Friday, July 21, 2017

[Note From Adam:  For previous “Offseason Preview” features feel free to click the following:  The Passers and the Runners.]

At the time of this posting, the Vikings are currently at Senior Bowl practices searching through piles of prospects, and there is no doubt that wide receiver will be a high priority as the team enters their second season of the Christian Ponder era.

Let’s take a closer look.

I continue my endeavor to point you towards all the interesting notes coming from Mobile, Alabama as the Vikings coaches work with the North squad.

  • Defensive tackle Mike Martin (Michigan) and middle linebacker Audie Cole (North Carolina State) fit positions of need for the Vikings, and have taken advantage of their opportunity to impress the coaching staff.
  • Another linebacker that has made an impression is Lavonte David out of Nebraska.
  • Think the Vikings could use another guy like Percy Harvin?  Kendall Wright out of Baylor is drawing comparisons to Harvin and may be a steal if he is still around at the beginning of the second round.  Wright is not present at the Senior Bowl, but he is still generating plenty of discussion.
  • The Vikings interviewed 45 players in four hours on Tuesday.  Rick Spielman allowed four reporters incredible access, including sitting in on Spielman’s interview of Auburn long snapper Josh Harris, and discusses the interview process in depth.  Great article!  Check it out here.
  • Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN offers up five players to watch when the game rolls around.  Good stuff, but somebody should tell Tom to back away from the camera a bit.
  • A potential surprise looming in April could be the Vikings decision to select a rookie kicker, especially after Ryan Longwell’s rough season.  If the Vikings are planning such a pick, they are keeping it pretty close to the vest by reiterating their faith in Longwell.
  • Leslie Frazier places a lot of value in the interview process teams put prospects through.  “The fact that we can interact with them in meetings, we can go to the dining hall with them, we can stand on the practice field and talk about things, it’s an ongoing interview,” Frazier said. “Unlike at the combine when you may get them for 15 or 20 minutes, this is a week-long interview we have with these players.
  • One Vikings assistant coach was very complimentary of Virginia linebacker Cam Johnson.  Johnson has had a good couple days of practice and earned some extra credit by expressing enthusiasm of watching film of Tuesday’s practice.  Johnson projects as a mid-round prospect and would probably be moved to defensive end in the Vikings defense.
  • According to Leslie Frazier, the Vikings are not going to completely ignore the running back position throughout the scouting process.  “We do have to be conscious of some of the running backs that are in this draft,” Frazier said.

On a positive note, the Vikings are entering this offseason with key veterans healthier than they have been in the recent past.

On a not-so-positive note, however, these veterans could be taking their good health elsewhere in 2012.

On Monday, Leslie Frazier showed excitement that starters Kevin Williams, Steve Hutchinson, and Anthony Herrera are entering the offseason without a need for surgery, something that has been a bit or a rarity for each of them of late.

“He is doing fine. From what I was told, he is past that concussion that he had,” Frazier said of Hutchinson, who was thought to be considering retirement, from the Senior Bowl in Mobile. “I know he wants to still play, at least that’s what he told me – he still wants to play.”

Kevin Williams had been battling a knee injury through 2011, and Anthony Herrera has had numerous injuries himself, but Frazier indicated that both are expected to be fully healthy when training camp rolls around.

“Knock on wood, first offseason in a while that he won’t have to be cut on for anything, so very, very encouraging that he can come to camp healthy. That would be great for us,” Frazier said of Williams. “… I was teasing Anthony Herrera, it’s a rarity to see him and Kevin not having any offseason surgeries. It’s a good thing. Neither one of them has to have an offseason surgery.”

In a lot of ways, the health of these veterans makes decisions on their futures as Minnesota Vikings all the more difficult.

Safety Husain Abdullah, who could possibly become a free agent in March, was also contemplating retirement because of concussions despite only being 26 years old.  Abdullah, however, has taken it upon himself to get advised by some of the best experts in the field and has been cleared to continue playing in the NFL, and he intends to.

“If I was going to make a big-time decision, I definitely wanted to go talk to them,” Abdullah said on Monday. “It was really educational and I did a couple tests and everything and they just kind of talked to me and helped me out. But they said my concussion was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was and it wasn’t career-burdening at all.”

Abdullah was approached by the Vikings about a contract extension during the 2011 season, but he didn’t want the situation to distract him at all and decided to forego the discussions until the offseason.  With the injury history building up, and a poor 2011 campaign, Abdullah may never get another offer from the Vikings now that Rick Spielman is in charge.

Leslie Frazier, however, was elated to hear the news that Abdullah planned to continue his career.

“Good for him. That’s good. Good. Good. Good. I know that that was a concern for all of us,” Frazier said when a reporter told him the news. “He’s a good player. He’s played well for us. It’s unfortunate we lost him this year to the injury, but he’s a guy that’s a good football player.”

Frazier indicated that he thinks Abdullah is in the Vikings plans for this offseason.

Williams, Hutchinson, and Herrera could force the Vikings to take a different approach, however, since they are all on the wrong side of 30 and come with significantly higher paychecks.

In the case of Hutchinson, age 34, he is entering the final year of his contract and is set to cost the team $7 million.  His play has decreased significantly since 2009, and this would be a hefty price to pay.  The Vikings, who are aiming to get younger, may have little choice to ask Hutchinson to take a paycut in his final year or be cut.  Hutchinson, who has really grown roots with his family in Minnesota, just might be willing to give the team a break if it means he gets to remain there.

Herrera, age 31, is also entering the final year of his contract which should pay him $2.65 million in 2012.  This isn’t a huge amount of money, but it is certainly more than his performances in the last two seasons are worth.  He is also a candidate for the chopping block.

Less likely to be going anywhere is Kevin Williams, who by all appearances is no longer the dominant force he once was, as his contract goes through the 2014 season.  His price tag is not a small one though, as he will make $7 million for each of his next three seasons under his current contract.  The Vikings, at this point, are probably hoping that Williams will simply rebound and play at the high level fans are accustomed to seeing from him.

So, with Adrian Peterson being the only Vikings player facing major surgery this offseason, the Vikings appear to be in fairly healthy shape.

The only question that remains is whether or not their good health will keep some of these guys from being jettisoned in an attempt to save cap space and get younger.

I want to take a look around the web at what others are saying about the prospects at the Senior Bowl practices, as well as the Vikings coaches who are in charge of the North squad.  Because Vikings Territory doesn’t actually have anybody at the, you know… Senior Bowl, I will be sure to link each note to its proper source.

  • Okay, we’ll start off by playing a little catch up.  Cornerback Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina) is 6’ 1” and 203 pounds, and managed to make a name for himself at the East-West Shrine Game played last week.  Here is an interesting interview with the small school prospect, and as I am writing this I am listening to Mike Mayock talk about how Norman could sneak into the second round and will likely be in the top 100 on every team’s draft board.
  • Here is a video, courtesy of Tom Pelissero at 1500 ESPN, of Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman addressing their team on the night prior to their first practice.
  • Speak of Pelissero, he is under the impression that the Vikings are paying special attention to the wide receivers and the cornerbacks on their squad.  No real shocker there.  Why is he under that impression?  Because Frazier told him so.  “Corners, wide receivers — we’re going to take a hard look at those positions,” Frazier said. “We really need to get some help in that area, but we’re going to also look at the offensive line. There are some offensive linemen here we need to look at that may be able to help us, and even the linebacker position as well.”
  • Leslie Frazier says he is taking advantage of the Senior Bowl to treat it as a minicamp for his coaching staff.  He wants to work out the “kinks” which may, or may not, consist of having Mike Singletary and Fred Pagac return to the team in different roles than what they held last season.
  • Karl Dunbar was at the practice despite being unemployed after being fired by the Vikings.  New defensive line coach Brendan Daly is contrasting the laid back style of Dunbar by providing some fire.  “Lot of energy,” Frazier said of Daly. “Lot of enthusiasm.”
  • Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson is the only member of the Vikings coaching staff that is not present in Mobile this week.  He had hip replacement surgery on Friday.
  • When it comes to who looked the best wearing no clothes and being measured and weighed, look no further than Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick.  He measured in at 6’ 3.5” and 222 pounds, with 33.5” arms (which is long, by the way).  Quick is thought to be a mid-round prospect, but he could be a fast riser this offseason if his production matches his physical attributes.
  • Here are some more specifics on the results of the weigh-in process.
  • Normally I would be scouring the internet for information on which players the Vikings are meeting with in Mobile.  With the Vikings coaching this year, however, that list simply includes all the prospects playing for the North team and none of the players playing for the South.  For what prospects other teams are interested in, go ahead and click here.
  • There were mixed reviews of the defensive backs and offensive linemen playing for Frazier’s team in their first practice.  The wide receivers, however, all seemed to be impressive according to Walterfootball.com.
  • Sporting News gives you five guys that helped themselves on Monday and five more that hurt themselves.  Check out their report by clicking here.

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I apologize for my absence of late. 

I have been in a self-induced NyQuil coma for the last few days and every time I started to write a new post this is as far as I got:  “The Vikings are realllyoresfjlksdgjfdksl… Childress.”

Not sure what I was even going for there.

However, it is time to move on and this week will certainly have a Senior Bowl theme to it.  I plan on covering the events, including updates for how the Vikings coaching staff is faring in Mobile, in great detail.

Check back for updates, but in the meantime you can see Leslie Frazier’s opening address to his Senior Bowl team by clicking here.

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