Former Viking Corey Chavous was always a student of the game. In an era prior to DVD and the Internet providing game highlights in an instant, Chavous was amassing a treasure chest of game tape. In the VCR era, he had multiple units hooked up to tape as many college and pro games as were available to him.
His playing career is over, but Chavous has parlayed his love of watching game tape – “I admit it, I’m a sports geek,” he confessed – into a career as owner of DraftNasty.com, a draft website that ranks pro-quality talent in football, basketball and baseball. Given his history as a pro football player himself, Chavous is an insider when it comes to talent evaluation.
Early draft talk includes four quarterbacks that may be in play before and when the Vikings pick – Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker. It is a draft class loaded with intriguing prospects in the first couple of rounds, but Chavous pointed out something that could have plenty of teams wary about putting their future in the hands of a rookie quarterback … at least those expected to start immediately.
“The draft is going to go on as scheduled, but there’s a lot of things that are going to be up in the air when it happens,” Chavous said. “If there is a lockout/strike, whatever it will be called, there won’t be a chance for teams to work with these young quarterbacks. Once they’re drafted, they’re NFL players and won’t be able to report to their teams or sign contracts.”
As a result, Chavous said, the learning curve with a specific pro offense – no two are identical – is going to be made perilously long if the current labor impasse continues.
“There are going to be problems with these young guys,” Chavous said of the quarterback crop. “Even if a player isn’t signed, you still have the minicamps that they can be part of and the OTA programs that get them accustomed to what the offense does, the terminology, etc. If the lockout goes into training camp, it will only be worse. Players can learn the terminology and learn the plays, but there is no replacement for running plays and taking reps. If there is a delay in the season and everything gets winding up quickly in August, those guys will be coming in blind.”
Considering that Newton, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and national champion, comes from a simplistic offense that is a far cry from what he will be expected to do in the NFL, he could be the most impacted.
“There’s no questioning his athletic ability, but he’s going to need a lot of refinement,” Chavous said. “That will take time. The sooner he can get immersed in the system, the quicker it will come to him. It’s going to be a lot tougher if he can’t get signed and get in with his team.”
As it currently stands, many of the words being discussed behind the scenes are painting a dire picture of collective bargaining in the early months of 2011. The season officially ends Sunday when the Packers and Steelers meet in Super Bowl XLV. It may be the last game for longer than it is scheduled to be. If that’s the case, the timetable to play the 2011 season may be truncated and expedited. If that happens, teams that have drafted a rookie QB high in the first round – a clear sign of need – may have to be forewarned that the time frame for their young franchise player may have to be delayed.
“It’s hard enough for a rookie quarterback to step in right away and be a difference maker,” Chavous said. “Those guys have four months of absorbing the system and working with the coaches. If things don’t get settled before summer, these guys are going to have a few weeks to try to incorporate themselves. That’s going to be a problem. Teams better have a Plan B ready to go.”
In a defensively challenged Pro Bowl won by the NFC 55-41, Adrian Peterson again made his presence felt. He led all rushers with 14 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown that gave the NFC a 14-0 lead – which ballooned to 42-7 at halftime. Antoine Winfield had an interception and two tackles for the NFC squad.
Peterson became the all-time Pro Bowl record holder for rushing touchdowns, scoring the fourth Pro Bowl rushing TD of his career. He came into the game tied for the all-time lead with Houston’s Earl Campbell and Tampa Bay’s Mike Alstott, who each had three rushing TDs in their Pro Bowl careers.
It was fortunate that the Pro Bowl wasn’t potentially the last game for a long time. The AFC quarterbacks combined to throw five interceptions despite not being blitzed and a completion to Wes Welker turned into a fumble rip-out by DeAngelo Hall (the game’s MVP) for a touchdown by the NFC in its first-half blowout.
Word out of Reno (don’t ask our Nevada sources, because what we hear from Nevada stays in Nevada) is that the Vikings and Dolphins were the two teams that expressed the most interest in Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. While he didn’t have a great Senior Bowl game, he was led to believe that one of the two of those teams may be considering him in the second round.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.