Tuesday, May 31, 2016

harrison smith

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Poll of the Week

Vikings Veterans Have Something to Prove
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings are a relatively young team, buoyed by first and second-year players at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. From Teddy Bridgewater to Eric Kendricks, the roster is stacked with up-and-coming contributors who should remain in purple and gold for years to come. Minnesota’s success hinges on their long-term future with the team, but they’re not the only cogs in the winning machine.

Veterans like Adrian Peterson, Terence Newman, and Phil Loadholt are just as, if not more important to the Vikings’ short-term outlook than the team’s young stars. Chad Greenway, set to play his last season with the Vikings in 2016, recently commented on Mike Zimmer’s unbiased, win-first approach coaching.

“He’s just in your face, and you always know where you stand – good or bad,” Greenway said, per Lindsey Young. “Whether you’re 32 years old or 22 years old, he’s going to have you playing your best football every week. He’s going to continue to get you better no matter where you’re at in your career.”

To Zimmer, age is nothing but a number. Newman led the team with three interceptions last season, Peterson won his third rushing title, and Joe Berger was arguably Minnesota’s best offensive lineman. Father Time hasn’t caught up to many of the Vikings’ veterans yet, and they’ll look to stay ahead of the curve in 2016.

Which veteran — any player over 30 years old — is most important to Minnesota’s winning chances this season?

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Rick Spielman building a homegrown contender
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Denver Broncos tore through the 2014 free agency class like a man who’d just won the Mega Millions jackpot. Anxious for a championship and fearful of Peyton Manning‘s sudden demise, general manager John Elway lured as many big names to Denver as possible, evoking a “win now” mentality in the Broncos locker room.

Certainly not the first team or the last to “hire” mercenaries, the Broncos spent exorbitant amounts of money in 2014 to make their roster the deepest, most talented in the league. That offseason, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward arrived in Denver, bringing the skills and pedigree the Broncos lacked to take that final step to the Super Bowl.

Elway’s spending frenzy finally paid off, as Peyton Manning and the über-talented Broncos won Super Bowl 50 together this year, earning the greatest “return on investment” that the NFL has to offer. But 2015 is over, and the 2016 season looms in the near future. That championship team is missing key pieces, as the rest of the league has done to the Broncos what they did to them in 2014. Gone are names like Peyton Manning and Owen Daniels. In their place? Career-disappointment Mark Sanchez and yet-to-be-named NFL draft picks.

“Winning” free agency is a double-edged sword, one that worked well for the Broncos, but suddenly spells uncertainty in Denver. Every team attacks the open market differently, which brings us to the Minnesota Vikings, who continue to take a prudent, if sometimes cautious approach in the process.

No, there are no Super Bowl banners in Minnesota, and other outside signings — Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace — failed to make an impact in recent years, but Rick Spielman is quietly building the Vikings into a homegrown contender. Free agents are staying in town, under-the-radar names are finally choosing Minnesota as a new home, and other recent acquisitions — Linval Joseph, Captain Munnerlyn — are contributing in tangible ways every Sunday.

These Vikings may not have names that “jump” off the screen or stand out in the newspaper,  but they’re winning games as a cohesive, well-coached, and tight-knit roster. Consistent coaching, a thoughtful spending strategy, and youth means Minnesota may soon end up on the same national stage as the Broncos — the Super Bowl.

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The Minnesota Vikings went into this offseason widely believed to be in need of some safety help across from Harrison Smith. Veteran safety Michael Griffin appears to be in the mix to fill that role.

Despite the impressive contract numbers they gave 2015 Andrew Sendejo a few days ago, everyone believed they would seek more outside help via free agency or the NFL Draft. Griffin (age 31) appears to be signing that aims to bring more serious competition to Mankato after the Vikings missed out on blue chip possibility George Iloka.

 

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[This Karl Joseph Scouting Report, with a Vikings slant, has been provided to Vikings Territory by Draft Season. Be sure to check back for more and also be sure to visit Draft Season to quench your NFL Draft thirst. All previously published scouting reports can be found by clicking here.]

Karl Joseph | S, West Virginia

Measurements

Height – 5’10”
Weight – 201 lbs.
Age – Unknown

At First Glance

2015 All-Big 12 Football Awards Honorable Mention

Projected Round:

2nd Round – 7th Round (Injury Concerns)

Vikings 2016 Offseason Plan Part 3

[In the final entry of this three-part series, Austin Belisle and Brett Anderson team up to put together an in-depth NFL Draft plan for the Minnesota Vikings. Part 1 and 2]

Introduction

Cameras click and lights flash during the first round of the NFL Draft, but it’s often the players out of the spotlight that make the biggest impact. We’ve seen prospects taken in later rounds — Danielle Hunter (third round, 2015) and Stefon Diggs (fifth round, 2015) — contribute more than many of their first round counterparts. While the first round is important, constructing a competitive team requires thorough planning, scouting, and strategy that extends all the way through the 256th-overall pick.

We began this process in early February, when we laid out a vision for the future of the Vikings. Later that month, we took to the virtual phones, signing free agents and making a few controversial roster-building moves along the way. We’re taking the same approach to the NFL Draft, crafting a plan that not only allows us to add the right talent to the team, but to do so in a way that sets the Vikings up for long-term success.

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