Tag:Minnesota Vikings
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:54 pm
 

Rams get bounty, but dropping to No. 6 has risk

In the wake of the bold trade up by the Washington Redskins to secure the rights to one of the two elite quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class you can expect that there will be plenty of media speculation as to whether head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff overpayed. 

The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, are universally being lauded for their ability to pry first round picks from the Redskins in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, as well as Washington's second round pick this year for only dropping four spots. 

And while I do believe that this trade could be one of the few in which both teams appear to be "winners," it isn't fair to characterize the Redskins as the only team taking a significant risk with the move. 

Recent conversations with various league sources indicate that six prospects have pulled away as the elite talents of the 2012 draft. Though the order differs slightly per team, the general consensus seems to be that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon have separated from the rest of the pack. In trading out of the second pick to the sixth, the Rams are still guaranteed to see one of these prospects still available to them. Whether it is one capable of making an immediate impact, however, is the bigger question. 

With obvious needs at wide receiver and cornerback, the Rams would presumably love to see either Claiborne or Blackmon still available. The Minnesota Vikings (owners of the third pick), Cleveland Browns (four) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (five) also have signficant needs at these spots, however. With free agency looming, much will change prior to the draft but Rams fans may not be as thrilled with their options at No. 6 as they may have been when hearing of the bounty of picks their team will receive in the move.

Based on the lowered value of running backs in today's pass-happy NFL, Richardson would appear to be the most logical candidate, at this point, to slip to six. And while the Rams are expected to add a running back during the off-season to ease the burden on star Steve Jackson, adding another elite talent at one of the few positions of strength on the roster is not the recipe for success most teams would follow. 
      
Of course, if the draft works out the way Dane Brugler and I anticipate in our updated mock drafts (which reflect the trade), St. Louis could be celebrating their mighty haul of draft picks and adding a certain playmaker for Sam Bradford to boot.                
Posted on: March 9, 2012 7:34 pm
 

Blackmon's big Pro Day draws key decision-makers

STILLWATER, Okla. -- When Justin Blackmon didn't run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, questions about his speed persisted.
With 62 representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching him at his pro day, Blackmon erased any lingering doubt about his timed speed in roughly 4.45 seconds.

Oklahoma State listed Blackmon's 40 time as a 4.46 Friday. Scouts attending also had him running in 4.44 seconds.

"I was trying to shoot for a 4.45," Blackmon said. "That was kind of in my head, anywhere between there and 4.5.

"I felt pretty good when I ran it. My time was there. It says everything it needs to say."

In other drills, Blackmon touched 35 inches in his vertical jump, ran 4.36 in the shuttle and jumped 10-feet-3 inches in the broad jump. Satisfied with his 14 reps in the bench press from the NFL combine, he decided to skip that drill.

Blackmon caught 14 of 16 passes from quarterback Brandon Weeden during pass-catching drills. He did have two drops, both on out routes, but made two 50-yard catches on which he made adjustments to the ball in midair.

"Brandon put the ball on the spot," Blackmon said. "I had a couple of drops, but overall it went well."

Most of Blackmon's catches occurred either within 10 yards on the left sideline or past 20 yards on the right sidelines. He did not run any routes to the right side within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Some of the teams drafting early in the first round sent top coaches to Oklahoma State's pro day.

For the Cleveland Browns, head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were on hand. Shurmur and Childress stood to the left of Weeden as they watched Blackmon in the receiving drills.

The Minnesota Vikings, with the third overall pick in the draft, had four members of their staff in attendance, including coach Leslie Frazier. The Vikings staff had a meeting scheduled with Blackmon immediately after his workout.

Frazier said he thinks there is a good chance Blackmon will be available for the Vikings at the third pick if his team decides it wants to select him. Andrew Luck of Stanford and Baylor's Robert Griffin III are widely expected to be the first two picks in the draft, but the Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round of the 2011 draft.

"He's a terrific young player," Frazier said. "He didn't do anything to make you wonder if he was a different person on tape. He really solidified some of the things you saw on tape."

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and Denver Broncos coach John Fox were the other coaches in attendance. Fox was flanked by vice president John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders before hurriedly hitting the airport, where they boarded a jet bound for Denver with Peyton Manning as a passenger.

The Broncos, though, were likely scouting Weeden and other participants more than Blackmon.

After declaring for the draft, Blackmon's initial goal was to participate in as few drills as possible at the pro day. A minor hamstring injury during the week of the combine forced him to skip the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, raising doubts about how fast he was projected to run.

For Blackmon, he felt relieved to post a convincing time of 4.46, which should stand up to any bristle about a "fast track" in Stillwater.

"It was a process to try to knock it all out at the combine, and things popped up and I couldn't," Blackmon said. "I'm glad I got to come out and perform today and glad I got to knock it out."

In the weeks leading up to the pro day, Blackmon had to adjust his training to allow his hamstring to rest.

"I didn't do everything running wise I could (have) to better myself," Blackmon said. "I had to cut down on the runs and coming in and out of breaks. I did a lot more upper body things."

Blackmon's focus turns to private workouts with teams. Todd France, Blackmon's agent, said his client had workouts scheduled with multiple teams, but France would not disclose which teams will be hosting Blackmon.

Contributed by James Poling
Posted on: January 7, 2012 6:44 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 7:19 pm
 

Redskins, Vikings staffs to coach Senior Bowl

The staffs of the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins will coach for the Senior Bowl teams in Mobile, Ala.
  
Leslie Frazier's Vikings staff will coach the North squad, while Mike Shanahan's Redskins staff will coach the South.
  
Coaching the Senior Bowl gives both staffs increased exposure to dozens of the top prospects from around the country in one of the most important pre-draft events.
  
"The Senior Bowl provides us a great opportunity to get to know some of the young players who will be selected in the 2012 NFL Draft," Shanahan said in a statement from the Senior Bowl.
  
The Vikings own the No. 3 pick in the draft and made Senior Bowl MVP Christian Ponder the No. 12 pick of the draft last year. The Redskins hold the No. 6 overall pick and selected six players who participated in the Senior Bowl last year.
  
The game is held Jan. 28, with the coaching staffs conducting daily practices the week leading up to the game.

Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:14 am
 

McAdoo, King, Wilson, Mace sign deals

The NFL's supplemental draft came and went Monday with Terrelle Pryor being the only one of the six eligible players to get drafted.

Since, three others have signed NFL free agent contracts. Another has signed with the IFL. Only former Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones remains without a deal to play for a professional team.

Michael McAdoo signed with the Baltimore Ravens a day after the draft. He had been pursued by a few teams, but surprised clubs by showing up to pre-draft team visits in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. McAdoo had been listed by North Carolina at 6-7, 245 pounds. The former defensive end will be asked to play outside linebacker for Baltimore.

Caleb King signed with the Minnesota Vikings yesterday (Wednesday). Like McAdoo, King surprised teams with his build -- and not necessarily in a good way. He appeared to be "out of shape" according to Tom Pellisero and dropped two passes in his practice debut with the club. King had been viewed by some as a potential draft pick, until being clocked at only 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash in a pre-draft workout.

Perhaps the most interesting signing is Wilson, who was signed yesterday by the New York Jets. Wilson, 6-2, 203 pounds, didn't receive much in terms of pre-draft buzz due to a "pro-day" workout that some teams characterized as "not NFL caliber." The Jets clearly didn't agree and it is difficult to argue with Wilson's success at Northern Illinois. He posted 171 tackles over the past three years for the Huskies, recovering four fumbles and intercepting a pass during that time, as well.

There was a lot of buzz, on the other hand, about Mace. While Mace did generate some interest from clubs prior to and following the draft, it was discovered that he could not sign with an NFL team due to a pre-existing contract with the UFL. Mace has signed with the Omaha Nighthawks, as first reported via Twitter by the team's general manager Rick Mueller. Mueller had worked previously in the NFL, serving as a scout and college scouting director with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1994-2000) before moving on to be the Director and later Vice President of Player Personnel with the New Orleans Saints (2000-2008). 
Posted on: August 20, 2011 11:35 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 12:15 am
 

More thoughts on the rookies from SEA-MINN

I will be blogging live from the press box tonight from Seattle for the Seahawks-Vikings preseason game. My goal is to give readers some insight as to how some of the rookies and perhaps other young players for both teams performed.
Earlier I posted some thoughts based on how several of the Seahawks' rookies performed throughout the first half. This post will focus on the Vikings' rookies, especially quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Ponder showed some mobility in escaping the rush, but was the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, at times. He was willing to step up in the pocket in the face of pressure and kept his eyes downfield, completing a nice pass to Juaquin Iglesias to extend a drive early. The Vikings ultimately kicked a field goal on the drive. Ponder did not challenge the defense on anything longer than 10-15 yards.

Ponder's mobility and experience in a pro-style offense made him very effective on play-action bootlegs. He showed the ability to throw on the move, but picked up the majority of his yardage from these plays with his legs, often surprising Seahawk defenders with his speed.

He was inconsistent with his accuracy, forcing receivers to adjust often. Ponder did throw a nice back shoulder fade to Devin Aromashodu in the early 3rd quarter. His moderate height (6-2) was an issue on a few plays, as he had a couple of throws tipped and/or knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

Rudolph had a bit action his way in the first half (three catches for 22 total yards). He was targeted on three consecutive throws from Ponder as the half was coming to a close. He caught two of them as Seattle dropped coverage to protect deep, giving up underneath routes. The first catch was the tougher one, coming directly at his face mask as he turned to look for the ball. He got his hands up quickly, secured the catch and attempted to turn upfield before being ridden out of bounds. Rudolph did a nice job of gaining a clean release and showed some burst out of his breaks to gain freedom from defenders. He did not show much in terms of straight-line speed, however, on the few plays where he was allowed to run longer routes. Rudolph has good size and strength as a blocker. While he was unable to knock defenders off the ball, he did show some competitive fire in locking onto his target and turning to seal the defender.




Posted on: August 20, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 11:50 pm
 

Early impressions of the rookies from SEA-MINN

I will be blogging live from the press box tonight from Seattle for the Seahawks-Vikings preseason game. My goal is to give readers some insight as to how some of the rookies and perhaps other young players for both teams performed.

This first post focuses on the Seahawks. I am looking forward to writing about the Vikings' players, but no rookies started for them. I am especially looking forward to scouting first two picks -- quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

As expected, Seattle's young offensive line had their rough stretches. The timing between rookies John Moffitt (RG) and James Carpenter (RT) was clearly off on an early running play. Both players were asked to provide running blocks to the left (essentially pulling from their positions). Carpenter leapt out of his stance and quickly caught up to Moffitt (who was slow getting out) and the two stumbled over each other, providing little help to running back Marshawn Lynch.

On Seattle's second series, Carpenter was asked to release to the second level, but wasn't able to beat middle linebacker Erin Henderson to the spot. Henderson read the play, shot upfield and tackled Lynch for little to no gain.

Carpenter was much better later, effectively sealing off Minnesota defensive end Adrian Awasom on a couple of quick-hitters from Leon Washington.

On a more positive note, rookie safety Jeron Johnson forced a fumble of Viking punt returner Greg Camarillo. The ball was scooped up by outside linebacker Aaron Curry and returned roughly 45 yards for an apparent touchdown, but the play was whistled dead and Camarillo was ruled down by contact. The play was later overturned with Seattle receiving the ball (but not the score).

A tough start so far for second year receiver Golden Tate. He had an opportunity for a big play on the Seahawks' first play from scrimmage, but had the ball ripped from his hands from Viking cornerback Cedric Griffin. Tate also let a pass get through his hands following the Seahawks' fumble recovery. The ball was caught by Vikings' cornerback Marcus Sherels and returned for a score.

The Seahawks' offensive line (including Moffitt, Carpenter) held up well on this particular pass play and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw a very catchable ball.



Posted on: June 9, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:03 am
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Posted on: May 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Quarterbacks


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Considering their importance to the game and the number of high profile passers who went early in the 2011 Draft, I'm starting off with the quarterbacks.

Players are listed alphabetically, not in the order in which I see their fit with their respective teams.

Good Fits:

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers:
I will be the first to admit that I have not been as high on Kaepernick as many others are, but there is no denying that he was drafted into an ideal scenario with the 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick has rare physical tools, as well as the intelligence and work ethic to be successful. Kaepernick's elongated throwing motion, however, is a concern of mine. I had reservations about it and know that some teams did too. I believe that when a club asks a quarterback to significantly alter their throwing motion it lessens the likelihood of the quarterback ever having success, which is one of the reasons why Kaepernick's fit with an NFL team was so important. The 49ers and Harbaugh, however, don't appear concerned with the hitch in his delivery . Harbaugh is widely credited with developing Andrew Luck's natural talents and preaches an offense that spreads the field and occassionally allows the quarterback the freedom to run -- all of which bode well for the former Nevada passer. Perhaps best of all, as a 2nd round pick, Kaepernick might be afforded the luxury of time to develop.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: Assuming the Titans re-sign veteran Kerry Collins or add another veteran quarterback, Locker is in a position to succeed. Though a four-year starter at UW, he is not yet ready to make the jump into the NFL, as only his final two seasons were in a pro-style offense. His time spent at Washington under then-head coach Tyrone Willingham, was essentially spent as a running back taking snaps from center -- just as it was for him in high school. However, Locker has shown improvement in his technique since the season, leading many to believe that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. Furthermore, he is a nice fit in this scheme. Think about what the Titans do well... They feature the ultra-athletic Chris Johnson on the stretch play. A quarterback capable of bootlegs and play-action off of Johnson's runs will be successful.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: While many jumped on the Christian Ponder bandwagon following the Senior Bowl or the Combine, I've been touting the FSU passer for quite some time and believe that he was the most pro-ready passer in this draft. It doesn't surprise me, quite frankly, that Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier believes Ponder could be his opening day starter. Ponder has the intelligence to pick up Bill Musgrave's offense quickly, especially since many of Musgrave's West Coast Offensive principles tie in with what Ponder played with at FSU. Though Ponder doesn't have a big arm, his short to intermediate level accuracy, touch down the seam, and confidence in play-action make him a good schematic fit for the Vikings' run-heavy attack and focus on quick screens to take advantage of Percy Harvin's unique talent.

Questionable Fit:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Okay, you may have seen this coming, considering the fact that many have concerns about how well the No. 1 overall pick will be able to transition from a spread-option offense that was so perfectly suited to his wonderful athletic tools to Rob Chudzinski's multiple-formation, vertical-passing attack. I have no doubt that the Panthers already have a plan in place to cater their offense around Newton's unique skill-set, but this is a complicated scheme for any quarterback to master, much less a rookie. I do not have the concerns about intelligence or leadership that some others seem to have about Newton. I understand the physical comparisonst to Vince Young, but believe the mental toughness Newton demonstrated in fighting through all of the off-field distractions this season more than prove his ability to focus on game-day. I also like the talent around Newton in Carolina -- along the offensive line, running back and at receiver. I just have real reservations about any passer with only one year of starting experience at the D-I level making the jump to the NFL... and unlike the other players mentioned in this post, Newton won't have the luxury of time. The high price and attention of the No. 1 overall pick will almost certainly force the Panthers to play him immediately.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com