Sunday, May 28, 2017

antoine winfield

Adam has been absolutely killing it with his ‘Draft Target’ posts. Come April 25th, there will likely be no one the readers here at VT haven’t heard of the way he’s been rolling these things out. But I can’t let him have all the fun, right? Plus, I need to get my studying on as in a few days I will be representing Vikings Territory for the second time in #MockOne (Don’t know what #MockOne is? Check it out here.)

Xavier Rhodes. This is a name you may want to get familiar with in the next couple months headed up to the draft. The lengthy Cornerback from Florida St. has definitely began to catch the eyes of draftniks out there. And with a stellar performance today at the final day of the 2013 NFL Combine, he is likely to attract even more attention.

Rhodes (22) graduated from Norland High School in his hometown of Miami, Florida. In 2009, Xavier only played in two games, one for Boston College and the other for Georgia Tech, due to a hand injury that kept him from participating the majority of the season. In 2010, he moved to FSU where he impressed “as a promising young star” and won various rookie and freshman awards. In his next two years at Florida State, Rhodes solidified his role as one of the best corners in the nation and was on watch lists for both the Bednarik and Thorpe Awards.

Read any scouting report for Xavier Rhodes and I promise you’ll find the word ‘big’ within the first thirty words. Rhodes measured in at the combine at a whopping 6’1″ tall and 210 lbs. His size and large frame allow him to be an excellent press corner who is always pressuring the receiver. Don’t be mislead by his size, though. Rhodes ran a 4.43 40 at the combine today. He also had the highest vertical jump and broad jump of any defensive backs at the combine showing great leg strength and explosion. This ability to get off the ground coupled with his lengthy stature allows him to compete for balls with receivers. Rhodes is also well-known as being one of the best (if not the best) cover corners in the nation.The only real, consistent knock on Rhodes is that he isn’t amazing in run support and could work on his tackling.

There are bigger needs for the Vikings than Cornerback, no doubt about it. But, there are a few reasons why I think this pick would be really good for the Vikings.

First and foremost, I’m not completely sold on taking a wide receiver late in the first round (yet…). To me, the value just isn’t there and you could likely find someone comparable to the receivers who will be first off the board in the second and third rounds. Secondly, I really like what our secondary would look like with a guy like Rhodes added to the squad. Picture it – a physical, big-framed giant on each side, Cook and Rhodes (if Cook can stay healthy…), Antoine Winfield and Josh Robinson in the mix on occassion and the bruiser Harrison Smith lurking around in the backfield waiting to destroy someone. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! I just think the value is there at Cornerback with a guy like Rhodes, especially when this year’s draft is so deep at other defensive positions.

Xavier Rhodes could be a player who makes the Vikings secondary one to be feared for years to come in the NFC North – a division that is ripe with good quarterback play and big receivers.

If Xavier Rhodes is available when the Vikings are on the clock come April 25th (and that’s a big ‘if’ considering his stellar performance at the combine) it will be very interesting to see if the Vikings surprise people and go with the Florida State DB.

Check out the video below for some good tape on Rhodes. And feel free to leave some comments with some guys that you think would be worth looking at in our “Draft Target” series.

It has been awhile since the Minnesota Vikings have gone into a season with the talent and depth at cornerback that they currently have.  Still, they could use some help at the position, and there are a ton of potential free agents to choose from if they want to dip into that pool.

Antoine Winfield is a possible cap casualty, although it seems unlikely, and A.J. Jefferson is a restricted free agent.  Thus, there are no pressing vacancies at the position at this point, but an NFL team can never have too many good cornerbacks and should never stop looking for upgrades.

Top Tier

Despite the lengthy list of free agent cornerbacks, I am not sure that any belong in this category, but I feel most strongly that Leodis McKelvin out of Buffalo has the highest ceiling.  Plus, he is the most likely to actually hit the open market since Buffalo has so many pending free agents.  He has been pretty solid as a spot starter and provides excellent skills on special teams, and I think he could compete for a starting job across from Chris Cook while also helping out the special teams unit.

Keenan Lewis was very solid for Pittsburgh as a starter in 2012 and could start for most NFL teams, including the Vikings.  Meanwhile, Miami’s Sean Smith underachieved for most of last season, but there is little doubt he still possesses the ability to play at a very high level in this league.

Joe Webb went from “too talented not to have on the field” to “get him out of here” as fast as any player not involved in a scandal that I can think of.

That will happen, of course, when you put up a stinker the way Webb did in the Wild Card round, against the Packers, that resulted in a 54.9 quarterback rating and a loss.  The quarterback rating doesn’t describe just how bad Webb’s performance was, however, as most of the good came after a whole ton of bad and when Green Bay’s defense had already declared victory.

Many assume that Webb’s inability to show up in the big game means he will be gone as soon as the Vikings can find a replacement.  I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

Besides having all of the same excuses that Christian Ponder has benefitted from this season, such as depleted receiver options and an offensive coordinator that inexplicably went away from his strengths, Webb presents unique value in 2013.

That value stems from a point that I plan on beating to death this offseason: the Vikings have a ton of mobile quarterbacks on their 2013 schedule, as I pointed out here.  All six of the Vikings losses in 2012 came against shifty quarterbacks and they project to play nine games against mobile quarterbacks next year, and that isn’t even counting what Chip Kelly manages to put together in Philadelphia.

That means the Vikings defense has to improve in this area.  Of course a big part of that will consist of offseason personnel moves such as upgrading at linebacker and keeping Antoine Winfield in the fold.  Other than putting the best players on the field to keep these quarterbacks from taking off, preparation in also going to be key.

Who better to prepare a defense, by running the scout team, than a fleet footed, option running quarterback like Webb?

Webb is sure to never be as good as Cam Newton or RGIII, but if he can at least be effective at pretending to be them then he may already have a role carved out for him that keeps him on the roster in 2013.

Besides, at a salary of $575,000, it is hard not justifying him sticking around as an asset to not the offense, but the defense.

As the post below indicated, Christian Ponder (elbow) is amazingly going to be inactive for what should have been his first playoff appearance.  Joe Webb, who Vikings fans are very familiar with, will be starting in his place.

Webb’s backup will be McLeod Bethel-Thompson who has never appeared in a regular season NFL game.  With the way Webb runs the ball, and may be asked to do a lot today, it is reasonable to wonder if our postseason hopes won’t end up on MBT’s shoulders.

The team’s other inactives are receiver Stephen Burton, cornerback Brandon Burton, linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, offensive lineman Troy Kropog, end George Johnson and end D’Aundre Reed.

This means rookie linebacker Audie Cole will be asked to replace McKenzie on special teams.  Cole made a big splash in the preseason by returning two interceptions for touchdowns on back-to-back plays.

The inactives list also does not include Antoine Winfield which is good news for a Vikings secondary that will need all the help it can scrounge up against Aaron Rodgers and the potent passing attack of the Green Bay Packers.

As I mentioned earlier this week, injuries on both teams make Saturday night’s game between the Vikings and Packers a completely unique matchup compared to their previous two.

The Vikings special teams struggled last week with linebacker Tyrone McKenzie leaving due to a shoulder injury.  He has been ruled out once again making the Vikings coverage team a point of interest in this one, especially since electric return man Randall Cobb (ankle) is probable to return to the field.

In fact, Cobb’s return means that the Packers talented group of receivers are now healthier than they have been all season long.  Greg Jennings is at 100% now while Jordy Neson (knee) and Jermichael Finley (quadriceps) are both listed as probable.

The sudden health of Aaron Rodgers passing weapons unfortunately coincides with the Vikings secondary having some substantial health questions.  Rodgers threw a pass in Antoine Winfield’s direction only once prior to Winfield leaving last week’s game with a broken hand that swelled up on him, and then proceeded to pick on his replacement, Marcus Sherels, 10 times in the remainder of the game.

Winfield is listed as questionable but has indicated he will be wearing a new cast on the hand and plans on playing through the pain.  His injured teammates in the secondary are Harrison Smith (knee) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle) are both listed as probable, however.

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was only able to prepare for his latest biggest career game on a limited basis this week due to an elbow injury in his throwing arm.  Leslie Frazier indicated that Ponder is doing everything possible to get ready for this game, and it seems highly unlikely that anyone else gets the start, but one can’t help but wonder if Joe Webb might be making an appearance Saturday night.

Adrian Peterson (abdomen), Brian Robison (shoulder), Jared Allen (shoulder), George Johnson (quadriceps), Chris Kluwe (knee), and Phil Loadholt (knee) are all listed as probable.

Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin and defensive end Jerel Worthy have both been ruled out after suffering injuries last week.  Running back James Starks (knee) is listed as questionable.

Cornerbacks Tramon Williams (illness) and Davon House (hip) are both considered probable.  Also probable is Charles Woodson (collarbone) who is expected to give the Packers a boost in pass defense after missing considerable time.

The weather forecast for Green Bay is looking to be sub-freezing conditions and possible frozen precipitation.  Considering the Packers passing prowess, and Adrian Peterson’s dominance on the ground, I say the nastier the weather is the better off the Vikings are.

After all, an ice pellet or two clinking off of Mason Crosby’s helmet might just be enough to…

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