Saturday, May 28, 2016

sharrif floyd

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Projecting the Vikings' Final 53-Man Roster
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2016 season inched forward a bit when the Vikings opened their OTA offseason workouts. With that came plenty of early optimism about the Vikings’ talented roster. Teddy is ready to throw for 10,000 yards. Adrian Peterson is in the best shape of his life. 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is thriving and Aaron Boone looks great in purple.

If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest of claims that the Vikings are a true Super Bowl contender.

It is too early to say most of these things, but when you start to stack Minnesota’s roster, you can see why the hype exists. I struggled with my first attempt to pencil in a final 53-man roster, mostly because there will be talented players who will inevitably be cut. The front office won’t have an easy task on their hands, but I’d take a loaded roster over a barren one any day of the week.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Vikings OTA’s have been underway and the usual “best shape of my life” and “I’ll be at one hundred percent” updates are following their typical paths.

One piece of concrete news to come out of Winter Park, courtesy of Matt Vensel at the Star Tribune, is not a great one.

Defensive tackle B.J. Dubose reportedly tore his ACL during an indoor practice and is expected to spend his 2016 season on the injured reserve.

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Cordarrelle Patterson's option NOT picked up

Vikings Keep Rhodes, Floyd through 2017
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings had until the end of today to exercise the fifth-year option on their three 2013 first round picks. Rather than wait until the deadline, though, the Vikings locked up two of the three, keeping a couple of Mike Zimmer’s key defenders in Minnesota through 2017.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Vikings picked up the fifth-year options on defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who were taken with the 23rd and 25th picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. Floyd originally posted an ambiguous tweet indicating some good news, and Adam Caplan was the first to report the decision on Rhodes, per Rhodes’s agent.

Poll of the Week

Minnesota Vikings 2016 Schedule Predictions
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Of course, that’s what every Minnesota Vikings fan thought after the team released its 2016 regular season schedule last week. A road game against the Tennessee Titans to start the year? Mark it down as a win. The Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 2? The Cheeseheads don’t stand a chance.

As you make your way through the schedule — the 18th-toughest in the league — it’s easy to convince yourself that the Vikings can and should win every game. Why not? That’s the fun of the offseason, when every team is 0-0 and optimism is at an all-time high. And although I enjoy the Purple Kool-Aid as much as the next fan, I’m not ready to proclaim the Vikings just the fifth team in NFL history to finish the regular season undefeated.

Still, the NFL Draft isn’t for another nine days, and there’s plenty of time to speculate. The team at Vikings Territory will release their own predictions later this week, but we want to hear from you! How do you think Mike Zimmer and Co. will finish the regular season?

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Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer covets versatility, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, the Vikings have swiss army knives like Rhett Ellison and Jerick McKinnon, but it’s on defense where that malleability really shines.

There’s Anthony Barr, former UCLA defensive end, who entered the league two years ago and quickly became one of the NFL’s best outside linebackers. There’s Danielle Hunter, a raw prospect out of LSU who transformed himself into a forceful edge rusher last season. Oh, and don’t forget about Harrison Smith, a hybrid strong/free safety who truly does it all for Zimmer’s defense.

Players at every level can switch positions, move inside or out,  and even stand up or put a hand in the ground; the possibilities are endless in a Zimmer system. Think back to Sharrif Floyd sliding to nose tackle last season, or Brian Robison moving inside on third-and-long situations. Zimmer’s players are expected to adapt to the changing landscape of the NFL, where teams are throwing the football more than ever and consistently lining up with three to five receivers.

With such a desire for scheme flexibility, the signing of former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur in free agency makes perfect sense. Though Lamur’s started just 15 games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, he has the varied experience and athleticism that Zimmer loves. When training camp begins in July, he’ll have a chance to start opposite Barr as the Vikings’ weak side linebacker, potentially adding another dimension to Minnesota’s already excellent unit.

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