchdowns, more interceptions and a lower completion percentage.
If Brooks’ predictions come true, Bridgewater will almost certainly be a front runner for offensive rookie of the year. Not only that, those numbers would certainly be inspiring to a franchise in need of a franchise signal caller.
Of course, the offseason often turns into optimism season in the NFL, and it’s way too early to tell if the Vikings first round picks can live up to Brooks’ predictions. But when a guy as smart as Brooks makes those kind of predictions, it’s usually good to take notice.
What do you think Vikings fans? Do you think these predictions are realistic? Would you be excited if these turned out to be Barr and Bridgewater’s rookie seasons? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @Goatman102!