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A Look At Undrafted Free Agency

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 6:09 pm

There is a ton of business for teams to take care of beginning tonight and continuing throughout the next several days. Basically an entire offseason’s worth of work – from signing draft picks, to re-signing free agents, to pursuing unrestricted free agents – must be done in just a few days before teams report to training camps.

The first item on the list is undrafted free agency, as teams are permitted to recruit and negotiate with undrafted players tonight and then sign those players beginning at 9:00 a.m. CT tomorrow. So, let’s take a look at a few undrafted free agents who will be on most teams radars but who also might be particularly good fits here in Minnesota.

Defense

CB Kendric Burney (UNC): On the football field, Burney was certainly deserving of selection in the draft. But he was one of several UNC players suspended this past season, that likely contributed to him being undrafted. He’s a bit undersized (5-9, 186 pounds) for the Vikings scheme and he’s also not a great press CB, so I’m not sure he’s a good fit in Minnesota. But he is a good athlete and made plays at UNC, so he’ll get plenty of attention on the open market.

LB Mark Herzlich (Boston College): I was really rooting for Herzlich to be drafted this year, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. He was at one time a 1st-round prospect, but then he was diagnosed with cancer. Herzlich won that battle and now he’ll work his way onto an NFL roster. My money is on him making a 53-man roster and having a productive NFL career in some capacity. This guy is a winner.

S DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson): An aggressive and big safety (6-0, 217 pounds), McDaniel looks the part of an NFL defender. His scouting report on NFL.com indicates he’ll be a good player against the run and as a blitzer from the line of scrimmage. But the report also says an off-field incident and problems in coverage may have caused him to slip a little bit. But he slipped out of the entire draft, and some team might get a good value by adding him to the roster and seeing if he can win a training camp battle.

DB Deunta Williams (UNC): To be honest I’m not sure what led to Williams going undrafted. From what I can glean, he’s got the size (6-2, 205 pounds) that many NFL teams like and his NFL.com scouting report says he “is a supremely confident safety who has the speed and cover skills to eventually develop into a starter at the next level. He puts in time in the film room and always appears to be in position to make a play in coverage.” Perhaps there are character or medical concerns with Williams. Or maybe NFL teams consider him to be a tweener. I’m not sure, but it looks like Williams has a chance to be pretty good.

DT Ian Williams (Notre Dame): There are a few things to concede in supporting Williams. First, he’s coming off an MCL injury this past season and he’s probably just a two-down player (running downs only). But, scouts say his compact body (6-1, 319 pounds) makes him a tough defender to block and move. His scouting report also credits him for his tireless motor and relentlessness in defending the run.

 

Offense

QB Ben Chappell (Indiana): Chappell was a part of our QB Collection and could be a good option for a team in search of a young QB. He completed 62.6% of his passes as a junior in 2009 and then 62.5% of his passes during his senior season in 2010; he also had a career 45-28 TD/INT ratio. I’m not sure if there will be room for him in Minnesota, but some team will give him a shot during training camp.

RB Noel Devine (West Virginia): A very productive player for West Virginia, Devine was hurt by his smaller frame (5-8, 179 pounds) and possibly by the fact that he absorbed so many touches throughout his 4-year career with the Mountaineers. But he’s quick as a whip and could be a great 3rd-down back for some team. He might even have return capabilities.

QB Pat Devlin (Delaware): Another guy in the QB Collection, Devlin played at the same school as Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco. I’m not sure why he went undrafted, perhaps it was the level of play he faced for most of his career. But consider this: Devlin was the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year for the 2010 season as he led the nation in completion percentage (67.9%) while throwing for 3,032 yards and posting a TD/INT ratio of 22-3.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State): Here in Big 10 country, we got to see quite a bit of Sanzenbacher on TV, and I came away impressed after his career. He doesn’t have great size nor does he have excellent speed or quickness. But what he lacks in those areas I think he more than makes up for in competitiveness, catching ability and grit. He makes difficult catches look easy, he’s fundamentally sound and his NFL.com scouting report raves about his route-running ability and his ability to fool defensive backs with double-moves. He plays the same position as Percy Harvin (slot receiver), but why not give this guy a shot?

QB Adam Weber (Minnesota): Another guy who was a part of the QB Collection, Weber is actually a guy I’d like to see have a shot with the Vikings. I believe his true potential was masked because of the poor Gophers football program that existed during Weber’s time on campus, and I also believe Weber is a gritty athlete who loves to compete. Maybe my instincts are completely off on this one, but I think he deserves a shot somewhere and I think he’ll make the most of that shot.


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Shiancoe Excited For 2011 Season

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 3:59 pm

Count Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe as one who is excited that the NFL’s work stoppage is over and the season is about to begin.

“Been a long process but finally things are worked out…can’t wait to see the guys and get back to work,” Shiancoe said via text message.

Shiancoe stops to sign autographs for fans after an evening practice at Verizon Vikings Training Camp

 

Shiancoe will be entering his 5th season with the Vikings after signing a free agent contract with the team prior to the 2007 season. The 6-4, 250-pound TE struggled to fit in with the Vikings offense during his first season here, but since then Shiancoe has become an integral part of the passing game. His best season was in 2009 when he had 56 receptions for 566 yards and 11 TDs.

Watch for Shiancoe to have another big year in 2011. The Vikings drafted TE Kyle Rudolph in the 2nd round of last April’s draft, leaving open the possibility for two TE sets and also indicating that new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave values pass-catching TEs. Remember, Musgrave comes from the Atlanta Falcons, where young QB Matt Ryan had a nice safety net in TE Tony Gonzalez.

Speaking of young QBs, the Vikings have a pair of youngsters who will compete for the starting QB job in 2011. For those young QBs – Christian Ponder and Joe Webb – a productive, pass-catching TE is a great weapon.

“This is going to be an exciting year,” Shiancoe says.


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Mankato Remains Home To Verizon Vikings Training Camp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 2:37 pm

There was a time when it looked as if Mankato-based training camp would fall victim to the NFL work stoppage. Fortunately, the NFL and the NFLPA came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time to save training camp for the Vikings.

The Vikings announced on Monday, just hours after the NFL and NFLPA reached agreement on a new CBA, that the team would head down to Minnesota State University, Mankato for training camp, marking the 46th consecutive year that Mankato has hosted training camp.

“Hosting the Vikings training camp is an integral part of our community,” said Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson. “For two weeks, our hotels, restaurants and bars are filled with thousands of Vikings fans. The citizens and businesses of Mankato welcome those fans back in 2011 and moving forward.”

According to the Greater Mankato Convention & Visitors Bureau, approximately 60,000 fans from 28 states, Canada, England and over 100 different Minnesota cities attended last year’s training camp. The annual event has an estimated $5 million economic impact on the Mankato community.

WR Percy Harvin greets fans at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato after an evening scrimmage during camp

 

Credit goes to the city of Mankato and Minnesota State University, Mankato for their patience with the NFL’s labor process. Mankato and the University are great hosts each and every year. Credit also goes to Vikings ownership, the front office and head coach Leslie Frazier because they realized the value in having training camp in Mankato, both for the community there and for the organization.

“We wanted to prolong our decision as long as possible in an effort to maintain our training camp tradition of practicing in front of Vikings fans in Mankato” said Vikings Owner and President Mark Wilf. “The Vikings appreciate the patience and flexibility shown by Minnesota State University and the Mankato community in making this work, and we look forward to returning to our training camp home in August.”

Monday has been filled with a bunch of good news, and the announcement that the training camp tradition of practicing in front of fans in Mankato is perhaps the best news of all.


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Commissioner Goodell: “Football Is Back”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 1:40 pm

Yes, we can finally say it; the lockout is over.

The NFL and the NFLPA held a joint press conference in Washington D.C. on Monday to announce that the 32 player representatives voted unanimously to approve the labor deal agreed to by both sides hours earlier, essentially ending a lockout that lasted over four months.

Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith led the joint press conference and they were joined by key members of the NFLPA and NFL ownership.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Goodell said. “Football is back and that’s the good news. I want to thank (Smith) and the players for their leadership…Having a 10-year agreement is extra great for our game, especially our fans. I think this agreement is going to make the game better. I’m grateful for all the work both parties did.”

NFL Network’s Albert Breer was on the scene and has a more detailed report of the press conference and of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Details about the new CBA and the ramifications it will have on the Vikings, training camp and the NFL world going forward will continue to trickle in today and throughout the week, so stay tuned to vikings.com for more information. For now, though, here are a few basics of the deal…

– The new CBA is a 10-year agreement that contains no opt-out clause for either the NFL or the NFLPA. The previous agreement, ratified in 2006, contained an opt-out clause that was exercised.

– The CBA expires after the 2020 season but the 2021 NFL Draft will also be included in the CBA, just as the 2011 NFL Draft was included in the previously expired CBA.

– A main issue in the negotiations was splitting the revenue. The two sides came to agreement on a new “all revenue” model and basically the players will average at least a 47% of all revenue over the life of the 10-year agreement.

– A new rookie wage scale is a part of the new CBA, meaning that guaranteed money paid to rookie draft choices will be dramatically decreased.

– The enhanced season – aka the 18-game regular season schedule – is not a part of the new CBA. Owners can try to negotiate more games into the schedule as soon as 2013.

– The salary cap is set for $120.375 million but because of a few provisions that will protect veterans from being dumped to save cap space the number is essentially $126.88 million for 2011. No word yet on where the Vikings stand in terms of their salary cap situation.

– There is also a salary floor which dictates that 99% of the salary cap be spent by the entire NFL between 2011-2012, then that number goes to 89% from 2013-2016 and 2017-2020.

– Organized Team Activities (OTAs) have been reduced from 14 days to 10.

– The new CBA adds significant money to funds for retired players. More details on this will come out in the future.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more info…


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Trio Of Current Vikings Recognized By Rivals.com As Top College Players

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 11:37 am

While we’re waiting for more good news on the NFL labor front, let’s take a quick detour to look at a trio of Vikings players who were recognized for their football accomplishments in college.

The website www.rivals.com, which is well-known and respected in the realm of college sports coverage, has listed the Top 25 college football players since 2001. Three current Vikings – WR Percy Harvin, LB E.J. Henderson and RB Adrian Peterson – made the list.

Henderson, who played college football at the University of Maryland, made the list at #25. Henderson was the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) defensive player of the year in 2001 and 2002. The Vikings selected him in the 2nd round (#40 overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. Their 1st-round pick that year was DT Kevin Williams.

Coming in at #21 on rivals.com’s list was Harvin, who played at the University of Florida and won 2 BCS National Championships. Harvin was a big-time player, especially in big-time spots. He scored rushing TDs in the 2006 and ’08 national championship games and he ran for 122 yards in the ’08 title win over Oklahoma. Harvin was Southeastern Conference (SEC) freshman of the year, scored 32 career TDs at Florida and was chosen by the Vikings in the 1st round (#22 overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Peterson ranked 6th on the list and, as rivals.com points out, he “rushed for an NCAA-freshman-record 1,925 yards, was second in the Heisman voting and helped OU reach the BCS national championship game in his debut season.” Ankle and collar bone injuries slowed Peterson in college, so who knows how much better his career could’ve been. But it all worked out for Peterson and the Vikings, as he was selected in the 1st round (#7 overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Thanks to former Vikings PR staffer and current University of Florida Athletics Association assistant communications director Dan Apple for pointing out the list on www.InsidetheGators.com.


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A Busy Monday Already Underway In The NFL

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 25, 2011 – 8:00 am

As many of you get to work on a Monday morning after a nice summer weekend, you might try and ease your way back into the work routine. When it comes to following your  favorite professional sport, however, you won’t have the luxury of being able to ease your way back into the flow of information.

Already this morning, the NFL world has been buzzing with word that the end of the work stoppage is only hours away. Whether that turns out to be the case or not, only time will tell. Nothing is official yet, but we’ll be keeping our ear to the ground here at vikings.com to provide you with updates.

So stay tuned for more updates and to pass the time for now, check out this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag.


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