Saturday, February 28, 2015
Blog Page 186

I decided to stay awake as long as I could during this new, weird free agency (but not really) deal that the NFL is doing these days.

I was able to find out one thing that should have been obvious to us all:  The Vikings called the agents of receivers Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings.

Those reports come from Pro Football Central and otherwise have absolutely no detail.

So, yeah, glad I stayed awake.

Whether it be his time under Urban Meyer at Florida or his time playing for Brad Childress or his more recent days playing for Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin always seems to leave a trail of not-so-flattering dirt behind him.  The problem for the media, both national and local, seems to be that by the time they report any dirt on Harvin it is pretty well embedded into the past.

The most recent report that put Harvin in the crosshairs came from Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports and claims that Harvin nearly walked out on the Vikings after news broke that his former teammate at Florida, tight end Aaron Hernandez, received a nifty contract extension from the Patriots.  As Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN points out, Hernandez signed his contract extension on August 27th which was the final week of the preseason, and no reports of a Harvin-related incident has previously been reported from that time period.

Cole also goes onto say that the Vikings have yet to make an offer to Harvin, and that Harvin’s agent has yet to make an offer to the Vikings, but that is is believed Harvin wants to be paid significantly more than Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson are getting under their current contracts.  He reportedly would like to see a contact more in the neighborhood of Calvin Johnson’s eight year deal worth up to $132 million.

While Harvin claimed last offseason that his sudden tirade during the offseason, where he reportedly demanded a trade, was not about the money but was instead about other issues within the offense.  More recent reports indicate, however, that Harvin’s contract demands are what is standing in the way of an extension or even a trade.

Despite all the fairly clear evidence against Harvin and the way he handles himself, I have to wonder about the timing of Cole’s report and the motives that his unnamed sources might have.  Cole writes that the Vikings “fear” that Harvin will hold out in 2013 as long as he allowed (week 10), while still accruing a year of service, and aim to be an unrestricted free agent.  Part of that “fear” stems from worries that he would be such a pain in the ass when he did eventually return, that they wouldn’t even want to consider retaining his rights via the franchise tag.

I personally don’t see any legitimate reason the Vikings have to “fear” a Harvin hold out.  If he comes back in week 10, presumably very healthy, he will likely be advised by his agent that he is playing for his new contract still and will have major motivation to impress anyone watching during his truncated season.  Harvin would have to completely destroy his own reputation along the way if this ever got to the point that he wouldn’t be a franchise tag candidate and valuable trade bait.  Maybe I am foolish or ignorant, but nothing about a hold out situation scares me.

I’m not sure what the motive was here, but Cole’s sources didn’t push this “new” look into Harvin’s attitude on the eve of free agency (essentially) by coincidence.  It seems very calculated, actually.

And, like I have said a gazillion times this offseason, plenty of options still exist here.  The whole Harvin saga could end on Monday, or it could continue for another eight years, or something in between those two scenarios.

The only thing I know for sure, however, is that neither Jason Cole or his source have any idea how all of this is going to end up.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

With Keenan Allen now reportedly planning to be absent for California’s pro day because of a lingering knee issue, I have been advised by a number of our great Twitter followers that the first-round-receiver bandwagon is now full of DeAndre Hopkins advocates.  Of course I planned on featuring Hopkins in this reoccurring segment at some point, but those Twitter conversations convinced me that tonight should be the night.

Hopkins is 6′ 1″ tall and weighs 214 pounds and displayed great speed and hands during his time at Clemson.  He ran the forty in the 4.50 to 4.57 range at both the Combine and his pro day (which was Thursday) which only confirms he has the speed it takes to be a top receiver in the NFL.  His big hands and long wingspan only add to the traits Hopkins possesses that will attract plenty of attention.

Hopkins is known as a receiver that runs very precise routes and displays solid instincts after making the catch, with the ability to make the most of every pass heading his way.  He takes good care of the football, protecting it to prevent turnovers, while also showing incredible body control which allows him to make tough catches on jump balls or near the sideline.  His presence of mind, combined with a very good vertical leap, makes him a genuine red zone threat.

Hopkins has had troubles with catching the football with his body throughout his college years, but any scout is also going to have to give him credit for improving as a hands catcher over time.  This shows that he works to improve himself and is a coachable young man.

More worrisome, to me, is that he seems to be manhandled by defensive backs too often and is rerouted too easily.  He may need to bulk up a bit in the NFL, which could cost him some speed, but he also needs to improve aspects of his fundamentals to make sure he isn’t consistently jammed at the line by bigger defensive backs.  The coachability that I mentioned earlier, however, provides hope that Hopkins could improve his technique in this area over time.

Hopkins doesn’t really have any injury history or character issues that plague him as he enters the NFL, and actually has gained quite the reputation as a leader within Clemson’s offense.  He’s the type of guy that is going to haul in that deep over-the-shoulder ball, make the occasional toe tapper on the sideline, and be a constant threat when the game is on the line.

Most seem to project Hopkins as a second round talent, like so many other receivers in this class, but the lack of red flags makes it very possible that he sneaks into the first round.  A number of teams, like the Vikings, could end up feeling very comfortable investing their top pick in Hopkins.

 

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The NFL is allowing a three day window in which team’s can legally tamper with pending free agency prior to free agency officially beginning.  That means very late on Friday all phone lines will be open, rumors will be flying, text message services will be working overtime, and tentative deals will be struck.

That is why it is interesting to point out that the Vikings have done incredibly little this offseason so far.  Since the season ended they have added one player, CFL cornerback Rod Williams, and released veteran receiver Michael Jenkins.

That’t it.

Tomorrow night the agents for all 14 pending free agents are free to talk to other teams.  This includes right tackle Phil Loadholt, Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton, and safety Jamarca Sanford.  They haven’t tendered any of their restricted free agents like some teams have done.  They also haven’t restructured any veteran contracts like so many teams have done over the last few weeks.

Minnesota has always seemed to frustrate fans by waiting until the last minute to show their cards, which is the smart thing to do, but they are allowing some fairly important items on their to-do list wait until the last minute.  It is safe to assume that there is a plan in place, but I just can’t help but wonder just how much risk is built into this plan when it comes to retaining their own players.

For everyone’s sake, I hope the Vikings make the transaction report on Friday, and show a sign of life in an offseason where they have done little other than play possum.

[NOTE FROM ADAM:  The ever-valuable website DraftSeason.com recently ran out of options, or made a big mistake somehow, and invited me to take part in their All-Bloggers Mock Draft where I was able to grab defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on behalf of the Vikings.  Whatever led them to generously include me will hopefully prove to be the beginning of a good relationship with one of the top Draft resources available.  I asked Matt Falk, Draftnik Extraordinaire  to bestow us with some knowledge.  He opted to do the ever-popular seven round mock draft that highlights some of the players he thinks the Vikings will draft.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out Draft Season for even more information on this year’s prospects.  Besides, Matt lives in Minnesota, so we know he must be a good guy.]

Full 7 Round Projection for the Minnesota Vikings
Matt Falk | DraftSeason.com @matt_falk

The Minnesota Vikings will be one of the more intriguing teams to watch come draft weekend. With a handful of needs Minnesota could go in a handful of directions in the early rounds. While many peg the Vikings to go either wide receiver or defensive line, never count out the wildcard of them going for flat out the best player available. Below is a full mock draft for each of the Vikings picks in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft.

The theme of this 7 round mock is simple for the Vikings. Fill some glaring needs at wide receiver and add some players on the defensive side of the ball that compete day 1 for a starting job.

While the 2013 NFL Draft might not be top heavy with superstars it is full of depth at many positions and will allow teams like the Vikings to fill some holes, not only in the early rounds, but also in the mid to late rounds.

On the offensive side of the ball it will be very surprising to watch the Vikings not grab at least 2 receivers throughout the draft weekend. Along with receiver I would be mildly surprised if they didn’t nab a quarterback even if it is in round 5 or later, not to necessarily compete, but to at least have in their back pocket for future use or even be a possible future number 2.

Defensively Minnesota needs to add some depth throughout the entire defense. I see free agency helping with this issue, but getting younger at a few positions will almost be a must. Depending on what free agency brings, we could see more than 1 linebacker and or defensive lineman go to Minnesota.

Soak up the full 7 round projection below, noting that all could change once free agency gets into full swing. For more NFL Mock Drafts and analysis hit up DraftSeason.com or follow us @matt_falk

1. Keenan Allen WR, CAL
If Keenan Allen manages to stick on the board until pick 23 it might be too tempting for the Vikings to pass on the possible number 1 receiver. Allen isn’t a burner but the type of receiver that can make big plays and move the sticks. Has the mold of an Anquan Boldin and depending on Harvin’s status, could instantly become the Vikings number 1 receiver. Allen is one of the big wildcards in the 2013 NFL Draft, he is a player that could end up going top 10, OR be a guy who ends up falling into the 20’s due to other team’s needs.

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