Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Blog Page 178

We have already discussed the possibility of the Vikings upgrading the guard position via the NFL Draft or free agency, and noted that Chance Warmack is one of the better prospects at the position to come out in quite some time.

Not far behind Warmack, however, is North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper whose versatility gives him a fighting chance to actually be selected ahead of Warmack.  After all, some teams seem to place a very high value on versatility and Cooper’s ability to play three (or maybe even four) positions on the offensive line will only increase his probability of getting drafted early on day one.

Cooper recently put on some needed weight and checked into the NFL’s Scouting Combine at 6’ 2” and 311 pounds, which are both good measurements for him to have on file, as there were questions about his ability to play effectively in the NFL at his listed sub-300 weight.

North Carolina has benefitted from a great offensive line, led by Cooper, and a solid run game highlighted by Giovani Bernard.  Cooper has been a mainstay starter for the Tarheels his entire career, proving to be fairly durable with only three missed games on record.

From a scheme standpoint, the Vikings would be an excellent fit for the very athletic and agile Cooper, who is likely to excel as a pulling guard at the next level that is plenty capable of holding his own against the pass rush attack.  He would be that guy, much like Matt Kalil, that you see putting second-level blocks on linebackers on Adrian Peterson’s highlight reel of the week.

That athleticism was on display this weekend as Cooper had an excellent all-around Combine performance that should have solidified his status as a first round pick, possibly off the board before the Vikings make their first selection.

Don’t be surprised if the Vikings end up playing against Cooper twice a year, as this guy certainly must be on Chicago’s radar.

I have long carried a banner that says “Accuracy By Volume” when it comes to my hopes for successful Vikings drafts.

When Rick Spielman was available to the press in Indianapolis he was asked a lot of questions that he essentially left unanswered.  He offered up nothing new regarding Percy Harvin’s status with the team.  He indicated very little when it comes to possibly restructuring the contracts of veteran players such as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.  He didn’t say much at all that couldn’t have been predicted, almost verbatim, by anyone that even casually follows the NFL.

One thing he did say, however, perhaps offers a clue to solving the puzzle that is offseason speculation.

“I like picks,” Spielman said when asked about the possibility of trading down on Draft Day.  “My goal is to always have 10, if I can have 10 picks.”

I found these two sentences to be more intriguing than all the others that he spoke combined.  Why?  Because that leaves Spielman one pick short of his goal, that’s why.

I consider this to be a sort of bat signal, an invitation to other teams, indicating the Minnesota Vikings are open for business.  It sounds to me like Spielman has every intention of adding one more pick this season, and it won’t come as a compensatory selection, and would likely prefer to get a jump start on stockpiling 2014 picks, as well.

There are a number of ways Spielman can attain his desired quantity of picks.  Trading down from the #23 spot would go a long ways towards meeting that goal, but so would trading players… good players… really good wide receivers that can also return kicks and line up as a running back, perhaps.

As the Pioneer Press managed to point out when they weren’t stalking Percy Harvin at his Florida home, the Vikings have selected 10 players in each of the last two drafts, and 18 of those 20 are still on the roster today.  Nine of them played as starters, or saw significant playing time, in 2012 and are expected to contribute even more next season.

This Draft class, as acknowledged by Spielman and plenty of others, is considered to be a very deep one with a record number of underclassmen available for the taking.  It may not be as top heavy as in years passed, but there are impact players expected to come off the board in all rounds, particularly in the offensive and defensive line groups.

Prior to the 2011 Draft, I indicated that Spielman has plenty of mistakes on record that resulted from ill-advised trades, but he has somewhat vindicated himself while enjoying more power and freedom during the Leslie Frazier era.

Spielman’s comments in Indianapolis should be considered fair warning, though, that he is aiming for three years straight of successful movement on Draft Weekend.

Which, of course, will make things a hell of a lot of fun.

As a small blog, we try but struggle to “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to reporting every little thing within moments of somebody saying or doing something newsworthy.  We just don’t have the resources that many of the bigger outlets have, so we try to make up for it with character.

This week, however, I can honestly say that it has been a really long time since I have been quite so disappointed with these larger newsies and beat writers.  They just keep on regurgitating old news, particularly about Percy Harvin, and half-assedly making it look like they are adding something new to the conversation.

They aren’t.

With that being said, some of this stale “news” is making it’s way into today’s Links segment, but we are trying to send you towards the best, more innovative stories that we can find:

  • For some reason Adrian Peterson would like to see Dwight Freeney join the Vikings.  Another high priced, aging defensive end anybody?
  • When it comes to Percy Harvin, Rick Spielman is saying the same exact thing he has been saying all along.  But, he said it again so, therefore, it is news.  Again.
  • At the Combine Spielman talked up a number of receiver prospects while tossing some light criticism towards Christian Ponder and Manti Te’o.
  • An examination of whether it should be Cris Carter or Randy Moss that is connsidered the best Vikings receiver of all time.
  • Mortenson Construction has been awarded the bid for construction of the Vikings new stadium.
  • This is officially going to be the last season the Minnesota Vikings play in the Metrodome.
  • Former Viking Husain Abdullah has signed with the Chiefs after a year off of football.
  • One of the better Harvin articles to be posted this week, without a doubt.
  • Ponder threw the deep ball less than any quarterback in 2012, but that can’t continue into next season.
  • Combine rumors are already making the rounds in Indy, and one of them is connecting quarterback Drew Stanton to the Vikings.  I was not kind to Stanton in my free agency rankings.
  • On offense, all eyes will be on the wide receivers during this week’s Combine for Vikings fans.
  • As already discussed, the Vikings are expected to be very healthy this offseason, despite a few surgeries being needed after 2012.
  • Spielman says he doesn’t plan to spend big during free agency again this year.
  • The Pioneer Press stooped to a new low by following Harvin to his Florida home, getting a “no comment” answer from him, and then acting like they broke the biggest story since Watergate.
  • The NFL released a tentative Draft order and the Vikings do now have nine picks, which was in question earlier this offseason.
  • And, here it is, your moment of Zen:

The NFL Scouting Combine is about to dominate the world of NFL news and I decided it was a great time to update my 2013 Mock Draft.

I had previously mocked defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to the Vikings at #23, but in this most recent draft both of those guys are off the board when the Vikings were on the clock.  I decided to go in yet another direction with this first round selection.

All three of the top middle linebackers were still on the board when I had to make my selection for the Vikings.  Manti Te’o will be answering a lot of questions about his fake girlfriend scandal this week in Indy.  Alec Ogletree recently got himself arrested for a DUI and his stock is sure to take a hit.  Kevin Minter could make up some ground against those two this week and may end up being the top linebacker on a few boards.

So, who did I give to the Vikings?

Click right here to find out.

[NOTE:  Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacksrunning backs,fullbacks,tight endscentersguardsoffensive tackleswide receiverssafeties, cornerbacks, and linebackers.  We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]

Well, I have to start this one with a disclosure.  The lines between a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker continue to blur more and more with each passing season.  We have already done the linebacker rankings in a previous post, but there are plenty of 3-4 defensive ends on today’s list that would be best suited as outside linebackers if the Vikings were to sign them.  Still, I wanted to keep these lists true to the current positions these guys are playing.

Okay, with that being said, onto the defensive end situation.  The Vikings seem very solid with Jared Alllen, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen each continuing to play at a high level.  There has been talk that the Vikings might be best served to try and deal the aging Allen this offseason, but I think it is far more likely that they will try to extend his contract and ease the damage he does to the salary cap.  The Vikings have talented pass rushers with intriguing developmental guys already in place behind the top three.

I wouldn’t expect them to throw a ton of money at this position during this offseason, but it never hurts to take a look at what might be available (while also scoping out an outside linebacker or two):

Top Tier

I’m only putting guys in this category if I think they could possibly be upgrades over one of our current starters, and the guy I think that most represents that type of talent is defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals.  At age 26, Johnson is the exact age you want your big money free agent to be, and he is a Pro Bowl defender against both the run and the pass.  He is likely to get slapped with the franchise tag.

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