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:
@CoryHepola just ran again and went 4.60. Running looked smooth though. Kid can play. Truly believe Vikings would be lucky to have him fall.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) March 28, 2016
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.
When Draft Season began at Vikings Territory, offensive line was the team’s biggest need. But then, free agency happened, and everything changed. The signings of Alex Boone and Andre Smith arguably made the unit a strength heading into 2016, revealing much larger holes on the offensive side of the ball.
Once the team released Mike Wallace, the “Vikings-need-a-big-receiver” buzz grew louder, and many (including myself) mocked players like Josh Doctson to the Vikings. At the time, the idea of Treadwell in purple and gold was just a fantasy; he was expected to come off the board somewhere around the 10th-overall pick. Now, it’s looking more and more like Treadwell could fall into the mid-20’s, making the dream a possible reality.
Hold your horses, though. Mike Zimmer is here to douse the flames with a heaping of reality. At last week’s annual league meetings, he shared the following with Brian Murphy:
Zimmer: "I think that if we fix this one area (OL) I think it’s going to help (Bridgewater) a lot more than getting a WR in here." #Vikings
— Brian Murphy (@murphPPress) March 23, 2016
Having wide receivers who can win the 50/50 battles is important, but so is protecting the quarterback throwing those footballs. After last season’s debacle up front, Zimmer understands this, and he’s either:
- Sharing his true feelings with the media OR
- Distancing himself from reports that the Vikings are interested in a wide receiver early, like the one from today tying Minnesota to Braxton Miller in the first round
So, to date, 20 different players have visited the Vikings, Spielman’s emphasized a need to bolster the offensive line, and countless wide receivers have been linked to Minnesota in the first round. The situation in Minnesota is clearly NOT clear.
No one can predict what will happen, and that’s what makes this time of the year such an incredible experience. In this connected world, we’re entrenched in the behind-the-scenes activity at each Pro Day, and we have first-hand access to league insiders through social media. As soon as a story breaks, we have the power to tweet about it, share our thoughts, and fuel the never-ending fire that is the offseason news cycle.
But the smoke from fire can be blinding, and only the truly connected players — the front offices and their coaching staffs — can see through the haze. Rick Spielman and Zimmer know who they’d like to pick, but that player may not be on the board when the Vikings are called to the podium. Only on April 28th will we know if Treadwell is a draft target, if the Vikings trade back, if a defensive tackle is the pick, or if some unexpected name lands in Minnesota.
Enjoy the ride, and enjoy reading more of our mock drafts and speculative pieces as we transition from free agency to the NFL Draft!