Friday, November 27, 2015

jared allen

The NFL Scouting Combine’s importance to how team’s view certain prospects can, and will, be debated until the end of time but there is little denying that it marks the beginning of the offseason.  Players, coaches, executives, and agents converge on Indianapolis and a lot of the groundwork is done over the course of the event.

The Combine is covered wall-to-wall by NFL Network and others, but I just wanted to offer up a few simple observations now that the DVR is rid of all Combine related recordings.

Alex Smith Trade:  Today, news became semi-official that the Niners will ship quarterback Alex Smith to the Chiefs in exchange for their second round pick this season and a conditional pick next season.  A number of Vikings fans have expressed interest in Smith over the last year, so this news is important in that the Smith-to-Minnesota speculation is finally dead.  Second, the move is expected to start a domino effect around the league that could see Matt Cassel playing (maybe even starting) elsewhere, could make Geno Smith and Matt Barkley fall deeper into the Draft than expected, and could set the tone for potential trades involving Matt Flynn or Nick Foles or Ryan Mallett.  Lastly, one can’t help but wonder if the Niners and their arsenal of draft picks might be interested in trading for some big names like Derrelle Revis and/or Percy Harvin.

Vikings Create An Odd Impression:  The Vikings met with a number of agents in Indianapolis, including those that represent the team’s pending free agents.  Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN recently told the Twitter world that the meeting between Vikings brass and agents were “awkward” because the team gave no indication as to their intentions or interest, but instead just asked agents where they stood in terms of money.  This sounds like Spielman just being Spielman, just trying to keep his intentions unknown, but the clock is ticking towards the beginning of free agency and the Vikings need to start taking care of some business.

Trying To Limit Winfield… Again:  Antoine Winfield was expected to be a part time player last year, and the year before that, but it just hasn’t ever happened.  Winfield has had to stay in the starting lineup due to Chris Cook’s inability to stay on the field and inconsistencies at the other starting spot.  Leslie Frazier told reporters that he wants to see Winfield play less and that makes every bit of sense, because Winfield is at his best int he nickel position and needs to take limited snaps to stay healthy.  Still, Frazier knows all too well that it is a lot easier to say than to do this, and this could be an indication that the Vikings might pull the trigger on another early cornerback in the Draft.  Dee Milliner, Johnthan Banks, Xavier Rhodes, and Desmond Trufant all deserve consideration at the #23 spot where the Vikings pick.  Frazier’s comments can also be translated to:  “We want Winfield to play part time and get paid like it.”  Winfield is expected to cost the Vikings $7.25 million in cap space this season.

Defensive Line Dominates:  This class is incredible when it comes to depth at positions along the defensive line.  I can almost guarantee there will be tackles and ends available in the second round or beyond that carry first round grades for a number of teams.  The Vikings have some needs along the defensive line, especially at defensive tackle, and if you do the math you have to figure a defensive lineman is the odds-on favorite to be the Vikings best player available when they are on the clock.  Either Kevin Williams or Jared Allen could conceivably see their future replacement drafted on day one.

Te’o Sideshow:  A lot was made of linebacker Manti Te’o’s forty time this week, but the most unattractive thing about this prospect has to be the hoards of cameras and reporters that follow him around.  The guy is a walking circus ever since his fake girlfriend story hit the internet and that can’t appeal to many teams, regardless of his perceived talent level.  Alec Ogletree, Kevin Minter, and Arthur Brown all could end up drafted ahead of Te’o who was considered a possible first overall selection just a few months ago.

Depth Creates A Buyer’s Market:  The Vikings may want to trade backwards from the 23 spot come Draft Day, in an effort to pick up more draft choices, but they may have trouble striking a deal because so many others may be looking to do the same.  It seems to be an overall consensus that this class contains enough depth that teams will feel confident that they are getting quality players in the third or fourth rounds, and those mid-round selections are going to be highly coveted.  A team that is looking to actually move forward might be able to drive the price down by talking to multiple teams and getting themselves the best deal.  Wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, and defensive back all seem to be positions of particular depth in this class.

I have long carried a banner that says “Accuracy By Volume” when it comes to my hopes for successful Vikings drafts.

When Rick Spielman was available to the press in Indianapolis he was asked a lot of questions that he essentially left unanswered.  He offered up nothing new regarding Percy Harvin’s status with the team.  He indicated very little when it comes to possibly restructuring the contracts of veteran players such as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.  He didn’t say much at all that couldn’t have been predicted, almost verbatim, by anyone that even casually follows the NFL.

One thing he did say, however, perhaps offers a clue to solving the puzzle that is offseason speculation.

“I like picks,” Spielman said when asked about the possibility of trading down on Draft Day.  “My goal is to always have 10, if I can have 10 picks.”

I found these two sentences to be more intriguing than all the others that he spoke combined.  Why?  Because that leaves Spielman one pick short of his goal, that’s why.

I consider this to be a sort of bat signal, an invitation to other teams, indicating the Minnesota Vikings are open for business.  It sounds to me like Spielman has every intention of adding one more pick this season, and it won’t come as a compensatory selection, and would likely prefer to get a jump start on stockpiling 2014 picks, as well.

There are a number of ways Spielman can attain his desired quantity of picks.  Trading down from the #23 spot would go a long ways towards meeting that goal, but so would trading players… good players… really good wide receivers that can also return kicks and line up as a running back, perhaps.

As the Pioneer Press managed to point out when they weren’t stalking Percy Harvin at his Florida home, the Vikings have selected 10 players in each of the last two drafts, and 18 of those 20 are still on the roster today.  Nine of them played as starters, or saw significant playing time, in 2012 and are expected to contribute even more next season.

This Draft class, as acknowledged by Spielman and plenty of others, is considered to be a very deep one with a record number of underclassmen available for the taking.  It may not be as top heavy as in years passed, but there are impact players expected to come off the board in all rounds, particularly in the offensive and defensive line groups.

Prior to the 2011 Draft, I indicated that Spielman has plenty of mistakes on record that resulted from ill-advised trades, but he has somewhat vindicated himself while enjoying more power and freedom during the Leslie Frazier era.

Spielman’s comments in Indianapolis should be considered fair warning, though, that he is aiming for three years straight of successful movement on Draft Weekend.

Which, of course, will make things a hell of a lot of fun.

[NOTE:  Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacksrunning backs,fullbacks,tight endscentersguardsoffensive tackleswide receiverssafeties, cornerbacks, and linebackers.  We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]

Well, I have to start this one with a disclosure.  The lines between a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker continue to blur more and more with each passing season.  We have already done the linebacker rankings in a previous post, but there are plenty of 3-4 defensive ends on today’s list that would be best suited as outside linebackers if the Vikings were to sign them.  Still, I wanted to keep these lists true to the current positions these guys are playing.

Okay, with that being said, onto the defensive end situation.  The Vikings seem very solid with Jared Alllen, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen each continuing to play at a high level.  There has been talk that the Vikings might be best served to try and deal the aging Allen this offseason, but I think it is far more likely that they will try to extend his contract and ease the damage he does to the salary cap.  The Vikings have talented pass rushers with intriguing developmental guys already in place behind the top three.

I wouldn’t expect them to throw a ton of money at this position during this offseason, but it never hurts to take a look at what might be available (while also scoping out an outside linebacker or two):

Top Tier

I’m only putting guys in this category if I think they could possibly be upgrades over one of our current starters, and the guy I think that most represents that type of talent is defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals.  At age 26, Johnson is the exact age you want your big money free agent to be, and he is a Pro Bowl defender against both the run and the pass.  He is likely to get slapped with the franchise tag.

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Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, and Matt Kalil are all playing in a football game tonight.

Sure, the Pro Bowl means about as much as an rerun of The Office, but with seven Vikings seeing televised action for the last time between now and the preseason it is hard not to watch and cheer.

We’ll be watching live and if you are too, then feel free to discuss the “action” right here below this post.

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Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, and now Matt Kalil.

Those are the guys that will represent Minnesota during Sunday’s Pro Bowl.

Due to a mysterious fight that resulted in Washington left tackle Trent Williams having to get stitches, Kalil has been selected to replace Williams in the NFC’s lineup for the scrimmage.

The fact that the Vikings have seven guys playing in the Pro Bowl, and that two of them are rookies, is a very encouraging sign for the future of this young playoff team.

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