Sunday, December 4, 2016

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SEC Conference

The NFL Draft: the consistent, inescapable exercise of trying to predict the future. Determining how college kids will react to becoming overnight millionaires and being thrust into foreign locker rooms with men a decade their senior who will probably haze and/or ostracize them for a month or two. The psychological part alone is enough to make it a crapshoot—forget everything else.

But, hard as it may be to accurately foresee who will excel at the next level, that of course won’t stop NFL teams—or us—from trying. The Vikings will continue to do their due diligence leading up to next month’s draft, but in the meantime, I like to look at trends when it comes to which players succeed and which don’t. Lately, it’s been the correlation with college conferences I’ve been focused on; mainly, how big is the difference between power five and mid-major conferences when it comes to developing top-tier NFL talent, and which conference produces the most “good” players?

So, behold, a limited and unscientific, but hopefully somewhat enlightening study. I looked at the first round of every NFL draft in a ten-year span, from 2004-2013, and noted every player that had made at least one Pro Bowl, and which college conference that player came from. A few notes on the process:

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Chad Greenway's Last Hurrah
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Jared Allen ended his illustrious career by riding off into the sunset. Hussain Abdullah, a former Minnesota Vikings safety, announced his retirement via Instagram, citing his “personal health” for the sudden departure. Players hang their cleats up for different reasons, whether it’s injuries, a lack of motivation, or a feeling of peace after enjoying the game of football for so many years.

Given that the average career lasts just 3.3 years, it’s amazing that so many players, like Adrian Peterson and Terence Newman, continue to play into their 30s. Retirement after so many seasons is expected, and often, necessary; when a player doesn’t have “it,” it’s time to move on. That’s the name of the game — or business — that is the NFL.

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GM

The Minnesota Vikings’ draft plans are a big talking point for fans right now as the 2016 version is less than a month away. GM Rick Spielman will have a lot of decisions to make behind-the-scenes, some will be crazy stories and scenarios that will never see the light of day. To shine a light on a few hypotheticals is our resident NFL Draft BOSS Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman)! The scenarios are…….

Scenario 1: Myles Jack is the #1 player on your board. He’s still available at #5 when David Caldwell of the Jacksonville Jaguars calls you up and says he wants the #23 overall pick plus your 2nd, 3rd and 5th 2016 picks and your 1st rounder in 2017. What say you?

Scenario 2: Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, Andrew Billings, Jack Conklin, Taylor Decker are all off the board at 23 (as well as who you’d expect to be gone). You cannot trade back. Who do you take?

Scenario 3: Doctson is off the board, but Treadwell is available at 23. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner has said unequivocally he does not want to work with Treadwell and prefers an offensive lineman. What do you do?

Scenario 4: Washington is on the clock at 21. Doctson is available and your sources say the Texans will grab him at 22 if available. Washington offers to swap picks if you include your 2nd, 5th, and Adrian Peterson. What do you do?

Scenario 5: You get a call from whoever the hell the Titans GM is this week. They’re offering the #1 pick in exchange for your 2016 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th round picks, 2017 2nd rounder, and Matt Kalil. What do you do?

Scenario 6: Head coach Mike Zimmer says that Robert Nkemdiche is the #1 player in this draft and wants to work with him despite the off the field stuff. He’s available at 23, but so is Josh Doctson. What do you do?

Scenario 7: Mike Tannenbaum of the Dolphins calls you up. He offers DeVante Parker for Anthony Barr straight up. What do you do?

Scenario 8: The Dallas Cowboys select Ezekiel Elliott 4th overall. Midway through the first round, Jerry Jones calls you up and offers Zeke and a 5th rounder for Adrian and the 23rd overall pick. What do you do?

All that and other “All. Of the Draft Picks. You Have.” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Treadwell's speculated
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The offseason is a drag. It’s too long, it’s filled with smoke screens, and it’s a never-ending stream of misleading rumors. But it’s still football, and it’s difficult to separate the 40-yard dash times and Wonderlic scores from our Twitter feeds and anxious minds. It’s a mental grind, but admit it — you love it.

There’s something spectacular about the frenzy of the offseason. A quote in passing from a head coach becomes fodder for a tweet-based argument. Mock drafts — of which there are plenty — fuel discussions in the comments section. We crave our Sunday football, and in its place, create topics, stories, and scenarios to fill that void.

Today, for example, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell participated in the school’s Pro Day and ran what many consider to be a slow 40-yard dash. His 4.63-second time sparked quite the back-and-forth on Twitter, with some arguing his performance today may lead to a Draft-day slide in April. Darren Wolfson, for one, thinks the Vikings would be “lucky” if he landed at the bottom of the first round:

Treadwell’s speculated “fall” is part of a larger conversation, one that’s grown larger as we inch closer to the 2016 NFL Draft. With every mock draft or reported prospect visit, the hype grows and builds. But at the end of it all, we’re still not any closer to knowing who the Minnesota Vikings will select with the 23rd-overall pick.

Welcome to the uncertainty of the NFL offseason.

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Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

NFL owners, head coaches, and general managers attended the league’s annual four-day meeting in Boca Raton, Florida this past week. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was one of this year’s attendees and provided the media with some interesting answers to their questions.

Prospect talk is also continuing to heat up as the 2016 NFL Draft is now less than 40 days away. The speculation and ideas of what Minnesota will do with their first round selection still remains a hot topic among the team’s fans and media.

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