Scout's Notebook: WR Bernard Berrian

The Vikings got the player they most coveted in free agency this offseason in landing ex-Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Here's an in-depth look at what one of the newest additions has to offer…

#87, Bernard Berrian, WR
(6001, 185, 4.41-4.55) Fresno State

Notes:  Born 12/17/80.  Parents are Joseph and Sallie Berrian.  Caught 53 passes for 1,276 yards and 16 TDs as a senior to help lead Atwater (Calif.) High School to a 13-1 record, including a 168-yard performance in the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game against Elk Grove.  Also returned kickoffs and punts at AHS.  Chosen as the Modesto Bee Player-of-the-Year in 1998.  Named to the Merced Sun-Star all-area team and was also a member of the Modesto Bee's all-district team.  Cal High all-Northern California team member.  His brother, Tony, ran track for Arizona State.  Resides in Winton, California.

College:  Played in 9 games as a backup in 1999, catching 6 passes for 58 yards and one touchdown.  Became a starter in 2000, catching 43 passes for 705 yards (16.4 avg.) and 6 touchdowns; also returned 10 kickoffs for 175 yards (17.5 avg.) and 15 punts for 158 yards (10.5 avg.) and a touchdown.  Missed most of two games with a sprained ankle.  All-American first-team selection as an all-purpose back by The NFL Draft Report and the American Football Coaches Association…All-Western Athletic Conference first-team pick as a receiver and returner in 2001 as he set a conference season-record with 2,776 all-purpose yards, breaking the old mark of 2,198 yards by LaDainian (Chargers) Tomlinson of Texas Christian in 2000; caught 85 passes for 1,364 yards (16.0 avg) and 13 touchdowns.  Fractured his right tibial sesimoid bone during the 2001 season (11/15), but did not miss any games, playing with the injury until undergoing surgery to remove the bone in January, 2002.  Entered his senior campaign (2002) as a Playboy preseason All-American and candidate for Biletnikoff Award honors (nation’s top receiver), but he saw his season come to an end in the season opener vs. Wisconsin when he suffered a second degree right knee medial collateral ligament tear while returning a punt.  Made a pair of catches for 54 yards (54-yarder was good for a touch-down) and had a 1-yard punt return before leaving the game.  Was bothered by a pulled groin muscle during spring drills but returned in 2003 to start every game at flanker, catching 63 passes for 668 yards (10.6 avg.) and 4 TDs while rushing 13 times for 171 yards (13.2 avg.) and 2 touchdowns.  Also returned 42 punts for 429 yards (10.2 avg.) and one TD, and returned 26 kickoffs for 631 yards (24.3 avg.).

Three-year starter at Fresno State (1999-2003), he finished his career with 199 receptions for 2,849 yards and 25 TDs while starting 40-of-49 games, ranking 2nd in school history in career catches, 5th in career yards and tied for 1st in TD catches.  Tied for 1st in school history for career KRs (68), 3rd all-time in KR yards (1,571) with 1 TD, and holds school record for PRs (99) and PR yards (1,144) with 3 TDs.  Finished with school-record 5,828 career all-purpose yards.  Majored in communications.

Pre-Draft measurables:  6010, 183 pounds; 1.59 10-yard dash, 2.66 20-yard dash, 4.44-4.58 40-yard dash, 4.12 20-yard shuttle, 7.34 three-cone drill; 39-inch vertical jump, 10’-9” broad jump.  Berrian had also run as fast as 4.41 in campus testing before his knee injury and recorded a 305-pound bench press, 405-pound squat, 280-pound power clean and 195-pound snatch.  He measured 30 ½-inch arm length and 9 ½-inch hands and is ambidextrous.

Pro:  Entered the NFL as a third-round draft choice (No. 78 overall) by theBernard Berrian Chicago Bears in 2004.  Caught 15 passes for 225 and 2 touchdowns as a rookie (2004).  Played in 11 games, starting 2, and finished with 13 catches for 246 yards in 2005.  Started 14-of-15 games in 2006; caught 51 passes for 775 yards (15.2 avg.) and 6 touchdowns.  Four of his six TDs were 34 yards or longer.  Had his most productive season thus far last year with 71 receptions for 951 yards (13.4 avg.) and 5 touchdowns.  Became an unrestricted free agent following the 2007 season.

Berrian signed a six-year deal with the Vikings, receiving a $5 million signing bonus and workout bonuses of $100,000 each season.  He will earn roster bonuses of $8 million in 2008 and $3 million in 2009.  He will earn base salaries of $605,000 (2008), $2.395 million (2009), $3.7 million (2010), $3.9 million (2011), $6.9 million (2012) and $7.9 million (2013).

Positives:  Solid downfield receiving threat with nice height, reach and hands.  Shows quick feet, quickness and effective hand use to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage.  Good route runner against man coverage or recognizing zone defenses and finding open areas.  Accelerates quickly into and out of his cuts.  Very good field awareness.  Can pluck the ball at its highest point and shows outstanding concentration at times.  Good deep threat; can run by defenders, tracks the ball well and adjusts to and goes up for the ball nicely.  Very good eye-hand coordination and has a knack for reacting to the ball naturally.  Stronger than he looks.  Very effective runner after the catch with good quickness, acceleration and the ability to make the first tackler miss in the open field.  Plays well in the clutch and plays with passion.  Can return punts and kickoffs.

Negatives:  Narrow build and there are concerns about his durability.  Does too much body-catching at times, occasionally gets lackadaisical with his technique and will drop some easily catchable passes.  Willing to block but is not particularly strong in that regard.

Summary:  May or may not be a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but provides the Vikings with a proven, reliable, productive downfield receiving threat who can make big plays, stretch the field and run after the catch.

What they said: 

“Bernard brings out the speed element to our passing offense, a vertical threat down the field, and a guy that can make plays down the field.  He's not overly big as a receiver -- he's tall, but he's a little slender [6-1, 185 pounds] -- but he is excellent into and out of his breaks, has very good courage on catching slants and things like that, and he has some run-after-catch ability.  So, as we've pieced this thing together, this was the key piece that we wanted to put in place.”  - Rick Spielman, Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel

“We were just missing syncing up the passing game, and obviously good players help you to improve that.”  - Vikings coach Brad Childress at introductory press conference

“We have the running game where we want, and you don't want to be one-dimensional in this league because (opposing defenses) can gang up on you, whether you're only passing it or running it, so this will help us average that out.”  - Childress

“I think the key part they were missing was a receiver out there to take some pressure off of that running game.  If you get both of those parts added in there, it's hard to stop.  Which one you are going to choose?  It's hard to stop.  Pick your poison is basically what is going on.”  - Berrian

“I don't think I would have signed here if I didn't see that within the organization.  I definitely see this team being a playoff team and definitely making a run at the Super Bowl. I mean, they were pretty close last year.  The Giants, for instance.  They blew the Giants out of the water when they played them, so you definitely see the positives in coming to a team like this.”  - Berrian

“Playing in that offense, there were quarterback changes and injuries; a lot of things go into his numbers and production.  You look at that based on production of the offense, and he made the most of a lot of his opportunities.  I'm very happy Bernard's coming.  He's a great guy, a great teammate and he's going to give us a different dynamic on offense.  He's a guy who can get deep and defenses have to respect what he can do.”  - Bobby Wade, Vikings receiver

“Whenever we played him, he always made big plays, and he always found ways to get open.  Hopefully, we can connect.  He's shown in the past couple of years what he can do.  He's going to make you play us straight.  You can't cheat to the line when you've got a guy with his kind of speed that can make you pay.  I look forward to getting out on the field with all of our receivers and getting to work again.”  - Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson

“The Bears are a tremendous organization, but the Vikings did a tremendous job of promoting their organization and what Bernard's role would be.”  - Drew Rosenhaus, Berrian’s agent

Other links:  Website | Bears Bio | | College Bio

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