Friday, July 31, 2015

Captain Munnerlyn

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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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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings head into 2015 with one of the league’s best young cornerbacks, but still lack adequate depth at the position —depth which may be addressed late in the NFL Draft.

Xavier Rhodes blossomed in his sophomore season last year, finishing with 18 pass breakups and his first career interception. In Mike Zimmer’s defense, he showed the ability to shadow receivers like Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery while cutting down on “grabby” man coverage techniques.

On the other side of the field, Captain Munnerlyn suffered through his worst season in the NFL. As a free agent signing from the Carolina Panthers in 2014, the 5’9″, 195-pound Munnerlyn was expected to step in and fill a pressing need opposite Xavier Rhodes. Although he finished the season with 2 interceptions, Munnerlyn struggled on the outside, and Zimmer may look to make him a pure slot corner in 2015.

“He has the chance to fall into the draft’s middle rounds and surprise many NFL teams.”

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Today marks the opening of the three-day opening for “legal” tampering. Deals are starting to be made at a consistent pace and Vikings action is sure to be picking up soon.

Over the last couple of months we here at VT have put together some previews of each position that includes current roster situations, players potentially departing from the team this offseason, and look at who might be on the market to bring aboard and help get this team into the playoffs.

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