Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rick Spielman

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

After agreeing to terms with 10 undrafted free agents on Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings saw their roster balloon to 95 players. The additions meant Rick Spielman and his front office would need to release at least five players by the start of the Vikings’ first rookie minicamp this weekend. According to the team’s official website, the Vikings cleared that necessary roster space by waiving five players on Thursday:

S Ahmad Dixon

RB Henry Josey

TE Ryan Otten

T Antonio Richardson

G Austin Wentworth

Wentworth and Richardson were undrafted free agents in 2014, but quickly became expendable after the Vikings selected three offensive linemen in last week’s NFL Draft. Richardson was placed on injured reserve last summer after undergoing surgery on both of his knees, possibly ending his career in the NFL. Wentworth appeared in seven regular season games for the Vikings last year after injuries decimated the offensive line.

Dixon was added to the active roster last December, but didn’t step foot on the field. Josey, an undrafted running back out of Missouri in 2014, replaced Ben Tate in late December but did not appear in any games. Both Dixon and Josey were on the Vikings 53-man roster for the regular season finale against the Chicago Bears

Otten was a familar face on the Vikings’ practice squad — he spent two stints with the group last season and was added again in November before signing a futures deal in January.

With the moves, the Vikings head into the rookie minicamp at the 90-man roster limit. Check back for coverage of this week’s activities, which start today and run through the weekend!

 

 

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Waynes, like the Vikings' new stadium, represents a bright future in Minnesota

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Wow, what a crazy weekend. Things got rolling on Thursday night and didn’t slow down until Saturday evening, but here we are, sore fingers and all. If you missed any of our draft coverage, head over to the landing page and check it out — Adam, Brett, Arif, Lindsey, Andy, Carl, Brent, and myself put out some work we know Vikings fans will love

Now that the draft has come and gone, it’s time to assess Rick Spielman’s new “toys”. In a three-day span that saw the Vikings draft 10 new players and sign nine undrafted free agents, a few of Spielman’s organizational goals became clear:

  • Protect Teddy Bridgewater
  • Give Mike Zimmer flexibility and creative freedom on defense
  • Add versatile weapons to Norv Turner’s offense

Nothing is more important than ensuring the long-term health and development of Teddy Bridgewater, who staked his claim as the face of the franchise last season. After watching his quarterback suffer behind an offensive line that gave up 30 sacks in 2014, Spielman entered the draft with a concrete plan: add depth to a depleted group of tackles.

He did just that, finding tremendous value in the fourth round by drafting Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings, a first round talent who fell because of a lingering foot injury. Spielman proceeded to solidify the group later in the draft, selecting two more offensive tackles — Tyrus Thompson (sixth round) and Austin Shepherd (seventh round).

According to Chris Tomasson, the Vikings will pick up the fifth-year options for both Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil. GM Rick Spielman implied earlier that the 2012 draft picks would be re-signed for 2016, but the team made it official Monday morning.

Smith, drafted No. 29 overall, will bring in a $5.2 million paycheck; Kalil will make $11.096 million as a No. 4 overall pick.

No questions existed about Smith remaining in Minnesota, as he is arguably the top safety on the team and a no-brainer to keep around. In his first three seasons in purple, Smith tallied 192 tackles, 62 assists and 10 interceptions. He also added three sacks in 2014.

Smith played in all 16 games last season; if he stay healthy moving forward, he will continue to play a huge role for the Vikings’ secondary. Tomasson reported that the Vikings plan to work out a longer-term contract with Smith prior to the regular season. Smith has been vocal about wanting to stay with Minnesota, which is great news for fans.

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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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