Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rick Spielman

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Finally the NFL Draft is here! Well, almost.

At least now the league’s annual event is less than one month away from taking place. Soon enough, each team will do their best at selecting the right players to add to their roster and then the Cleveland Browns will end the careers of a new set of rookies.

Unlike the New England Patriots, the Minnesota Vikings have not made an enemy of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and are going to be allowed to keep their first round selection in this year’s draft. With their very first draft pick in 2016, will the Vikings keep it boring or will they use the selection to become the talk of the league after the draft’s opening night?

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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GM

The Minnesota Vikings’ draft plans are a big talking point for fans right now as the 2016 version is less than a month away. GM Rick Spielman will have a lot of decisions to make behind-the-scenes, some will be crazy stories and scenarios that will never see the light of day. To shine a light on a few hypotheticals is our resident NFL Draft BOSS Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman)! The scenarios are…….

Scenario 1: Myles Jack is the #1 player on your board. He’s still available at #5 when David Caldwell of the Jacksonville Jaguars calls you up and says he wants the #23 overall pick plus your 2nd, 3rd and 5th 2016 picks and your 1st rounder in 2017. What say you?

Scenario 2: Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, Andrew Billings, Jack Conklin, Taylor Decker are all off the board at 23 (as well as who you’d expect to be gone). You cannot trade back. Who do you take?

Scenario 3: Doctson is off the board, but Treadwell is available at 23. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner has said unequivocally he does not want to work with Treadwell and prefers an offensive lineman. What do you do?

Scenario 4: Washington is on the clock at 21. Doctson is available and your sources say the Texans will grab him at 22 if available. Washington offers to swap picks if you include your 2nd, 5th, and Adrian Peterson. What do you do?

Scenario 5: You get a call from whoever the hell the Titans GM is this week. They’re offering the #1 pick in exchange for your 2016 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th round picks, 2017 2nd rounder, and Matt Kalil. What do you do?

Scenario 6: Head coach Mike Zimmer says that Robert Nkemdiche is the #1 player in this draft and wants to work with him despite the off the field stuff. He’s available at 23, but so is Josh Doctson. What do you do?

Scenario 7: Mike Tannenbaum of the Dolphins calls you up. He offers DeVante Parker for Anthony Barr straight up. What do you do?

Scenario 8: The Dallas Cowboys select Ezekiel Elliott 4th overall. Midway through the first round, Jerry Jones calls you up and offers Zeke and a 5th rounder for Adrian and the 23rd overall pick. What do you do?

All that and other “All. Of the Draft Picks. You Have.” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Treadwell's speculated
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The offseason is a drag. It’s too long, it’s filled with smoke screens, and it’s a never-ending stream of misleading rumors. But it’s still football, and it’s difficult to separate the 40-yard dash times and Wonderlic scores from our Twitter feeds and anxious minds. It’s a mental grind, but admit it — you love it.

There’s something spectacular about the frenzy of the offseason. A quote in passing from a head coach becomes fodder for a tweet-based argument. Mock drafts — of which there are plenty — fuel discussions in the comments section. We crave our Sunday football, and in its place, create topics, stories, and scenarios to fill that void.

Today, for example, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell participated in the school’s Pro Day and ran what many consider to be a slow 40-yard dash. His 4.63-second time sparked quite the back-and-forth on Twitter, with some arguing his performance today may lead to a Draft-day slide in April. Darren Wolfson, for one, thinks the Vikings would be “lucky” if he landed at the bottom of the first round:

Treadwell’s speculated “fall” is part of a larger conversation, one that’s grown larger as we inch closer to the 2016 NFL Draft. With every mock draft or reported prospect visit, the hype grows and builds. But at the end of it all, we’re still not any closer to knowing who the Minnesota Vikings will select with the 23rd-overall pick.

Welcome to the uncertainty of the NFL offseason.

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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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