Saturday, May 28, 2016

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Waynes, like the Vikings' new stadium, represents a bright future in Minnesota

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Wow, what a crazy weekend. Things got rolling on Thursday night and didn’t slow down until Saturday evening, but here we are, sore fingers and all. If you missed any of our draft coverage, head over to the landing page and check it out — Adam, Brett, Arif, Lindsey, Andy, Carl, Brent, and myself put out some work we know Vikings fans will love

Now that the draft has come and gone, it’s time to assess Rick Spielman’s new “toys”. In a three-day span that saw the Vikings draft 10 new players and sign nine undrafted free agents, a few of Spielman’s organizational goals became clear:

  • Protect Teddy Bridgewater
  • Give Mike Zimmer flexibility and creative freedom on defense
  • Add versatile weapons to Norv Turner’s offense

Nothing is more important than ensuring the long-term health and development of Teddy Bridgewater, who staked his claim as the face of the franchise last season. After watching his quarterback suffer behind an offensive line that gave up 30 sacks in 2014, Spielman entered the draft with a concrete plan: add depth to a depleted group of tackles.

He did just that, finding tremendous value in the fourth round by drafting Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings, a first round talent who fell because of a lingering foot injury. Spielman proceeded to solidify the group later in the draft, selecting two more offensive tackles — Tyrus Thompson (sixth round) and Austin Shepherd (seventh round).

According to Chris Tomasson, the Vikings will pick up the fifth-year options for both Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil. GM Rick Spielman implied earlier that the 2012 draft picks would be re-signed for 2016, but the team made it official Monday morning.

Smith, drafted No. 29 overall, will bring in a $5.2 million paycheck; Kalil will make $11.096 million as a No. 4 overall pick.

No questions existed about Smith remaining in Minnesota, as he is arguably the top safety on the team and a no-brainer to keep around. In his first three seasons in purple, Smith tallied 192 tackles, 62 assists and 10 interceptions. He also added three sacks in 2014.

Smith played in all 16 games last season; if he stay healthy moving forward, he will continue to play a huge role for the Vikings’ secondary. Tomasson reported that the Vikings plan to work out a longer-term contract with Smith prior to the regular season. Smith has been vocal about wanting to stay with Minnesota, which is great news for fans.

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mock draft roundup
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Who won the draft?

In the grand scheme of football things, that generally doesn’t matter—winning the Super Bowl does. But to simplify it to that ignores the massive amounts of work and effort that goes into a playoff push, where the draft is often key.

We don’t know who “won” the draft in the context of results-based grading, because we don’t know the results. But if we’re just as willing to give prospects “round grades” or evaluate whether or not a team made a good pick, we should be able to summarize our thoughts on those teams, and the easiest way to do that is “grades.”

So in the sense that one can’t “grade” the draft until we’re three years out, I suppose that’s true but not useful information. In the same way that we can’t criticize a coach hire, a free agency move or a trade until we’re three years into the contract, we can’t criticize player acquisitions in the draft until we’re through.

But there’s no point to analysis if we’re going to defer it to an unknowable future—you wouldn’t read this blog if you weren’t willing to engage in some speculation. We predict win-loss records, argue that a team may make the playoffs or not, say that one team is destined to succeed or fail, and no one minds that. But when people “grade drafts” that’s too soon.

Anyway, so long as we have information on how people grade prospects, we have information on what people in the aggregate think about the talent a team has acquired.

To the Consensus Board!

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    It wasn’t quick and it certainly wasn’t painless, but the return of one of the best Minnesota Vikings of all time seems all but certain at this point.

    Some have questioned our varied coverage of Peterson’s unraveling ever since he was charged in an incident involving injuries to his son. With the saga now coming to a resolution, however, I want to clarify that the way Peterson’s career was derailed over these previous months stings each of us here at VT, and we all wish things had happened very differently.

    With all signs now pointing towards a return (including agent Ben Dogra’s sudden change in tone), we all hope that Peterson is able to make things right within his family, and are interested to see just how well he will be able to pick up where things left off.

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