Sunday, April 27, 2008

football names are great

If you find yourself reading this blog, you probably know that the NFL draft was this weekend.  Here in Virginia, a thunderstorm rained out a steeplechase — the overspilling of sunburnt, sundressed-and-pearled, seersuckered and utterly soaked truckloads of UVA undergrads this event bestowed upon town was a sight bested only by the double rainbow that followed — and in New York, the Minnesota Vikings selected five rookies with funny names.

Rick Spielman and Brad Childress have decided to build our beloved Purple from the inside out.  The first four picks of the Vikings draft play in the middle of the field: at safety, quarterback, defensive tackle and center.  It's a strategy hard to argue with.

As the offseason began, the safety position needed some help.  Dwight Smith had gotten in trouble with the law just a little too much, and was so shown the door.  Darren Sharper (who, by the way, is your blogger's favourite Viking) hasn't been getting any younger or more spry, despite his in-house hyperbaric chamber.  Regrettably, we had cut the tastefully named Greg Blue last season.  And so, the Vikes signed Madieu Williams and Michael Boulware to shore up the breaking levee.  

And then, when the forty-third overall pick came up on Saturday, Brad Childress called up his buddy Andy Reid to trade a fourth-rounder for a swap of turns at the podium with Philadelphia.  With said forty-third overall pick, the Vikings selected Tyrell Johnson, a tenaciously hard-hitting strong safety from Arkansas State.  His scouting report and bio reveals that Johnson was drafted as an MA candidate, who stayed on even after he'd earned his Bachelor's in less than four years.  Johnson has the prototypical size and speed (6', 200', 4.56 sec/40-yds) to start at strong safety in the NFL.  The tiny bit of film that I've watched shows him shedding blocks and hitting like a linebacker.  The scouts say that stiffness-of-hip keeps him from matching up well in man coverage, but his good instincts make him a very good defender in a cover-2 zone.  We should expect Tyrell Marcellous Johnson to contribute immediately on special teams, and to understudy Darren Sharper.  It's a smart pick — particularly so given the drought that affected this year's crop of safeties.

John David Booty, who possesses perhaps the best of all possible names for a quarterback out of Southern California (University of), comes to Minnesota via the one-hundred-thirty-seventh selection in the 2008 NFL Entry Draft.  [Whew.  That was a mouthful.]  Booty's got good smarts, and a knowledge of all things West Coast – West Coast Offense, that is.  Chilly's playbook should be a quick read for this cerebral QB, who ran a pro-style offense at USC.  The biggest knock on him is that he lacks toughness and real arm-strength.  Let's just hope that he's more Drew Brees than Kelly Holcomb.

In Letroy Guion, the Vikes seem to have found a quick, strong brawler of a defensive tackle, who declared eligible for the draft after only three seasons.  He's raw, but has the potential to replace augustine Pat Williams.  This season, Guion will have the occasional chance to make plays in the best defensive tackle rotation in the NFL.

In the sixth round, our beloved Purple selected an ox of a center and a sparrow of a wide receiver.  John Sullivan, formerly of Rudy University (Notre Dame), plays with a real mean-streak, and may well replace venerable pro-bowler Matt Birk, who is aging and in a contract year.  Jaymar Johnson is a small-school burner (thankfully not a small school-burner) from Jackson State, who runs a 4.35 in the 40.  Other than expounding upon the alliterative possibilities of a name like Jaymar Johnson, I couldn't tell you much about the newest Viking.

And by the bye: Mr. Irrelevant, the unofficial title of the last pick in the draft, is an outside linebacker from Idaho named David Vobora.  The St. Louis Rams, who opened the 2008 selection process on Saturday with UVA Cavalier Chris Long (the picking-first-overall Dolphins signed Jake Long earlier this week), closed it on Sunday with pick 252.  This year's Mr. Irrelevant will join a team with a center named Richie Incognito.

Don't you love football names?

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