Sunday, July 5, 2015

john sullivan

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

The Vikings are pretty set when it comes to the starting center position, despite John Sullivan’s recent knee surgery, and that is a very good thing.  Why?  Because the free agent class leaves a whole lot to be desired.

If the Vikings want to find a better backup for Sullivan, then they should probably be looking to the NFL Draft, not free agency.

Top Tier

There are none that belong here.

Second Tier

Nope, none here either.

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1

Chris Kluwe and Jared Allen now have a new rehab partner.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Vikings Pro Bowl center (yeah, I said it) John Sullivan had microfracture surgery on his knee and will be out for the next three to four months.  Of course, if one is going to miss four months as an NFL player, these upcoming four are the ones to miss.

That timeline puts Sullivan back into action by the time training camp rolls around, and all indications are that he should be fine by then.

A month ago, Vikings fans would have salivated over the idea of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o falling into their laps at the #23 spot of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Now, however, Te’o has found himself in the middle of one of the most bizarre stories to hit the sports world since… well, possibly ever.  The story of Te’o being a part of one of the biggest hoaxes of all time has led most to wonder about his character, and also doubt his ability to be a leader in the NFL which was one of his best attributes in college.

One thing that has become explicitly clear over the last few weeks are that the special connection that Te’o had with football lovers around the nation was every bit as fictional as his online girlfriend.

Weirdness and intangibles aside, Te’o still possesses first round caliber abilities and one can’t help but wonder what the Vikings might do if he is available when they are on the clock.  After all, the Vikings could clearly use some help at the linebacker position and G.M. Rick Spielman has an affinity for players coming out of Notre Dame.

Te’o has four years of experience, with progressive production coming from each season, as the heart of Notre Dame’s front season.  He is a very strong and sound tackler that does a good job of getting around or through blocks to make a play.  He plays the run with great instincts and discipline, which seems to rub off on the rest of the defense.

Te’o also possesses a range and fluidity in pass coverage that the Vikings defense could desperately use.  Over his career he has displayed an ability to play smart zone coverage (17 passes defended) and has a knack for heads-up plays (7 interceptions).

There are questions about Te’o’s speed and athleticism, and his forty time will be highly anticipated at the Scouting Combine, but I felt like he already answered a lot of those questions by dropping into coverage a lot more during his senior year with great success.  11 of his defended passes (and all seven picks) came in his senior year.

With all of that said, there is no doubt that Te’o isn’t the fastest linebacker in the world, and isn’t going to wow any scouts with his blitz abilities.  For the Vikings defense under Alan Williams, who seldom asks his linebackers to blitz, Te’o could be a great addition to a defense that places a lot of emphasis on stopping the run.

The whole hoax thing could make the Vikings a good fit for Te’o.  He would be surrounded by former teammates and other Notre Dame greats, which Rick Spielman has loaded up on recently.  Safety Harrison Smith would be playing right behind Te’o.  He could line up on special teams with Robert Blanton.  Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson are on the offensive side of the ball along with center John Sullivan.  There also may not be a head coach better equipped to deal with Te’o’s unique situation than Leslie Frazier is.

I have little doubt that Te’o could step into the regular season as a starter on this defense, besting either Jasper Brinkley or Erin Henderson.  I’m not convinced that he would be the guy we want to be selected at #23, but I am also not convinced that he isn’t, as it would depend greatly on what other options exist when they are on the clock.

Here are some of his highlights from college:

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The Vikings now have five players headed for Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl.

We have already mentioned that Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Blair Walsh and Jared Allen are already making their Pro Bowl plans and now we can add linebacker Chad Greenway to that list.

Greenway was originally voted as an alternate player for the annual honor, and will be replacing the injured Cowboy linebacker DeMarcus Ware.  This is the second time Greenway has attended the Pro Bowl, and it is his fifth straight season of leading the Vikings in tackles.

He has been credited with 148 total tackles this season in addition to three sacks, an interception, and two fumble recoveries.

We may need two hands to count the number of Viking Pro Bowlers this way as more could still be added to the roster.  Center John Sullivan and left tackle Matt Kalil are both reported to be alternates and Blair Walsh is campaigning to get Cullen Loeffler in as the NFC’s long snapper.

As Vikings fans with access to a Twitter account blow up the internet with their, I’ll put this nicely, dissatisfaction with the front office we finally have report of them talking with a player.

You might want to sit down for this one.

Shawn Zobel reports that the Vikings, along with two AFC teams, are “talking to” Packers free agent center Scott Wells.

This is surprising news, especially considering the Vikings gave current starter John Sullivan a hefty contract extension at the end of 2011, but perhaps they envision one of the two starting at guard. 

Wells is not exactly a spring chicken at age 31 and doesn’t play a position of real need, so this one is fascinating if true.

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