Thursday, November 26, 2015

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Week 5 Green Bay 2014 by Matt Engstrom
Week 5 Green Bay 2014 by Matt Engstrom

The fifth season of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones premiered last night, but even Tyrion Lannister can’t replace the Minnesota Vikings on Sundays. For fans of the show, “Winter is coming” has become a rallying cry and popular meme that embodies the success of the George R.R. Martin adaptation.

For those not engrossed by “A Song of Fire and Ice”, the tales of Westeros pale in comparison to the drama that surrounds NFL Draft season. I’ll stop talking “geek” and get straight to the point, though — “Draft Day is coming”, and soon, Rick Spielman will have to make a decision with the 11th-overall pick. Brace yourselves, Vikings fans.


Here’s what’s happening around the rest of the NFC North:

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I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’ve had Marcus Mariota as the Buccaneers top choice and #1 pick long before NFL Networks Mike Mayock moved him ahead of Jameis Winston in his latest mock.

“The two biggest negatives to me about Winston are the on-the-field interceptions and the off-the-field trust factor,”  Mayock told the Daily News last week.

Yes, I’m sticking with Mariota at #1 in my latest mock, especially after Winston’s former attorney now claims that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner isn’t ready to be an NFL player “off-the-field”.

I’m also sticking with DeVante Parker to the Vikings at 11, not only because the Vikings need to make sure Bridgewater has a true #1 wide receiver, but it also opens the door for the Vikings to trade Cordarrelle Patterson and get back into the first round to grab a player they covet. In my mock update, it’s CB Byron Jones that they target. Be sure to checkout Jackson McIntire’s scouting report on Jones here.

Byron Jones Scouting Report

[NOTE FROM ADAM: This scouting report is a guest post from the very talented Jackson McIntire who is making his Vikings Territory debut through this article. Please give him a big welcome and be sure to follow his work at The Viking Age and on Twitter.]

Each and every year there are a couple of prospects who look like men amongst boys at the NFL Combine and force scouts and analysts alike to go back and take a second look at their film. Over the past few years, a few prospects who drastically helped their draft stock due to a monstrous Combine performance are Stephen Hill, D.J. Hayden, Dontari Poe, Desmond Trufant, Martavis Bryant, Dri Archer, and Aaron Donald. This year, the two biggest standouts were UConn cornerback Byron Jones and Georgia receiver Chris Conley. The former is an interesting story.

After starting for two years as a safety for the Huskies, UConn lost both starting cornerbacks Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz to the NFL, forcing head coach Paul Pasqualoni to switch Jones’ position and help fill the vacancy. Prior to Jones’ stellar Combine, I had briefly watched some tape on him, but ultimately decided to leave him just out of my top 50. After witnessing Jones nearly jump out of the building, both vertically and horizontally, I needed to go back and take a second look. After watching tape on a few of his games, I was thoroughly impressed. Often times a player will excel at the Combine only to boast underwhelming film, but Jones was able to break this trend.

In this article, I will list Jones’ measurements as well as his Combine numbers and collegiate production, provide a thorough breakdown, give a pro-player comparison, detail where Jones fits in with the other cornerbacks in this draft class and explain his fit in the Minnesota Vikings defense.

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Chad Greenway is back, but that doesn’t guarantee the Vikings’ veteran linebacker a starting spot once the regular season begins. For 9 years, he’s made a living as Minnesota’s weak side linebacker, leading the team both on the field and in the locker room.

But, recent injuries and the emergence of players like Gerald Hodges sapped Greenway’s time in the starting lineup — he played just 12 games in 2014, recording a career-low 93 tackles. When the 2015 NFL Draft kicks off on April 30th, expect Rick Spielman to add a player late in the draft, one who could eventually compete to replace Greenway.

As Ryan Boser wrote in his guest post for Vikings Territory, Spielman used all five of his 2014 Round 6 and Round 7 picks on defensive players. This year, he holds two picks in the final round — surely, Spielman will stick to his preferences and add depth to Mike Zimmer’s unit.

If Spielman holds true to his draft tendencies, he’ll use of one those picks on a player like Bowling Green’s Gabe Martin.

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One of the most under rated players in the 2015 draft class has to be Cincinnati’s 6’0” 251 pound ILB Jeff Luc. has Luc currently ranked as their 13th ILB and 261 overall. Yet, it wasn’t that long ago (2010), just prior to his freshmen season at Florida State, that Luc was highly touted as the best middle linebacker in the country by the likes of ESPN, Sporting News, Rivals, Scout, MaxPrep and others. With a national ranking just outside the top ten in the country, Luc had offers from Alabama, Miami, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Southern Miss, Oklahoma, Tennessee and USC, but it was Florida State that won the honor of being the top suitor.

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