Saturday, October 22, 2016

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Which Vikings
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Taking a page out of the NFL’s media playbook, we’re exploring the Minnesota Vikings’ roster to identify players who will “Make the Leap” in 2016. Since 2014, five Vikings have appeared on the website’s annual list, from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson.

For a team with budding talent at nearly every position, the options are endless. Some players, like Anthony Barr, are already considered some of the best at their respective positions. Others, like Stefon Diggs, have a chance to enter the conversation this season.

The Vikings Territory team made some surprising choices in this week’s VT QOTW, from singling out a certain third-year quarterback to highlighting a few under-the-radar names. After the jump, find out who we chose, and be sure to share your own selections in the comments and poll at the end of the post!

Which Vikings “Make the Leap” in 2016?

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Vikings Territory

According to a Wednesday press release distributed by the Minnesota Vikings, the team has decided to clear some space from their linebacker depth chart in advance of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The team announced the release of second-year linebackers Alex Singleton and Terrance Plummer. Singleton played college ball for Montana State and Plummer was out of Central Florida.

Much discussion has taken place lately about whether or not the Vikings might be interested in investing an early draft pick in the linebacker position later this month.

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Poll of the Week

Vikings Veterans Have Something to Prove
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The Minnesota Vikings are a relatively young team, buoyed by first and second-year players at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. From Teddy Bridgewater to Eric Kendricks, the roster is stacked with up-and-coming contributors who should remain in purple and gold for years to come. Minnesota’s success hinges on their long-term future with the team, but they’re not the only cogs in the winning machine.

Veterans like Adrian Peterson, Terence Newman, and Phil Loadholt are just as, if not more important to the Vikings’ short-term outlook than the team’s young stars. Chad Greenway, set to play his last season with the Vikings in 2016, recently commented on Mike Zimmer’s unbiased, win-first approach coaching.

“He’s just in your face, and you always know where you stand – good or bad,” Greenway said, per Lindsey Young. “Whether you’re 32 years old or 22 years old, he’s going to have you playing your best football every week. He’s going to continue to get you better no matter where you’re at in your career.”

To Zimmer, age is nothing but a number. Newman led the team with three interceptions last season, Peterson won his third rushing title, and Joe Berger was arguably Minnesota’s best offensive lineman. Father Time hasn’t caught up to many of the Vikings’ veterans yet, and they’ll look to stay ahead of the curve in 2016.

Which veteran — any player over 30 years old — is most important to Minnesota’s winning chances this season?

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Offensive line coach Tony Sparano and tight ends coach Pat Shurmur were hired by Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer to improve the 29th ranked offense. Both men have offensive coordinator and head coaching experience that Zimmer hopes will breathe new life, or at least add a few fresh ideas to Norv Turner’s Air Coryell scheme.

Zimmer said last month at an NFL owners meeting that Turner is very open to new ideas and has modified his traditional system over the years.

“Norv has changed a lot,” Zimmer said. “I used to go play against him a long time ago. Over the course of the years, a lot of the no-huddle, the [shot]gun stuff, the zone read, those are all new things. Norv is not hard-headed. I’m probably more hard-headed defensively than he is offensively.”

Turner’s system will likely continue to evolve as they incorporate a few wrinkles from Shurmur’s West Coast background and Sparano’s physical pound it style. While a total revamp of the offense is not on the forecast, here are five things to anticipate in 2016.

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Illustration by Matt Engstrom

Rick Spielman is a popular man in Minnesota of late. At the very least, with Mike Zimmer as his running mate, he could probably produce some approval ratings that will give any politician a run for their money.

Spielman has done wonders to this Vikings roster in recent years and is quickly earning reputations as a wise spender, talented evaluator of rookie talent, and tricky trader. One thing he doesn’t ever seem to produce, however, are compensatory draft picks, and that could very well be by design.

The formula that allocates compensatory picks is getting less and less secretive as time goes on, but for the next year Vikings fans can ignore the nuances and stick to the simple arithmetic to determine that this team will not recieve any in 2017.

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