Thursday, October 8, 2015


[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

One of the most popular names being connected, by fans and analysts, to the Vikings middle linebacker vacancy has been Kansas State prospect Arthur brown.  Brown was a standout in the Scouting Combine interviews and he weighed in at 6′ 0″ and 241 pounds, an increase of bulk from his college listing, which was nice to see considering he still ran the forty at about 4.6 seconds at his pro day.

The biggest knock against Brown is that he lacks the ideal size for a middle linebacker of a 4-3 team where he will be asked to cover taller tight ends down the field and some, like me, worry that he would be forced to take on the weakside outside role rather than be a solution in the middle.

If any guy in this Draft has the skills to overcome measureable issues, however, it is probably Brown.

He plays the game with very good instincts and seems to be a very intelligent player-coach on the field, meaning that both his leadership ability and knack for reading defenses made him more valuable to Kansas State than most linebackers in college.  He is a sound tackler and shows excellent gap discipline against the run.

Brown may not have the elite type of speed Combine fanatics line up to see, but he has the quickness and agility that converts into some of the best range of any linebacker in this class.  He is the type of guy you trust to cover a runner out of the backfield sideline-to-sideline, but could still get burned down the seam by tight ends.

Brown started out playing for Miami where he barely saw any action in two years.  He then went to Kansas State with his brother, Bryce, to play for head coach Bill Snyder.  He redshirted for a year at his new school, but before the next season even started he was named a captain on defense, and became the best defender on the team.  Outside of his shoulder injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and Combine, Brown proved to be fairly durable, and there really are no red flags on either this prospect’s health or character at all.  The 21 bench press reps he produced at his Pro Day should be a reasonable indicator that the shoulder is no longer an issue.

In 2011, Brown notched 101 tackles, 9.5 of which were for a loss, and made one of the biggest plays of the year when he ended RGIII’s non-interception streak.  In 2012, he had 100 tackles, seven for a loss, one sack, four defended passes, and two interceptions.

Brown possesses all of the attributes, other than size, you want to see from a middle linebacker prospect and has the production on his resume to back it up.  I personally have Brown just shy of a first round grade, and worry that he will not be a three down player, but enough other people that I respect would scoff at that statement that I am willing to concede that I might be wrong.

What I do know is, if the Vikings select him in a couple of weeks, he will be an upgrade to this group of linebackers no matter where the coaches decide to stick him.  His range and quickness would be a welcomed addition to this defense, especially as they prepare to play about 10 games against mobile quarterbacks in 2013, where this defense obviously needs help.


It feels wrong to already cast a gaze towards next season with a playoff game only four days away, but I wanted to point out that next year’s opponents are known.

Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

There are a few things that jump out to me about this schedule.  First, it should be noted that the “home” game against the Steelers will indeed be played in London.  Obviously, that means home field advantage will not be at its normal heights and, in fact, the international stardom that the Steelers possess could mean the crowd is affecting the game in their favor.

Second, I can’t help but notice the plethora of mobile quarterbacks that will (most likely) face the Vikings.  Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers will of course be on the schedule twice.  Outside of them is RGIII, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, and Russell Wilson.  I’m not including Michael Vick because he is likely to be out in Philadelphia and I have no idea where he’ll end up.

Mobile quarterbacks have been an issue for the 2012 Vikings.  They lost games to Rodgers, Cutler, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Josh Freeman, and Wilson.  For the mathematicians in the group, all six of the Vikings losses were delivered by these shifty signal callers.

Of course, more recently, the Vikings have found success against Cutler and Rodgers at home, but otherwise their victories came against quarterbacks that aren’t really considered major flight risks.

The 2013 schedule pits us against running quarterbacks in nine matchups and I suspect this will need to be a point of emphasis this offseason, both in coaching current players and deciding which ones to add.

I suspect that Antoine Winfield, if he decides to continue playing, will be paid his $3 million salary without question from the Vikings.  They will also need to bolster the middle of their defense with smart and athletic players that can play instinctively against these quarterbacks, and have the range to shut down their attempts.

I already thought that defensive tackle, linebacker, and strong safety were needs this upcoming offseason.  After seeing this schedule, I am even more sure that upgrades will be needed.

Well, with only a little more than 48 hours until the 2012 NFL Draft is underway, I decided to pull the plug on any last minute changes to my 2012 Mock Draft a little early and call for a final version right now.

My final mock draft of the year is two rounds deep and can be viewed right here.

My top three picks have stayed exactly the same since I posted my first version on January 10th.  Andrew Luck, RGIII, and then Matt Kalil to the Vikings.  I still think there is a very good chance that Rick Spielman attempts a coup and trades back from the three spot, but the mock does not account for trades… or else things would get way too messy.

In the second round, I eschewed the stereotypical need based pick of a receiver or secondary talent and instead went with a guy I felt was clearly the best player available.  Here is a hint:  It’s a defensive tackle.

I know defensive tackle isn’t the biggest need on this roster, but it also isn’t the most solid position on this team either, and I just couldn’t pass up this particular prospect when the mock worked out the way it did.

Anyways, here is the link again, check it out… scrutinize it… and then come back on Thursday and Friday to laugh at how horribly wrong my mock was.

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