Thursday, June 30, 2016

andre smith

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    The start of the 2016 NFL season is getting closer, and soon, fans of the Minnesota Vikings will be able to cheer for their team’s favorite players as they take the field in the Vikings brand new home known as U.S. Bank Stadium. Could this be the year that Minnesota is finally able to get over the hump and capture their very first Super Bowl trophy?

    Before the season gets underway, we here at Vikings Territory decided to rank the team’s top 30 players heading into 2016. The rankings are based on submissions from numerous writers that cover the team for various media outlets.

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    Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers
    Image courtesy of Vikings.com

    The Minnesota Vikings continue to add offensive lineman to the roster, this time by drafting Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Beavers joins the Vikings after starting 40 straight games at left tackle for the Broncos over his four-year career. The 2015 All-MAC First-Team selection spoke to Minnesota media following the announcement.

    “I want to thank the Vikings for believing in me and believing in my potential,” he said. “It’s a surreal feeling right now and I’m just so happy right now, I can’t even explain it.”

    Coming out of high school, Beavers originally committed to play defensive line at Illinois. His scholarship was rescinded after the school recruited too many players, and Beavers quickly signed to play with Western Michigan.

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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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    Treadwell's speculated
    Image courtesy of Vikings.com

    The offseason is a drag. It’s too long, it’s filled with smoke screens, and it’s a never-ending stream of misleading rumors. But it’s still football, and it’s difficult to separate the 40-yard dash times and Wonderlic scores from our Twitter feeds and anxious minds. It’s a mental grind, but admit it — you love it.

    There’s something spectacular about the frenzy of the offseason. A quote in passing from a head coach becomes fodder for a tweet-based argument. Mock drafts — of which there are plenty — fuel discussions in the comments section. We crave our Sunday football, and in its place, create topics, stories, and scenarios to fill that void.

    Today, for example, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell participated in the school’s Pro Day and ran what many consider to be a slow 40-yard dash. His 4.63-second time sparked quite the back-and-forth on Twitter, with some arguing his performance today may lead to a Draft-day slide in April. Darren Wolfson, for one, thinks the Vikings would be “lucky” if he landed at the bottom of the first round:

    Treadwell’s speculated “fall” is part of a larger conversation, one that’s grown larger as we inch closer to the 2016 NFL Draft. With every mock draft or reported prospect visit, the hype grows and builds. But at the end of it all, we’re still not any closer to knowing who the Minnesota Vikings will select with the 23rd-overall pick.

    Welcome to the uncertainty of the NFL offseason.

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    The last time we checked in on the best Vikings links from around the web, the team’s roster looked very different. Since then, Minnesota has signed 16 free agents including 11 who played for the team last season.

    With a majority of their free agent signings done with, the focus will now shift to what the Vikings will be doing heading into this spring’s NFL Draft. Have their new acquisitions done anything to change Minnesota’s priorities for the Draft?

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