Sunday, August 2, 2015

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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 NFL.com, 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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Chris Wesseling of NFL.com set out to find the to post-draft, and identified Christian Ponder as the top candidate (h/t to the Daily Norseman for finding this story):

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings: The Vikings have brought back Matt Cassel, drafted Teddy Bridgewater as thequarterback of the future and declined Ponder’s 2015 option. So why are they prepared to waste first-team reps on a quarterback who has fallen out of their plans? The logical inference is an attempt to rebuild some semblance of trade value. Ponder still offers higher upside than the average NFL backup. Former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is now the Eagles quarterbacks coach. Former quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson is now the Giants running backs coach.

As Wesseling points out, summertime trades are rare but the Vikings are no stranger to late-round summer trades—indeed, A.J. Jefferson was traded after training camp and roster cutdowns, and Minnesota waived former Chicago Bears corner (and current Giants corner) Zack Bowman to do it. With the pick the Vikings traded to the Cardinals (originally acquired from Tennessee for Minnesota’s 2012 7th-round pick), Arizona acquired Carson Palmer form Oakland (sending a 2014 pick as well).

Using that, Oakland traded down with Houston to grab two more picks later in the draft. Houston drafted David Quessenberry and Oakland drafted Mychal Rivera and David Bass.

 

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