Tuesday, April 25, 2017

kyle rudolph

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image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is a restless man during the NFL Draft. When he’s not on the clock, he’s frantically making calls with other teams to improve Minnesota’s draft position. He has operated that way since he took over full reigns as general manager in 2012.

In his first three NFL Drafts, Spielman either moved Minnesota’s place in the draft or added a selection in the first round. He swooped an extra couple of picks from Cleveland in 2012 to move down one spot and was still able to get the guy he wanted in Matt Kalil. In 2013, Spielman selected three times in the first round, making trades with Seattle (before the draft) and New England to acquire picks that turned into Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman then pulled the trigger on a trade that moved the Vikings back into the last slot of the first round in 2014 to select Teddy Bridgewater.

“Slick Rick” didn’t make any such moves in the previous two drafts, but his track record indicates that type of maneuver is on his mind a week before the draft. It’s important to keep in mind that Spielman would likely need to give up the 48th overall pick and the 79th overall pick to move up into the bottom of the first. Depending on the prospects available, it might require more than that.

With all of this in mind, the question must be asked: If Spielman does pull the trigger on a trade into the first round, which prospects should he target?

The fundamental answer is easy: trade up for a guy with top-tier first round talent who has slipped through the cracks. Several candidates fit that bill in this year’s draft class.

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Also sign Matthews, Sinkfield following veteran combine

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph enjoyed his most successful NFL season in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped the franchise from adding more weapons at the position. On Thursday, according to a report from USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, the Vikings are signing Nick Truesdell, a 27-year-old Arena Football League (AFL) standout who turned heads at the 2017 Pro Player Combine in Arizona.

As Pelissero writes, Truesdell’s journey to the NFL is “quite a story.” He’s been in and out of the league since 2013, spending time in professional camps and bouncing around the AFL before finally landing with the Vikings. Truesdell’s AFL career blossomed in Bemidji, Minnesota, where his play garnered the attention of numerous NFL scouts.

Contract details for the 6’6,” 250-pound tight end have not been released. The team made the move official this morning and also announced the signing of wide receiver Mitch Mathews and receiver-turned-cornerback Terrell Sinkfield.

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Where Do the Vikings Head From Here
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[In part one of this three-part series, Austin Belisle and Brett Anderson team up to put together an in-depth offseason plan for the Minnesota Vikings.]

Football, more than any other sport, is an unpredictable game. A loose ball, a tipped pass, a broken tackle; the slightest shift in momentum or circumstance can flip competition on its head. Franchises prepare for the random nature of the game, but often fall victim to factors they can’t control.

Such was the case for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. From Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury to the merry-go-round at offensive line, the team struggled to bounce back in the face of adversity. Players on the defensive side of the ball underperformed, turmoil forced a turnover on the coaching staff, and Mike Zimmer’s eye blurred Minnesota’s season outlook.

Combined, the weekly distractions and diversions were too much for the Vikings to overcome. They stalled to an 8-8 finish after starting the season 5-0; missing the playoffs just one year removed from winning the NFC North. Like any team in the NFL, the Vikings had one end-goal in mind: the Super Bowl. But dreaming of a Lombardi Trophy and winning the actual game are two different things.

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Kyle Rudolph
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Our first installment of our Vikings Free Agency Primer series: The Tight Ends

It’s the time of year to start speculating (and gently trying to nudge Rick Spielman in the right direction) about the fixes for a roster that lost as many games as it won in 2016. Obviously, health is a major part of their past failures and future (hopefully) successes, but the 2017 version of the Minnesota Vikings will not be turnover-free.

Thus, the Vikings Territory team is taking a position-by-position look at the current talent, contract situations, and potential moves that could make some sense heading into next season. We may even plant our flags with a prediction or two along the way.

First up, I’ve decided to take on one of my favorite positions to watch in the modern NFL. Tight ends can be such a factor in the run game, in pass protection, and as an attacking target that they seem to be becoming more and more important to today’s offenses.

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Breaking Down the Vikings Quarterback's Greatest Strengths and Detrimental Weaknesses

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

“I think 7-9 is a best-case scenario.”

I said those words on an episode of About The Labor after Teddy Bridgewater shattered his leg. This isn’t meant to slight Shaun Hill, but I simply had no faith in the Minnesota Vikings without a competent starting quarterback.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman probably felt the same way, so he decided to act: He sent first- and conditional mid-round picks to Philadelphia in exchange for seventh-year journeyman Sam Bradford.

Bradford filled in sensationally at quarterback for Minnesota. In 15 games, he completed 71.6-percent of his passes (which broke Drew Brees’ NFL record, by the way) for 3,877 passing yards and 20 touchdowns against only five interceptions. His performance in Minnesota’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers alone was arguably worth the conditional pick shipped to Philadelphia (which ultimately became a fourth-rounder).

Just think about what we’d have to endure from Cheeseheads if the Packers had beaten the Vikings in the first game ever played at U.S. Bank Stadium. We all appreciate you, Sam.

While the Vikings fanbase is probably hung up on Bridgewater — and rightfully so, given that Zimmer called him the “nicest kid in the history of life” — Bradford made a strong case to be Minnesota’s starting quarterback moving forward, regardless of Bridgewater’s health.

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