Thursday, March 5, 2015
Blog Page 197

If I didn’t know better, I would say that Rick Spielman’s recent comments about Manti Te’o indicate that, at the very least, he is intrigued by the possibility of drafting Notre Dame’s star linebacker.

We have previously discussed the choice Te’o would present the Vikings if he were available while they are on the clock in April, and Spielman sounds like he is tuning in to the media coverage of the whole “fake girlfriend” thing to keep tabs on the situation.  He admitted to watching Dr. Phil for the first time in his life when Te’o’s prankster culprit, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, was being interviewed.

That tells me he is at least a little interested in Te’o.

“In the end, you’ll sit there and discuss all that,” Spielman said of the bizarre story. “Every team will make their own determination. How do you compare what happened, because he’s an extremely talented football player, against a guy who may have a drug issue or may have an arrest record or may have some other off-field issue? Everybody’s going to have, just like on any player, their difference of opinion. We’ll go through that process as well.”

He also says that the Vikings are aware of some details that have not yet been reported by any media outlets, which displays that they are doing their homework on the young linebacker.

Spielman says that the Vikings will evaluate the Te’o’s “whole body of work” and that the odd story, as well as his poor play in the championship game, will only factor into their evaluation as a part of the whole.

Of all the players in this draft class, I suspect steam will pick up greatly in the next few week’s as far as connecting Te’o to the Vikings, and that might be exactly what Spielman wants to see happen.

What we know, however, is that the Vikings are either interested or pretending to be interested.

 

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As we churn through this exciting offseason there is so much information and opinions flying about that it is almost too difficult to keep it all straight.  It certainly is too difficult to go back and try to find something you read two months ago.

Thus, we have put together a one-stop shop for all of your offseason news, opinions, rankings, and rumors.

We call it the Offseason Tracker and you can visit it by clicking here or the button at the top of the screen.  We’ll keep it up there for the whole offseason, and it’ll be growing bigger on a daily basis.

Check it out and let us know if there is anything we should add to it to make it more useful.

[NOTE:  Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks,tight ends, centers, guards, offensive tackles, wide receivers, safeties, and cornerbacks.  We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]

Outside of Chad Greenway on the strong side, the Vikings have reached somewhat of a crossroads at the linebacker position.  Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson were not the world’s best starters at their respective positions in 2012, and each are scheduled to be free agents next month along with backup Marvin Mitchell.

I wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings re-signed one or both of their starters at some point this offseason, but there are also plenty of opportunities to think about outside of the current roster.  The Draft has some interesting prospects, but free agency also contains some plausible options:

Top Tier

Perhaps the best linebacker set to be a free agent is one coming from our rivals in Green Bay.  Brad Jones filled in very well for the injured Desmond Bishop last season, and it is clear that he should remain a starter somewhere.  He could be a solid fit for the Vikings in the middle, and stealing from a divisional foe is always and added bonus.

It can be hard to spot decent individual talent on the Riaders, but weakside linebacker Phillip Wheeler earned himself a decent contract by sticking out during Oakland’s miserable season.

The Ravens already know that Ray Lewis is a goner, so that makes it even more crucial to re-sign Dannell Ellerbe, who was one of the NFL’s better linebackers this season.

With the starting duo staying healthy this season Larry Grant of the Niners did not get to see extensive action like he did in 2011.  Still, if Grant can go elsewhere and play like he did two seasons ago as a starter, then he will soon be name hear a lot about.

It has been awhile since the Minnesota Vikings have gone into a season with the talent and depth at cornerback that they currently have.  Still, they could use some help at the position, and there are a ton of potential free agents to choose from if they want to dip into that pool.

Antoine Winfield is a possible cap casualty, although it seems unlikely, and A.J. Jefferson is a restricted free agent.  Thus, there are no pressing vacancies at the position at this point, but an NFL team can never have too many good cornerbacks and should never stop looking for upgrades.

Top Tier

Despite the lengthy list of free agent cornerbacks, I am not sure that any belong in this category, but I feel most strongly that Leodis McKelvin out of Buffalo has the highest ceiling.  Plus, he is the most likely to actually hit the open market since Buffalo has so many pending free agents.  He has been pretty solid as a spot starter and provides excellent skills on special teams, and I think he could compete for a starting job across from Chris Cook while also helping out the special teams unit.

Keenan Lewis was very solid for Pittsburgh as a starter in 2012 and could start for most NFL teams, including the Vikings.  Meanwhile, Miami’s Sean Smith underachieved for most of last season, but there is little doubt he still possesses the ability to play at a very high level in this league.

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