Monday, May 25, 2015
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jamarca sanford

[Note From Adam:  One of my favorite sources of Vikings analysis and opinion comes from the “Kick Ass Blog” run by Darren Campbell.  Check them out often (they are on our blogroll forever)!  Darren was kind enough to provide us with a guest post outlining the successes and failures experienced in the NFL Draft since Rick Spielman has been with the Vikings.  Enjoy!]

Rick Spielman is in his eighth season with the Minnesota Vikings. He first joined the team as the club’s vice-president of player personnel. One of his jobs was preparing for the NFL’s college draft, which is something he continued to oversee after being named the Vikings general manager in 2012.

Up until he became GM last year, Spielman didn’t have full control over who made the Vikings roster. However, it’s fair to say he still had considerable influence on the process and over whom the team did and didn’t pick in each of the six drafts he’s been a part of.

This April’s draft will be Spielman’s seventh with the Vikings. And as it is April 1, I wanted to drill down and take a closer look at the players Minnesota has picked since 2007 and when they’ve picked them. Here is what I found.

1st round (#23 and 25th overall in 2013 draft)

Draft picks: Adrian Peterson (2007); Percy Harvin (2009); Christian Ponder (2011); Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith (2012)

Commentary: Your first round picks should be the ones you get right the majority of the time and that’s been true under Spielman. The Peterson and Harvin picks (even though things turned sour with Percy) were masterstrokes and though it’s still early, Kalil and Smith look like exceptional selections also. And let’s not forget the Vikings used their 2008 first round selection to help take defensive end Jared Allen (74 sacks in 80 games with Minnesota) off Kansas City’s hands. The only first rounder during Spielman’s tenure who looks iffy is Ponder- and this would be a huge whiff that could set the franchise back several seasons if CP7 can’t cut it as a starter. Still, given Spielman and the Vikings track record since 2007, there’s an excellent chance they will get some good players if the team keeps both the #23 and #25 overall selections. Spielman has chosen well in this round regardless of whether he’s had a top 10 pick – Peterson (#7) and Kalil (#4)  -or a late first rounder like Harvin (#22) or Smith (#29).

As we prepare for the 2013 NFL Draft in these parts I came to the realization that the very first Draft I covered as a blogger, the 2009 Draft class, have all completed their rookie contracts, and I can now be held accountable for the grades I assigned the Vikings back in my first days of blogging at VikingsGab.com.

Every year we dismiss draft grades as useless opinions that couldn’t possibly be accurate prior to these guys even stepping on an NFL field.  With the career paths of the 2009 class now taking shape, however, I thought it’d be fun to go back and see just how useless my grades were exactly.  The entire post of my 2009 draft grades an analysis can be read right here.

WR Percy Harvin (First Round, Pick 22)

What I said then:

GRADE:  “C”          There is no denying that Harvin could become a premier player with his game changing abilities, but he also runs the risk of doing more damage than good if his character flaws come out again.  For now a “C” until he earns the respect of Minnesota fans.  The fact that he was chosen over offensive tackle Michael Oher is another reason why I didn’t give the Vikings a higher grade here.

What I say now:

The Vikings ended up getting an elite talent out of Harvin, but health and character issues did indeed taint his time in Minnesota, which ended up seeing him shipped to Seattle for three picks including the 25th overall selection this year.  Harvin was that year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Pro Bowls as a return man.  I was wrong about Michael Oher being the superior player here, but only one of those two guys is still with the team that drafted him.

The Vikings somewhat shored up the safety position by retaining Jamarca Sanford this offseason, but a secondary depth chart that was already thin on talent before the Vikings released Antoine Winfield could use some new talent to try and keep up in a division with three very capable passing games.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Vikings have contacted cornerback Antoine Cason and free safety Gerald Sensabaugh.  Wolfson says the Vikings are simply doing their due diligence and are making lots of calls, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into this news.

Still, it is encouraging to see the Vikings trying to improve the depth chart in the defensive backfield, as it would be mistake to be content with Marcus Sherels and A.J. Jefferson as two of your top options.

Tuesday was a day full of re-signings for the Minnesota Vikings and one big release in Antoine Winfield.  With a bunch of cap space and plenty of holes in the roster, Wednesday was sure to see some fireworks, right?

Well, not exactly.

The biggest real news to come out on Wednesday was some contract details regarding some of the players that have re-signed.  We have already talked about Phil Loadholt’s $25 million deal (click here) and Jerome Felton’s three year deal (click here), but local beat writers have learned details about the other contracts given out on Tuesday:

JAMARCA SANFORD, S:  The Vikings special teams ace, who has a knack for causing fumbles, got a nice pay bump when he signed a two year deal worth up to $5 million.  The deal included a half million dollar signing bonus and a half million dollar roster bonus.  His cap hit is expected to be $2.25 million this season and $2.75 in 2014.  The money suggests that the Vikings will once again rely on Mistral Raymond to battle Sanford for the starting gig across from Harrison Smith, but it isn’t enough to rule out an upgrade if one presents itself at the right level of value during free agency or the Draft.

ERIN HENDERSON, LB:  Henderson had spent his whole career with the Vikings and when he became a free agent last offseason the front office let him dangle on the open market for an extended period of time.  This year they took care of business a lot quicker by signing him to a two year deal, worth $4 million, on the first day of free agency.  The contract includes half million dollar bonuses nearly identical to Sanford’s, but has $250,000 incentives built into each year of the deal.  The Vikings still need linebacker help, with starter Jasper Brinkley visiting with the Giants and Cardinals, but Henderson coming back provides them with versatility and depth.  Henderson is only 26 years old.

JOE BERGER, C:  The backup lineman signed a veteran minimum one year deal, so he will earn a salary just south of $1 million.  Berger is 30 years old and brings with him the most experience of any current backup along the offensive line.  Fellow lineman Geoff Schwartz, who played quite well in place of Brandon Fusco at times last season, is not expected to return.

There are still unknown contract details and cap adjustments, but it is believed that the Vikings currently have $11-$13 million in salary cap space.  Their 11 draft picks will chew up some of that, but the Vikings still have plenty of cap room to play with, should they decide to do so.

I had safety Jamarca Sanford pegged as the Vikings top priority as far as retaining their own pending free agents go, and Sanford recently announced via Twitter that he is “coming back home.

It isn’t impossible that the Vikings will still look to upgrade the starting safety spot across from Harrison Smith, but Sanford provides them with experience, depth, and special teams value.  Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, and Mistral Raymond are the current safeties atop the depth chart which provides continuity from last season to the upcoming one.

Details are not yet known on the deal, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do.  Fullback Jerome Felton is now the only major free agent of the Vikings that remains to be signed.

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