Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Blogging has been light the last few days because I watched (obsessed over?) the NFL Draft. I’ll admit that I’m a homer. That doesn’t mean I’ll just blindly trust that GM Rick Spielman and Coach Zimmer picked players that they couldn’t believe were still there. Still, Spielman has built some trust with his last 3 drafts.

Let’s see what others are saying about the Vikings picks, starting with LB Anthony Barr:

“He’s only been a defensive end for two years. He needs experience. When you watch the tape, does he look like Jason Taylor or what? There’s a lot of upside, and (new head coach) Mike Zimmer and his staff will get it out of him.” — Mike Mayock

Barr started his time at UCLA as a running back. The fact that he was a feared pass rusher the last 2 years tells me he’s got great natural talent but that he’ll become a great player with Zimmer’s coaching. NOTEWORTHY: Anyone that’s 6’5″ and runs a 4.6 forty is a freakish athlete.

Teddy Bridgewater:

“That (pro day) workout is something I’ve been fighting for a couple months now. His pro day didn’t confirm what I saw on the game tape. But he needs to get stronger. Bridgewater has the intangibles; he’s smart.” — Mike Mayock

Bill Polian, the guy who drafted Peyton Manning said that Bridgewater a) was excellent at manipulating safeties with his eyes” and that he was excellent with his pre-snap reads. Those statements tell me that Bridgewater a) is willing to work hard to be the leader of the offense and b) has the smarts to be a top quality QB. Finally, Bridgwater’s character is off the charts outstanding.

David Yankey:

“This is a great fit for the Vikings. They believe in physical players and Yankey is a phone booth brawler. Trust me, I know (Vikings general manager) Rick Spielman and (head coach) Mike Zimmer, and this is the kind of player they bang the table for.” — Mike Mayock

Simply put, Yankey, barring injury, will be the starting left guard for the Vikings by midseason. He’s a Stanford kid so he’s smart. He’s physical and he’s played every position on the line except center. That they got him in the fifth round screams exceptional value.

Antone Exum:

“Exum is a well-built individual, and showed good fluidity in pass coverage and also an ability to track the ball well. Exum was a highly regarded player two years ago, but suffered a knee injury playing basketball in January of 2013. Exum came back to play in the 2013 season, but only played in three games and did not play at the same level as the previous season.” — Gil Brandt

Exum played the side opposite Chicago first round pick Kyle Fuller when healthy. He’s considered to have great versatility because he can play in the slot in nickel packages or play safety. The other thing that’s worth noting is that he isn’t afraid to hit people in run support.

The Vikings did a great job the last day of the draft. Exum and Yankey are excellent examples of that but they aren’t the only examples of how Spielman worked the draft for maximum value:

Shamar Stephen:


Terrific size. Very athletic for a big man. Generally plays on his feet. Occupies blocks. Flashes the ability to lock out and reestablish the line of scrimmage. Has raw tools to work with. Scheme versatile. Solid personal and football character.
Draft Projection: Round 3

Anytime a team picks up a third round talent at a position needing depth in the 7th round, that’s an outstanding value pick. While it’s impossible seeing him beating out Vikings NT Linval Joseph, it’s easy to see him providing much-needed quality depth at the position.

Brandon Watts, OLB Georgia Tech:

Rare timed speed. Very quick to the perimeter and covers a lot of ground. Easily keeps stride with tight ends in the slot and offers solid man-coverage ability on backs. Can carry receivers vertically and buzz the flats. Lines up on the edge and offers some pass-rush potential. Is fluid and loose-hipped dropping into coverage.

If Watts makes the Vikings, it’ll be because he impressed on special teams. Still, this is a worthwhile pick because it’s a last round pick spent on a player who has the physical tools to work with.

Various websites have given the Vikings high grades for this draft class. They certainly sent a message to the NFC North QBs that they’d better prepare to get hit often under Mike Zimmer. They also solved their QB problems with Bridgewater. Finally, they stockpiled talent for their secondary in the 6th and 7th rounds, thanks in large part to the outstanding depth in this draft.

Let’s remember that Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman were fifth round picks for Seattle in years that weren’t half as deep as this year’s draft.

This draft, combined with the players the Vikings have picked in the first round in 2012 and 2013, will help the Vikings compete for the NFC North championship within 2 years. Let’s remember that Spielman picked franchise left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerstone safety Harrison Smith in the first round in 2012 before picking DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes and WR/KR extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round last year.

Now that the NFL season is down to the Super Bowl, the offseason has arrived for the other 30 teams. A major part of the NFL offseason, if there is such a thing anymore, is Senior Bowl week. The past few years, scouting was best broken down into sections, starting with the college football season, followed by the minor bowls, followed by the BCS games. Next up after that is the Blue-Gray Game, the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN, then the top prospects’ pro days at their college. This Saturday, they’ll play the Senior Bowl.

In addition to scouts descending on Mobile, lots of people who cover the draft converge to watch the workouts and report on who’s creating positive buzz for themselves. One of the people covering the Senior Bowl, as he’s done for years, is Scott Wright of Follow this link to read Scott’s daily reports from the practices. They’re some of the best in the business. Scott does a daily podcast from Mobile, too.

Thus far, Scott’s reported that Derek Carr, the top QB at the game, has stood out during the South squad’s practices and that Ra’Shede Hageman of the University of Minnesota has stood out defensively for the North squad. The reason I mention these players is because the Vikings need a new QB, just like they need to start restocking the talent on their defensive line. While it’s unlikely that they could get both of these players, rest assured that new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will be paying extra attention to these players this week.

Another sportswriter who’s covering the Senior Bowl is’s Mike Wobschall. Follow this link to read Mike’s reporting from Mobile. Hint: Carr has stood out for Mr. Wobschall, too.

Finally, the Vikings are perfectly positioned for a quick turnaround. Whether that happens still remains to be seen. Still, they’ve got high draft picks in each round of the draft, plus a third round pick they got in the Percy Harvin trade with the Seahawks. Couple that with GM Rick Spielman’s stellar draft record recently and there’s reason for optimism for Vikings fans. (Yes, he made a mistake with Christian Ponder but he’s more than made up for that since by drafting Pro Bowl LT Matt Kalil, FS Harrison Smith, and Pro Bowl PK Blair Walsh in the 2012 draft, followed by drafting Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and KR/WR extraordinare Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of last year’s draft.

Other standouts from the Spielman draft classes include former Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, DEs Brian Robison and Everson Griffen and RB Toby Gerhart. While it’s true that Griffen and Gerhart are eligible to become free agents this year, there’s no denying the fact that they’re top talents that Spielman found the last day of the draft.

That’s what separates good drafts from great drafts.

If you’re a football fanatic like I am, you won’t want to miss Scott’s and Mike’s reporting from Mobile.

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One of my favorite Vikings writers is Mike Wobschall. His Monday Morning Mailbag report is essential reading for all Vikings fanatics. For quite awhile, there’s been a debate raging amongst Vikings fans on whether to win as many games as possible each year or whether to tank and get a franchise QB. This Q & A from this morning’s MMMB tees things up perfectly:

Q: After a rough start to the year, I was hoping to get the best draft picks, which unfortunately means losing. Watching the way we are playing right now, it is impossible to hope for losses. Adrian Peterson’s strong finish last week that willed us to that win set the tone for everyone in the organization. It was also great to see Matt Cassel’s fire and leadership today, as well as improved secondary play. You can’t help but love the team dynamic that is showing up this late in the season, despite a tough year. Skol Vikes. — Zach S.

A: One thing to consider on the topic of losing draft positioning with wins in a “lost season” is that when you win games it means certain and various aspects of your team are performing well. Most likely, and in the Vikings case this season, those aspects that play well and thus help yield wins are going to be core members of the team in future years. You have to balance the value of having slightly higher picks with additional losses against having slightly worse picks with a few extra wins.

I’ll take the wins every time, no questions asked.

This is where I disagree with Mike Wobschall from a theoretical standpoint. After yesterday’s games, the Vikings likely won’t get a Top-3 pick, which is what’s needed to get a franchise QB or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Yesterday, Matt Cassel played ok for the first three quarters before lighting things up in the 4th quarter. He has an opt-out clause in his contract, which would allow him to become a free agent after the end of this season. I have nothing against Cassel. It’s just clear that he isn’t a long-term solution to the Vikings’ QB problems.

There’s nothing wrong with losing lots of games one season so you can get that long-term solution at QB. From a tactical standpoint, it’s saying ‘We won’t win this year but we’re setting ourselves up for Super Bowl runs for a decade.’ That isn’t surrender. It’s a tactical retreat to regroup and restock.

The Vikings did that two seasons ago. Their reward was drafting Matt Kalil with the 4th overall pick, then using the pick they got from Cleveland to trade back into the first round and drafting Harrison Smith. They’re Vikings cornerstones for the next decade, with Kalil anchoring the offensive line and Smith co-anchoring the secondary with Xavier Rhodes for the next 8-10 years.

Getting a franchise QB would be huge, especially in light of Cordarrelle Patterson’s monster game yesterday. CP, as his teammates call him, is a total beast. He’s big, athletic, fast and willing to dish out punishment to defensive backs. With a franchise QB, they could become annual threats to win a Super Bowl championship.

One QB who hasn’t attracted much attention is San Jose State quarterback David Fales. CBSSports’ Rob Rang sang his praises in this article.

The Vikings will surely finish with a top-10 pick. That might be enough to get Fales, a QB that Rang describes as being able to make all the throws, is accurate, has good touch and awarenesss.

One thing that Mr. Wobschall and I agree on is that Rick Spielman is the right man making the draft day decisions. In the last 2 drafts, Spielman has picked 6 Pro Bowl-caliber players in Kalil, Harrison Smith, Blair Walsh, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman has put some impressive pieces of a championship puzzle together on this team. What they need is a QB who doesn’t just manage games but a QB who wins games by putting the team on his back. That certainly isn’t Christian Ponder. Long-term, that isn’t Matt Cassel. Long-term, the solution might be David Fales.

Finally, the Vikings need a new head coach. As much as I respect Leslie Frazier as a man of integrity, he isn’t the man to put a championship-caliber system together.

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To say that today’s Baltimore-Vikings game was exciting is understatement. For the last 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Baltimore and the Vikings scored at a clip that made the Missouri-Auburn SEC Championship Game look like they were standing still. Here’s the box score…of the final 2 minutes:

2:05 Bal TD Joe Flacco passed to Dennis Pitta to the left for 1 yard gain (2pt attempt converted, Joe Flacco pass to Torrey Smith)MIN 12 – BAL 15
1:27 Min TD Toby Gerhart rushed up the middle for 41 yard gain (Blair Walsh made PAT)MIN 19 – BAL 15
1:16 Bal TD Minnesota kicked off, Jacoby Jones returned kickoff for 77 yards (Justin Tucker made PAT)MIN 19 – BAL 22
0:45 Min TD Matt Cassel passed to Cordarrelle Patterson to the right for 79 yard gain (Blair Walsh made PAT)MIN 26 – BAL 22
0:04 Bal TD Joe Flacco passed to Marlon Brown down the middle for 9 yard gain MIN 26 – BAL 28

Congratulations to the Ravens. They kept their composure throughout the game. Their offense sputtered most of the game. They came alive at the right time.

Congratulations to the Vikings for not throwing in the towel…ever. They could’ve done that but they didn’t. They’re now 3-9-1. Today, the Vikings played with the urgency of a team fighting for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. What’s becoming totally apparent to Vikings fans is that Cordarrelle Patterson is a beast. His toughness, his running ability, his physical play and his ability to either outrun opponents or to make them miss makes it likely that he’ll be the next dominant receiver in the NFL. (Follow this link to watch Patterson’s TD catch and run. CP, as his coaches call him, has now scored twice on pass receptions, twice on kickoff returns and once as a runner lined up in the backfield.

Saying CP is special is understatement by orders of magnitude.

It’s apparent that Xavier Rhodes is turning into a shutdown corner. Today, he took Torrey Smith away from Joe Flacco until he got injured late in the game. It isn’t coincidence that Baltimore’s passing attack took off immediately after that.

Matt Cassel played well considering the field conditions, too. He finished 17-for-38 with 265 yards passing with 2 TD passes and no interceptions thrown or sacks.

The only thing the Vikings are missing is a franchise QB. Their defense needs to be restocked but it’s manageable. Mostly, they need a QB who can take them to the next level. With Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson in important skilled positions, the Vikings have some gamechangers.

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This morning on At Issue With Tom Hauser, former DFL gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza did his best to spin away the terrible Vikings stadium financing plan. When asked about the funding shortfall, Entenza said that “it shows that these stadium financing deals are complicated, don’t work the way that they hoped that they would and that the legislature will have to go back to work and find a non-general revenue fund.”

Earlier in the show, Jay Kohls said that e-tab revenue through June was $2.4 million, far short of the $35,000,000 that’s needed for the state portion of the $975,000,000 stadium cost. According to Kohls’ report, the state gambling board was hoping to have 2,800 establishments selling e-tabs. At the end of June, 300 establishments were selling the e-tabs.

Entenza is tapdancing. He should be ashamed of himself for that spin. Other cities and other states have built stadiums for their teams. I’ve watched them built in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City and St. Louis in addition to the Metrodome and Target Field. This is the only stadium funding mechanism that’s been this woefully short. In fact, it’s the only funding mechanism that didn’t come off without a hitch.

Gov. Dayton pushed the Vikings stadium so hard that he didn’t care whether the funding mechanism worked. He worried more about schmoozing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell than he worried about the funding mechanism.

Friday night, Michele Kelm-Helgen of the MSFA admitted that e-tab revenues likely will never produce the revenue required to pay off the stadium bonds. Then she admitted that the DFL legislature passed a tax increase by closing an income tax ‘loophole’ which is projected to generate $20,000,000 a year.

That’s right. She admitted that Gov. Dayton broke his promise that the state general fund wouldn’t be used to pay for the stadium. Gov. Dayton was foolish enough to buy the state gambling board’s revenue projections. Thanks to his pushing this project, Minnesota taxpayers will be paying for Zygi’s palace.

While pushing the Vikings stadium, Gov. Dayton said he wanted the new stadium to be known as “the People’s Stadium.” Thanks to Dayton’s funding mechanism, it’ll be the people’s stadium because they’ll be paying for it through higher taxes for the next 30 years.

Stadium financing isn’t complicated. It’s just that it was too complicated for Gov. Dayton.

One pattern that’s emerged about Vikings GM Rick Spielman is that he’s fearless when it comes to trading up or down in the NFL draft.

For instance, last year, Spielman figured out a way to Cleveland into trading up a spot to get Trent Richardson. Then Spielman got Matt Kalil, the player he’d planned on taking all along with Cleveland’s pick. Then he paired one of the picks he got from Cleveland with the Vikings’ second round pick to take Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. Kalil played in the Pro Bowl after his first season. Smith played great all season, pulling the secondary together all season.

This past year, Percy Harvin wore out his welcome in Minnesota by telling the world that he couldn’t work with Leslie Frazier. Frazier’s reputation is that of being a player’s coach with tons of integrity. It wasn’t surprising to hear that Spielman traded Harvin as soon as he was able to. What was surprising was that he got Seattle’s first round pick this year and third round pick in 2014 in exchange for Harvin.

Thursday night, the Vikings used their pick, the 23rd overall, to pick Florida DT Sharrif Floyd. Of all the mock drafts I went through, none had Floyd dropping past the Titans with the 10th pick. (Frankly, Ed, I was stunned that Pittsburgh passed on Floyd to take Georgia LB Jarvis Jones.) Most mocks I read had Floyd going to the Raiders with the third overall pick. Most scouts had him rated the top DT in the draft.

With the 25th pick overal, the pick they got from Seattle, the Vikings picked FSU CB Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes is a great fit for the Vikings because of who’s in the NFC North. The Vikings will face Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall twice per season for the forseeable future. Having a 6’2″ CB with 4.4 speed to match up against Johnson and Marshall is a big plus.

The shock for the Vikings came while Spielman was conducting an interview after what was supposed to be the Vikings’ final pick of the first round. While doing the interview, the Patriots called, asking if Minnesota was interested in trading back into the first round.

After Spielman and Belicheck worked out the details, the Vikings used the Patriots’ pick, 29th overall, to pick Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson. While Patterson is a raw talent that will need some coaching both from Vikings WR Coach George Stewart and WR Greg Jennings, there’s no question about Patterson’s talent.

In my opinion, the Vikings are the perfect fit for Patterson. First, let’s talk about what he brings to the Vikings’ offense. He’s big (6’2″, 217 lbs.), fast (4.39 in the forty) and dynamic in run after the catch situations. Next, he’ll be coached by George Stewart, the guy who coached up Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Rice thinks that Stewart is one of the best WR coaches in the league. That’s good enough for me.

Finally, Greg Jennings is a consummate professional. He’ll teach Patterson the importance of putting time in studying film of his opponents. He’ll teach him how to hone his skills, especially his route-running and catching abilities. As a rookie, Patterson’s biggest contributions might be returning kickoffs and lifting the lid off of defenses.

In 2010 and 2012, defenses tried stacking 8 and 9 men in the box to stop Adrian Peterson, daring the Vikings to beat them with their wideouts. With Patterson running past defenders, stacking the box to stop Adrian will come with a steep, steep price.

The price for getting Patterson is steep but worth it. The Vikings gave up their picks in the 2nd, third, their first pick in the fourth and their last pick in the 7th round. Still, it’s definitely worth it. From Spielman’s perspective, he replaced Harvin with Jennings, then got the top DT in the draft, the second best CB in this draft and an explosive WR/KR with what essentially are the equivalent of a first round pick, a second round pick and a third round pick.

Simply put, Rick Spielman swung for the fences Thursday night. While he didn’t hit a grand slam, he certainly hit one off the base of the fence in deep right-center.

While it’s true that the Super Bowl and the start of the regular season get intensely promoted, no NFL attracts a better NFL fanatic than the NFL Entry Draft. Held each year in New York City, the league rolls out the red carpet for top-ranked draft prospects, ESPN and NFL Network draft analysts and personalities and a hefty contingent of Jets, Giants and Eagles fans.

Never before will there be this big of Twitter followers following the NFL. Every draft show on ESPN and the NFL Network features Twitter poll questions and the popular “You’ve got Mel & McShay” segments.

There’s never been a bigger contingent of Adam Shefter wannabes for any NFL draft. Never before has there been a higher ratio of fanatics to casual fans than tomorrow’s draft.

And what a draft it will be. Football fanatics, repeat after me (We know the mantra for this draft): What this draft lacks in star power, it makes up for with depth. Now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, it’s time for important questions to be asked and answered.

For instance, if I got $10 for each time I’ve heard a fan ask whether Vikings GM Rick Spielman would draft Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o, I could afford a nice Hawaiian vacation. If I got another $10 bill for each time I heard an NFL analyst talk about how much Spielman likes Golden Domers, I could afford to live a year in Hawaii.

In other words, I’m a typical NFL fanatic who can’ wait for this all to get started and for the teams to start making their picks.

Before the draft starts, though, make sure to check out Scott Wright’s final mock draft.

Last night, as with most nights for the past month, I watched the NFL Network’s Path to the Draft. I watch because they usually have some pretty decent talent evaluators, including former Redskins GM Charlie Casserly, former Vikings broadcaster Brian Baldinger, former Baltimore Ravens chief scout Daniel Jeremiah & Mike Mayock.

Last night’s program included a segment in which they played out possible draft day scenarios. One of the first scenarios they presented was whether the Vikings would trade the 23rd overall pick in the draft and the 52nd overall pick in the draft to the Jets for Tayvon Austin.

I was stunned to hear Casserly say that he thought that’d be a great deal for the Vikings. In my opinion, that’d be highway robbery, with the Jets being the looters. That specific trade won’t happen because the Vikings would do better just staying put.

If the Vikings stay put, they’ll almost certainly have their pick of WRs Cordarelle Patterson, Robert Woods, Justin Hunter, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen. They’d likely have their pick of MLB Manti Te’o, DT Sylvester Williams, S Johnathan Cyprien or CB Desmond Trufant.

Those are players that will likely be available into the 2nd round. Why would the Vikings trade up for Tayvon Austin when the cost is a third starter from this draft. This isn’t a criticism of Austin, who is a genuinely talented WR. Rather, it’s showing the opportunity cost of trading up 10 spots in the first round.

Simply put, would the Vikings rather have Tayvon Austin and Manti Te’o or would they rather have Desmond Trufant, Sylvester Williams & DeAndre Hopkins? Frankly, I don’t think that’s that difficult of a decision.

I’ve been visiting Scott Wright’s DraftCountdown website for at least 4 years now. Suffice it to say that I think highly of Scott’s insights into the draft and player talent evaluations. If you didn’t have Scott’s website bookmarked before today, I strongly recommend you bookmark it today.

When the Vikings traded Percy Harvin for a bunch of draft picks, I sought Scott’s opinion on the trade. Scott thought that the Vikings got quite a nice bunch of picks for a player everyone knew was going to get traded. When the Vikings signed Greg Jennings, I posed some questions to Scott. Here are the questions with Scott’s answers:

Q1: The Vikings signed Greg Jennings to a 5-year contract days after trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for Seattle’s first & seventh round picks in this year’s draft and Seattle’s third round pick in the 2014 draft. Considering the draft picks they got from Seattle and the Jennings signing, what do you think are the Vikings’ most likely options in the April NFL Entry Draft?
Scott: Despite the addition of Jennings, I still believe wide receiver will be high on the Vikings priority list on Draft Day. After all, Jennings is going to be 30-years-old and battled some injuries last season. Even if Jennings lives up to expectations, Minnesota will need at least one more weapon at the position. Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee will most likely be long gone and, while the diminuative Tavon Austin of West Virginia would be a great fit, his stock has risen to the point that he may not be there at #23. Other possibilities would be Keenan Allen of Cal, Justin Hunter of Tennessee or DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson. Allen and Hopkins would be safe choices as they’d both be ideal fits in the West Coast Offense; however, neither is necessarily a dynamic gamechanger. Hunter, on the other hand, may be the most talented wideout prospect in this class, at least from a size/speed perspective, and possesses the tools to be a true impact, go-to target at the next level. At this point I would say Austin or Allen are the most likely possibilities for the Vikings in Round 1.

As for the other first rounder, I think Notre Dame ILB Manti Te’o would make a ton of sense for Minnesota. With Jasper Brinkley signing with the Cardinals as a free agent, the Vikings have a big hole in the middle of their defense and the organization has shown a clear preference for Fighting Irish prospects in recent years. Te’o will most likely have to endure some razzing from new teammates during the offseason team activities and training camp but ultimately, his play and those top-notch intangibles will win everyone over.

Q2: Which players should the Vikings target with their picks in the first, second and third rounds?
Scott: In rounds two and three the Vikings may keep their focus on the defense. Of particular concern is defensive tackle, where Kevin Williams is getting up there in years and there really isn’t another clear-cut starting-caliber talent. Fortunately, this is one of the deepest defensive tackle crops in recent memory and a borderline first round talent like Kawann Short of Purdue could fall into their laps in round two. Other second round options could include Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern St. or Bennie Logan of L.S.U. while Montori Hughes of UT-Martin or Akeem Spence of Illinois could be in the mix in round three. The Vikings could also use more help in the secondary. There should be plenty of quality cornerback prospects available beyond the first round but some potential fits for their zone coverage scheme would be Logan Ryan of Rutgers, David Amerson of North Carolina St., Jordan Poyer of Oregon St. and Jamar Taylor of Boise St. At safety, keep an eye on Johnathan Cyprien of Florida International in round two, T.J. McDonald of USC in round three or perhaps Zeke Motta of Notre Dame in the middle rounds.

The Vikings will have to bring in some help along the offensive line at some point as well. At the very least, a versatile backup is needed to build quality depth and it wouldn’t hurt to have someone challenge Brandon Fusco at right guard.

Besides Scott’s mock draft, make sure and check out his ratings pages. They’re broken down in terms of most talented players overall and by position.

Scott’s answers make tons of sense to me. Te’o has a couple of things that make him appealing. He’s got middle linebacker instincts and he’s a great cover guy. Hunter makes sense as well, though my wish is that Tayvon Martin would drop into the Vikings lap in the first round.

It’s important to remember that the draft is still taking shape. That means everyone’s mock drafts, whether it’s Scott’s mock draft or that guy with wind-tunnel-tested hair, is still very much fluid.

Finally, I’ll use this opportunity to say I trust Rick Spielman running the draft. Simply put, he’s gotten pretty strong grades for his picks. In my opinion, last year’s draft crop was the best in Vikings history. Getting 2 instant Pro Bowlers (Matt Kalil and Blair Walsh) and a future Pro Bowl safety in Harrison Smith from one draft would get an A- grade or better just on those picks alone.

Getting Josh Robinson to bolster the secondary in the third round was a solid pick. Getting Jarius Wright and Rhett Ellison in the fourth round to help the passing game was impressive, too.

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The Minnesota Vikings made a great decision when they signed ex-Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings to a 5-year, $47.5 million contract Friday afternoon. Jennings’ signing is a net plus for the Vikings. Earlier this week, the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for a kings’ ransom.

There’s no questioning the fact that Harvin is a talented playmaker, a difference maker. That said, there’s no disputing that he’s a handful off the field.

In Greg Jennings, the Vikings get a veteran, a player known for his leadership in the locker room and the film room, a player known for his involvement in the community and for being a gifted receiver. This video interview with blogger Mike Wobschall says everything about Jennings’ character and personality.

Towards the end of Jennings’ interview with Wobschall, Jennings talked about playing with Adrian Peterson was the biggest attraction for him signing with the Vikings. It’s pretty certain that Jennings won’t see as many nickel and dime packages with Adrian in the backfield as he saw with Aaron Rodgers as QB.

Another thing that flashed through is that Jennings is excited to join the Vikings. He can’t wait to start digging into the Vikings playbook, citing his desire to learn Bill Musgrave’s offensive philosophy so he can play wherever he’s needed. Whether it’s lining up in the slot or outside the numbers, Jennings sounds like he’d like to line up wherever the biggest mismatch is.

When Harvin was traded, Adrian Peterson tweeted that he felt like he’d been kicked in the gut several times. I’m betting he’s feeling much better tonight. He’s got a gifted wide receiver on the outside who will take defenders out of the box to defend against Adrian’s runs.

It’s obvious that the Vikings hope Jennings’ signing will help Christian Ponder’s development. That said, one of the guys that will be helped by Jennings’ signing is Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph. During the second half of the season, Rudolph was pretty much the only guy who got open for Ponder’s passes.

Adding Greg Jennings through free agency and hopefully a wideout in the draft will take pressure off Rudolph, Ponder and Adrian Peterson.

This has been a productive week for the Vikings. They traded Percy Harvin for a first round pick and a seventh round pick in this April’s draft and a third round pick in the 2014 draft. They signed Greg Jennings and QB Matt Cassel, then resigned OT Phil Loadholt and FB Jerome Felton to four- and three-year extensions respectively.

The Vikings now have the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round to go along with picks in each of the seven rounds, including 2 picks in the fourth and seventh rounds.

When the dust settles after the draft, I’d bet that the Vikings will have had the most productive offseason of all the teams. Yes, other teams will have made big splashes. The Dolphins fit into that category. Ditto with Seattle and Denver.

Quietly, though, the Vikings will have kept a talented offensive line together, kept Jerome Felton around as Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker while likely adding some options for Christian Ponder. Finally, they’ll likely address their needs in the front seven, too.

That’s how smart GMs quietly build strong teams for years to come.

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