Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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At this point, it’s well known that general manager Rick Spielman loves to draft in pairs. Getting players from the same school eases the transition in training camp and allows players to feel comfortable in a completely new environment—which translates into focus and effectiveness. Last year, Spielman selected two players from Florida State (Xavier Rhodes and Everett Dawkins), UCLA (Jeff Baca and Jeff Locke) and Penn State (Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges). The year before it was USC (Matt Kalil and Rhett Ellison), Notre Dame (Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton) and Arkansas (Greg Childs and Jarius Wright).

In a rare moment of clarity, Spielman even told gathered reporters that this was a goal every year and later signed a number of undrafted free agents from like schools (Rodney Smith and Anthony McCloud from Florida State, Erik Highsmith from North Carolina to pair with Travis Bond the draftee, Colin Anderson and Jerodis Williams from Furman, and so on).

That in mind, it creates some very specific potential targets for the Vikings; they drafted a player from UCLA and a player from Louisville. The Vikings currently have UCLA alum on their roster so it may not be as important (both Baca and Locke), but it still deserves a look. Who are the potential prospects from those schools? I’ve listed them below, ranked in order of importance (most to least) for the Vikings (a combination of talent and need).

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 Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has a great track record of getting the most out of his linebackers. After the Vikings selected Anthony Barr with 9th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Zimmer is certainly excited to get an opportunity to mold Barr into the dynamic playmaker he thinks he can be. Zimmer has never had a linebacker with the size, speed and athleticism of the 6-5 255 pound UCLA product. Barr has extreme potential but he is very raw and still learning the linebacker position. Barr was not used as an off-the-line backer nor was he asked to drop into coverage often. 

Anthony Barr had some monster hits and big plays last season, but for the most part he didn’t show up on tape as often as expected. Part of that is because he spent a good chunk of time lined up on the line of scrimmage, sometimes in a three point stance trying to bull rush offensive tackles. Barr is not a strength power player, he is more of a finesse speed guy that will benefit when moved to a more traditional linebacker position.

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Good morning, everyone. The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us. Christmas morning for adult football nerds! Draftniks, Twitter scouts and Youtube game footage analysts rejoice!

I wanted to start the day off by letting everyone know what our plans are for the draft. While both Adam and I have been in hiding (Arif, Carl and Leslie have done an absolutely stellar job of holding down the fort in our absence) we will reemerge for this wonderful day. Yes, Adam is still alive and well for those of you that have inquired…

Of course, VT will be having a live chat for the draft. Adam and myself will be there for the entirety of Day 1 and 2. Day 3 will be a little slower but we will both likely be in and out throughout Saturday. We hope that all of you will join in and chat with us. There will be a lot to discuss, analyze, predict, etc. I couldn’t think of a better group of people to spend Draft Day with.

JOIN DRAFT CHAT

Arif will have media access to the Vikings tomorrow and will be performing duties for our friends at the Daily Norseman. He’s promised to feed me some inside news occasionally to make up for his absence so look forward to that! You’ll also want to be sure to check out some of the awesome content he’s bound to generate tomorrow.

Arif, Adam and myself will likely also be sharing our takes via Twitter. So, if you aren’t following us there (why aren’t you, again?), our usernames are below:

@vikingterritory – Adam
@ArifHasanNFL
@brettAnderson87

If you’re like me, you’ll have your VT Consensus Top 200 Big Board in hand thanks to Arif. If you missed Arif’s excellent post regarding the generation of his consensus big boards, you should definitely check it out. If you are lazy and just want the big board for your own use, you can find a printable version here.

Day 1 begins at 8:00 PM EST. I will be in and out the chat throughout the day but will definitely take a seat in the room, so to speak, about an hour or so before the draft begins.

We’ll see you guys there! And again, Happy Draft Day!

Update

While you can still use the above big board, Arif has updated the board this morning to reflect the latest and greatest consensus rankings. The board can be found here. We will do our best to update the board throughout the draft to show who’s been drafted and who’s still available. Only a few more hours!

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The draft is just days away and the media would have you believe that front offices are leaking like the Titanic. Over the past few days, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive, and the number and nature of the rumors seems like… well any other draft year, really.

The unfortunate truth is that we can guarantee some rumors to be true, we just don’t know which ones. In the past few days alone, I’ve catalogued something like 60 rumors, many from sources around the web (like Tony Pauline, Walter Football, ESPN, NFLTradeRumors, etc.) and some from speaking to colleagues with “sources,” whom they trust as much as you can this time of year (not much). Let’s go down the list in generic draft order (that means Washington 2nd, Cleveland 4th, St. Louis 13th, Indianapolis 26th) and see what we can find.

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It’s a good a time as any to try my own hand at mock drafts, and this will be my first 32-team mock draft of the year (and hopefully last). Instead of publishing a compilation of mock drafts and various ways to combine them, it’d be nice to add something new to the discussion.

In this draft, prominent players that I don’t think will fall do end up falling because that’s how life works. More importantly, I ended up mocking seven trades in the first round (and only two in the second, as I didn’t have the energy).

In comparison, the 2013 draft had eight trades (or six, if you don’t include players) in the first round and only two in the second (not including those in the first). In 2012, there were something like eleven first-round trades and eight second-round trades (both numbers include player-for-pick trades) and in 2011, there were five first-round trades and nine second-round trades.

I don’t think I necessarily went overboard with the trades, it just feels like I did, especially with so many in the top ten.

I constructed this mock assuming that most of the rumors published yesterday had truth to them, which means it’s not only guaranteed to be wrong, but will have some unusual drops, rises and omissions along the way.

Whatever, let’s roll.  

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