Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Aaron Murray has been developing a lot of momentum lately, especially among Vikings fans—should an elite prospect like Khalil Mack or even Sammy Watkins be available at pick eight, perhaps the Vikings could take that talent and then take a prospect later in the draft who could fill the same position.

If it were the case that the quarterbacks in the third or fourth round are not significantly different than the ones in the first round, this would be a pretty awesome strategy—and Aaron Murray is central to a lot of plans Vikings fans have envisioned. He has been a statistical maven (the SEC passing yards and touchdown leader and the 2012 yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt leader in all of the FBS), and with a merely “OK” supporting cast, to boot—the undraftable Rantavious Wooten, mid-round prospect Arthur Lynch and a number of receivers who don’t look promising for next year’s draft—not to mention countless injuries at skill positions, including the loss of Todd Gurley, one of the nation’s premier running backs.

Reputed to be a smart, accurate quarterback who’s played in college’s “toughest” division, what’s not to like?

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Three part update for today as workouts start and some new signings come in. Nothing big has happened in Vikings news for a while, and this likely won’t change that.

First, the early workout period has already claimed its first victim in Josh Samuda, who earlier signed a reserve/futures contract with the Vikings. Josh Samuda signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2012 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts, where he played on the same offensive line as another Vikings offensive guard, Vladimir Ducasse.

Samuda suffered from a dislocated ankle at Winter Park and will undergo surgery on Wednesday.

The second piece of news regards a player that Vikings fans may be familiar with: tight end Allen Reisner. Reisner was with the Vikings in the 2011 and 2012 seasons after signing on as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa. Reisner danced along the line of eligibility for the practice squad with the Vikings, and played in ten games, making two catches for 28 yards before the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him off the practice squad late in 2012.

Last year, he played in five games and caught five passes for 40 yards.

Among the Vikings faithful, Reisner always seems to get positive attention. Indeed, his preseason appearances and limited game time always seemed to speak of more than simply a “practice squad body,” and the fact that the Jaguars were willing to sign him certainly spoke to that perception.

Pro Football Focus was not particularly impressed with his blocking this past year, and graded him with a -3.2 run block grade to go along with a -4.4 passing game grade (5 catches came on 9 targets with one drop). His one positively graded game, curiously enough, was against Seattle.

The Vikings were unable to keep Reisner in 2012 in part due to depth at the TE position. With Carlson gone, it certainly seems like he’ll have another chance to get on the roster. Competing with Chase Ford for a similar role, it should be a fun camp battle to watch.

The final bit of news comes on the linebacker front, where Audie Cole’s former Wolfpack teammate Terrell Manning was claimed off of waivers by Minnesota. Manning previously played for the Chargers and the Packers, who drafted him in 2012.

In the last two years, Manning has not seen regular-scrimmage snaps and has served as a special teams player for both the Packers and Chargers. A 2012 scouting report speaks to on-field athleticism to go along with a natural ability to rush the passer, but big issues in terms of reading plays, taking the right angles and a missing ability to navigate traffic. Maybe pairing with Audie Cole once more will help him out.

UPDATE: Samuda evidently suffered a pretty severe injury, and didn’t just dislocate his ankle, but fractured his tibia and could have suffered ligament damage. The team will know more tomorrow, but it looks like it will be a long-lasting injury.

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In my re-review of Derek Carr, I was fairly positive I would change my mind on him. A lot of the things I thought about him were definitely wrong, but for the most part I’m OK with him as a Vikings fit. I think he requires a lot more caution than Bridgewater or Bortles in terms of evaluation, and as you’ll see, there are a lot of pitfalls.

Carr is best known for being an extremely productive, statistics-friendly passer with over 5000 yards this season, and a 50:8 TD/INT ratio. He has one of the strongest arms in the draft and a brother who was a previous flame-out in the NFL. The statistics won’t matter, but he’s certainly an intriguing prospect.

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The Minnesota Vikings are rounding out their depth chart for veteran competition before the draft, and have signed former Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman.

To go along with potential Pro Bowl-level talent Harrison Smith, the Vikings have Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo, Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton and Brandan Bishop.

Sanford has played at an above-average level for the past two years, and Sendejo looks to be a rising talent. Mistral Raymond, for a short period of time, was expected to be the starter but lost out due to injury and Sanford’s higher level of play. From a depth perspective, the Vikings are in a fantastic place, a complete turnaround from three years ago.

Coleman, unfortunately, hasn’t shown the kind of talent with the Eagles (and three defensive coordinators) to leapfrog Sendejo or Sanford for a starting role, but is definitely in the mix as a depth player and special teams standout.

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