Top two 2023 NFL draft prospects

By: Toby Martin-Kohls

With the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview, I’ll be taking a way-too-early look at the top two draft prospects for the 2023 draft.

This year’s draft was considered a poor class for quarterbacks by many experts and analysts. Only 1 QB was taken in the first round, which is rare in today’s pro game. QB is considered the most valuable position, so many are picked early.

In next year’s prospective draft class, two quarterbacks are expected to be the first two picks of the NFL draft. 

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Stroud is a sophomore QB for Ohio State, a football powerhouse that plays in the Big 10 conference. He is expected to go pro after this upcoming season. 

He was a 4-star prospect coming out of Rancho Cucamonga, CA in the class of 2020. He had a mesmerizing senior season throwing for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns in just 13 games under Coach Mark Verti. He was the 42nd best prospect in the class and had other offers from other major programs such as: Michigan, Georgia, Oregon, and USC. 

Stroud possesses all the intangibles NFL evaluators are looking for in a pro QB. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has praised his work ethic and professionalism. He is capable of making throws all over the field but struggled a small bit with accuracy his freshman year. 

Another thing to watch for is his injury history. Stroud suffered a separated joint in his throwing shoulder during the first week of the 2021 season. While this might be a small concern, QB is so valuable to NFL scouts that his talent should overrule his injury history in this case.

Stroud set an Ohio State and Rose Bowl single-game record with 573 passing yards in a come from behind victory over Utah and finished the season with 4,435 passing yards, along with 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions. 

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Young is a sophomore QB for Alabama, which is currently the best dynasty in college football. Like Stroud, he is expected to go pro after this upcoming season.

According to the 24/7 Sports Composite rankings, Young was a 5-star prospect and No. 2 nationally, coming out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He chose Alabama over offers from a variety of other big programs such as: USC, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, and Texas. 

Young won the Heisman Trophy for best QB in college football in 2021 and also won the Maxwell Award, given to the all-around most outstanding player. He earned the starting job after sitting behind, now pro QB, Mac Jones (New England Patriots). 

He set the Alabama single-season marks for passing yards with 4,872 and 47 touchdowns. Evaluators say he is a smart, athletic passer that has a great arm and has the intangibles. He served as team captain for Alabama last season. He has a natural feel for the pocket, has scrambling ability, and doesn’t make many mistakes. His leadership combined with his football knowledge is a great combination to get picked early, especially at a premium position.

The knock on Young will most likely be his size. He is not the size of a prototypical QB. He stands at 6’ 0” and 194lbs. However, NFL execs and scouts say his athleticism and competitiveness outshine this physical attribute. This size and combo have worked in the NFL before at a high level, with the likes of 9-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson and 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray.

It will be interesting to see how mock drafts change over the course of this next season, and which teams will pick these two talented signal-callers. 

Rams defeat the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI

By: Abby Altman

Image take from: Ben Liebenburg

On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Rams became the 2nd team in NFL history to become  Super Bowl champs in their home stadium. This rare feat has now been accomplished in consecutive years, last year being won by the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.

The Rams took an early advantage in the game, stopping the Bengals on 4th and 1 in their first drive, gaining excellent field position at their own 49 yard line. The Rams capitalized with a 17 yard bullet from Matthew Stafford to Odell Beckham Jr. in the end zone.

The Bengals responded with a field goal drive, propelled by Ja’marr Chase’s 30 yard catch at the 15. Evan McPherson’s kick was good from 29 yards, to close out the 1st quarter Rams 7, Bengals 3. 

The start of the 2nd quarter began with a Rams touchdown to Cooper Kupp. The extra point was fumbled by Rams placeholder John Hekker, and intercepted by the Bengals, holding the score 13-3. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Bengals charged downfield, capping off their drive with a touchdown pass to Tee Higgins, made by the Bengals RB Joe Mixon.

2 minutes into the Rams drive, Stafford attempted a short pass to Odell Beckham Jr., which resulted in an incomplete pass, and Beckham on the ground with a non contact ACL tear. He walked off the field with assistance, and was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game.

 The Rams were unable to score, ending their drive with an Interception in the endzone just before the 2 minute warning. The Bengals, unable to score, headed into the locker room with a score of Rams 13, Bengals 10.

The Bengals came out of halftime fired up. It took just 12 seconds for the Bengals to take their first lead of the game, on a 40 yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins. The Bengals almost immediately got the ball back, on an interception by Chidobe Awuzie, intended for WR Ben Skowronek, who was in the game replacing OBJ. The interception turned into a Bengals 38 yard field goal by McPherson, putting the Bengals up by 7 in the 3rd quarter.

The 4th quarter started with the Bengals up by 4. With 12 minutes left in the game, Joe Burrow was sacked, and went down with an apparent knee injury. Burrow limped off the field, but declined medical attention. Burrow said he wasn’t coming out of the Super Bowl.

The 4th quarter remained scoreless until there was just 1:25 left on the clock, when Stafford connected with Kupp for the touchdown, putting the Rams up by 3. With 45 seconds left in the game, on 4th and 1, Joe Burrow was sacked, ending the game Rams 23, Bengals 20.

Joe Burrow was sacked 7 times in this game, 5 more times than Stafford, putting a heavy emphasis on the lack of a Bengals offensive line.

Burrow went 22/33 on Sunday, with just 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. Ja’marr Chase had 5 receptions for 89 yards, but was not able to land any of them in the end zone.

Stafford went 26/40, with 3 touchdowns, along with 2 interceptions. Cooper Kupp had 8 receptions for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kupp was named Super Bowl LVI MVP.

Joe “Brrr” Burrow & Cincinnati Bengal’s phenomenal season

By: Salman Said

Ja’Marr Chase (1) Celebrating after a touchdown
with the trendy dance ‘Griddy.’
Image taken from: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/
national/story/2021-11-24/bengals-seek-sweep-of-steelers-momentum-in-playoff-race

Joe “Brrr” Burrow has had an outstanding postseason this year. His path to the Super Bowl has been remarkable, from defeating the Las Vegas Raiders to battling to remain alive against the AFC South’s top seed, Tennessee Titans. Joe Burrow led his team to its first AFC North title since 1988.

During the AFC Championship game, the Kansas City Chiefs, the team lead by 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes, seemed invincible. DraftKing, the popular sports betting app, had the Kansas City Chiefs as the favorites to win by a large margin, and over 58% of all game bets were on the Chiefs to win.

The game appeared to be over before it even started, and the odds against the Bengals further grew when the Chiefs took a commanding 21-3 lead in the second quarter. During halftime, though, something sparked in the now-nicknamed Joe “Brrr” Burrow.

In what some might say was his greatest performance, Joe threw 2 touchdowns in the second half and battled through the pressure. He then led his Bengals to an upset win in overtime against the Chiefs.

Joe has been dubbed Joe “Brrr” Burrow for wearing a fur coat and a brand new JP9 diamond pendant to the stadium for AFC Championship game. When questioned if the diamonds were real, Joe said, “They’re definitely real. I think I make too much money to have fake ones.” His moniker “Brrr” is derived from the new slang term “ice”, which means diamonds. His diamonds are “icy”, therefore the onomatopoeia “Brrr” has a double-meaning to it, as it also refers to his “cool” demeanor when playing.

Joe’s incredible postseason will come to a storybook ending on Sunday, February 13th. He’ll be facing the 2019 Super Bowl runner-ups, and NFC West first seed, LA Rams in this now, so-called, legendary Super Bowl match-up. The star-studded Rams, led by Matthew Stafford, and ostracized wide-receiver Odel Beckham Jr, will be going against Joe “Brrr” Burrow and Super-Star Rookie, Ja’Marr Chase.

Kellen Mond’s future with the Vikings

Image taken from: Theathletic.com

By: Abby Altman

With a 10-37 loss to the Packers in week 17, the Minnesota Vikings have been officially eliminated from playoff contention. This left many fans looking ahead to week 18, hoping to see a potential look into the Vikings future, through rookie QB Kellen Mond.  

Mond was a 3rd round draft pick out of Texas A&M, where he had a 59% completion rate, 71 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions through 4 years. Mond went 28/51 with 1 interception this preseason. 

Although many fans wanted to see Mond start in week 17, with Kirk Cousins under COVID protocols, Sean Mannion started, and Mond only saw 1 drive in the 4th quarter. Mond went 2/3 for just 5 yards. With no stakes in week 18, fans are looking to see Mond start against Chicago, but Zimmer shut down the idea quickly.

“Not particularly,” Zimmer told reporters when asked whether he wanted to “Get a look at Mond,” against the Bears. 

“Why not?”

“I see him every day,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer was recently fired from his head coaching position, along with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. With Spielman gone, current QB Kirk Cousins’ future is up in the air. Spielman was instrumental in signing Cousins to a massive guaranteed contract, practically eliminating Minnesota’s cap space. 

Mond is officially listed as the Vikings third string quarterback, behind Sean Mannion as backup. Mannion has been in the league for 7 years, recording just 3 starts with 1 touchdown and no wins. Many fans are looking for Mond to see some more playing time when appropriate, which could be possible under the team’s future management. 

Kellen Mond is a big quarterback, with a strong arm. Athletically speaking, he is close to the opposite of Kirk Cousins. He is quick in the pocket and can make big plays with his legs, along with a great ability to sense the pass rush. 

Mond’s accuracy is one thing that could be keeping him off the field this season. In college, Mond only completed 59% of his passes, and 27 interceptions over his 4 seasons in Texas. Mond likes to take erratic, long passes downfield to show his arm strength, which leads to many potential risk factors. 

The Vikings offseason will be interesting in many ways, especially in the quarterback hunt, and the future of Kellen Mond. 

The Vikings try to keep their playoff hopes alive on Thursday Night Football

By: Abby Altman

Image taken from: Bostonglobe.com

Close games that come down to the wire are something the Vikings know very well. It’s also something the team would be glad to see go, just for one week. The Vikings almost blew Pittsburg out of the water on Thursday, leading 23-0 at the half. Cook had 14 carries for 2 touchdowns and 153 yards in the first half alone, despite playing with a dislocated shoulder.

Jefferson began the Vikings first half scoring drive on a 14 yard touchdown, followed by a 29 yard touchdown by Dalvin Cook the next drive. With less than 3 minutes in the half, Cook stretched the lead to 23 with a 7 yard touchdown.

The Vikings defense also held Pittsburgh to just 66 yards on 26 plays, and got close to Roethlisberger countless times, recording 4 sacks.

The Vikings scored twice again in the third quarter, making the score 29-0 with just over a quarter to go. Then the old Vikings returned.

Pittsburgh’s first score of the game was on Najee Harris’s 3 yard touchdown with just over 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Less than 3 minutes later, Pittsburgh scored again after an interception thrown by Kirk Cousins.

The Vikings went 3 and out, and the Steelers quickly put up yet another unanswered touchdown, making the score 29-20.

Minnesota did not give up easily. The offense responded to the comeback with a 62 yard catch and run by KJ Osborn, giving the Vikings a 16 point lead. The Steelers countered with a 15 yard touchdown completed with a 2 pt conversion, making it a 36-28 ball game.

Down by 8, with seconds left on the clock, Rothlisburger fired to Pat Freiermuth in the end zone hoping that with the touchdown, and a 2 pt conversion, they’d be able to force OT. Vikings safety Harrison Smith was able to knock the ball out of Freiermuth’s hands on the try, alongside Xavier Woods ending that hope.

“We keep asking ourselves why we keep putting ourselves in this position”, said Cook. “That’s been us all year. Living and dying by that last drive. We’ve got to figure it out.”

The Vikings held the game 36-28, to keep their playoff hopes alive, although far in the distance. Minnesota now plays Chicago, the LA Rams, Green Bay, and Chicago again. Losing more than 1 game in this final stretch will likely put their playoff hopes to rest.

Vikings 49ers

Image taken from: Dailynorseman.com

By: Abby Altman

The Vikings and the 49ers faced off in a game with the playoffs on the line

The Vikings and 49ers both started week 12 with matching 5-5 records, both looking to sneak their way into a wildcard spot. 

The 49ers, with the win, have now won 3 in a row, putting their early season struggles behind them, for now. The Vikings, coming off a win from the 9-3 Packers, came up short in a highly entertaining game. 

49ers defensive end Nick Bosa said, “We’re all excited to be back in the mix and have the season in our control.” 

This matchup was fast moving, with 4 touchdowns in the 1st half, and 6 scores in the 3rd quarter alone, propelled by Kene Nwangwu’s 99 yard kickoff return. This is Nwangwu’s 2nd kickoff return for a touchdown this season. 

With 18 seconds left in the first half, the 49ers ended an 87 yard drive with a touchdown pass, tying the game. The Vikings are the team with the most points allowed, in the final 2 minutes, of the first half, since 2000. The Vikings have given up 66 points in the last 2 minutes, of the first half, this season. 

Late in the 3rd quarter, the 49ers were gifted a turnover in Vikings’ territory when Dalvin Cook fumbled the ball after going down with a shoulder injury. Cook left the game and had an MRI on Monday. Coach Zimmer is not stating what exactly the MRI showed. Cook has already been playing with a torn labrum, and he is now day to day, with his next week status unknown. Anthony Barr also left the game in the 3rd quarter with a hamstring injury. 

The 49ers did just enough to come away with a win over Minnesota, with a game saving 4th down stop on the goal line in the 4th quarter. 

The Vikings played short of what we’ve seen them do earlier this season. The defense allowed 208 yards rushing on 39 carries, allowing the 49ers run game to dominate the field. “They came with it,” said Vikings linebacker Erick Kendricks. “We knew that their run game was really good. Very complex, very confusing. They have a lot of people to block and open up for it. It was about eliminating that and we didn’t do it.”

The Vikings offense had only 67 rushing yards, and 262 receiving yards, with Cousins completing 20/32 with 238 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, ending his streak of 212 straight passes without an interception. Thielen had 2 receiving touchdowns, and Mattison rushed for 1. 

The Vikings schedule is easing up for the next 3 weeks with matchups against Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. Hopefully, 3 wins straight will help the Vikings find their way into a wildcard spot, potentially alongside San Francisco. 

Note: Since the writing of this article, the Vikings lost to the winless Lions. It is this writer’s opinion that the Vikings tend to play down to their competition, and it showed against Detroit.

Is Mike Zimmer the problem in Minnesota?

By: Abby Altman

Image taken from: profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

To put it simply, yes. The Vikings are sitting rather uncomfortably at 3-3, 6 weeks into the NFL season. The team is loaded both on offense and defense, and aside from a questionable kicker, should have no reason to not be above .500. 

Last season, the Vikings went a disappointing 7-9. Most of the blame for this record was placed on the shoulders of Kirk Cousins, which is proving itself false this season. 

Cousins has a 69% completion rate through 6 games this season, averaging 294 yards per game. His leadership has soared this year, looking more connected to everyone except his coaches. 

The Minnesota Vikings should not have 3 losses. Many key players are leading the team to impressive stats, that should be helping the team soar to potentially a 5-1 record. The wide receiver trio, Thielen, Jefferson, and Osborn, have combined for 1,200 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. On the rushing side of things, Cook and Mattison have filled in nicely for each other, with Cook having 366 yards in 4 games, and Mattison with 225 yards in the 2 games Cook did not play. 

On defense, things are looking much better than recent years. Notable stars this season have been Erik Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, and Everson Griffin. These starters have a combined 89 tackles and 10 sacks. 

Mike Zimmer is a defensive coach. He’s been defensive coordinator for the Bengals, Falcons, and Cowboys in his years in the NFL. He’s been head coach for the Vikings since 2014, with a fairly decent track record. Since Mike Zimmer’s reign began back in 2014, the Vikings have gone 67-50, which puts them at .572. 

Previous seasons, including one of the most successful seasons for the Vikings in recent years, have been partially led by former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski is currently head coach for the Cleveland Browns, who are 4-3, with the Vikings being one of their wins. Stefanski had been replaced by Gary Kubiak at OC. Kubiak left at the end of last year, and his sone Clint is now OC. This is not helping to make better play calls. He and Zimmer have been major problems, especially against Cleveland and Detroit this year. 

If you watch this season carefully, you can tell that Zimmer doesn’t know how to properly run an offense. He is far too conservative when it comes to moving the ball, which has resulted many times in bringing out the punting or kicking squad, which doesn’t end well a lot of the time, but Minnesota kickers are another story. 

Mike Zimmer doesn’t manage his team correctly, and plays too conservatively. In the NFL, you need to play to win. Zimmer is just trying not to lose. Can he put more trust in his team for these next 10 games to put his team in position to make the playoffs? That remains to be seen, but as of right now, Mike Zimmer is the problem in Minnesota. 

Sports schedule for 10/25 – 10/30

MONDAYDATE:  OCTOBER 25TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
    
TUESDAYDATE: OCTOBER 26TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
7:00pm Volleyball vs. South St. PaulHOME
7:00pm5:00pm / 8:45pmFootball vs. Harding/Humboldtat Harding High School
WEDNESDAYDATE: OCTOBER 27TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
    
THURSDAYDATE: OCTOBER 28TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
Girls – 3:30pm Boys – 4:15pm Boys / Girls Cross Country Sectionsat Valleywood Golf Course
7:00pm Volleyball Section SemifinalsHOME
FRIDAYDATE: OCTOBER 29TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
    
SATURDAYDATE:  OCTOBER 30TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
3:00pm Football Section SemifinalsTBD

Sports schedule for: 10/18-10/22

MONDAYDATE:  OCTOBER 18TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
5:30pm4:30pm / 8:45pmJV Football vs. North St. PaulPolar Field
5:30pm / 7:00pm4:30pm / 8:30pmJV/Varsity Volleyball vs. Como Parkat Como Park High School
TUESDAYDATE: OCTOBER 19TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm Boys / Girls Cross Country Conference ChampionshipHOME
WEDNESDAYDATE: OCTOBER 20TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
5:30pm / 5:30pm 7:00pm C-Squad / JV / Varsity Volleyball vs. CentralHOME
7:00pm5:00pm / 8:45pmFootball vs. St. Croix Lutheranat St. Croix Lutheran
THURSDAYDATE: OCTOBER 21ST
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
    
FRIDAYDATE: OCTOBER 22ND
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
    
SATURDAYDATE:  OCTOBER 23RD
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
    

Minnesota Vikings bounce back against Seattle

By: Abby Altman

Image taken from: Image taken from seahawkswire.usatoday.com

The atmosphere at US Bank Stadium coming into week 3 might have been exactly what the team needed. The stands were packed with purple, and the Skol chant was seemingly louder than ever. The stadium even had fake snow coming down to represent “The Team of the North.” 

Coming into this game the Vikings were 0-2, playing against the 1-1 Seahawks. Prior to this game, the Vikings hadn’t hosted the Seahawks in Minnesota since 2016, and hadn’t beaten them since 2009. 

Kirk Cousins, once again played at an MVP caliber level, going 30/38, with 323 yards and 3 touchdowns, and played his 3rd consecutive game with no turnovers. Even without star running back Dalvin Cook, the offense was propelled by backup Alexander Mattison, who picked up 112 rushing yards and 171 total yards. The offensive line looked stronger than it has in several years. 

“It’s the best offensive performance that I’ve seen in the eight years that I’ve been here,” coach Mike Zimmer said.

The first 2 weeks this season, the Vikings receiving core was fairly quiet. Sophomore WR Justin Jefferson ended his rookie year blazing, and was a top candidate for rookie of the year. He hadn’t done much this season, but after this week’s stats, we can see Jefferson is back. Justin had 11 targets, 118 receiving yards, and a touchdown, along with an impressive catch and 28 yard run. 

Another good thing to see is sophomore WR KJ Osborn is stepping up to make the Vikings WR core a very dangerous trio. Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn, all combined for 194 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns this week. 

The defense played just slightly above average in the first half, but shut down the Seattle offense in the second half. The Vikings allowed the Seahawks offense 389 yards, 2 touchdowns and a field goal. The defensive line was able to get to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson twice, with Everson Griffen and Eric Kendricks both bringing in a sack. 

Kicker Greg Joseph redeemed himself in this comeback after missing a game winning kick in week 2. Joseph went 6/6 with 3 field goals for 44, 33 and 20 yards, and 3 PATs. 

In a post game interview coach Mike Zimmer said he told the team “We work so hard, we prepare so hard, we deserve to win.” 

The Vikings hope to keep this streak going and improve to 2-2 next week, at home against Cleveland. 

*Note: Since the writing of this article, the Vikings have gone 1-1 in the two games they’ve played.