Monday, March 30, 2015
Blog Page 187

On Thursday we learned that the Vikings will open the 2013 regular season against the Detroit Lions.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the Vikings have also played host to two free agents that spent last seasons in Detroit.  We already made mention of defensive end Lawrence Jackson’s visit, but now we have also learned that cornerback Jacob Lacey made a visit, too.

Lacey, who turns 26 next month, was an undrafted free agent signed by the Colts in 2009. He played three seasons with Colts, starting 27 of those games, and five interceptions, two return touchdowns, 21 defended passes, three forced fumbles, one recovery, and 158 total tackles.

He then moved onto Detroit for one season where he had nine starts, 29 tackles, four defended passes, and an interception.

Lacey hasn’t been overly durable throughout his NFL career, but he could represent some experienced talent at a position in need of depth.  If I had to guess, I would say the Vikings have a more genuine interest in Lacey than they do Jackson.

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NFL Network is in the process of their unveiling of the 2013 schedule.  Via Access Vikings, the Minnesota Vikings 2013 schedule is as follows:

Week Day Date Opponent Time (CT) TV & Radio
1 Sunday Sept. 8 at Detroit Noon FOX | KFAN
2 Sunday Sept. 15 at Chicago Noon FOX | KFAN
3 Sunday Sept. 22 vs. Cleveland Noon CBS | KFAN
4 Sunday Sept. 29 vs. Pittsburgh* Noon CBS | KFAN
6 Sunday Oct. 13 vs. Carolina Noon FOX | KFAN
7 Monday Oct. 21 at New York Giants 7:40 PM ESPN | KFAN
8 Sunday Oct. 27 vs. Green Bay 7:30 PM NBC | KFAN
9 Sunday Nov. 3 at Dallas Noon FOX | KFAN
10 Thursday Nov. 7 vs. Washington 7:25 PM NFLN | KFAN
11 Sunday Nov. 17 at Seattle 3:25 PM FOX | KFAN
12 Sunday Nov. 24 at Green Bay Noon FOX | KFAN
13 Sunday Dec. 1 vs. Chicago Noon FOX | KFAN
14 Sunday Dec. 8 at Baltimore Noon FOX | KFAN
15 Sunday Dec. 15 vs. Philadelphia Noon FOX | KFAN
16 Sunday Dec. 22 at Cincinnati Noon FOX | KFAN
17 Sunday Dec. 29 vs. Detroit Noon FOX | KFAN

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The Vikings are preparing to make two first round selections next week, but they are also taking a look at adding a guy that once was selected 28th overall by the Seattle Seahawks.

Free agent defensive end Lawrence Jackson was reportedly scheduled to meet with the Vikings today.  Jackson was a standout at USC before being selected by Seattle in 2008.  He played with the Lions over the last three seasons and has never quite lived up to his draft position.  Over the course of his career Jackson after starting 24 games during his two seasons in Seattle and none with the Lions.

He has only generated 98 tackles, 19.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two recoveries in his five seasons.  Still, at age 28, he could certainly provide the Vikings with some interesting depth at their most talented position heading into training camp.  Defensive ends Jared Allen, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen are all due to be free agents following this season.

Signing a guy like Jackson would all but eliminate the need to draft a pass rusher next week.

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A few things I wanted to update our readers on while I was thinking about it:

GIVEAWAY:  Don’t forget to take advantage of our “thank you” giveaway.  There are nine days left to enter, and you can enter every day, for your chance to win some gift cards compliments of… well… us.  Don’t forget to get your daily entries in by visiting our Giveaway Page.

BIG BOARD:  Yes, we plan on releasing a Vikings-specific Big Board once again this year, and Brett is lined up to work hard throughout Draft weekend updating it in real time by crossing off players as they are selected.  Our Big Board is very close to being finalized, and I would guess we’ll be ready to post it sometime this weekend.

For those that don’t remember, our VT Big Board is made up in a somewhat complicated manner.  We essentially spend tons of time doing data entry in a spreadsheet, using other prominent big boards from the leading experts, and put them side-by-side with our own big boards.  We then use a weighted formula to create a big board that is 100% unique.  It includes input from all of the experts as well as the Vikings-specific rankings we put together.

We’re excited to share that with you and it is coming soon.

LIVE CHAT:  Yes!  We plan to have a place to chat live with other Vikings all set up for you during Draft Weekend.

For a number of reasons, we were looking for an alternative to our normal format, and one VT reader stepped up to the plate to help out.  The reader many of you know as “Harvest” has generously volunteered to set up a chat room which will be hosted here at VT.  It will look very different, has it’s pros and cons, but should provide a great experience for all of us on Draft Weekend.  Even more generous of “Harvest,” he has volunteered to provide us with tech support throughout the entire event which will allow Brett and I to focus on normal content for the site.  I am excited about this and can’t wait to see you all there!

[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!]

Last year, the Vikings traded up to near the end of the first round and took safety Harrison Smith, and that move improved the secondary in such a way that I wish we could clone him.  We can’t clone him, but there is one player in this Draft I think plays a very similar game and would make one of the most feared safety duos in the NFL should he be drafted to start next to Smith.

The prospect I am talking about is Florida’s Matt Elam who measures a little short at 5′ 10″ but plays the game of football in a way that will put fear into the hearts of ball carriers or route runners.

At 208 pounds, Elam has an intimidating frame and hits as hard, if not harder, than any defensive player in this class.  He may even be more feared for his “big hits” than Smith is.  Like Smith, he may occasionally whiff on a tackle by being too aggressive or draw too many penalties but, lets face it, it is worth it.

In high school, Elam played multiple positions on both sides of the football, and made safety his full time role after playing mostly on special teams during his freshman season at Florida.  While he saw some time on defense too, Elam’s 22 tackles as a freshman came mostly from excelling in kickoff coverage.

In 2011, Elam became a full time starter as a strong safety, and did so in every game of the season.  He made an immediate impact by putting up 78 tackles, led the team with 11 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, seven defended passes, and two forced fumbles.  2012 was even better as he once again was durable enough to play every game, notched 76 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, and four interceptions.

Elam had a solid Combine week where he posted a 4.54 second forty time, 17 bench press reps, a 35.5″ vertical, and 118″ broad jump.  Elam chose to stand on those results and didn’t participate in timed drills at the Florida pro day, but he did receive high praise from those in attendance during the drills he took part in.

Where Elam fits into a defense is the best is where he is allowed to play in the box, close to the line of scrimmage, and make a play on the ball.  He shows incredible instincts and football smarts, seemingly always playing a step faster than anyone else on the field, and uses his strength and tenacity to impose his will on opponents.  He is just simply violent.

His big hits and run stopping ability will gain him the most praise, but he also has very good range and is no slouch in the passing game.  He might tend to be overly aggressive at times, gambling to make the big play, but otherwise is solid in covering ground sideline-to-sideline and matching up against most pass catchers.  You may not want him to man up against Brandon Marshall or Calvin Johnson, but he is going to be plenty capable of covering most slot receivers and even being effective against bigger tight ends.  His smarts certainly aren’t limited to diagnosing run plays, and often makes the reads quick enough to be in the right position to defend a pass.  One my favorite things about his coverage ability is that even when he gets turned around and out of position, he has the athleticism to catch up and the smarts to watch the receiver’s eyes, understand when the football is coming and where, and get his arm up to disrupt the pass.

Elam isn’t a perfect prospect, but he is well rounded and (as you will see in the video below) certainly has that “wow factor” you want to see in a first round prospect… his big hits.  The Vikings retained Jamarca Sanford and still have Mistral Raymond so the situation at safety isn’t as dire as it once was, but I firmly believe that Elam would be a big enough upgrade at the starting spot across from Smith that he would be a great selection for the Vikings at the end of the first round.  He would be of great value as a special teams gunner, as well, and I’ve been saying all offseason that the positions in the middle of our defense has to be a high priority after what we saw last season.

In my opinion, Elam is no doubt a top 25 prospect, and the Vikings currently hold #23 and #25.  He is a guy worthy of either spot.

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