Every roster has at least a few of them. You know, the hot shot college player that somehow hasn’t been able to make anywhere near the impact at the professional level. The can’t miss kid who somehow managed to.
He’s like the really, really smart kid who has a learning disability. He just can’t seem to bridge the gap between brilliance and mediocrity. Very few understand all the variables and nuances that hold them back. Is he lazy or timid ? Have we overestimated his abilities ? Are we pushing too hard ? Etc.
Maybe it’s motivation or rather a lack of it. Maybe he’s just misunderstood, or maybe, just maybe he’s signed his contract and really doesn’t care about anything except the money. It’s hard to motivate someone who doesn’t care. You’ve probably heard the psychological jargon about how no one can help another person, that those types of insight can only come from within. Blah, Blah, Blah.
While any and all of the above may well be true, how many of us really care ? We just want to win, Baby ! Don’t bother me with the problems of young multimillionaires who have been blessed so richly by their physical gifts because for but a slip of genetic coding they themselves would be like the rest of us. Too busy sweating out a living, balancing diaper changes and little league. Praying for just enough of life’s bountiful goodness to keep food on the table and maybe put a tiny bit away for the kids college tuition. Never allowing ourselves more then just a fleeting whimsy of the type of life enjoyed by NFL players. Who but for the grace of some divine force could themselves to be the unfortunate victim of noncoordination or some other malady of the flesh. One of us, living out his aspirations of youth vicariously through the eyes of others. Blah, Blah, Blah.
Anyway, the Vikings are like any other professional team. We have had our share of overachievers such as undrafted free agent John Randle, or late round pick Matt Birk. I’m sure you can fill in your on favorite. Superstars are not always first rounders. Some are late bloomers, etc.
But today I want to focus on a few Vikings that came to the team with great potential but for whatever reason, they haven’t reached that mythical undefined term called “Potential”.
1. Marcus McCauley – Although he was projected as a first round pick, McCauley somehow slid to the Vikings in round 3. He came out of Fresno State with pro bowl potential. A shut down corner with playmaking ability.. “ Physical, tough and competitive “ according to Pro Football weekly. The Sporting News compared him to Charles Woodson, and called him “ an Amazing talent “. He was the best cornerback in the country in his junior year, but his senior season was a disappointment. What happened to this guy ? He has speed and great physical tools. But he seems so timid, almost afraid to be successful in a sort of dysfunctional way.. If he ever hits his potential, the Vikings will have a very special player indeed. He is the poster child for underachievement, and he is running out of chances. I really, really hope this kid can stick long enough to overcome whatever it is that holds him back from being the incredible player he could and should be.
2. Bryant McKinnie – There are those who would argue with McKennie being among those on this list. He is a very good Left tackle. Maybe one of the 8-10 best in the league. But somehow, I just don’t think this guy is as great as he could be. When he was drafted out of the University of Miami he had given up one sack in his college career. 1 Sack !!! All-world potential. But his penchant for finding trouble has probably had a negative effect on his development. He has never been to the pro bowl. A man of his proportions and abilities cannot have reached his pinnacle without being a pro bowler. He has Jordan Gross, Tony Boselli ability.
3. Chad Greenway – Excellent player, on the verge of greatness. He has Brian Urlacher skills. OK, that’s saying a lot, but I just love this guys ability to chase down plays from sideline to sideline. He doesn’t play with Urlacher’s mean streak, but he has coverage skills, and has very good pass rush abilities. He was drafted out of Iowa State behind Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and his career will probably always be compared with him. Hawk has the name, and gets the most recognition, but Greenwell is the better player. He’s arguably the best linebacker in the NFC North already, and continues to improve from season to season.. He’s a game changer and playmaker who is becoming a real “Beast” at the position.
4. Steve Hutchinson – What am I saying ? He’s already the best in the game !!!
5. Tyrell Johnson – This guys going to be good. Really Good! He’s my choice for most surprising impact player for 09. Last year he mostly sat and learned the position behind Darren Sharper. He takes over at safety this year and the Vikings are confident that the transition will be seamless.
6. John Sullivan – The Vikings Love this guy ! I wish I was as confident as they are. But the success of the offensive line depends a great deal on Sullivan’s ability to replace Pro Bowl Center Matt Birk. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s smart. It is easy to draw comparisons between the late round pick out of Notre Dame and a young Birk.
7. Phil Loadholt – It may take a while, but the behemoth RT from Oklahoma should become a fixture for the next ten years and develop into a remarkable run blocker for Adrian Peterson.
8. Kenechi Udeze – The first round pick in 04 out of USC. Just making the team is good enough for me for this courageous leukemia survivor.. Udeze actually “Get’s it” and seems genuinely appreciative for every blessing he has. The cream of the NFL integrity crop, it’s really hard not to pull for this guy or to bet against him !