Name: Mistral Raymond, which is kind of a name that seems like it should be in a Harry Potter movie. Or a Mortal Kombat game. Wasn't there a Mistral or something in MK? One of the 13 games which have been made since 1996? I don't know.
Potential Nicknames: Magic Mistral, Traveling Mistrals, Everyone Loves Mistral Raymond, Mister Mistral, Mistral Rainman, Mistral Ray-Man, Pistol Mistral, Mr. Foam Party and whatever else you can come up with in the comments.
Get to Know Him, Kindly: So I was all ready to savage this guy for hanging out with porn stars, being a weirdo on his Twitter account, and generally just being a sixth round pick until I started researching a little bit more about him and found out all of this:
Three years ago, his sister survived multiple gunshot wounds on the same night his family's home in Palmetto, Fla., was burned down by masked attackers who hurled Molotov cocktails through the windows while he was away at junior college in Iowa. Raymond said the assailants were targeting a cousin of his who lived next door and had the wrong house.
And just a few weeks ago, his pregnant half-sister was found dead in Bradenton, Fla., with authorities calling it a homicide..... Jesus Christ. The toughest thing I've had to put up with in the last 12 months finding street parking in a snow storm. Molotov cocktails in your house windows? My god. That registers about as realistically for me as fighting off dragons on a mountain of gold. Call me a douche (won't be the first time!), but frankly I'm glad I haven't had that shit to fight through in my life, and it makes Mistral's general chillness that much more amazing. I'd be going Hobo With a Shotgun on everyone if I were in his shoes. He's clearly the better man.
OK, but there is a prickish, basic football side to all of this, so how does he stack up in that regard? There are a couple of different scouting reports that cover Raymond and mention the obvious items: He's tall and lanky, played corner in college at times but is perhaps more suited for free safety in the NFL, played somewhere in Iowa as a JUCO for a while before walking on at USF, he was a defensive co-captain in 2010 and was a pretty good tackler in his last season, racking up 50+ tackles with 40+ of them being solo tackles. More than anything, that's what the Vikings need on this team are people who aren't afraid of hitting someone and can stop people in their tracks. Raymond seems to have potential to do this, but I wonder how he'll really stack up against the mega-receivers in the NFL like Calvin Johnson. I COULD see him develop nicely into a potential CB starter down the road if needed (more so than Chris Cook), but I worry about his bulk and strength taking on big fellas.
Loftiest Goals: Best case scenario here is that he outshines any of the shit smears we have currently on the roster at corner back or safety. At CB, Raymond could probably beat out (either through actual talent or potential) Asher Allen, Cook, Scherels and Sheppard, and at safety it's pretty much a shoe in that he's better than Tyrell Johnson. In year one, if Raymond can shore up special teams duty and see spot-time at as either a dime CB or prevent defense safety, I'd probably be impressed. Actually ... Raymond (outside of Ponder and Rudolph) is the other guy I actually feel most confident about being able to contribute to the team sooner than later, largely because of the weak ass quality of players at the positions he could play. So ... he's got that going for him, I guess.
Random Picture: Yeah, hard to make jokes about this guy now. This picture was just meme-worthy.
I'm not done watching the highlight video yet but I think if you had slow motion video of me eating a hamburger or taking a dump it would still seem cool.