Sunday, November 29, 2015

rhett ellison

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The 30-14 final score in Oakland isn’t exactly a fair representation of how the game was played, as the Vikings didn’t get any meaningful separation in the box score until very late in the fourth quarter.

Still, the defense continues to keep opponents from scoring unmanageable amounts of points, while the offense remains just productive enough to come away with the wins. Oh, and this week, special teams got in on the action, too.

It is now that time of week where we rely on you, the informed voters, to decide which Vikings player gets the heralded (by me) honor of winning our Player of the Week award.

Here is the list of winners so far in 2015:

WEEK ONE: Anthony Barr

WEEK TWO: Adrian Peterson

WEEK THREE: Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Linval Joseph

WEEK SIX: Stefon Diggs

WEEK SEVEN: Stefon Diggs

WEEK EIGHT: Stefon Diggs

WEEK NINE: Linval Joseph

Now, this week’s nominations are…

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If Matt Kalil can play halfway decent like he did last night, and if the team can stay healthy like they did last night, then I dare say that this Vikings offense has the ingredients to be as good (if not better) than what we all witnessed in 2009.

One thing that stuck out to me during the Hall of Fame Game in Canton was just how talented and deep we look to be at the tight end position. Somewhat int he shadow of Adrian Peterson’s return and the acquisition of some speedy receivers, I’m thinking Teddy Bridgewater’s “safety blankets” could be some of our best weapons throughout the 2015 season.

Of all the starters, albeit in very limited action, it was tight end Kyle Rudolph that impressed me the most. Bridgewater targeted him twice on the opening drive. Both passes were caught, both went for first downs, and Rudolph showed some tenacity as he shed three tackles to gain his 22 yards of production.

As fantasy football players everywhere will be quick to point out, the problem with Rudolph isn’t his potential and talent, it always seems to be his ability to come out of a game unscathed. He’s missed 15 games over the last two seasons and, according to a recent Pioneer Press article, he knows something needs to change.

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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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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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[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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