Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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Only a few days remain until the 2015 NFL Draft, so looking ahead to the 2016 free agency situation seems incredibly far away. It’s worth being aware of, however, because the Vikings have 23 players entering the final year of their contract this season.

On top of those 23, keep this in mind: 2012 first-round pick Harrison Smith has a fifth-year option in his contract, which gives the Vikings another 16 games to make any long-term decisions. According to ESPN, GM Rick Spielman has until May 3 to decide on the extra year. It seems safe to say at this point, however, that Spielman will go to lengths to keep Smith in purple, and it could be costly. The safety’s current deal is worth $7.14 million.

There will be a lot of decisions to be made regarding re-signing, restructuring, or saying “good-bye” to lots of roster members, so let’s see who will be free agents prior to the 2016 season:




*will be a restricted free agent

Let’s take a look at a few of the more notable players on this list…

Damarious Randall Scouting Report

[NOTE FROM BRETT: Jackson McIntire is back at it again with another thorough scouting report. This time, Jackson takes a closer look at Arizona State safety Damarious Randall. Jackson recently contributed a stellar scouting report of UConn cornerback Byron Jones and can be followed on the Twitter machine @jackmack28.]

Damarious Randall is one of those players who started to ascend up draft boards after a stellar combine forced scouts and analysts alike to go back and take another look at his tape. After watching a few of his games, I am thoroughly impressed with Randall as a player. Playing in the Pac-12, Randall has faced plenty of high-octane passing offenses throughout his career at Arizona State and has shown potential worthy of a late first round pick on Thursday. In this article, I will list Randall’s combine measurements and drill results, break down his tape, give a pro-player comparison, and explain his fit with the Vikings if they decide to pull the trigger.

Rick Spielman

[NOTE FROM BRETT: At the beginning of April, we posted an article by Ryan Boser that detailed the draft tendencies of Rick Spielman. Ryan is back just a few days before the 2015 draft begins to emulate Spielman’s draft habits through a mock draft. Ryan contributes at a number of different places and is a fantasy football guru with some great draft takes. You should definitely follow him on Twitter and check out his blog, Out of My League.]

Hi, I’m Ryan. My name is in the byline, but this is not my mock draft. Let me explain…

Three weeks ago, I did an eight-year study of Rick Spielman’s draft tendencies with the Vikings. You should probably check it out, because this mock is based solely on the findings of that study, and I’ll be referencing it throughout. Again, these aren’t my picks. This is essentially an automated Spielman simulation, so please direct your complaints to

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Our “Sleeper Sunday” series officially ends tonight, as the NFL Draft will have come and gone by this time next week. Adam, Carl, and myself have spent weeks highlighting some of this year’s hidden gems; players the Vikings could potentially draft in the fifth, sixth, or seventh round.

On Thursday night, we’ll see players like Jameis Winston and Leonard Williams selected in the top-10, and late-risers like BYU’s Byron Jones make their way into the bottom of the first round. To see if our profiled players end up on an NFL roster, you’ll need to tune in on Saturday night (or follow our live blog, manned by yours truly!).

The final entry is Texas Southern’s Tray Walker, a cornerback molded to succeed in Mike Zimmer’s secondary.

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Offensive linemen, in my experience, are some of the hardest position to predict when it comes to which round or day they will be drafted. Look no further than Vikings lineman Antonio Richardson for an example of how different projections can be from reality.

Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Havenstein could potentially go as high as the third round, especially if Arif Hasan’s consensus Big Board is any indication (he’s #100), but I also see him as a guy that potentially falls well into Day Three.

Most people are plenty familiar with Wisconsin’s dominant run game last season, with Melvin Gordon stealing all of the hype and accolades as the benefiting running back. Gordon is certainly deserving of his status among the best backs in this year’s class, but the offensive line that paved his way every Saturday should not be ignored, including Havenstein.

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