Friday, April 29, 2016

kyle rudolph

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Vikings Players Address the Media
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Blink and you’ll miss it, but the Minnesota Vikings have been training at Winter Park for over a week now. Lost in the hype for the 2016 NFL Draft is the fact that Vikings players are right in the swing of the annual offseason training program. And today, a handful of names — new and old — spoke to the media for the first time in months.

The hot topic was general manager Rick Spielman’s assertion that the Vikings could deal their first-round selection, the 23rd-overall pick, once the draft begins on Thursday. According to Spielman, two teams have already called about moving up, but the decision to trade likely won’t be made until Minnesota is actually on the clock.

Let’s rewind, though. The draft is less than 48 hours away, and we’re talking about players who aren’t even on the roster yet. For the Vikings currently working out in Winter Park, the offseason  presents an opportunity to focus on improvements and speculate on a potentially exciting future. After a long hiatus from the spotlight, what were some of the best comments from earlier today?

Do you play it safe or take a risk?

Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The NFL Draft is so exciting because it’s so unpredictable. Players pegged as top-10 draft picks can fall to the second or third round, and teams can make earth-shattering trades that change the landscape of the night’s festivities. For the most part, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman sticks to a familiar script — accumulate draft picks, trade back when sensible, and use the end of the first round as a fluid space for movement.

This year, however, the Vikings are this close to contending for more than just the NFC North title and a Wild Card playoff berth. A roster flush with talent at almost every position gives the team a chance to be more aggressive come April 28th. Rather than staying put at the 23rd-overall pick, drafting the best available player, or trading back, Spielman can flex his negotiating muscles.

So, the Vikings Territory team tried their hand at such an exercise, concocting scenarios that very well could play out in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. See our answers after the jump!

What’s one surprising and/or unexpected move you could see the Vikings making in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft?

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The Minnesota Vikings added to their haul on Friday by signing free agent tight end Brian Leonhardt, according to his Twitter account.

Leonhardt turns 26 in April and is listed at 6′ 5″ and 255 pounds. He is a native of Minnesota and played his college career at Bemidji State University.

The deal is of the one-year variety and totals $600,000 without any guarantees attached to it, according to the Pioneer Press. This presumably makes Leonhardt an insurance policy, or even a short-term solution, in the event that tight end Rhett Ellison starts the 2016 regular season on the PUP list.

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Minnesota Vikings re-sign Rhett Ellison
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Rhett Ellison flirted with the free agent market, but in the end, found his way home to the Minnesota Vikings. As announced on the team’s official website, the fifth-year tight end re-signed with the Vikings on Tuesday morning. The Vikings also made the Marcus Sherels re-signing official, as the punt returner and special teams ace reportedly returned to the team late last week after visiting the New York Jets.

Sherels signed a two-year, $4 million ($1.5 million guaranteed) deal to remain in Minnesota, and he’ll have zero guaranteed money after the 2016 season. Ellison, who is recovering from a torn patellar tendon suffered in Week 17 last year, reportedly signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

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See my entire first 2016 NFL Mock Draft by CLICKING HERE.

Last year, I produced version 1.0 of my mock draft in January and had the Vikings selecting cornerback Trae Waynes 11th overall. I never wavered from that pick, one that would subsequently become very popular and then very unpopular, and repeatedly had the Vikings selecting Waynes in every version of my Mock Draft after that.

Picking 12 spots later, and a much more flexible roster makeup, I am highly unlikely to repeat the boring redundancy that was my 2015 mock drafts.

The pick, of course, ended up being Waynes and it was met with disdain from a healthy portion of Minnesota’s fan base. Many preferred the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year, cornerback Marcus Peters, and others thought that it was a wasted pick. A number of Twitter arguments started with the assertion that Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson made the first round investment into the cornerback position a waste.

Well, if you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I care not for your perceived needs when it comes to the NFL Draft and it is equally likely that you’ll care not for my first version of my 2016 NFL Mock Draft.

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