Friday, December 9, 2016

Matt Kalil

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Projecting the Vikings' Final 53-Man Roster
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2016 season inched forward a bit when the Vikings opened their OTA offseason workouts. With that came plenty of early optimism about the Vikings’ talented roster. Teddy is ready to throw for 10,000 yards. Adrian Peterson is in the best shape of his life. 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is thriving and Aaron Boone looks great in purple.

If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest of claims that the Vikings are a true Super Bowl contender.

It is too early to say most of these things, but when you start to stack Minnesota’s roster, you can see why the hype exists. I struggled with my first attempt to pencil in a final 53-man roster, mostly because there will be talented players who will inevitably be cut. The front office won’t have an easy task on their hands, but I’d take a loaded roster over a barren one any day of the week.

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Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings continue to add offensive lineman to the roster, this time by drafting Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Beavers joins the Vikings after starting 40 straight games at left tackle for the Broncos over his four-year career. The 2015 All-MAC First-Team selection spoke to Minnesota media following the announcement.

“I want to thank the Vikings for believing in me and believing in my potential,” he said. “It’s a surreal feeling right now and I’m just so happy right now, I can’t even explain it.”

Coming out of high school, Beavers originally committed to play defensive line at Illinois. His scholarship was rescinded after the school recruited too many players, and Beavers quickly signed to play with Western Michigan.

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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?

favorite first round memories
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2016 NFL Draft is less than a month away, making now the perfect time to reflect on prior draft day experiences. To celebrate the peak of the offseason, I’ve asked the Vikings Territory team to share their favorite first round memories and recall the one moment in Minnesota Vikings draft history that stands out in their minds.

What’s your favorite Minnesota Vikings draft night (Round 1) memory?

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Boone is the newest member on Mike Zimmer's Vikings ship

Vikings guard Alex Boone
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Alex Boone is a throwback offensive lineman. He’ll head-butt his quarterback without a helmet. He’ll threaten to punch a certain Green Bay Packers linebacker in the mouth. But most of all, he’ll bring that in-your-face attitude to the field, where he’s earned a reputation as one of the most physical guards in the NFL.

It’s part of the reason Mike Zimmer wanted Boone — who signed a four-year, $26.8 million contract this offseason — in a Minnesota Vikings uniform next year. “One of the things was his toughness, the physicality,” he said, per Chris Tomasson. ”I like his demeanor and I’m hoping it’s something that rubs off on the rest of our offensive line.”

But more than an attitude, what does Boone add to the unit, and how can he translate his game to improve what was one of Minnesota’s weakest links in 2015? It starts by looking at Boone’s film from last season, his final year with the San Francisco 49ers. A career right guard, he made the full-time transition to the opposite side and started 13 games at the position, finishing the season with a 65.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Though he finished with a 44.9 run blocking grade, Boone excelled in pass protection, earning a 82.1 grade for his work over 13 games. According to PFF, he allowed just three sacks and 17 total pressures all of last year — music to Teddy Bridgewater’s ears.

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