Thursday, August 27, 2015

Captain Munnerlyn

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Image Courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings are days away from trimming the 90-man roster down to 75 after the Dallas preseason game and then the final 53 — after the fifth and final exhibition at Tennessee — as the 2015 campaign begins.

Since my mock draft skills are itching to get out, I did a mock 53-man roster and practice squad prediction/projection/forecast. Enjoy! (Also please be quick to tell me where I’m wrong, suck, and am terrible.)

QUARTERBACK (2)
5 Teddy Bridgewater
13 Shaun Hill
I think this makes the most sense to keep 2 QBs on the roster & toss the kid Heinicke (who has shown some promise in spurts) on the practice squad. Also I think Teddy’s done enough to stay off the 53-man bubble…

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Image courtesy of Chris Price

The Vikings have been in Mankato less than a week, and fans are already anxious to see where their favorite players sit on the team’s depth chart. After four training camp practices and this morning’s walkthrough session, Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff were expected to make a few changes to the roster, but things appear to be relatively the same as they were on Wednesday.

Thanks to Daniel House at Vikings Corner and Arif Hasan for the quick updates. I expect we’ll see a few changes in 11-on-11 during today’s afternoon practice:

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

At exactly 10:30 this morning — head coach Mike Zimmer runs a tight ship — injured Minnesota Vikings Brian Robison, Captain Munnerlyn, and Phil Loadholt will return to practice, taking part in the team’s first walkthrough since June’s minicamp activities. Their recoveries from a handful of injuries are a positive sign as the Vikings begin training camp in Mankato, Minnesota.

During his press conference yesterday, Mike Zimmer addressed the status of Robinson, who strained his pectoral muscle in May while working out at Winter Park. At the time of his injury, Robison told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that he’d be “OK”, but fans still worried about the eight-year veteran. At 32-years-old, many have speculated if Robison can continue to be productive on the field, especially after a disappointing 2014 season on it. When asked if Robison will be ready, Zimmer kept it short and sweet, as only Zimmer can:

“I do.”

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Arif: Harrison Smith
Mike Zimmer is not too concerned about cornerbacks getting interceptions and the design of the defense makes it more difficult for them to, so the safeties who always have their eyes on the quarterback are the best bets. In this case, it’ll be one of the top safeties in the NFL, Harrison Smith, who has shown not just a talent for grabbing interceptions, but returning them, too.

Andy: Harrison Smith
Smith had 5 of the Vikings’ 13 interceptions in 2014, leading the team. He’s a ballhawk who could benefit greatly by a physical safety like Taylor Mays or Antone Exum stepping up and letting him roam more instead of spending time in the box (although Smith is equally as effective there, if not more so). I think Smith busts out with a career high 7 INTs in 2015, makes his first Pro Bowl, is in the All-Pro discussion, and is rewarded with a lucrative long-term extension. (Hopefully before the whole blowing up part. That way he’ll be cheaper).

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Just about everyone sounds convinced that the Vikings will seek out cornerback help in the 2015 NFL Draft, with top tier prospects like Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters getting a lot of attention as potential first round selections, but it is entirely possible that the Vikings will also be looking for depth at the position later on in the weekend.

It is important to note, when talking about the Vikings draft “needs,” that the depth chart in the secondary has not gotten worse this offseason. In fact, by adding veteran Terence Newman, the Vikings have arguably gotten better via that one addition and the assumption that continuity leads to improvement. Adding more talent to a group that features Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Captain Munnerlyn and now Newman certainly can’t hurt the team’s competition situation in Mankato.

Snagging a small school prospect like Towson’s Tye Smith might turn into a late-round (or undrafted free agent) steal that pays dividends for the Vikings down the road. Smith (6′ 0″ and 184 pounds) has a nice frame for an NFL cornerback and seems like a player with the upside to develop into more than just training camp fodder.

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