Blogs

Don’t Blink; Vikings Select CB Robinson, Draft’s Fastest Prospect

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 27, 2012 – 8:39 pm

The Vikings continued to navigate through the 2012 NFL Draft with efficiency and grace on Friday night, addressing another position of need with the selection of speedy CB Josh Robinson in the 3rd round (66th overall). The selection of Robinson represents the second likely impact player the Vikings have added to their secondary is as many days.

“Josh is a very athletic player with dynamic speed and outstanding quickness, burst and change of direction skills,” Vikings DBs coach Joe Woods told me on Friday night. “His best football is ahead of him. His man coverage skill is a plus for us, and at 5-10, 199 pounds he’s a solidly-built guy.”

Robinson, the fastest player at this year’s Combine with a 4.29 time in the 40-yard dash, will compete for time at CB and he will also be an option for the Vikings as a punt returner. Asked if he minded sharing Robinson with special teams coach Mike Priefer, Woods quickly said: “The more you can do, the more value you have.”

An experienced and productive player out of the University of Central Florida, Robinson started the final 11 games of his true freshman season in 2009 and then started 25 games over his final two seasons at UCF. As a freshman Robinson recorded 69 tackles, 8 passes broken up (PBU) and 6 INTs. In 2010 Robinson tallied 59-13-2, and in 2011 he recorded 48-15-2. Robinson led the team in PBUs in both 2010 and 2011.

Many draft observers listed Robinson as a 2nd-round prospect, but the Vikings sat tight in the early stages of the 3rd round and didn’t hesitate to put his name on their card.

“The 38 1/2 vertical, the 4.29 speed, what you see on tape, we had one of our coaches who did work down at Central Florida, we had a lot of contacts down there,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “The kid is an outstanding character kid, fitting into the bill what we’ve been trying to do. Excellent work habits, everything you’re looking for in a young player that’s going to continue to have tremendous upside.

“We’re excited to get Josh. Extremely talented athlete. He’s a junior that’s coming out early. When you look at his tape, he has some unique cover skills. He’s more than willing enough to come up in support. Just like in most of the juniors, they’re going to have some flaws that can get corrected with coaching but just tremendous upside with Josh.”


Tags: , , ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 133 Comments »

One Last Look: Position-By-Position Top 5

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 6:49 am

Yes, draft day is here. But it doesn’t begin until 7:00 p.m. CT. So to pass the time until then, take a look at my Top 5 rankings at each position and let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.

Quarterback
Andrew Luck
Robert Griffin III
Ryan Tannehill
Brandon Weeden
Kirk Cousins

Running Back
Trent Richardson
David Wilson
Doug Martin
Chris Polk
Isaiah Pead

Wide Receiver
Justin Blackmon
Michael Floyd
Kendall Wright
Reuben Randle
Stephen Hill

Tight End
Coby Fleener
Orson Charles
Dwayne Allen
Chase Ford
James Hanna

Offensive Tackle
Matt Kalil
Riley Reiff
*Cordy Glenn
Jonathan Martin
Mike Adams

*Glenn has versatility to play either guard or tackle in the NFL

Offensive Guard
David DeCastro
Kevin Zeitler
*Cordy Glenn
Amini Silatolu
Brandon Brooks

Center
Peter Konz
Ben Jones
David Molk
Philip Blake
Quentin Saulsberry

Defensive End
Quinton Coples
Andre Branch
Nick Perry
Chandler Jones
Cam Johnson

Defensive Tackle
Fletcher Cox
Michael Brockers
Brandon Thompson
Devin Still
Dontari Poe

Outside Linebacker
Melvin Ingram
Courtney Upshaw
Shea McClellin
Lavonte David
Zach Brown

Middle Linebacker
Luke Kuechly
Dont’a Hightower
James-Michael Johnson
Mychal Kendericks
Miles Burris

Cornerback
Morris Claiborne
Stephon Gilmore
Trumaine Johnson
Dre Kirkpatrick
Janoris Jenkins

Safety
Mark Barron
Harrison Smith
Charles Mitchell
Brandon Taylor
George Iloka


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 61 Comments »

Mock No More: Draft Day Is Finally Here

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 5:57 am

The day many of you and all NFL teams have long been looking forward to is finally here. The 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft will commence at 7:00 p.m. CT this evening, which means after months and months of speculating where the next generation of NFL players will begin their career, we’ll soon find out the answers.

We’ll have you covered from all angles throughout the entire 3-day draft right here on vikings.com. We have tons of pre-draft coverage on the site right now, more will be coming today, and then we’ll get immediate reaction from Vikings GM Rick Spielman following the Vikings decision tonight. Your “home base” for all vikings.com draft coverage can be found right here on the Vikings Draft Page.

Also, I’ll be appearing on Radio Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen’s 9-noon weekday radio show on KFAN 100.3 FM around 9:55 a.m. today, so be sure to check that out as PA and I discuss our final NFL draft-related thoughts. And finally, to pass the time until the draft begins check out my position-by-position Top 5 rankings here.


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 16 Comments »

A Closer Look: CB Janoris Jenkins Worth The Risk?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 19, 2012 – 11:31 am

There isn’t much intrigue surrounding the Vikings #3 overall pick in next week’s draft. Most expect the Vikings to take LT Matt Kalil. But even if the Vikings surprise by taking someone other than Kalil, the list of players is very likely limited to two players – WR Justin Blackmon, CB Morris Claiborne.

But that doesn’t mean all intrigue about the draft is lost. Much can happen in the 1st round after the Vikings choose, and then once the 1st round concludes all attention will shift to the 2nd round, which will occur on Friday evening. All day on Friday, then, Vikings fans will speculate and wonder what their team will do with the 3rd overall pick of the 2nd round.

That’s where the subject of today’s “A Closer Look” piece enters the equation. Janoris Jenkins, an extremely talented CB from North Alabama, is a player many fans haven’t seen play. He’s also a player many draft experts shove down their draft boards, which means fans don’t necessarily familiarize themselves him.

Jenkins is a 5-10, 182-pound CB who began his college career at the University of Florida and concluded it at North Alabama. At Florida, Jenkins was a Freshman All-America and Freshman All-SEC in 2008, and he was First-Team All-SEC in 2010. At North Alabama, Jenkins was a Second-Team All-America Division II. Scouts will tell you he’s excellent in press-man coverage, sinks his hips well, has “plus” athleticism and explosion, catches the ball when he gets his hands on it and takes good angles against the pass. I have him as the 2nd-best CB in this draft behind only consensus top choice Morris Claiborne.

With all of that said, why is he rated low by many NFL draft observers? Why do some think he’ll slip out of the 1st round completely? It’s largely because of off-field issues. Jenkins had 3 marijuana-related arrests while playing at Florida, which is why he was kicked out of the program. There are other off-field alerts on him as well, which we won’t get into here on the vikings.com Blog.

Suffice it to say, many have dragged Jenkins’ name through the mud. Whether you think it’s fair or not, the fact of the matter is many consider Jenkins too much of a character concern to select early in the draft. For Jenkins’ part, he seems to accept that fact, but he’s also adamant that selecting him in the draft will not be a mistake.

“Certain teams told me they thought I would be a thuggish kid with baggy jeans or one of those wild guys,” Jenkins told Aaron Wilson of Scout.com.  “When they meet me, they see I’m not a bad kid.  Just made some mistakes and everybody makes mistakes.  The NFL is going to get a good person who will give back and reach out to kids and talk about the things I’ve done in my past and talk to them about not making the same mistakes I made.”

So what do you think, Vikings fans? Jenkins is a talented CB who by all accounts has the physical ability to be a difference-maker in the NFL. An objective view of Jenkins, though, will also reveal a high potential for character concerns. The debate will be split on this, and we want to know if you think Jenkins is worth the risk of selecting with, say, an early 2nd-round pick should he slide out of the 1st round.

Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 928 Comments »

A Closer Look: Notre Dame S Harrison Smith

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 12, 2012 – 6:47 am

We are two weeks away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, with the 1st round scheduled to begin on the evening of Thursday, April 26. Over the past few days, though, my inbox has been filled with questions about a player who likely won’t be selected until the 2nd round, which will occur on the evening of Friday, April 27.

That player is Notre Dame S Harrison Smith. Obviously the secondary is an area of need for the Vikings, so the fan base’s interest in Smith is not surprising. But the buzz has been building around Smith, and from all the information I’ve gathered it’s clear that he’s a player rising up draft boards as we get closer and closer to showtime.

For those of you not familiar with Smith, he’s a 6-2, 214-pound safety who also played some linebacker at Notre Dame. He was a 5th-year senior and team captain in 2011 and he’s also the only player in Irish football history to register more than 200 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups in a career.

During this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, we had Vikings preseason TV analyst and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock on the Wobcast. Smith came up in our discussion with Mayock, and Mayock has an interesting perspective on Smith because he’s been the TV analyst for Notre Dame on NBC the past two seasons. On top of that, Mayock played safety in the NFL, so you know he has a discerning eye for the position.

Here’s what Mayock had to say about how Smith projects to the NFL…

“Harrison Smith from Notre Dame is a better safety than people think,” Mayock said. “What Harrison Smith does, is he’s a better athlete than people think, he’s a 215-pound safety, he can play strong and free, he’s more athletic than people give him credit for, he will line everybody up because he’s one of the smarter kids out there, and he’s an excellent tackler. I think he’s going in the second round. So if you’re talking about a second-round safety, there’s a big drop off at the safety position after Harrison Smith.”

It’s a great evaluation of Smith, and it makes you wonder if Smith wouldn’t be a great option for the Vikings in the 2nd round with the 35th overall selection. From the sounds of it, Smith would be an impact player for the Vikings immediately because he’d probably have one of the starting safety spots and I’m also told he’d be a standout player on special teams because of his instincts and outstanding tackling ability.

What do you think, fans? Would you be happy with Smith as the Vikings choice in the 2nd round to fill a team need in the secondary? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.


Tags: ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 509 Comments »

Reassessing The Potential Of A Trade Market For Vikings #3 Overall Selection

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 2, 2012 – 6:18 am

Twice in the span of 4 days last month we discussed the possibility of a trade market emerging for the Vikings #3 overall pick. It’s been more than two weeks since we’ve revisited that potential scenario, and with the 2012 NFL Draft less than three weeks away it bears revisiting now.

It’s also appropriate to revisit the issue for two more reasons. First, the focal point of a potential trade involving the Vikings #3 overall pick, former Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill, held his pro day last Thursday. Charean Hill of the Star-Telegram reported that representatives from 22 teams, including heavy hitters from the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks, were in attendance. Hill also reports that both the Browns and Dolphins have had or plan to have alternative visits with Tannehill as well. Second, other outlets, including the website ProFootballTalk, are also gauging the potential of a trade market emerging for the Vikings #3 pick because of Tannehill’s rise up draft boards. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock even stated that the Browns would be wise to take Tannehill with their 1st-round pick (#4 overall).

As I’ve stated in the past on this topic, an objective look at Tannehill might not yield a Top 10 grade. But with the first two picks of the draft likely being QB Andrew Luck to the Indianapolis Colts and QB Robert Griffin III to Washington, other QB-needy teams may get anxious to use their 1st-round pick on a QB, too. On top of that, Tannehill was impressive at his pro day, completing 65 of 68 passes and running the 40-yard dash in 4.62-seconds.

So who might those QB-needy teams be? All 3 of the aforementioned teams – Cleveland, Miami and Seattle – were apparently interested enough in Tannehill to send decision-makers to watch his workout. You can fairly characterize Cleveland and Miami as QB needy, and while Seattle did sign QB Matt Flynn in free agency, it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they’re interested in drafting a QB as well. In addition to those teams, I also wonder if Kansas City and Arizona are keeping an eye on potential QB upgrades as well.

There is a chance that none of this plays out, and the Vikings will keep the #3 overall pick and take the top player on their board. But there’s also a chance that the market for Tannehill blows up to the point that some team(s) will seriously consider trading up to #3 in order to secure the opportunity to select him.

If that does indeed happen, the Vikings will have to decide how far back they’re willing to drop. If the Cardinals identify Tannehill as their target, for example, the Vikings would have to be willing to drop down to #13 to consummate a trade, which means coveted players such as left tackle Matt Kalil, WR Justin Blackmon and CB Morris Claiborne would all surely be gone. If it’s Miami, the deal is a bit better for the Vikings because the Dolphins hold the #8 pick. But Blackmon and Claiborne would likely be gone and it’s not a sure thing that Kalil would be there, either. Keep in mind, Tannehill’s college head coach was Mike Sherman, who is now the Dolphins Offensive Coordinator.

The ideal scenario for the Vikings, in my mind, remains a trade with Cleveland. The Browns hold the #4 selection, and the only way to ensure that they have the opportunity to select Tannehill would be to agree to a one-position flop with the Vikings. That would give the Browns the QB they covet, and it would still give the Vikings their pick among Blackmon, Claiborne, Kalil or someone else.

It’s a lot to think about, especially considering there’s a chance that none of it plays out. But Tannehill is the 3rd-best QB in this draft, and the only way for NFL teams to ensure a chance to select him before the Vikings use the #3 overall pick is to trade for that pick. As they’ve been the entire time, the Vikings are in great position with the #3 pick and fans should be looking forward to watching Rick Spielman and Co. leverage that great position in order to improve this roster.


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 107 Comments »

Future Viking? A Look At WR Jeffery’s Pro Day

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 29, 2012 – 8:00 am

The University of South Carolina held its pro day on Wednesday, which is notable because the Gamecocks have 3 highly-rated prospects and it’s all but certain that the program will boast a pair of 1st-round picks in the draft, something that hasn’t happened since 1981.

Hybrid DE/OLB Melvin Ingram is the highest-rated player coming out of South Carolina this year, but right on his heels – and rising fast – is CB Stephon Gilmore. We’ll discuss both of those players briefly at the end of this blog entry.

The more relevant player for the Vikings, however, is South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery. He’s a tough player to figure out because he’s faced plenty of criticism in the pre-draft build up, especially about his weight, but he’s also a beast of a WR and flashed signs of a play-making WR at the NFL level while playing for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.

Jeffery measures in at 6-4, giving him ideal size for an outside receiver. The potential trouble is that he’s played at a weight of 235 pounds, which is a bit heavier than you’d like to see from an NFL WR. As Mike Mayock noted in this video on NFL.com, the big issue surrounding Jeffery’s draft stock is that teams won’t be sure which player – the heavy, inconsistent one or the big, physical freakish athletic one – you’re drafting.

“Remember, here’s the key, he played at 235 pounds,” Mayock says. “Today (at his pro day), 213 pounds, a 22-pound differential and he ran well. I had him at 4.50 and 4.51 (in the 40-yard dash). So, the question that NFL teams are going to have regarding Alshon Jeffery is “Which guy are you getting?” Are you getting the 235-pound guy that on tape doesn’t look like he’s a 4.5 guy? Or are you getting a kid that at 213 pounds looks completely different? I still think he’s a second-round pick.”

If he is available for the Vikings in the 2nd round at pick #35, it’s an intriguing option for a team that needs help at the outside WR position. From the reports I’ve read and people I’ve asked, there are parts of Jeffery’s game that make him well-worth a 2nd-round pick. He has ideal size, long arms and huge hands, outstanding ball skills and body control on downfield routes, adequate short-area quickness and is a willing run blocker. On the other hand, he doesn’t have elite top-end speed, at times neglects the details of route running, tends to have bad posture on quick routes and deep crossing routes, doesn’t always create separation and isn’t explosive off the line.

Many of those negatives are correctable deficiencies, especially when you have one of the best WR coaches in the NFL, which the Vikings do in George Stewart. Plus, the positives I listed are very enticing for a team with a young QB and an offense that needs a kickstart.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out with Jeffery. If the Vikings wind up with him, I’ll be anxious to see him in this offense.

As for the other two aforementioned players, Gilmore and Ingram, there are fewer questions. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi stressed that Ingram is a player best-suited for a 3-4 defensive scheme, and both Lombardi and Mayock agreed that Ingram must be moved around within the defense to avoid him getting worn out by physical offensive guards. Mayock was very high on Gilmore, so much so that there’s virtually no chance he’ll be available for the Vikings in the 2nd round.

Gilmore is a pure cover corner who, as Lombardi explained, tends to win at the top of routes instead of at the beginning of routes (at the line of scrimmage). This means he’s more likely to intercept passes, whereas a CB who wins early in routes is more prone to disrupting the route and preventing his receiver from even being targeted with a throw. Mayock was more certain that Gilmore will go in the Top 15 and perhaps even the Top 10, while Lombardi and Brian Baldinger of NFL Network wondered aloud whether Gilmore would be selected before Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick. All 3 NFL Network analysts said Gilmore will be a starter this fall in the NFL.


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1,154 Comments »

Compensatory Selections Give Vikings 6 Picks In First 4 Rounds And 10 Overall

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 27, 2012 – 6:46 am

The NFL handed out compensatory draft picks on Monday at the annual Spring Owners’ Meetings, and the Vikings came away with a pair of 4th-round picks to add to their arsenal of selections in next month’s draft. The Vikings were awarded the 33rd and 39th picks in the 4th round, giving them 6 picks in the first 4 rounds and 10 selections overall.

The Vikings had 10 selections in last year’s draft as well, and 9 of those 10 picks remain on the roster. A similar effort in this year’s draft will go a long way toward Rick Spielman and Co.’s effort of rebuilding the roster.

Here’s a rundown of the Vikings 10 selections in this year’s draft…

1st round – 3rd pick – 3rd overall
2nd round – 3rd pick – 35th overall
3rd round – 3rd pick – 66th overall
4th round – 3rd pick – 98th overall
4th round – 33rd pick – 128th overall (compensatory)
4th round – 39th pick – 134th overall (compensatory)
5th round - 3rd pick – 138th overall
6th round – 5th pick – 175th overall (from Cleveland for Jayme Mitchell trade)
7th round – 3rd pick – 210th overall
7th round – 16th pick – 223rd overall (from Philadelphia through New England)


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 128 Comments »

Good News And Bad News From Claiborne’s Pro Day

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 23, 2012 – 6:20 am

For those of you who would prefer the Vikings take CB Morris Claiborne with their 1st-round pick in next month’s draft, there is good news and bad news.

We’ll give you the good news first.

Claiborne participated in LSU’s pro day on Thursday and registered an impressive time in the 40-yard dash, covering the distance in 4.39 seconds, a vast improvement from his 4.50 time at the Combine in February.

The bad news, though, is that Jim Kleinpeter of nola.com reports Claiborne disclosed after his workout that he will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist on Friday. Claiborne injured the wrist in a regular season game against Alabama, but was able to play through the injury and the pain for the remainder of the Tigers’ season.

My guess is the injury isn’t serious enough to impact Claiborne’s draft stock, especially with the mention of his pending surgery not made until midway through Kleinpeter’s piece.

For those of you interested in other LSU prospects, such as DT Michael Brockers or WR Reuben Randle, full results of the program’s pro day can be seen right here.


Tags:
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 82 Comments »

Claiborne-Over-Kalil Talk Heats Up Around Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 21, 2012 – 12:39 pm

The NFL draft is a premier event on the sports calendar, largely because of the drama involved with not knowing – but then finding out – where the country’s top college football players will begin their professional careers. This year, however, the level of drama has been reduced a bit at the top of the 1st round.

It’s all but a foregone conclusion that the Indianapolis Colts will take QB Andrew Luck with the #1 pick and that the Washington Redskins will take QB Robert Griffin III with the #2 pick. It’s also been assumed for several months now that the Vikings will take LT Matt Kalil with the #3 pick.

But not so fast.

Talk is heating up now that Kalil might not be a lock to go to Minnesota at #3 after all. I’ve had several fans email with a compelling case for the Vikings to take LSU CB Morris Claiborne instead of Kalil. Earlier this week, St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere broached this same topic, citing a conversation he had withVikings GM Rick Spielman in which there was more gushing about the CB than the LT. And then there’s this from a website I frequent called the NationalFootballPost, where NFP’s Matt Bowen provides plenty of reasons for the Vikings to choose Claiborne instead of Kalil.

Again, there’s a compelling case to be made for taking Claiborne at #3. The Vikings ranked 26th against the pass in 2011 and they yielded the most passing TDs. On top of that, the Vikings play in a division that features 3 productive passers in Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, along with a talented crew of WRs led by the likes of Greg Jennings in Green Bay, Calvin Johnson in Detroit and now Brandon Marshall in Chicago.

While Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield should be in the fold for 2012, there’s still another starting CB spot that is currently vacant, and the Vikings have not signed a starting-caliber free agent CB to compete for that job. Does that mean they plan to select one such CB with their 1st-round pick?

All-in-all, I’m still leaning toward taking Kalil with the #3 pick. I see him as a 10-year starter and multiple-time Pro Bowler at a premier position. He’ll be a key cog in an offensive line that will protect a young franchise QB and block for the NFL’s best RB. Nothing against Claiborne, I think he’ll be a fine player at an important position, too. But right now, I’m picking Kalil because his talents and skill set project well to the next level and because he’ll aid the development of Christian Ponder.

What do you think, Vikings fans? Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.


Tags: ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 758 Comments »