Monday, May 30, 2016

adrian peterson

Bad first round picks for the Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The first round of the NFL Draft is a marquee of top prospects and college football’s best players. Over the past five years, the Minnesota Vikings have taken advantage of the talent pool, selecting nine players in the first round since 2011. And while most of those picks have been successful for general manager Rick Spielman, some failed to pan out. Names like Christian Ponder and Cordarrelle Patterson come to mind, if only because the price Spielman paid doesn’t match the return on investment.

Ponder was the 12th-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, while Patterson went 29th-overall in 2013 behind a trade that sent four Vikings draft picks to the New England Patriots. Minnesota can’t afford to make a similar mistake this year, especially when tantalizing names like Jaylon Smith and Josh Doctson may be available when the Vikings select 23rd-overall. But other, more trendy players may fall; players the Vikings shouldn’t draft in the first round. Who are they? Well, I asked the VT Team, and the answers may surprise you!

Who is one player you DO NOT want the Vikings to draft in the first round?

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Second only to the NFL Draft, the first week of the league’s free agency period is one of the most exciting parts of the NFL offseason each and every year. Sometimes it works out and other times it does not for a team and their expensive new player or players.

It is always fun for fans to hope that their team goes out and signs the top available free agents, but that is not always the best strategy for their favorite team. Some fans need to be more realistic when it comes to who they think their team could sign.

When the free agency period for this upcoming NFL year begins on March 9th, there will be a few players that could land with the Vikings. Who are some of the more realistic options in free agency that could fit with the team in Minnesota?

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Too much Peterson, not enough Bridgewater early

Vikings offense is predictable
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Starting fast in the NFL isn’t a new concept. Listen to players and coaches after games, and they’re likely to talk about “starting fast” and “finishing strong.” The idea is tried-and-true, and so are the results. According to Football Insiders, 83 percent of NFL teams that began the season 4-0 have gone on to make the playoffs since 1983.

On a macro level, it’s important to win multiple games early in the year. Not only does it cushion against later slumps, but helps teams gain an advantage on divisional opponents at the end of the season. The Minnesota Vikings enjoyed such success, winning seven of their first nine games in 2015. Although they lost three of their next four, Mike Zimmer’s team sat comfortably in the NFC playoff race because of the favorable win-loss differential.

But on a smaller scale, how did the Vikings start each of their 16 regular season games? Did they run the football with Adrian Peterson? Or, did offensive coordinator Norv Turner allow second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to get into a rhythm early? The first play of every game doesn’t necessarily reflect that contest’s outcome, but on a team with one of the league’s most predictable, run-heavy offenses, it’s intriguing to analyze the trends.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In what could just be one of many rumors to come out of Winter Park before the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Vikings are apparently interested in drafting former Alabama running back Derrick Henry. The info comes from Eric Galko of OptimumScouting.com and he says Minnesota potentially feels that Henry could be their guy if he ends up still being available when the Vikings are on the clock with the 23rd overall pick.

The 6’3″, 242 pound Henry rushed for a total of 2,219 yards and scored 28 touchdowns for Alabama in 2015. These totals eventually lead to Henry being awarded with this season’s Heisman Trophy.

He has been projected by draft scouts to be selected as a late first or early second round pick. However, Henry was not included in the latest first round mock drafts compiled by USA Today, Draft Season, Draft Tek, or Bleacher Report.

While the selection of Henry by Minnesota would not be a horrible choice, it would come with a bit of surprise. Given that the Vikings are also the same team that the 2015 NFL rushing champion calls home.

If Henry were to be drafted by Minnesota, Adrian Peterson’s days as the Vikings’s running back could be coming to an end sooner than later. However, it could create a unique opportunity for Henry to come in as a rookie and learn from Peterson if both running backs end up becoming teammates next season.

With Peterson and Jerick McKinnon currently under contract for next season, Minnesota is not in dire need to draft a running back with one of their early round selections. It may be a better option for the Vikings to wait another year and use one of their draft picks in 2017 to find a replacement for Peterson.

Will Minnesota and general manager Rick Spielman make the splashy move and snag Henry if he is still on the board when it is their turn to draft? Now remember, this is the same guy who traded back into the first round in 2013 to select Cordarrelle Patterson so anything is possible.

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The theme of today’s Sleeper Sunday is Big-10 football. This morning, Carl introduced readers to Wisconsin strong safety Michael Caputo. He’s a physical member of the Badgers secondary with a style of play and frame similar to that of Harrison Smith. Now, a look at one of the conference’s best-kept secrets; Indiana running back Jordan Howard.

Jordan Howard — RB, Indiana

Measurements

Height – 6’1″
Weight – 230 lbs.
Age – 21

At First Glance

As a first-year player at Indiana, the junior rushed for 1,213 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. Howard was named to the First Team All-Big Ten after the season and was a member of the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award Watch Lists. He caught 11 passes for 106 yards for a touchdown and also finished second in the conference with 134.8 rushing yards per game.

Before the 2015 season, Howard had spent two seasons a the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). A two-star recruit in 2013, the Alabama native opted to stay in-state for his collegiate career. There, he rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. In November 2014, UAB disbanded it’s football program and left Howard without a home. Fortunately, other Division 1 schools had kept an eye on the productive running back. With his pick of more than 20 programs, Howard made the decision to replace Tevin Coleman in Indiana. That choice appears to have been the right one.

“I think a lot of us, me and my former teammates we realize it was kind of like a blessing in disguise,” Howard said in October. “It gave us an opportunity to be more in the spotlight and show we can play on any type of level.”

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