Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Blog Page 179

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:

 

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The Minnesota Vikings receiver depth chart took a big hit when Percy Harvin was traded to Seattle.  Now, there is hope that they took a few steps forwards when they signed veteran receiver Greg Jennings and drafted rookie wide out Cordarrelle Patterson.

Another boost to the passing game could come from the return of Greg Childs, drafted by the Vikings last season, who tore tendons in both knees before even being able to appear in a 2012 regular season game.  His timeline for return was often brought up throughout the free agency and Draft periods of this offseason, but his status has largely remained a mystery.

While Childs refuses to publicly state an expectation for his full recovery it was visible to reporters on Wednesday that he has come a long ways.

Childs could be seen running sprints at Winter Park as part of his rehabilitation.

“I’m doing a lot of cutting, some jumping, some sprinting,” Childs told reporters. “All the necessary things I need to be doing, I’m doing now.”

Childs admits he isn’t close to 100% healthy and while he is determined and motivated to make it back, he isn’t going to rush things along.

“There’s no sense coming back 80, 90 percent,” Childs said. “That’s not going to really help the team out. That’s what we’re trying to do right now — just get me back on the field so I can really help the team.”

It would be a bonus for the Vikings to get Childs healthy and back into the mix for 2013, but it shouldn’t be relied on.

 

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Some hack bloggers (anybody know one?) thought it was highly likely the Vikings would target a middle linebacker early in the Draft.  Other media types, including one guy who should return a paycheck to his employer for this clunker, thought it was a “100% certainty” that the Vikings would draft Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the first round.

They didn’t target a middle linebacker early on.  They didn’t wind up with Te’o… or Alec Ogletree… or Arthur Brown… or Kevin Minter.

In fact, they didn’t draft one until the seventh round, when they selected Michael Mauti from Penn State.  Mauti has the talent to be selected much earlier, but an injury history that rivals that of Humpty Dumpty.

Rick Spielman may have, for the second year in a row, used a little misdirection to lead to all of that speculation about the position.  Instead, he may have been planning to use Erin Henderson at that spot all along, and the proof of this might be the fact that Henderson has already packed on an extra eight or nine pounds in preparation for his possible move to the inside.  Another bit of proof might be that the Vikings quickly signed him to a two year deal worth $4 million, which seemed a little out of place considering how long they let him dangle on the free agent market last offseason before signing him to a one year prove-it deal.

Now that players are starting to flood Winter Park to take part in the offseason programs, things are perhaps starting to come into focus a little more, and we do know that the Vikings are planning on having Henderson play in the middle as of now.  This, of course, is a very similar path that his brother E,J. took to becoming a very solid middle linebacker for the Vikings.

Henderson has struggled with pass coverage at times, but he is quite a bit more athletic than last year’s starter Jasper Brinkley was, and could cover more ground.  Then, if someone like rookie Gerald Hodges can step into the weakside spot, the Vikings may have themselves a much faster group of linebackers than what we saw in 2012.  Considering the amount of mobile quarterbacks on the schedule this coming season, that might just be a key to their potential success, and is certainly something interesting to follow at the very least.

The Vikings announced the signing of 16 free agents on Tuesday after days of trying to track down confirmed reports of who was in, who was not, and who might be getting a crack at the roster.  Here are your 16 guys with a brief note on each:

James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa:  Made a name for himself in 2011, as the best quarterback in the Big Ten, but a miserable season in 2012 killed his draft stock.  The big question is whether or not the struggles were his fault or a result of the talent around him.

Erik Highsmith, WR, North Carolina:  A tough and physical receiver, but struggled to get separation in college, and doesn’t have the athleticism to do it as a pro.  Across the middle, in the end zone, and on special teams is where he can make himself stand out.  Not a big play type of guy.

Nicholas Edwards, WR, Eastern Washington:  A big receiver that seemed to be on the rise prior to a knee injury that hampered his senior season.  Like Highsmith, he is more of a possession and end zone receiver, and won’t win a roster spot based off of explosive upside.

Brandan Bishop, S, N.C. State:  Limited athleticism here means a limited ceiling, but Bishop arguably displays more consistency in every facet of his game than Robert Blanton, who the Vikings drafted last year, did coming out of Notre Dame.  If you are looking for a guy with a real shot to stick, this might be him.

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The Minnesota Vikings released defensive back Nick Taylor on Tuesday, according to reports.

Taylor made headlines, and provided an opportunity for sophomoric headlines (look up), when the Vikings signed the Florida International point guard to play cornerback as an undrafted free agent.  Given the recent acquisitions of cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Jacob Lacey it is not overly surprising that the Vikings wanted to part ways with their inexperienced long shot.

Taylor caught the front office’s eye when he ran sub-4.4 forty yard dashes at FIU’s pro day, and presumably made an impression on tape from his brief stint in arena football, but he never played a down for the Vikings.  He spent 2012 on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury.

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