6 Days Until NFL Draft — About the Labor Podcast Episode 57

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald continue their final review of the upcoming NFL Draft with a 45-minute show talking exclusively 2017 prospects and how they may or may not correlate with the Minnesota Vikings. Episode 58 of the About the Labor Podcast puts Quarterbacks, Tight Ends, Cornerbacks and Priority Undrafted Free Agents under the microscope.

Note: Discussion centers around on BJ and Drew’s most recently updated Prospect Ranking Boards available below after the jump!

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  • Prospect Review: Quarterbacks
  • Prospect Review: Tight Ends
  • Prospect Review: Cornerbacks
  • “Priority Undrafted Free Agent Engagement List Agenda”

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image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings failed to meet expectations in 2016. After a 2015 season that included a division title and plenty of hope for the future, a 3-8 finish to the 2016 season has many questioning Minnesota’s validity as a playoff-caliber team.

The 2017 season will put those questions to the test and provide the Vikings will the opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.

The official schedule for the upcoming season was released Thursday night. By finishing third in the NFC North in 2016, the Vikings will play the third-toughest slate of all NFC North teams in terms of opponent winning percentage in 2016.

Overall, the Vikings’ 2017 opponents combined for a winning percentage of .453 in 2016, which is the fifth-lowest number in the NFL and the lowest in the NFC North. The Indianapolis Colts have the easiest strength of schedule (.424) and the Denver Broncos will play the toughest slate (.578).

The Green Bay Packers have the toughest strength of schedule in the NFC North (.480), with the Chicago Bears (.479) and Detroit Lions (.469) rounding out the division.

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image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is a restless man during the NFL Draft. When he’s not on the clock, he’s frantically making calls with other teams to improve Minnesota’s draft position. He has operated that way since he took over full reigns as general manager in 2012.

In his first three NFL Drafts, Spielman either moved Minnesota’s place in the draft or added a selection in the first round. He swooped an extra couple of picks from Cleveland in 2012 to move down one spot and was still able to get the guy he wanted in Matt Kalil. In 2013, Spielman selected three times in the first round, making trades with Seattle (before the draft) and New England to acquire picks that turned into Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman then pulled the trigger on a trade that moved the Vikings back into the last slot of the first round in 2014 to select Teddy Bridgewater.

“Slick Rick” didn’t make any such moves in the previous two drafts, but his track record indicates that type of maneuver is on his mind a week before the draft. It’s important to keep in mind that Spielman would likely need to give up the 48th overall pick and the 79th overall pick to move up into the bottom of the first. Depending on the prospects available, it might require more than that.

With all of this in mind, the question must be asked: If Spielman does pull the trigger on a trade into the first round, which prospects should he target?

The fundamental answer is easy: trade up for a guy with top-tier first round talent who has slipped through the cracks. Several candidates fit that bill in this year’s draft class.

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This post originally appeared on Purple PTSD.

The Minnesota Vikings opened voluntary workouts at Winter Park this week, marking the beginning of “official” offseason activities. Each year, the climax of the Super Bowl seems to be followed more closely by the start of these workouts and team activities.

What we consider the “offseason” is just one part of the NFL’s shift to a year-round schedule. As soon as the winner hoists the Lombardi trophy, analysts turn to the college tapes in anticipation of the NFL Draft. The start of free agency may come before the rush of collegiate speculation, but this is the time of the year to fawn over favorite players and potential picks.

A name oft-floated around the Vikings is Joe Mixon — the troubled, yet über-talented running back out of Oklahoma. For some, he’s a surefire selection if available when the Vikings pick at No. 48. But for others, he’s an untouchable prospect with too many disqualifying questions to land in Minnesota.

Joe Johnson of Purple PTSD recently asked me to investigate Mixon; what I thought of him as a player, whether I think he’s a good fit for the offense, and whether or not the team’s interest in the former Sooner is more than “smoke.” After the jump, I’ll break it down, one question at a time.

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WARNING: Do Not Draft Kickers & Punters

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings find themselves in a bit of a special teams quagmire with the NFL draft quickly approaching.

Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick in 2012, was notably released this past November and subsequently replaced by former undrafted free-agent kicker Kai Forbath. The Jeff Locke roller coaster, which began with the Vikings selecting the former UCLA punter during the fifth round in 2013, came to a decisive end when he bolted for Indianapolis during free agency this offseason. He has since been replaced on Minnesota’s roster by a pair of previously undrafted punters in Texas Tech’s Taylor Symmank and Boston College’s Ryan Quigley.

Forbath, who connected on 15 of 15 field-goal tries and 11 of 14 extra-point attempts after joining Minnesota ahead of Week 11 in 2016, offers — at the very least — a short-term solution to the Vikings’ kicking situation. Symmank and the recently-signed Quigley, on the other hand, are set to battle it out for the punting job vacated by Locke, but — similar to Forbath — do not necessarily represent definitive long-term options.

Point being, Minnesota is potentially (still) in the market for an upgrade at kicker, punter or both — and the Vikings should refrain from investing any of their very limited draft capital on either special teams position during any round of the 2017 NFL draft.