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Looking Forward To The NFL Draft

Posted by cjsiewert on March 23, 2010 – 6:43 am

With the 2010 NFL Draft now less than a month away (April 22), speculation on which teams will select which players will hit full swing.  But instead of offering my opinion on who the Vikings should consider, I’d like to speculate on what positions (in no particular order) the Vikings might address and how it will impact the depth on the roster.

CB – There are a few question marks at this position, especially considering that Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield will be coming off of injuries.  It’s good that Benny Sapp will return because he provides stability at the position and there’s reason to be optimistic about Asher Allen, though he still needs to gain experience. Statistically, the Vikings ranked 19th in passing yards allowed and just 26th in INTs, so perhaps the Vikings address this position during the draft to add talent and depth to a unit with a lot of potential.

S – Madieu Williams has directed traffic in the secondary since signing before the 2008 season, but drafting another safety would push Williams and fellow starter Tyrell Johnson and it would also provide friendly competition between reserves Husain Abdullah, Eric Frampton and Jamarca Sanford, who have all spent the majority of their playing time on special teams.

DT – Yes, the Vikings did just sign Jimmy Kennedy to a multi-year deal, but Pat Williams will be entering his 14th season and adding another young DT would certainly help out with depth at this position.

LB – Chad Greenway and Ben Leber have obviously proven themselves to be steady contributors for the Vikings defense, but the uncertainty of E.J. Henderson’s return may lead to a LB being drafted this year.

RB – The Vikings lost arguably the best 3rd down back in the NFL with Chester Taylor’s departure to Chicago. This loss of experience could have the Vikings looking for a solution in a complementary player to All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson.  The Vikings may feel comfortable in Albert Young, though, and that might steer them away from using a draft pick on a RB in 2010.

OL – Not to say that the Vikings’ offensive line needs help – 2 Pro Bowlers in Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson along with 1st-year stand-out Phil Loadholt – but the Vikings may want to add some extra protection and depth along the line for future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre.

Keep in mind that drafting based on a perceived team need is not always the best route to take.  Case and point – the 2007 draft. Taylor was coming off a career-best 1,216 rushing yards and 6 TDs.  The RB position seemed to be the least of the Vikings worries heading into the 2007 season, but despite Taylor’s accomplishments the Vikings used their 1st round pick (#7 overall) on RB Adrian Peterson.

And I can be almost certain that nobody is opposed to that decision now.

Also, the WR position didn’t appear to be an immediate need during last year’s draft, but Florida’s Percy Harvin offered a versatility that couldn’t be passed up.  Result: 2009 Rookie of the Year and the Vikings’ 2nd ROY in the past 3 seasons (Peterson in 2007).

All things considered, I would look for the Vikings to select the best available player that fits their needs rather than having a predetermined selection by position.


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Personnel Guru Brandt Ranks Top Undrafted Players

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 18, 2010 – 3:42 pm

In little over a month, NFL teams will use the NFL draft to select players they feel will become core members of their team for seasons to come. Some of the NFL’s best players – from Hall of Famer’s to current superstars – saw their careers begin on the day they were drafted.

But with 53 roster spots on each of the league’s 32 teams, a 7-round draft once per year isn’t enough to replenish and supplement the talent pool. Teams must also find undrafted players who have the ability to play at the NFL level.

NFL personnel guru and NFL.com contributing writer Gil Brandt certainly understands this concept. His knowledge of and respect for the process of finding talented undrafted players is on display at NFL.com right now, as he penned an article that identifies the top 75 undrafted players in NFL history.

Vikings fans might appreciate the piece by Brandt because several of the names will be familiar. QB Warren Moon, who was originally signed by the Houston Oilers but also played well for the Vikings late in his career, is ranked by Brandt as the 4th-best undrafted player of all-time.

Also, DT John Randle makes Brandt’s list. He’s ranked as the 12th-best undrafted player of all-time.

There’s a current Vikings (hint: one-half of the Williams Wall) who is ranked somewhere between #26 and #50 and a former Vikings Head Coach who is ranked somewhere between #51 and #75.


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Other Childress Notes From KFAN Interview

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 12, 2010 – 8:55 am

As we mentioned in the previous entry, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress called into the Power Trip Morning Show today to discuss the LaDainian Tomlinson visit as well as several other Vikings-related topics.

The audio from the interview is available via KFAN’s website with this MP3 file.  The interview is at the end of the segment.

Here are a few other non-Tomlinson notes from the interview this morning…

Adrian Peterson’s fumbles: Peterson had a handful of fumbles this season that cost the Vikings in critical situations and it’s an issue that has brought on some criticism for #28. When asked about it today, Childress said that the issue has been brought to the RB’s attention frequently and that he’s confident Peterson will “take care” of it. “I don’t want to eliminate his running style,” Peterson said. “He has an aggressive, attacking running style. So I don’t want to take anything away from that. However it’s critical obviously that the ball travels with you.”

On finding a replacement for Chester Taylor: Should Tomlinson sign with the Vikings, he’ll fulfill the same role (although perhaps a bit differently) that Taylor filled while with the team. Other RBs have also been linked to the Vikings as possible replacements for Taylor, including Brian Westbrook and even incoming rookies who will be drafted in April.

But Childress suggested another possible solution to filling the role vacated by Taylor.

“Probably not enough has been said about Albert Young,” the head coach said. “Albert Young has been a guy that’s developed here tremendously the last two years. As a matter of fact, Brett Favre and I had a long conversation about him. He believes he’s got the chance to be a good back in this league.”

Childress on the greatest thing to come out of the 2009 season: “I guess first of all, the greatest thing to come out of it was the enthusiasm of this state and community about the Vikings. Everybody started with the toe in the water. ‘Are they gonna be this? How are they going to play in September?’ But I just think as the season went, it really became a snowball (effect).”

Childress then added, “In the locker room, I have one of the [most fun] bunch of guys that I’ve probably lined up and coached in thirty years. And certainly not without fifty-three different challenges when you’re talking about the Jared Allens, Pat Williamses, Steve Hutchinsons, Brett Favres, Chester Taylors.

“There are personalities galore in there. But one thing those guys never were afraid to do was to take a challenge. They competed tooth and nail with each other, and it didn’t make any difference whether they were on the football field or playing cards or shooting hoops. They’re avid competitors in all areas. They weren’t afraid to work, they weren’t afraid to take criticism constructively and improve. That’s always satisfying and I had a great time doing it.”


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Tomlinson Talks Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 11, 2010 – 9:41 am

During the University of Minnesota’s pro day on Wednesday, both Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman spoke with reporters, primarily about the prospects of signing free agent RB LaDainian Tomlinson.

By Thursday evening, Childress and Spielman had moved on from the Gophers’ pro day and centered their attention of Tomlinson, as the 5-time Pro Bowler arrived in Minnesota to begin his visit with Vikings officials.

According to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, Thursday evening’s activities included a dinner at a Minneapolis steakhouse where Tomlinson met with a bevy of Vikings representatives, including Childress, Spielman and even DT Pat Williams. Zulgad also caught up with LT to pick his brain about the idea of joining the Vikings.

Here is Zulgad’s Q&A with Tomlinson.

A few highlights of the Q&A include…

– Tomlinson said the Vikings are “right there” in terms of being on the verge of a Super Bowl, something that has eluded the future Hall of Famer, and that he thinks the Vikings have a good mix of veterans and young players in the locker room along with a great coaching staff and supportive environment.

– Although he was happy with what he’d heard to that point of his visit, Tomlinson indicated that today was also important because his decision on whether or not to sign with the Vikings was based on a feeling as much as what he heard.

– There have been questions as to whether Tomlinson would embrace his role on the Vikings as a complement to Adrian Peterson, but LT assuaged any concerns about that issue by saying he’s looking forward to that role.

– Tomlinson said that he can identify with what Peterson is going through as a young star in the NFL and that he could help him get through some of those issues “without any headaches.” He described the chance to play with QB Brett Favre as “unbelievable” and “incredible,” saying “Imagining him just throwing the ball to me out of the backfield or something like that, it would be something I can always remember and also tell my kids about.”


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Report: Pat Williams To Return In 2010

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on February 17, 2010 – 4:45 pm

According to this report by the Pioneer Press, Vikings DT Pat Williams will return to the team in 2010 after pondering retirement.

Williams, who just wrapped up his 13th NFL season, spoke shortly after Minnesota’s NFC Title Game to New Orleans about being “50-50″ on returning to the Vikings this fall.

Williams was as Pro Bowler from 2006-2008 and had another solid season in 2009, totaling 44 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.


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A Look At The Vikings CB Situation

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 11, 2010 – 8:42 am

The position that will receive maximum attention this offseason for the Vikings is QB, with most of the talk centered on whether or not Brett Favre will return for a 20th NFL season.

But as important as Favre’s return or non-return is to the Vikings, let’s not forget that, as is the case for all 32 teams in the league, there are several other questions the Purple must answer before the 2010 season arrives.

Other areas of the Vikings roster that will remain in the offseason spotlight include DT, where Pat Williams may or may not be back in 2010, as well as LB E.J Henderson’s return from injury and the free agent status of RB Chester Taylor.

In this NFL Network video, Michael Lombardi and Charles Davis do a nice job of talking about a few of these offseason storylines. But there’s another position that I think deserves as much or perhaps even more consideration this offseason – CB.

The guys touched on it a little bit at the end of the video, but I wanted to go into more detail here on vikings.com. Click this link to read more about the Vikings CB position this offseason, including how the health of Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield will impact the way the Vikings address the depth chart at CB…


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Pat Williams, Brooking Have Different Views On Late-Game Play Calling

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on January 17, 2010 – 8:48 pm

It seems as though Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking had a little issue with Minnesota’s late-game play calling during today’s 34-3 drubbing of his team.

Courtesy of ESPN.com’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert, Brooking thought it was “classless” that the Vikings threw a pair of passes to the end zone late in today’s game.  As ProFootballTalk.com pointed out, Brooking and his teammates are paid to stop other teams from scoring.  Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams agreed.

“We don’t care what Keith Brooking says,” Williams told Seifert.  “He was about to get his ass whupped on our sideline over there.  It don’t matter.  Nobody said anything when they blew out the Eagles [the past two weeks].

“It’s the playoffs.  It ain’t no regular-season game.  If you lose, you go home.  We take no pity on them.  Do they expect us to?  I don’t care about no Brooking.  He can say whatever he wants to say.”

Brad Childress and Brett Favre also touched on the issue during their postgame press conferences.


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Edwards and Williams Make Cowboys Playoff Task Tougher

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 17, 2010 – 10:19 am

Many of the Vikings defensive starters for today’s playoff matchup against the Cowboys were in the lineup last year when the Philadelphia Eagles came to town during Wild Card Weekend.

But, in a storyline that was largely ignored this week in the build up to today’s game, there are 2 key defensive starters who will line up today but who also missed last season’s playoff game against the Eagles – DE Ray Edwards and DT Pat Williams.

Both players missed last year’s game because of injury, forcing the Vikings to start 2 backups along the defensive line in the season’s most important game.

In what is this season’s most important game, most of the pregame attention has been focused on Dallas’ pass rush and the Vikings chore of containing it. But with Edwards and Williams in the lineup, the Cowboys chore of blocking the Vikings defensive line will be a lot tougher than the Eagles chore a year ago.


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Pat Williams Feeling Good Heading Into Playoffs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 10, 2010 – 10:43 am

While meeting with reporters early last week, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said his players would have much of the week off to get away from the daily grind and freshen up their minds and bodies. Some players, though, would stick around Winter Park to rehab injuries in an attempt to be as close to 100% as possible at this point in the season.

One of the players who did stick around was DT Pat Williams, who has been dealing with an elbow ailment that forced him out of action in Week 16. Williams returned to the lineup in Week 17 but was listed on the injury report each day prior to that game.

With the Dallas Cowboys and their 3-pronged rushing attack coming to town next weekend for a Divisional Round matchup, Williams’ presence in the lineup and his ability to be a disruptive force will be key to the Vikings defensive effort.

On Friday, Williams stopped by to participate in a live chat on vikings.com. He chatted for 30 minutes with fans and answered a bevy of questions, one of which was about his health. Asked if he was 100% health-wise going into the playoffs, Williams said: “Yes, because this week off helped me out a lot. I came in here to rehab all week and the bye helped out. I’m feeling 100%.”

At this point in the season – after training camp and a 16-game regular season – no one is 100%. But it’s good to know that Williams benefited from the week off and is confident in his ability and health heading into the playoffs.

We’ll know more about Williams’ health – and the health of everyone else – on Wednesday when the Vikings are required to issue their first injury report of the week.

Also, the team will have a short practice today and Childress will meet with the media, so the head coach may delve into injury questions/answers.

Remember that vikings.com will be streaming Childress press conference live today, so be sure to tune in to that. And be sure to keep coming back to vikings.com all week because we’ll have continuing coverage of the Vikings and Cowboys as they gear up for their showdown on Sunday at Mall of America Field.


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Vikings, Giants Injury Updates

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2010 – 10:24 am

Teams aren’t required to submit their official list of inactive players until 90 minutes prior to kickoff, but reports and injury updates have emerged this morning regarding the Vikings and Giants.

We’ll begin with the Vikings and CB Antoine Winfield. Although he’s returned to the lineup after missing 6 games with a foot injury, it’s clear that Winfield is still not 100%. The question of whether the Vikings would reduce or eliminate playing time for Winfield this week to rest the foot arose this week.

And now we might have an answer to that question. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, who is at Mall of America Field this morning, has reported that Winfield will play in short-yardage situations only today.

For the Giants, we already know that RB Brandon Jacobs won’t be available. That leaves Ahmad Bradshaw as the Giants #1 RB, but he’s been dealing with ankle and knee injuries and was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. According to Nichols, though, Bradshaw will suit up and play today.

We’ve got no update on TE Visanthe Shiancoe (thigh) or DT Pat Williams (elbow), who were both listed as questionable on the injury report. Official word will come in the next 10 minutes.


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