We're just about at the midway point of the 2021 season, which means CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso rolled out his rookie grades for all first-round picks.
Trapasso assessed each rookie selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. He spoke highly of left tackle Christian Darrisaw, whom the Vikings drafted 23rd overall, giving him an "A-minus." The former Virginia Tech standout missed most of Minnesota's offseason training program, as well as the first four games of the season, so a lot of question marks remained when he made his first career start against the Panthers. So far, though, he's silenced any uncertainty. Trapasso wrote:
It was a long road for Darrisaw to see the field – a groin injury kept him off the field until Week 5. And he was worth the wait for the Vikings. Believe me. He's allowed just three quarterback pressures against the likes of Brian Burns and Randy Gregory on 183 pass-blocking snaps, and many of his wins have looked effortless, just like they did at Virginia Tech.
Darrisaw has experienced some problems on super-speedy outside rushes, but he's been ready for everything else. Maybe most importantly, Darrisaw has handled those pure power bull-rush situations, plays where most rookies have major problems.
Since the Vikings are playing the Ravens this weekend, let's also take a look at Trapasso's evaluation of Baltimore's first-round pick. The Ravens selected former Golden Gophers receiver Rashod Bateman 27th overall. Bateman received a "B-minus."
An injury kept Bateman on the shelf until Week 6, and the early returns have been encouraging, which is big news for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens passing offense. Before Baltimore's bye in Week 8, Bateman demonstrated his deceptive field-stretching skills with 80 yards on three grabs against the Bengals.
This grade could fluctuate quite a bit down the stretch of Bateman's rookie year, when he's bound to be a central part of what Baltimore tries to do through the air.
Ravens HC Harbaugh reflects on 'epic Ravens-Vikings snow game'
The Vikings and Ravens don't meet up often, but the last time the Vikings played on the road at Baltimore was quite memorable.
The teams faced off on Dec. 8, 2013, during an East Coast snowstorm. The teams combined for an incredible five touchdowns in the final 2:05 of the game, and Baltimore ultimately prevailed 29-26.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh spoke with Baltimore-area media members this week and was asked about his memories of that game. Todd Karpovich of Sports Illustrated recapped Harbaugh’s reflection.
"I remember [we were] in a dog fight," Harbaugh told reporters. "Leslie Frazier was the [Vikings Head Coach] – a good friend. It was a really good football game. I remember getting the lead with like two minutes left and thinking it was OK. Then, all of a sudden, the field looked like an ice rink. All of a sudden, our guys are sliding around [and] we couldn't tackle."
Harbaugh recalled a 41-yard touchdown by Vikings running back Toby Gerhart to give the Vikings a 19-15 lead with 1:27 left on the clock.
"Toby Gerhart, who played for my brother at Stanford, he hits a little draw up the middle," Harbaugh said. "I was like, 'Ah, it's a touchdown. They won.' You know what I mean? They're celebrating over there, and we have like 20 or 30 seconds left."
Not so fast, though. The game really was far from over at that point.
Jacoby Jones then ran the kickoff back 77 yards for a go-ahead Ravens touchdown.
And just as it appeared Baltimore was going to pull out an improbable victory, Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel threw a 79-yard pass to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with 45 seconds left to give the Vikings a 26-22 lead. The Ravens did not quit and finally sealed the win with the late score, capping the fifth touchdown in the final 2:05.
When asked whether he just watched the highlights, Harbaugh replied, "It's ingrained. It's ingrained in my mind, man."