Saturday, February 13, 2016

jerick mckinnon

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Second only to the NFL Draft, the first week of the league’s free agency period is one of the most exciting parts of the NFL offseason each and every year. Sometimes it works out and other times it does not for a team and their expensive new player or players.

It is always fun for fans to hope that their team goes out and signs the top available free agents, but that is not always the best strategy for their favorite team. Some fans need to be more realistic when it comes to who they think their team could sign.

When the free agency period for this upcoming NFL year begins on March 9th, there will be a few players that could land with the Vikings. Who are some of the more realistic options in free agency that could fit with the team in Minnesota?

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In what could just be one of many rumors to come out of Winter Park before the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Vikings are apparently interested in drafting former Alabama running back Derrick Henry. The info comes from Eric Galko of OptimumScouting.com and he says Minnesota potentially feels that Henry could be their guy if he ends up still being available when the Vikings are on the clock with the 23rd overall pick.

The 6’3″, 242 pound Henry rushed for a total of 2,219 yards and scored 28 touchdowns for Alabama in 2015. These totals eventually lead to Henry being awarded with this season’s Heisman Trophy.

He has been projected by draft scouts to be selected as a late first or early second round pick. However, Henry was not included in the latest first round mock drafts compiled by USA Today, Draft Season, Draft Tek, or Bleacher Report.

While the selection of Henry by Minnesota would not be a horrible choice, it would come with a bit of surprise. Given that the Vikings are also the same team that the 2015 NFL rushing champion calls home.

If Henry were to be drafted by Minnesota, Adrian Peterson’s days as the Vikings’s running back could be coming to an end sooner than later. However, it could create a unique opportunity for Henry to come in as a rookie and learn from Peterson if both running backs end up becoming teammates next season.

With Peterson and Jerick McKinnon currently under contract for next season, Minnesota is not in dire need to draft a running back with one of their early round selections. It may be a better option for the Vikings to wait another year and use one of their draft picks in 2017 to find a replacement for Peterson.

Will Minnesota and general manager Rick Spielman make the splashy move and snag Henry if he is still on the board when it is their turn to draft? Now remember, this is the same guy who traded back into the first round in 2013 to select Cordarrelle Patterson so anything is possible.

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Danielle Hunter's NFL Combine
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Danielle Hunter is a freak, but not in the “having a physical oddity and appearing in a circus sideshow” way. In the NFL, where a select few human beings can run faster, hit harder, and react more quickly than the rest of the world’s population, Hunter may be the rarest of them all.

Before he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 88th-pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Hunter was a starting defensive end for the LSU Tigers. A physical specimen then, he was known more for his comically large arms than his eye-popping statistics. Despite starting 23 straight games for the Tigers between 2013 and 2014, he finished his three-year career in Louisiana with just 142 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

For a player with such gifts, the production didn’t match the physical presence. At 6’5″ and 252 pounds, Hunter generated a mere 1.5 sacks his junior year, despite playing 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Entering February’s NFL Combine, scouts, analysts, and coaches knew Hunter would pass the eye test, but questions lingered on his shallow statistical output. As one former LSU coach said about Hunter before the event:

“If he walked into your living room, your eyes would pop out of your head. He looks that good on the hoof. He’s going to blow up the combine, and then ace all of the interviews and NFL teams are going to fall in love with him. He still needs someone to unlock all that talent, though.”

His performance at the Combine, paired with an impressive Pro Day and interview process, was enough to warrant the gamble from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. The rookie defensive end appeared in 14 games last season, finishing the year with 33 tackles, six sacks, and one forced fumble. Although he played in a rotational role behind Everson Griffen and Brian Robison, Hunter made the transition from “project” to player look easy, realizing his potential in a way so few can do so early in the careers.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

I know the staff of writers here at Vikings Territory all seem like a happy-go-lucky, friendly, jolly, and devilishly good looking bunch that only ever have great things to say about each other, but we do have differing viewpoints on plenty of occasions.

Many of these opposing opinions surface during our “Question of the Week” segments, but there’s never much teeth behind the conflicts, at least not that you readers can see.

Well, we hope to fix that by dusting off an old bit that Brett Anderson and myself created some time ago that pulls the curtains back and takes you behind the scenes to witness for yourself the heated, venomous, and irrationally tense cat fights that happen every day between the incredibly handsome group of writers that put this site together.

So, here’s how “Coin Toss” works:

  1. An opinion is stated by writer and underwear model A.
  2. Writer and underwear model B then disagrees with that opinion and “throws the challenge flag.”
  3. The arguments are put on paper and posted here on Vikings Territory (along with stunning profile pictures) for you to enjoy.
  4. At the end, you decide who won the “Coin Toss” argument by casting your vote in the poll at the bottom.

Clear? Great, let’s get started!

I was the first among the group to “throw the challenge flag” and I did so after reading “Most Tradable Vikings” by Adam Patrick.

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The theme of today’s Sleeper Sunday is Big-10 football. This morning, Carl introduced readers to Wisconsin strong safety Michael Caputo. He’s a physical member of the Badgers secondary with a style of play and frame similar to that of Harrison Smith. Now, a look at one of the conference’s best-kept secrets; Indiana running back Jordan Howard.

Jordan Howard — RB, Indiana

Measurements

Height – 6’1″
Weight – 230 lbs.
Age – 21

At First Glance

As a first-year player at Indiana, the junior rushed for 1,213 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. Howard was named to the First Team All-Big Ten after the season and was a member of the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award Watch Lists. He caught 11 passes for 106 yards for a touchdown and also finished second in the conference with 134.8 rushing yards per game.

Before the 2015 season, Howard had spent two seasons a the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). A two-star recruit in 2013, the Alabama native opted to stay in-state for his collegiate career. There, he rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. In November 2014, UAB disbanded it’s football program and left Howard without a home. Fortunately, other Division 1 schools had kept an eye on the productive running back. With his pick of more than 20 programs, Howard made the decision to replace Tevin Coleman in Indiana. That choice appears to have been the right one.

“I think a lot of us, me and my former teammates we realize it was kind of like a blessing in disguise,” Howard said in October. “It gave us an opportunity to be more in the spotlight and show we can play on any type of level.”

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