Thursday, July 30, 2015

rhett ellison

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Somewhat predictably, after a slew of compensatory picks that couldn’t be traded played out, Rick Spielman traded the top pick in the fifth round.

Spielman traded away the 137th pick in exchange for the 146th pick (traded back nine spots) and picked up an extra sixth rounder (#185) which completes Rick Spielman’s goal of accumulating 10 picks in this year’s Draft.

With their next pick, number 143, The Vikings selected tight end MyCole Pruitt out of SIU.

Pruitt was the top performer for his positional group in every single NFL Combine drill, with bench press being the lone exception. At 6′ 2″ and 251 pounds, Pruitt has used his sure hands, blocking abilities, and football intelligence to climb into the conversation for valuable mid-round prospects.

There are some concerns about Pruitt’s on-field effort, but he fits this pattern of “coachable” players that need work and seem to be catching the eye of the Vikings in this Draft.

Pruitt joins a competitive group behind Kyle Rudolph that includes Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford, and Brandon Bostick.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Kyle Rudolph is broken.

He’s missed 16 games in four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and before that, 9 in three seasons at Notre Dame. In 2013, it was a broken left foot. In 2014, it was a combination of freak injuries, from torn abdominal muscles to an MCL strain.

In a March phone interview with Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, Rudolph expressed his frustration with the nagging injuries:

“I’d like to think no one in the league works harder than I do to stay healthy and take care of my body, but the bottom line is I haven’t been, and the only way to get rid of those questions is to play 16 games.”

After signing a five-year contract extension worth up to $40 million in the 2014 offseason, Rudolph failed to live up to expensive expectations — his $19.4 million in guaranteed money made him the second-highest paid tight end in the league behind Jimmy Graham. Even after shedding 16 pounds and getting faster in preparation for Norv Turner’s Air Coryell offense, Rudolph spent more time on the sidelines than in the end zone, missing almost half of the Vikings’ games last season.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the fourth article, focusing on the tight ends.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterback preview hererunning backs are here, and the fullbacks are here.]

In theory, the Vikings have their tight end depth chart pretty much set.  They have the powerful veteran in Kyle Rudolph, the semi-proven backup in Chase Ford, and the journeyman blocker in Rhett Ellison.  They also have some camp fodder in Ryan Otten.

Rudolph just signed a huge deal that runs through 2018 and is highly unlikely to go anywhere.  Ford is entering a contract year, but is inexpensive and likely to be a restricted free agent in 2016, so there is no real reason to actively oust him from the Vikings roster.

Ellison is also fairly cheap, with a 2015 cap hit of $735,146, and appears like a guy the Vikings want to lock up for the long-term.  While unspectacular within the offense, Ellison is a great blocking tight end and solid special teams player.

The Vikings seem highly unlikely to spend heavily on the tight end position this offseason, with actual value more likely to be found in the Draft for a talent worth bringing aboard, but let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the third article, focusing on the fullbacks.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterback preview here and the running backs are here.]

If there was any real potential for drama at the fullback position this offseason, it was pretty much erased when Jerome Felton made it clear that he would be opting out of his contract. By doing so, he will sign with a team that almost certainly will keep him on the final roster, something that could be in question with the Vikings despite his status as a Pro Bowl caliber player.

The Vikings will gain about $2.5 million in cap space with Felton choosing to leave and have Zach Line waiting in the wings to pick up the slack.  Tight end Rhett Ellison is also equipped to take some fullback snaps if needed.

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There were a handful of positive individual performances on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Bears and, as a team, the Vikings played very poorly.  The team came out of their bye week very flat, with deficiencies on both sides of the ball, and the rest of the 2014 schedule will tear them apart of they don’t get better.

The past winners of the “Player of the Week” votes are:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

 

The nominations are a bit underwhelming this week, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  If you think I missed someone worthy of the nod then please feel free to hit the “other” button and leave your write-in vote in the comments section.

The nominations are…

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