Tuesday, June 30, 2015

xavier rhodes

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings head into 2015 with one of the league’s best young cornerbacks, but still lack adequate depth at the position —depth which may be addressed late in the NFL Draft.

Xavier Rhodes blossomed in his sophomore season last year, finishing with 18 pass breakups and his first career interception. In Mike Zimmer’s defense, he showed the ability to shadow receivers like Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery while cutting down on “grabby” man coverage techniques.

On the other side of the field, Captain Munnerlyn suffered through his worst season in the NFL. As a free agent signing from the Carolina Panthers in 2014, the 5’9″, 195-pound Munnerlyn was expected to step in and fill a pressing need opposite Xavier Rhodes. Although he finished the season with 2 interceptions, Munnerlyn struggled on the outside, and Zimmer may look to make him a pure slot corner in 2015.

“He has the chance to fall into the draft’s middle rounds and surprise many NFL teams.”

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For this week’s Vikings fan spotlight, we’re featuring a very special person—not only is Richard Holmstrom a long-time fan of the purple and gold, but he’s also a long-time fan of Vikings Territory!

In fact, Holmstrom first met Adam Warwas (founder of VT) and became a fan of his writing before Vikings Territory even developed.

“A bunch of us [readers] here at VT were all originally over at the Star Tribune site, ‘Access Vikings,’ including Adam,” Holmstrom explained. “Adam kept sneaking in links to his own blog, and one day I clicked on it. Lo and behold, there was some good stuff there! I’ve been reading his stuff ever since.”

Holmstrom added that he met the Warwas family when he lived in Alaska, and the two of them went fishing and spent time at Holmstrom’s lodge. He described Adam as “a really good dude.”

Although his family is originally from Minnesota, Holmstrom grew up in California. Despite spending his childhood on the west coast, however, he has been a Vikings fan from a young age.

“I was always fascinated by Vikings, as they were supposedly my ancestors,” Holmstrom said. “My Dad was an LA Rams fan, so naturally, I was too. . .until I heard about a new NFL team being formed named the Minnesota Vikings—that was it for me!”

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Both Peter King and Todd McShay have Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes currently mocked to the Minnesota Vikings.

Does that make me a trend setter?

All jokes aside, this is my third update to my 2015 NFL Mock Draft and I just can’t come up with many scenarios where I wouldn’t want Waynes to be our selection. Without going into an enormous amount of detail (those in-depth scouting reports are coming), let me give you a few insights into my thinking.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[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 eighth article, focusing on the cornerbacks.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterbacksrunning backs, tight ends, fullbacks, wide outsspecialists and safeties.]

Xavier Rhodes used 2014 to vault himself into the shutdown cornerback conversation and Josh Robinson, one Bears game excluded, thrived in his role on the outside in Mike Zimmer’s defense. The way those two stepped up last year was a huge reason why the Vikings were able to jump up to the seventh ranked passing defense in the NFL.

One of last year’s big free agency acquisitions was Captain Munnerlyn, who signed on for a three year deal worth $11.25 million, but he was disappointing as a Vikings and his post-season remarks indicate he knew it.  Munnerlyn is due to have a cap hit of $3.8 million in 2015, but there would only be a $0.67 million dead cap penalty if they cut him, so it would not be a surprise if the Vikings approached Munnerlyn about taking a pay cut in exchange for job security. In fact, those talks are anticipated to take place in Indianapolis during the NFL Scouting Combine.

Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

A seventh round rookie is normally fairly expendable in today’s NFL.  Cornerback Jabari Price was looking like an exception, however, as he impressed coaching staff during training camp, preseason, and even in some very limited regular season action.

For the first time in a long time, Minnesota’s squad of corners was able to stay relatively healthy in 2014 and Price was not pressed into extensive playing time (46 defensive snaps).  He recorded 10 tackles on the season and played decently on special teams.

Almost a week ago, however, Price made a decision that could greatly impact his future with his current employers.

Price was arrested in Minnesota last Monday after testing at 0.13% blood alcohol level.  The arrest was for suspicion of DWI and has his first court appearance scheduled for February 9th.

The Vikings currently have Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Robinson, Shaun Prater, and Marcus Sherels on the depth chart with Price.  Assuming they add some legitimate talent at some point this offseason, then Price has put himself behind the eight ball in any competition for a roster spot by getting himself into off-field trouble.

Price is unlikely to be released anytime soon over this incident, but it will cast a shadow over his potential in 2015.

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