Wednesday, November 22, 2017

christian ballard

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When Christian Ballard suddenly left the team the timing felt odd, as did the mystery surrounding the circumstances.  He left the squad on August 18th, so an entire month passed before he finally decided to speak with the media about his decision, and it was Tom Pelissero of USA Today that got the scoop (we miss ya, Tom).

Ballard claims his decision to leave Minnesota, and the Vikings, was simply his attempt at escaping a lifestyle that wasn’t working for him.  I won’t recap all of the quotes, as you can read them in the article, but this just sounds like one of those cases where a young man decided to sacrifice a lot of money and notoriety in exchange for some new scenery.

It is hard to tell whether this decision of his will turn out to wise or foolish, but things haven’t been perfect for him back in Kansas.  On Thursday, he was reportedly arrested for domestic battery, and spent time behind bars despite not being charged with anything.

The Vikings hold Ballard’s rights for another two years and he has not ruled out an eventual return to the NFL.  With that being said, I’m not sure how welcoming the Vikings locker room would be towards a guy that abandoned his post just weeks before the regular season, and I suspect we have seen the last of him in purple.

The Vikings used a fourth round pick on Ballard in 2011.

Yesterday I referenced a report that the Vikings had roster exemptions for Jerome Felton (suspended) and Christian Ballard (left team) which allowed them to only cut 13 players.  I also wondered why the didn’t get an exemption for the suspension of DeMarcus Love.

Viking Update was kind enough to respond to a message I sent them requesting a clarification of their report, and they turned around and got the answer directly from the NFL, according to their response.

As of right now, and Monday when the Vikings made their cuts, the Vikings have two roster exemptions.  One is for Ballard and the other is for wide out Greg Childs who has been placed on the PUP list and won’t be eligible for action until week seven.

The Vikings will indeed get two exemptions for the Felton and Love suspensions, but the suspensions will not go into effect until Saturday, thus there are no exemptions until Saturday.

Essentially, this means that the Vikings get to keep four bubble players around until/unless these guys are able to report for duty.  At the time of their return the Vikings will have to choose between having them back and cutting someone else, or simply letting them go.  In Felton’s case the answer is simple, as he will be brought back, but the other three each present unique situations and the Vikings could simply choose to release them in favor of guys already on the roster.

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Kevin Williams took a cheap, low block from Niners guard Joe Looney on Sunday evening and things looked really bad for him as he laid on the turf.  Then they looked a lot better as he left the field under his own power and reportedly told teammates he was fine.

On Monday, after an MRI, the news was somewhere in the middle.

Williams hyperextended and bruised his right knee during the game, or more accurately Joe Looney hyperextended his knee on a cheap shot, and his availability for the season opener is now in question.  The good news, however, is that the injury will not require surgery and Williams should not be out of action for long.

Still, following a minor knee surgery to Sharrif Floyd and Christian Ballard’s bizarre departure from the team, the team cannot afford to take many more hits to the middle of their defensive line.  This will certainly be a situation to monitor as the season opener in Detroit draws nearer.

By the way, the injury occurred on what was really a B.S. cheap shot from Niners guard Joe Looney.

As worries about quarterback Christian Ponder’s ability to take things to the next level seem to mount within the Vikings fan base, there is a growing list of other woes that seem to be dampening some of the enthusiasm surrounding this team as the regular season draws nearer.

DeMarcus Love will not be available for the first our weeks due to suspension.  Cornerback Jacob Lacey was released after injuries gave him no chance to take the practice field.  Defensive tackle Christian Ballard has reportedly returned to his hometown indefinitely to deal with personal issues.

Now, Sharrif Floyd’s rookie development will, at least in part, be put on hold as he recovers from a “minor” knee surgery.

Leslie Frazier said yesterday that Floyd will likely miss the remainder of the preseason, but the good news is that he’s expected back and healthy by the regular season opener.  Still, rookie repetitions during the preseason hold a premium value and it is disappointing that the team’s top Draft selection has had his opportunity cut short even if it is temporary.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist here, and with Kevin Williams in the fold Floyd is certainly not some we must see at full tilt in week one, but the pile of problems seems to be growing at a steady pace. 

Love, Lacey and Ballard were all players thought to have well-defined roles within the Vikings roster in 2013.  Now they are, by all appearances, going to be non-factors as the regular season gets underway.  The momentum just seems to be headed in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

That is all.

Between now and the NFL Draft I am hoping to highlight prospects that I think should be of particular interest to the Vikings.  I am not releasing my “targets” in any particular order, other than that I feel comfortable with the volume of film I have watched, and will aim to have a wide variety of prospects from first round talents to potentially undrafted guys.

My first draft target was running back Marcus Lattimore.  If you missed that article you can click here to check it out.

Now I have jumped over the other side of the ball and identified a defensive player that I think could really start getting a lot of buzz once draftniks begin to pay a little more attention to smaller school prospects.

This particular prospect was inexplicably not invited to the Senior Bowl despite being named Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year.

Bowling Green defensive tackle Chris Jones is currently flying way under the radar, but what I have seen out of him leads me to believe he could be this year’s Bruce Irvin… by which I mean, yes, he could potentially be surprise first round selection.

Jones stands at 6’ 2” and weighs in at about 302 pounds.  He is the type of player that continued to take big steps of progression throughout his college career and does not seem to have peaked, by any means.

This last season he registered 12.5 sacks (third in the nation) and 19 tackles for a loss (ninth).  He is very disruptive in the middle of the defensive line and always seems to be creating chaos for opposing quarterbacks.

“For an inside tackle, operating in not so much space, to generate those kinds of numbers, well, that’s a rare guy,” BGSU Head Coach Dave Clawson says. “He’s unblockable at times in practice. If we’re working on pass offense and want to throw deep we take him out. We script it on our practice plan — CJ out. Otherwise, we get nothing accomplished.”

It is hard to find Jones included in any rankings on Draft websites.  It is tough to find a scouting report on him.  After seeing his tape, however, it’ll be hard to see him slipping much farther than the second round in April.

The Vikings could obviously use some help at defensive tackle.  Kevin Williams is getting older and isn’t cheap while Letroy Guion and Christian Ballard have yet to really establish themselves as true forces in the middle of the line.

Here is a highlight video for Jones (#91):

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