Saturday, March 28, 2015
Blog Page 189

ESPN.com reports that veteran Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

“It was a very tough decision for me because of the relationships that I have in Minnesota,” Winfield told Anderson. “I’ve been there nine years. I’ve had some really great coaches, teammates and fans there. I’m very grateful to the Vikings organization for my experience.

“I’m definitely excited about the opportunity to play in Seattle. They’re a great football team. Those guys did an excellent job last season. They’re young, athletic and energetic. I’m excited to play with Richard (Sherman), Brandon (Browner), Kam (Chancellor) and Earl (Thomas) because they’re some of the most talented players on defense in the NFL right now.”

Winfield was released last month suddenly by the Vikings and thus was an unrestricted free agent. The initial report is that the two parties agreed to a one-year deal. The details of the contract are not known at this time.

The Seahawks, who already boasted arguably the NFL’s best secondary, will likely utilize Antoine Winfield in nickel situations.

The loss of Antoine Winfield leaves the Vikings depth chart at cornerback with Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, A.J. Jefferson, Marcus Sherels and Brandon Burton. While middle linebacker likely still remains the number one priority for the Vikings less than two-weeks before the 2013 NFL Draft, cornerback is now definitely a very, very close second.

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Part of the excitement on draft day I believe stems from being able to see the player your team has picked go through the motions of being a first-round selection. You know, the phone call that has the player and their family ecstatic almost to the point of tears. The walk to the stage where they shake Roger Goodell’s hand and are given a generically numbered version of your team’s jersey (which in the Vikings case would be a brand new jersey). The awkward posing for pictures…

Well, from the looks of it, Vikings fans may not get to see anything like that this year and instead may have to settle for that player sharing the draft day  experience at a place of their own choosing surrounded by friends and family. (How selfish of them…)

Today, the NFL released a list of the 23 players who will be attending the first day of the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25th. On first glance, it seems unlikely the Vikings potential selection at 23 or 25 will be in attendance. See the list below:

Ezekiel Ansah / DE, BYU
Tavon Austin / WR, West Virginia
Jonathan Cooper / G, North Carolina
Eric Fisher / OT, Central Michigan
Shariff Floyd / DT, Florida
D.J. Fluker / RT, Alabama
Luke Joeckel / OT, Texas A&M
Lane Johnson / OT, Oklahoma
Dion Jordan / DE, Oregon
Eddie Lacy / RB, Alabama
E.J. Manuel / QB, Florida State
Dee Milliner / CB, Alabama
Barkevious Mingo / DE, LSU
Cordarrelle Patterson / WR, Tennessee
Eric Reid / S, LSU
Xavier Rhodes / CB, Florida State
Sheldon Richardson / DT, Missouri
Geno Smith / QB, West Virginia
Desmond Trufant / CB, Washington
Chance Warmack / G, Alabama
Menelik Watson / OT, Florida State
Bjoern Werner / DE, Florida State
Kenny Vaccaro / S, Texas

Of the above mentioned prospects, those most likely to be selected by the Vikings are Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, it’s also quite likely that all four of those players could be off the board by the Vikings selection.

On a completely unrelated note, it’s surprising to see E.J. Manuel on the list of attendees. Could it be that Ponder’s Florida State successor will pull a Ponder on Day 1? Just 14 days, 19 hours and 32 minutes until we find out… But who’s counting?

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According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, veteran cornerback and expert tackler Antoine Winfield is now deciding between the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings.

Reports that surfaced earlier today suggested that he may be closer to signing with Seahawks than resigning with the Vikings. Those reports may have been premature as now it looks like Winfield is somewhere in the middle of the two.

Winfield was abruptly released early March – a move that caught the experienced cornerback, his teammates, Vikings personnel and fans all off guard.

The Seahawks (also  known as the Vikings of the West) look to reunite Winfield with ex-Vikings Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin.

Antoine Winfield is expected to make a decision soon.

Edit: Found a pretty interesting story about the last time Winfield was a free agent and stuck between two teams from John Holler over at vikingsupdate.com. Never heard this story before – fun read. (Here’s to hoping for a similar outcome!)

 

[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!]

One of the most popular names being connected, by fans and analysts, to the Vikings middle linebacker vacancy has been Kansas State prospect Arthur brown.  Brown was a standout in the Scouting Combine interviews and he weighed in at 6′ 0″ and 241 pounds, an increase of bulk from his college listing, which was nice to see considering he still ran the forty at about 4.6 seconds at his pro day.

The biggest knock against Brown is that he lacks the ideal size for a middle linebacker of a 4-3 team where he will be asked to cover taller tight ends down the field and some, like me, worry that he would be forced to take on the weakside outside role rather than be a solution in the middle.

If any guy in this Draft has the skills to overcome measureable issues, however, it is probably Brown.

He plays the game with very good instincts and seems to be a very intelligent player-coach on the field, meaning that both his leadership ability and knack for reading defenses made him more valuable to Kansas State than most linebackers in college.  He is a sound tackler and shows excellent gap discipline against the run.

Brown may not have the elite type of speed Combine fanatics line up to see, but he has the quickness and agility that converts into some of the best range of any linebacker in this class.  He is the type of guy you trust to cover a runner out of the backfield sideline-to-sideline, but could still get burned down the seam by tight ends.

Brown started out playing for Miami where he barely saw any action in two years.  He then went to Kansas State with his brother, Bryce, to play for head coach Bill Snyder.  He redshirted for a year at his new school, but before the next season even started he was named a captain on defense, and became the best defender on the team.  Outside of his shoulder injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and Combine, Brown proved to be fairly durable, and there really are no red flags on either this prospect’s health or character at all.  The 21 bench press reps he produced at his Pro Day should be a reasonable indicator that the shoulder is no longer an issue.

In 2011, Brown notched 101 tackles, 9.5 of which were for a loss, and made one of the biggest plays of the year when he ended RGIII’s non-interception streak.  In 2012, he had 100 tackles, seven for a loss, one sack, four defended passes, and two interceptions.

Brown possesses all of the attributes, other than size, you want to see from a middle linebacker prospect and has the production on his resume to back it up.  I personally have Brown just shy of a first round grade, and worry that he will not be a three down player, but enough other people that I respect would scoff at that statement that I am willing to concede that I might be wrong.

What I do know is, if the Vikings select him in a couple of weeks, he will be an upgrade to this group of linebackers no matter where the coaches decide to stick him.  His range and quickness would be a welcomed addition to this defense, especially as they prepare to play about 10 games against mobile quarterbacks in 2013, where this defense obviously needs help.

 

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