Saturday, April 30, 2016

Captain Munnerlyn

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Mackensie Alexander
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer opened yesterday’s press conference with a simple question: “You all thought we were going defense, didn’t you?” The Vikings didn’t, selecting Laquon Treadwell in the first round, but Rick Spielman granted Zimmer’s wish on Friday night.

With the 54th-overall pick in the second round, the Vikings drafted Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander. The 5’10”, 190-pound redshirt sophomore finished his collegiate career with 52 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 12 pass breakups in 27 total games.

According to Pro Football Focus, Alexander allowed just 33 percent of passes into his coverage to be caught in 2015, which was best among all cornerbacks in the class. On a conference call with Minnesota media earlier tonight, the self-proclaimed “best cornerback in the draft” exuded confidence:

“I was asked to follow the best receivers every week and eliminate them from their game plan every week and win those matchups. I was asked to play inside and play zone. Whatever the Vikings want me to do, I’m ready for it and I’m just going to be open to anything they ask me to do.”

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

So now that the Minnesota Vikings have filled a need at wide receiver with Laquon Treadwell, what other prospects will catch their eye on day two of the NFL Draft? Heading into the draft’s second day, the Vikings currently hold the 23rd picks in both the second and third rounds.

Then again, anything can happen when Rick Spielman is your team’s general manager.

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Vikings 2016 Offseason Plan Part 1

[In part one of this three-part series, Austin Belisle and Brett Anderson team up to put together an in-depth offseason plan for the Minnesota Vikings.]

Blair Walsh lined up to kick a 27-yard field goal, a routine chip shot that would’ve won the Minnesota Vikings their first playoff game in nearly seven years. But the ball didn’t sail through the uprights; it veered left, and just like that, the team’s promising 2015 season was over. Visions of Mike Zimmer hoisting the Lombardi Trophy faded from memory as an exasperated fan base watched in disbelief. “How could he miss that kick?”

Lost in the heartbreak was the fact that the Vikings didn’t just exceed expectations in 2015 — they shattered them. Minnesota entered the year as a darkhorse playoff contender, a young team that flashed promise in 2014 and would only get better with the return of Adrian Peterson. They did, winning 11 games and snatching the NFC North title from the Green Bay Packers for the first time since 2009. With a mix of young talent and veteran leadership, the Vikings emerged as one of the league’s surprise teams last year.

Their success started in the offseason, where general manager Rick Spielman assembled one of the NFL’s deepest, most talented rosters. Rookies like Eric Kendricks and Stefon Diggs became immediate contributors, while second-year free agent acquisitions like Captain Munnerlyn and Linval Joseph elevated their respective games to new levels. In order to take the next step in 2016, the franchise will need to continue its steadfast approach in free agency and the annual NFL Draft.

But in order to do that, it’s critical the team establishes a clear vision. Every organization’s ultimate goal is the same — to claim a Super Bowl victory. Some, like the Vikings, may be closer than others like the Cleveland Browns or Tennessee Titans. Regardless, each begins a new season with a 0-0 record. It’s the path they take that separates them.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When it comes to trades, the NFL is usually not known for these types of transactions as much as other professional sports leagues have been such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB. However, the league did have a total of 38 trades in 2015 before the start of the regular season that featured at least one player (not just draft picks) and that total is the highest it has been in the last three years.

In the last three NFL offseasons, there have been a total of 89 trades made before the start of that year’s regular season. The Vikings have been involved in four of those 89 trades, including three in 2015.

Will Minnesota and general manager Rick Spielman participate in any trades in this upcoming offseason? If they do, who has the possibility of leaving town?

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Melvin White Futures Contract
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Twenty five is the lucky number for the Minnesota Vikings, who currently have more than 25 players under 25 years old on the roster. Yesterday, they added another, signing free agent cornerback Melvin White to a futures contract for the 2016 regular season. White spent last year on the St. Louis Rams practice squad and was an undrafted free agent in the 2013 NFL Draft.

The 6’1″, 215-pound cornerback joined the Carolina Panthers in 2013 and spent two years with the team, starting 17 of 30 games from 2013 to 2014. While a Panther, White played alongside current Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and recorded three interceptions. According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, White is expected to participate in the Vikings’ spring drills this offseason.

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