Sunday, March 29, 2015
Blog Page 190

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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.

 

You know the drill, here is the best of the best:

[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!]

Despite nine starts as a true freshman, N.C. State cornerback David Amerson was very quiet and his only real notable stats was one lone pass breakup, 57 tackles, and a forced fumble.  In 2011, however, Amerson had one of the most prolific seasons of any corner in the history of college football.

As a sophomore, Amerson amassed a ridiculous interception total of 13, which was the second highest total in FBS history.  He also had 59 tackles and five defended passes.  He proved to be a true game changer in multiple 2011 contests and it was fully expected that he would be a sure-fire top ten pick when he entered the Draft.

Then his junior season happened.

His final numbers weren’t really too awful.  He had 54 tackles, five interception, and 11 defended passes.  Those don’t tell the whole story, however, as Amerson was constantly abused by opponents.  His fundamentals were terrible, he bit on double moves, and just constantly looked like he was trying to force similar production as was experienced in the previous season.

In one game, against Miami, Amerson was beat on four passing plays that led to touchdowns and contributed greatly to his team’s loss.  His junior season was plagued by him getting duped by double moves, failing to recover lost ground against his man, and just overall being a liability in the defense.

With one mediocre season, one fantastic season, and one horrible season of game tape to his name Amerson has become one of this class’s most talked about prospects.  A lot of people were curious to see which game tape his Combine performance would confirm and for the most part he showed great athleticism, including a 4.44 second forty time.

I think Amerson is a great prospect for the Vikings to consider.  He is at his best when he is allowed to roam in zone coverage, and he displays great instincts when it comes to jumping routes or keeping the play in front of him, while also proving capable of roughing his man up a bit at the line of scrimmage.  He plays the position like a receiver, seldom missing an opportunity to pick off an errant pass, and has solid return skills once he secures the football.

At 6′ 1″ and 205 pounds, he could also end up transitioning to safety at the next level, and rumor has it some teams are projecting him as an NFL safety.  I don’t think moving him to safety will be a necessity if he can get some high quality NFL coaching early in his career, as his flat footed play and slow hip turn are correctable issues.  If he can become more refined at his craft then he might just become a turnover machine, which the Vikings haven’t really had since the earlier days of Darren Sharper.

Teams that like to man-up there corners, and leave them on an island, are not going to be too keen on Amerson unless they view him as a safety.  A team like the Vikings, however, may benefit from his scheme-specific skill set by scooping up a game changing talent with a second or third round pick.  He has all of the attributes and skills to be very successful at the next level, and the Vikings might just be the right fit for him to once again fulfill his potential like he did in 2011.

Despite being on vacation, 1500 ESPN writer Tom Pelissero is still scooping everyone else.

Pelissero reports that former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is scheduled to meet with the Seattle Seahawks, where all former Vikings seem to end up, on Wednesday.  Winfield has also been on vacation, which has played a part in the delay of him signing with any team.  Winfield previously met with the Washington Redskins’ brass, but no deal was reached and the have since re-signed DeAngelo Hall.

Winfield was surprisingly released by the Vikings do to a salary that exceeded $7 million, but even at age 35 can provide an NFL team with great veteran leadership and some of the best overall play at his position.

The Vikings have reportedly maintained contact with Winfield’s representatives and a return to Minnesota is not totally out of the question.

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