EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Winter Park was filled with desperation and excitement this weekend.
From the first-round draft picks to guys who are just grasping at the possibility of signing with a team, an NFL rookie knows as well as anyone that first impressions only happen once.
"You see a guy with the right measurables, size-wise, and things like that and then he flashes at you a few times and gets better over the course of the weekend, those are the kinds of guys that we are really looking for," said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings first-round selections dominated much of the conversation and with good reason.
The Vikings selected linebacker Anthony Barr at No. 9 and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at No. 32. The top two picks are among seven first-rounders to join the Vikings over the last three years.
As for Bridgewater, Zimmer said he was impressed with his work early on.
"He's a really nice kid and he's catching on. I like how hard he's been studying and working and how good he wants to be. A lot of this stuff is different for him now too – the terminology and the play calls – and Scott (Turner) is coaching the heck out of him," Zimmer said.
"I think I did pretty good, from a mental and physical standpoint," Bridgewater said. "The guys came out … the wide receivers did a great job of executing the plays, running great routes and catching the football."
Zimmer said he that he Bridgewater will get some first-team reps during the Vikings' Organized Team Activities, the first of which will be held at the end of May. But that doesn't mean Bridgewater is the No. 1 guy, at least not yet. And the same goes for other rookies.
"They will start at the bottom (of the depth chart)," Zimmer said. "It doesn't mean they will end there in the bottom. You've got to line them up somewhere and so they'll start down there and we will go from there. You guys are more worried about the depth chart than I am. I'll worry about it when we get in September."
Zimmer seems to care more about competition, something he has preached since he arrived in Minnesota. He said it's too early to make decisions on players who have yet to practice in full pads.
Much has been made of Barr's switch from offense to defense while at UCLA. There's some raw athleticism there, but the question is how quickly he will pick up the fundamentals he will need to succeed at the highest level of competition.
"I'm playing a little more off of the ball, using my eyes a little better," Barr said. "Key guards and key fullbacks and stuff like that. That is stuff I'm still picking up."
"We just lined up and ran some plays and he played behind the line of scrimmage some and we didn't blitz him any, just learning coverage and learning run responsibilities and where to be," said Zimmer. "Actually, he did that really, really well because I watched him a lot. I don't think it's going to be an issue whatsoever."
For now, Zimmer's job and the job of his coaching staff is to feed as much information into the minds of this group of young football players. For at least three rookies, school schedules are creating a bit of a roadblock when it comes to learning football.
Barr, Scott Chrichton, and David Yankey will leave after this weekend's rookie minicamp and due to restrictions, they will miss at least the first OTA. That's because their universities are on a quarter system. They are not eligible to practice until their school year is over.
"We can't work them on the field, but we can go out and see them and spend a little time with them," Zimmer said. "Their coaches will go out there and spend some time with them, watch tape with them, talk to them about those things and we'll give them a list of things after this weekend what we think they need to improve on in order to catch up to these guys."
Zimmer said expectations will be clear when they leave Winter Park. They will be set up with a weight program and film study -- one might call it NFL rookie homework after a weekend cram session.