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Once again, infamous reader “Tomb” is back with some spontaneous satire.  Considering this week saw The Onion try to lampoon Chris Kluwe, only to be out-Onioned by Kluwe himself, the timing fits.  Yeah, slow news week.. Enjoy!

the Tombion: All the satire, none of the originality.

Rick Spielman Reaches Uncomfortably Far Across Table to Pass Christian Ponder Ketchup.

Eden Prarie—At a team luncheon, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder quietly asked for someone to pass the ketchup. Though three people were positioned close enough to the bottle to be able to comfortably and easily provide it to him, Rick Spielman abruptly leapt up and extended ridiculously far across the table to grab the bottle and send it Christian’s way.

“I’ve been to plenty of these luncheon deals,” an unnamed source proffered, “but I’ve never seen anybody pull anything like that. I mean, the guy was up on his tip toes. We’ve all heard rumors about Al Davis; that he’d actually get up on the table on all fours to reach for the ketchup, but I’ve never actually seen it, so this, to me, ranks as the biggest reach I’ve personally witnessed.”

Spielman reportedly did not, however, reach for the check.

 

A week ago tonight, Vikings fans were eagerly awaiting the results of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and those results were indeed something to be excited about.  With the Draft now over, and with a little time to digest, let’s take a look around the web at what everyone is talking about now:

 

The Vikings made three first round selections Thursday night, but they added a fourth in the form of defensive end Lawrence Jackson who was selected by the Seahawks in the first round of the 2008 Draft.  The Seahawks selected tight end John Carlson in the second round of that Draft and he is also on the current roster of the Vikings.

The deal for Jackson is reportedly of the one-year variety and he joins an already crowded depth chart that also saw rookie Sharrif Floyd added to it on Thursday night.  The hope is that this move is an attempt to have a top-notch rotation along the line, and not a sign that either Jared Allen or Brian Robison have more serious shoulder injuries than the team has let on.

He has generated 98 tackles, 19.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two recoveries in his five seasons with the Seahawks and Lions.  As another USC product joining the Vikings, Rick Spielman has continued to display an affinity for players coming out of that program.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

If you haven’t guessed by this point in the offseason, yes, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Vikings might proactively look towards the NFL Draft to replace veteran Chris Kluwe before the final year of his contract is played out.  In my profile of Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen I talked about Kluwe’s high salary, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s comments about Kluwe’s exhaustive off field endeavours  and also just the possibility of finding an upgrade at the position.

Since writing that article I have become even more convinced (keep in mind now, this strictly irresponsible speculation Adam talking, not news reporting Adam) that Kluwe’s cap hit could be reason enough for his early exit.  The team currently has about $4.4 million in cap space, which is not likely to even be enough to sign their entire Draft class, let alone sign a guy like Antoine Winfield to a new contract on top of that.  That means something has to happen, and while Kevin Williams or Jared Allen could still be candidates to change their contract status, finding an upgrade to Kluwe in the Draft and exchanging his $1.4 million salary for a rookie deal might just make too much sense.

The key to all of this, however, is finding a rookie that can be a clear upgrade to Kluwe like the Vikings found at kicker last year with Blair Walsh.  I’ve already talked about how I think Ray Allen is that guy but may require a very high level of investment from a draft pick standpoint.  This is actually a fairly talented and fairly deep punter class, but outside of Allen only one other guy really stands out as an excellent prospect.

LSU’s Brad Wing (6′ 3″ and 184 pounds) is unlikely to relieve Priefer of all drama on his squad, as he comes with a bit of a history.  Wing is Australian born (do I even need to continue?) and, thus, has a brazen attitude and a tendency to find himself a “good time.”  Its okay, I can say stuff like that, my best friend is an Aussie.

He first became noticed on a national level when he… a punter, mind you… nullified his own 52 yard touchdown run on a fake due to taunting the opponents prior to crossing the goalline.  In his defense, as the video evidence shows, it was kind of a weak call.  His troubles didn’t stop there as he was suspended for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl due to breaking team rules, and at least one unconfirmed report said it was substance related, and there have been rumors of other off-field incidents plaguing the young talent.

Wing became the first punter to declare early for the NFL Draft, he was a redshirt sophomore in 2012, since Chris Gardocki did it way back in 1991 and he certainly has the leg to justify such a move.

Wing started 24 games at LSU after playing just one year of high school ball as an exchange student.  He was second in the SEC with a 2011 punt average of 44.4 yards and last ranked 12th in the nation with a 44.8 yard average.  He occasionally unleashes ridiculously powerful punts like his 73 yarder against Alabama in 2011, eight more career punts of 60 yards or greater.

Perhaps even more important, however, is the talent he displays for directional punting.  He has explained that his ability to do this with such proficiency comes from another game in another hemisphere:  Australian Rules Football.

“You can score from any angle and distance so there’s a lot of kicks I’ve gotten used to over the years where the American kickers they just kind of stand there and kick it as far and high as they can,” Wing said in 2011. “That’s not my mindset. I’m just trying to kick it away from the return man. Coming over to America, I didn’t really understand why punters kicked to the return man.”

As of that article, dated January 6th, 2011, Wing had amazingly punted the football 50 times and LSU had only allowed six (yes, six) punt return yards in total.  That is pretty amazing, really.

Now, maybe having Tyrann Mathieu on the coverage squad had a lot to do with that, because LSU’s overall punting game was quite as dominant in 2012, but Wing still was a cut above most punter prospects in most respects.

The question for NFL teams is whether or not they will be able to depend on Wing to stay out of trouble and be available on a weekly basis.  The last thing an NFL team wants to do is use two roster spots on punters because the first one couldn’t stay smart.  Without knowing how teams truly view Wing’s character it is impossible to predict where he will be selected.  He is talented enough to be a third round pick, but is troubled enough to go undrafted.

If he starts to fall on Draft weekend, and the Vikings are intrigued enough, then he might just be a solution to a problem that is only one year away from being a significant one.  For some NFL team’s fans, he will surely be one of the most intriguing players to watch in training camp.

 

The Vikings brass, and Jared Allen, spent last night and today courting free agent wide out Greg Jennings by taking him out to the famous Manny’s Steakhouse and touring the Winter Park facilities.

Now, Jennings is a Minnesota Viking under a five year deal, which fills a huge need on the wide receiver depth chart.

Jennings played with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay for his whole career, but will now be playing with Christian Ponder who needs to continue to improve in order to maintain his status as the franchise’s quarterback of the present and the future.

Jennings, 29 years old, is coming off of an injury plagued season that turned out to be the worst of his career.  He managed only 36 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns.  Still, the assumption is that he is fully healthy now and will strive to return to the 1,000 yard plus receiver that he was known as, which the Vikings need so desperately.

With Percy Harvin being  traded to Seattle the Vikings have Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, and Stephen Burton on the Vikings depth chart that could still see some movement this offseason.  The Vikings are still expected to use some combination of their 11 draft picks to add youth and talent at the position.

Jennings has played 96 games in his career and has caught 425 balls for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns.

His new deal is expected to be $47.5 million over the five years, with $18 million guaranteed, which is a $9.5 million per year average.

Rick Spielman had a lot of kind things to say about his staff at Thursday’s press conference prior to introducing Leslie Frazier who described Friday as a “great day for the Minnesota Vikings.”  Frazier also placed an emphasis on Jennings having high character and leadership qualities, which are the types of statements that were all too predictable following the trade of Harvin.

“I’m excited, today is a great day, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds,” said Jennings right off the bat who went on to describe his first walk into free agency and give his respects to the Green Bay Packers organization.

“It was just a family feel.  It felt comfortable,” Jennings said of his visit with the Vikings who said the team is a contender for whom the window is now opening, not closing.  He also said the move was selfish in that he is looking forward to playing with Adrian Peterson who commands the attention of an entire defense.

Jennings also talked highly of Christian Ponder’s game tape and feels he has matured, and will continue to mature, as a passer in the NFL and is looking forward to helping him out with that.

“It’s a fresh new start.  A Change,” he said.  “I’m looking forward to the change.”

Jennings said that his choices “pretty much” came down to Minnesota and Green Bay, and then cited his dinner with Jared Allen as a big reason why he made the decision he did.

Jennings ended his conference by saying, with a huge smile, that it is important to note he is currently 29 years old and will not be 30 until after the season starts.

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