Friday, May 6, 2016

linval joseph

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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Rick Spielman building a homegrown contender
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Denver Broncos tore through the 2014 free agency class like a man who’d just won the Mega Millions jackpot. Anxious for a championship and fearful of Peyton Manning‘s sudden demise, general manager John Elway lured as many big names to Denver as possible, evoking a “win now” mentality in the Broncos locker room.

Certainly not the first team or the last to “hire” mercenaries, the Broncos spent exorbitant amounts of money in 2014 to make their roster the deepest, most talented in the league. That offseason, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward arrived in Denver, bringing the skills and pedigree the Broncos lacked to take that final step to the Super Bowl.

Elway’s spending frenzy finally paid off, as Peyton Manning and the über-talented Broncos won Super Bowl 50 together this year, earning the greatest “return on investment” that the NFL has to offer. But 2015 is over, and the 2016 season looms in the near future. That championship team is missing key pieces, as the rest of the league has done to the Broncos what they did to them in 2014. Gone are names like Peyton Manning and Owen Daniels. In their place? Career-disappointment Mark Sanchez and yet-to-be-named NFL draft picks.

“Winning” free agency is a double-edged sword, one that worked well for the Broncos, but suddenly spells uncertainty in Denver. Every team attacks the open market differently, which brings us to the Minnesota Vikings, who continue to take a prudent, if sometimes cautious approach in the process.

No, there are no Super Bowl banners in Minnesota, and other outside signings — Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace — failed to make an impact in recent years, but Rick Spielman is quietly building the Vikings into a homegrown contender. Free agents are staying in town, under-the-radar names are finally choosing Minnesota as a new home, and other recent acquisitions — Linval Joseph, Captain Munnerlyn — are contributing in tangible ways every Sunday.

These Vikings may not have names that “jump” off the screen or stand out in the newspaper,  but they’re winning games as a cohesive, well-coached, and tight-knit roster. Consistent coaching, a thoughtful spending strategy, and youth means Minnesota may soon end up on the same national stage as the Broncos — the Super Bowl.

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Kenrick Ellis will be in Minnesota through 2016
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings are on a pre-free agency roll this Saturday, signing multiple players to new contracts. Strong safety Andrew Sendejo was the first, and now, it looks as though defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis will be in Minnesota through 2016. According to reports from USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, Ellis has agreed to a one-year deal with the Vikings.

Ellis originally signed with the Vikings in October 2015 after the team placed Shamar Stephen on Injured Reserve. “I’m happy to be here, and I’m going to take advantage of my opportunities,” Ellis said after his first practice. “I think I’ll fit in fine with the scheme. I like to be physical around the line of scrimmage and run to the ball.”

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This is the time of year to be skeptical of all that you hear or read.

This time of year is plenty full of people with motives behind their words, whether it be the G.M. of an NFL franchise or the agent for a prospect or two, but we’ve never shied away from passing along potential smoke-screens for our readers enjoyment. Oh, and sometimes they turn out to be true.

The most recent rumor regarding the Vikings comes from Luke Rodgers of 247 Sports whose 12,400 Twitter followers were privy to an interesting little Vikings-related nugget. For the sake of transparency, I didn’t know who the guy was prior to today. To be fair, however, that probably says more about me than it does him.

Rodgers claims that the Vikings gave a nose tackle assurances during the NFL Scouting Combine that they will select him with the 23rd pick this year if he is still available. He even spilled the specific beans by giving us the prospect’s name.

VT Offseason Plan, Free Agency

Introduction

[In part two of this three-part series, Austin Belisle and Brett Anderson team up to put together an in-depth free agency plan for the Minnesota Vikings. Part 1.]

Rick Spielman’s job with the Minnesota Vikings isn’t easy. In reality, any general manager’s job is a challenge. As the highest-ranking member of the team’s personnel department, Spielman is not only responsible for hiring coaches and staff members, but for building and tweaking a competitive roster each season.

His duties require year-round coordination and planning, all of which come to a head between February and April. It’s then that Spielman and his front office must finalize their college scouting, address the mad-dash that is free agency, and find new talent through the annual NFL Draft. And he does all this with a clear vision in mind, one he’s continued to develop in his five years as general manager.

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