Saturday, June 25, 2016

Anthony Barr

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Poll of the Week

The Sky is the Limit for the Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Mike Zimmer’s vocabulary includes a smattering of four-letter words, a treasure trove of unique phrases, and plenty of criticisms. But a word you’ll never hear from the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, no matter how well his team plays, is ‘perfect.’

Despite taking the league’s worst scoring defense from 2013 and making them a top-five unit in just two years, Zimmer hesitates to proclaim he’s actually fixed things in Minnesota. “I don’t think we’re very good, to be honest with you,” he told reporters at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. “We can be a lot better,” he said, speaking to Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.

The perception around the NFL is that the Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC, buoyed by an up-and-coming defense with the roster pieces to contend for years. In Teddy Bridgewater, they have a young quarterback with all of the skills and leadership to bring the Vikings back to the playoffs. In Zimmer, they’ve got a top-five coach, one who won’t settle for anything less than perfection.

But in order to fulfill those expectations and clear the historical hurdles, they’ll need improvements across the board. It’s odd to say that about a team that went 11-5 and won the division in 2015, but Zimmer’s right; the Vikings can be “a lot better.” Well, maybe not “a lot” better, but certainly better in a few key areas.

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Projecting the Vikings' Final 53-Man Roster
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2016 season inched forward a bit when the Vikings opened their OTA offseason workouts. With that came plenty of early optimism about the Vikings’ talented roster. Teddy is ready to throw for 10,000 yards. Adrian Peterson is in the best shape of his life. 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is thriving and Aaron Boone looks great in purple.

If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest of claims that the Vikings are a true Super Bowl contender.

It is too early to say most of these things, but when you start to stack Minnesota’s roster, you can see why the hype exists. I struggled with my first attempt to pencil in a final 53-man roster, mostly because there will be talented players who will inevitably be cut. The front office won’t have an easy task on their hands, but I’d take a loaded roster over a barren one any day of the week.

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Welcome To The Big Show - Willie Beavers

The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series. Next up is Western Michigan offensive lineman Willie Beavers.

ATTRIBUTES

HEIGHT: 6′ 4″

WEIGHT: 324 pounds

ARM LENGTH: 33.5 inches

HANDS: 9.5 inches

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linebacker Kentrell Brothers out of Missouri.
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Sometimes, size and speed aren’t everything. At least, not for the Minnesota Vikings in the 2016 NFL Draft. General manager Rick Spielman took a defender with the team’s fifth-round pick, selecting linebacker Kentrell Brothers out of Missouri.

The 2015 All-SEC First Team honoree led the nation in tackling (152) last year and was the Tigers’ Team MVP. Jamaal Stephenson, the Vikings’ Director of College Scouting, spoke briefly about Brothers following the selection.

“It’s not hard to like him when you turn on the tape. He makes a lot of plays, he had over 150 tackles this year.”

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Poll of the Week

Vikings Veterans Have Something to Prove
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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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