Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rick Spielman

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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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Following the rumblings yesterday that the Vikings have shown interest in both Reuben Randle and Mike Wallace, today brought this nugget from ESPN’s Ben Goessling:

Of course, the tweet mentions the Raiders are trying hard to keep Holmes, and this note from veteran NFL reporter Bill Williamson seems to indicate they have the inside track:

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Vikings Officially Have Eight Draft Picks
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The first week of free agency is over, meaning the 2016 NFL Draft order is officially set. Rick Spielman knows exactly how many “bullets” he’ll have come April, creating a clear, seven-round roadmap for the Minnesota Vikings.

On Friday afternoon, the league awarded compensatory picks to multiple franchises. The Vikings weren’t one of those teams, as they’ve put a focus on retaining players currently on the roster. Thus, Minnesota officially has eight picks to use in next month’s NFL Draft. They are, as follows:

First round: 23rd overall
Second round: 54th overall
Third round: 86th overall
Fourth round: 121st overall
Fifth round: 160th overall
Sixth round: 198th overall
Seventh round: 240th overall
Seventh round: 244th overall

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The Gamecocks offense wasn’t very good in 2015, but Jerrell Adams finished the season as the team’s second leading receiver with 28 catches for 421 yards and one touchdown. His production improved in each of his four years in Columbia after earning freshman All-SEC honors. Adams finished his NCAA career with 66 receptions for 977 yards and seven touchdowns.

Jerell Adams | Tight End, South Carolina

Measurements

Height – 6′ 5″
Weight – 247 lbs.
Age – 23 yrs.

At First Glance

Freshman All-SEC.

Two-time SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

Recipient of the Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete Representative of the University of South Carolina.

Projected Round:

Mid Rounds

After a solid combine performance, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks Adams could have boosted his stock as high as the late first-round.

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