Sunday, March 29, 2015
Blog Page 111

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[NOTE FROM ARIF: Chris Serri wants to post again, this time about how excited he is for organized team activities to get started. He’s posted twice before, once about Johnny Manziel and once about Jared Allen leaving for the Bears. If you have a guest post idea, please feel free to email me at arifmhasan (at) gmail DOT com]

By Chris Serri

Today marks the beginning of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) for the Mininesota Vikings. The beginning of OTAs marks another early step towards the start of the NFL season, following the rookie and voluntary minicamps. They are important for NFL coaches, especially so for rookie coach Mike Zimmer, with this being another early opportunity to get some work done with his players. OTAs aren’t particularly too exciting, however, this year’s will be slightly more entertaining, mainly due to the position battle at quarterback. It will also be interesting to see our team’s rookies hit the field again after the conclusion of their mini-camp ending less than two weeks ago.

The quarterback competition this offseason begins with this year’s OTAs. These next couple of days will be an early chance for each quarterback to impress their new coaches. The competition is a wide-open race, and while there have been suggestions as to who the favorite is to win the job, each of the team’s three  quarterbacks will be given a fair shot, as it has been  reported that the  three of them will split first-team reps.

As of now, it looks as though rookie Teddy Bridgewater or veteran Matt Cassel will be the starter week 1. The majority of fans are dissatisfied with Christian Ponder, and many are shocked that he is getting a  chance to  compete. While there have been ongoing rumors since prior to the draft of Ponder being traded, he is here to stay, at least for now, and he is looking to prove to Norv Turner and Mike Zimmer that he is their man. It will have a major uphill battle for Ponder, as he is seemingly the least-expected to win the competition.

The beginning of  the quarterback competition will not be the only thing we’ll have our eyes on at the start of OTAs. With rookie mini-camp having recently ended, it will be exciting to see them on the field again. Teddy Bridgewater and Anthony Barr have drawn the most  buzz of the entire group, as they were both top draft prospects selected in the first round. They will be exciting to watch for sure, however, there are several other rookies to keep an eye on that could potentially make an impact both during and season and in the years that are to come.

Defensive end Scott Crichton is an important player to watch. He has a very strong motor, and while he may not be the most athletic defensive end to have been selected in the draft, he is certainly one of the smartest. His natural football instincts are clear when watching him on tape, and they also translate to his stat line. Crichton had a college-career high 74 tackle in 2011, and while his tackle numbers were slightly lower in each of his next two years, he still had 22.5 sacks total over the course of his three seasons, averaging 7.5 sacks per season, which is a solid number. The most impressive number when analyzing Crichton is his 51 total tackles for a loss. This is where his strong motor comes into play. Scott Crichton has all the tools to be a very good defensive lineman in the NFL, and having the chance to work with a great defensive mind in Mike Zimmer will certainly help his development.

Running back Jerick McKinnon is another rookie that Vikings fans should have their eyes on. McKinnon was drafted out of Georgia Southern, and while he was originally an option-quarterback in college, his switch to tailback proved to be a smart move. McKinnon rushed for 3899 yards and 42 touchdowns over the course of his Georgia Sournern career, with his most impressive season being 2012, when he rushed for 1817 yards and 20 touchdowns. McKinnon is a freak of an athlete. He had one of  the most impressive combines of any prospect in the 2014 draft, running a 4.41 40 yard while also bench pressing 32 reps. He also happened to be a top performer in the vertical jump, broad jump, 20 yard shuttle, and 3-cone drill.

Overall, his speed and versatility are superb. There are still several concerns with him, however. Many analysts believe he is a raw running back, having little experience as a traditional tailback. There are also concerns  with him in the pass game, as  he has little experience catching the football and his pass protection is not considered impressive. These perceived flaws can be fixed with proper coaching, as McKinnon has all the talent in the world world to become a very good running back in the NFL.

OTAs aren’t the most exciting part of the NFL offseason, but they are a good first step towards the NFL season. They give the coaches a chance to  get some work done with their players, and it is also fun for the fans, as they get an early glimpse at their team’s position battles, as well as a chance to see the rookies in action. There are several important players to keep an eye on for Vikings’ fans, so it is time to get busy!

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If Bradley Randle  becomes an NFL player with a great and long career it won’t be because it came easy.  If he doesn’t, it won’t be because he didn’t feel the love from the fans in Minnesota.

The little firecracker of a running back should consider giving lessons to other professional athletes on how to gain popularity within a fan base.  By being incredibly accessible to the fans via Twitter, and always willing to talk about Vikings football with the little guys (like us), Randle quickly became a favorite of Vikings fans despite never seeing regular season action.

The Vikings invested a third round selection on running back Jerrick McKinnon after retaining Matt Asiata.  The even sniffed around the likes of LaRod Stephens-Howling according to the rumor mill.  After the Draft, the Vikings wasted little time in cutting Randle loose, which resulted in an outpouring of disappointment from Vikings fans.

As if being released (again) by the Vikings weren’t enough to see Randle look elsewhere for a contract, surely watching them draft a young running back would have him facing facts, right?  Well, apparently not.

Randle continued to make himself a hero to Vikings fans on Tuesday when he revealed he actually turned down a tryout opportunity with the Packers because of his love for the Vikings.

The kid either has reason to believe he will be rejoining the Vikings again soon or he is truly a rebel like his Twitter handle suggests.  Perhaps maybe, just maybe, he’s just a little insane.

Whatever the case may be, though, he is certainly loyal and continuing to earn brownie points with the purple faithful.

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The Vikings selected Oregon State’s Scott Crichton with their third pick, 72nd player selected overall. By going back to the defensive front seven so quickly, Vikings brass provided a glimpse into how the defense will be built.

Crichton has an interesting story for how he got where he is today. He declared for the draft in January despite having a year of eligibility remaining. Crichton did so without seeking an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, having already planned to make the NFL jump in order to help his family, letting his parents retire specifically.

At 6’2⅞” 273 pounds according to, Crichton is an end on the shorter and thicker end of the size spectrum as a defensive end. His arm measures 32¾ inches at length, which is rather short for ends. He’s not a spectacular athlete either.

Crichton looks like an average player on the surface. His production tells a different story. He totaled 165 tackles, 51 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, 9 pass deflections, and 10 forced fumbles over his three seasons with the Beavers.

Let’s go beyond box score statistics and size measurements to find the real meat of Scott Crichton as a prospect and as a schematic fit for the Vikings.

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Brandon Fusco has earned Pro Football Focus’ “Secret Superstar” designation, meaning he’s flown under the radar as a top performer for the Minnesota Vikings:

When the season came to a close, Fusco’s +14.5 overall grade was bested only by Louis Vasquez and Larry Warford at right guard, and Fusco’s +11.6 run block grade ranked fifth among all guards. He was an average pass blocker (+0.9), but he showed significant growth from 2012. His Pass Blocking Efficiency jumped to 15th out of 59 guards and he gave up one or zero pressures in ten of the 15 games. Fusco may not have had many big blocks that stood out, but his solid play was quite consistent throughout the year.

Indeed, Fusco may have been the best performing lineman on the roster despite improvement from Phil Loadholt and big names like Matt Kalil and John Sullivan playing alongside him. He is Pro Football Focus’ 9th-ranked guard overall, and as Matt Claassen at PFF indicates, the third-best right guard in the league.


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Jermichael Finley is in the Twin Cities, per a tweet of his, but is not visiting the Vikings, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN1500. We’re late to the story, but as a result haven’t jumped to any interesting conclusions because the whole thing has been (seemingly) sorted out. He tweeted out the following:

Which set off fair speculation by those paying attention. Unfortunately, before VT could jump on the bandwagon, Darren Wolfson tweeted out what he knew about the situation:

Which is boring, if responsible.

Recovering from a spinal bruise, Jermichael Finley would be an interesting, though potentially redundant, add to the Vikings. He suffers from a slightly overblown reputation for drops but was clearly one of the most productive tight ends in the league when healthy.

If the Vikings were particularly interested in matchup opportunities or sets with three tight ends on the field (Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison and Jermichael Finley) in order to create confusion and matchup opportunities (run against nickel, pass against base, etc.) Finley could have provided a different dimension to the offense. As it is, either the roster spot is more valuable to a player that provides a different kind of depth or Finley’s injury is not something the Vikings want to deal with.

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