The 2013 NFL Draft is just 5 days away, and in honor of that we’re going to look at the 5 best draft picks in Vikings history. NFL.com ran a feature story earlier this month that looked at each NFL team’s top 5 picks in the pre-Super Bowl era (this takes Fran Tarkenton out of the picture, for example), and what’s written in this blog entry is what was included in the Vikings section of the NFL.com story.
Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.
5. LB Scott Studwell (9th round, 250th overall in 1977)
A linebacker for 14 seasons, Studwell is the standard by which all other Vikings ‘backers are measured. He is the franchise career leader in combined tackles (1,981), defensive tackles (1,928), single-season tackles (230 – 1981) and single-game tackles (24 at Detroit 11/17/85). One of the most enduring figures in Vikings history, Studwell is in his fourth decade with the franchise and in 2013 enters his 22nd season working in the front office.
4. WR Randy Moss (1st round, 21st overall in 1998)
Moss put together one of the best debut seasons of all-time, hauling in a NFL rookie single-season record 17 touchdowns and averaging 19.0 yards per catch for a Vikings team that went 15-1 and scored a then-NFL record 556 points. An elite vertical threat throughout his 16-year career, Moss set the NFL single-season receiving record in 2007 with 23 scores and currently ranks second in NFL history behind only Jerry Rice with 156 touchdown receptions.
3. OT Ron Yary (1st round, 1st overall in 1968)
In 1968 Yary became the first offensive lineman to be drafted first overall in NFL history, and the Hall of Famer’s blend of size, speed and strength helped usher in a new era of offensive line play. He assumed a starting role midway through the 1969 season and was a fixture there for the rest of his career, missing only two games during his career due to injury. Yary was named an All-Pro in six consecutive seasons, played in seven Pro Bowls and started in four Super Bowls.
2. DT Alan Page (1st round, 15th overall in 1967)
A Hall of Famer (1988) and member of the vaunted Purple People Eaters, Page was a mainstay in a dominant Vikings defense that became legendary and led the franchise to four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Page was named to the Pro Bowl nine times in 12 seasons with the Vikings, and in 1971 he became the first defensive player to earn NFL MVP honors. Page played in 236 straight games and had a knack for the impact play, recording 148.5 sacks, 28 blocked kicks and 23 fumble recoveries.
1. RB Adrian Peterson (1st round, 7th overall in 2007)
Peterson hit the ground running as a rookie by leading the NFC in rushing yards (1,341), setting a new NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards, and helping the Vikings set a new team rushing record (2,634) yards). He earned Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2007 and was named MVP of the Pro Bowl. In six seasons with the Vikings, Peterson has authored five of the franchise’s top six rushing seasons and in 2012 he became just the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards while going on to earn NFL MVP honors.
*Not included on this list but worth mentioning is quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a third-round selection in 1961 (pre Super Bowl era).
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Alan Page, Randy Moss, Ron Yary, Scott Studwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 95 Comments »
It was 32 years ago today – December 14, 1980 – when the Vikings pulled off what is perhaps one of the great finishes in NFL history and is most certainly one of the best finishes in franchise history. You know an event has a significant place in history when it’s given a nickname that forever lives in lore, and that’s what happened with the Vikings victory.
Miracle at the Met is the nickname, and it describes an improbable comeback by the Vikings over the Cleveland Browns to capture a division championship.
Trailing 23-22 with 14 seconds to play in the game, legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant called for a hook-and-ladder play, which was executed to perfection and resulted in RB Ted Brown advancing the ball to the Cleveland 46. On the next snap, with 5 seconds remaining, QB Tommy Kramer dropped back and launched pass down the right sideline. The pass was tipped and then caught by Ahmad Rashad in the end zone, giving the Vikings the win and the NFC Central Division title.
Current Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell made a key play for the Vikings defense on the series prior to the game-winning drive, tackling a Browns offensive player just short of the 1st down marker on 3rd and 9, resulting in the Cleveland punt that gave the Vikings possession at the 20 with just 14 seconds to play.
The embedded video clip above will help you relive the moment – a moment that will live forever in Vikings and NFL history, and will always be known as the Miracle at the Met.
Tags: Ahmad Rashad, Bud Grant, Scott Studwell, Tommy Kramer
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Any reason to find your way onto a golf course is a good reason, as far as I’m concerned. But the Vikings organization actually has a legitimate reason to hit the links on Wednesday.
The Minnesota Vikings 2012 Golf Tournament, presented by Miller Lite, will be held on Wednesday at Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove, MN. The sold-out tournament is not open to the public and will feature over 30 Vikings players, including QB Christian Ponder, RB Toby Gerhart and TE Kyle Rudolph. Also, several Vikings Alumni will be on-hand, including Randall McDaniel and Scott Studwell. Joining the action will be the entire 2012 Vikings coaching staff, Vikings executives, Viktor the Viking and the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders.
Proceeds of the event will benefit the Vikings Children’s Fund.
“Good chance for us to go out and do something in the community and raise some funds for some kids and people who are less fortunate than we are,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said.
The tournament is scheduled for an early afternoon shotgun start and will be followed by an awards ceremony with comments from Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Frazier. KFAN Radio will broadcast from the tournament from noon to 6:30 p.m.
Since its inception in 1978, the Vikings Children’s Fund has raised nearly $10 million, with over $5 million supporting research at the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics.
Tags: Christian Ponder, Kyle Rudolph, Leslie Frazier, Randall McDaniel, Scott Studwell, Toby Gerhart
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In the era of free agency, where professional athletes change teams more often than Chris Kluwe tweets, it’s not often you see a player drafted by, play with and retire from the same team. There are instances every now and then, but for the most part it’s a feat that has gone by the wayside. Coaching changes are another factor that prevent this from happening, as new coaches bring new philosophies that require substantial personnel changes.
But somehow, through 13 NFL seasons and 4 different head coaches, Jim Kleinsasser has remained with the Vikings and has been an integral part of the franchise since he was selected with a 2nd-round pick in 1999.
Today, Kleinsasser’s remarkable run comes to an end.
Given Kleinsasser’s background, it should come as no surprise that the burly-but-affable character has been able to maintain his spot on an NFL roster in three separate decades. A Carrington, North Dakota native who grew up on a crop and beef farm that his family owns to this day, Kleinsasser revels and excels while working in the trenches.
And it’s when Kleinsasser has worked in the trenches that the Vikings have exceled. The 6-3, 272-pound tight end with a Paul Bunyan-type frame and hard-nosed nature has helped pave the way for 7 of the top 8 single-season rushing marks in Vikings history, including Adrian Peterson’s team record and NFL-leading 1,760 yards in 2008. He’s also helped 10 different players rush for 100 yards in a game 62 times.
“Jimmy’s one of those players that, as an organization, you take for granted,” former LB and current Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said. “The reliability factor in being a good pro gets overlooked at times by the skill sets and the flash of certain players and positions. He’s a guy who has been one of the best, if not the best, blockers in the entire league for his entire career. Even in his thirteenth year, he’s still one of the best blockers in the league.”
Studwell has a great perspective to offer on the matter because he, too, was known as a gritty player and because he was largely responsible for the scouting and drafting of Kleinsasser. The longest-tenured pro athlete in the Twin Cities who was retained in 2003 by the Vikings via the Franchise Tag, Kleinsasser was selected in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 1999 NFL draft after the Vikings traded picks 59, 73 and 163 to the Steelers in order to acquire him. At the University of North Dakota, Kleinsasser was a consensus All-American and unanimous All-NCC First-Team selection.
“Back when we drafted Jimmy, I think people had kind of lost sight of the fact that Jim could run,” Studwell explained. “He wasn’t the most flexible athlete in the world and never will be, but Jim could run in the 4.7s and had tremendous ball skills. But for a guy of his size, he was a better athlete than people gave him credit for. We certainly got our money’s worth with him.
“The thing that really kind of solidified his value for the league was the way he played in the Senior Bowl. He went down to the Senior Bowl and certainly did not look out of place. He held his own, he did what he did at North Dakota and did it against the best players in the country. He’s been a valuable asset to this organization and to this team since he got here.”
Since Kleinsasser arrived in Minnesota, he’s done nothing but work hard and produce results. He’s played on 5 different playoff teams, ranks 2nd in team history for starts by a TE with 128, has played in 181 games for his career and hasn’t missed a game since 2005. Whether you talk to Head Coach Leslie Frazier, Studwell or Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman, one description showered upon Kleinsasser is that of consistency.
“He’s the consummate pro who shows up to work every day,” Spielman said. “He sets a great example for all the young kids as they come in. You know what you’re getting week-in and week-out when you line up on Sundays. He’s as consistent a performer as we’ve had since I walked in until now. He’s a unique player because of all those attributes.”
The versatile TE’s path to the Vikings is one not often traveled, but it suits him perfectly. One of just 3 players (Dave Osborn, Ron Green) drafted by the Vikings from the University of North Dakota, Kleinsasser is an avid outdoorsman and thoroughly enjoys the ambience of the Gopher State. From the facial hair, to grit and toughness, to Upper Midwest culture and way of life, Kleinsasser personifies the Vikings mascot that adorns his helmet and he feels right at home living in Minnesota.
“I love the Minnesota area and the people here are great,” he says. “I really enjoy the outdoors and this is just a great place to live. My wife is from here, so it’s just perfect because it’s close to my family and hers.”
Kleinsasser’s love for the area extends beyond than the outdoors and into the local community. He has worked extensively with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, serving with his wife to host the annual fundraising ball in the Twin Cities. He participates annually in the Epilepsy Foundation Clothing Drive, has participated at the North Dakota Special Olympics Games, took part in the 2008 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener and has also worked with D.A.R.E., the United Way and Vikings Victory Hospital Visits.
Today Kleinsasser will complete his 13th season in the NFL. Entering today’s game, Kleinsasser has 192 receptions for 1,684 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also has 43 rushing attempts for 147 yards and 1 touchdown. But the true measure of Kleinsasser’s impact on the Vikings over the last 13 years is not necessarily found in a box score or stats packet. It’s found within the trenches where he’s battled defensive linemen and linebackers, inside the locker room where he’s been a friend and leader to countless teammates and staff members, and around the Upper Midwest community where he’s made a positive impact on many lives.
Kleinsasser is Minnesota’s definition of what it means to be a Viking, and he’s truly a great Norseman from the Northland.
Here’s a picture of Jim and his family prior to today’s game:
Tags: Jim Kleinsasser, Rick Spielman, Scott Studwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 29 Comments »
Vikings TE Jim Kleinsasser will complete his 13th and final season on Sunday, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier would like to send the burly-but-affable TE off in style.
“No doubt about it,” Frazier said at his Wednesday press conference. “I’m not letting out any secrets there. If we get down to the one, Chicago, you better stop number 40. We’re going to find a way to try to get him in the end zone if we can.”
If the Vikings are able to get Kleinsasser in the end zone one last time, it’ll be the 8th TD of his career. That’s not a gaudy number for a 13-year veteran TE, but as all Vikings fans know, Kleinsasser’s value to the team is not defined by his line in the box score.
“He’s a guy who has been one of the best, if not the best, blockers in the entire league for his entire career,” Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said. “Even in his thirteenth year, he’s still one of the best blockers in the league.”
Given Kleinsasser’s background, it should come as no surprise that he has been able to maintain his spot on an NFL roster in three separate decades. A Carrington, North Dakota native who grew up on a crop and beef farm that his family owns to this day, Kleinsasser revels and excels while working in the trenches.
And it’s when Kleinsasser works in the trenches that the Vikings excel. The 6-3, 272-pound tight end with a Paul Bunyan-type frame and hard-nosed nature has helped pave the way for 7 of the top 8 single-season rushing marks in Vikings history, including Adrian Peterson’s team record and NFL-leading 1,760 yards in 2008. He’s also helped 10 different players rush for 100 yards in a game 62 times.
“He’s meant so much to our organization and he’s meant a great deal to me,” Frazier said. “He’s one of those guys you count on. He’s one of our leaders on our team and just a loyal, hard-working guy, tough as nails and someone you can always count on. You know he is going to come to work prepared, ready to do his job, a tremendous example for any young player coming into the League, just his work ethic and the way he approaches things. Just a team player and it would be great for us to send him out on a winning note on Sunday and I told our guys, if you want to thank him for the teammate that he is, let’s find a way to get this ‘W’ in his final game as a Viking. Tremendous person, tremendous player and he has been great for our organization.”
Tags: Jim Kleinsasser, Leslie Frazier, Scott Studwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 91 Comments »
It was announced earlier this morning that Chris Doleman will become the 19th player in franchise history to join the Vikings Ring of Honor. Doleman, a Vikings DE for 10 seasons (1985-93, 99), will be inducted into the Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony on Sunday, October 23, when the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers.
Doleman’s place in Vikings history is significant, as he registered 96.5 sacks as a Viking (he had 150.5 career sacks), 31 forced fumbles and 16 fumble recoveries, making him one of the best defensive linemen in the history of a franchise with several Hall of Fame linemen. Confirming Doleman’s significant status among Vikings greats is the way in which fellow Vikings speak of him.
Here’s what fellow Vikings Ring of Honor members John Randle and Scott Studwell, as well as Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Vikings QB Warren Moon, had to say about Doleman.
“Chris Doleman had the ability to deliver the big play when you needed it. Teams had to keep an eye on him because they knew it was coming, be it in the beginning, middle or end of the game. He was capable of making that big play. As a young guy learning the NFL game from him, he did so much for me. He taught me how to be a pro on and off the field. He was quiet on the field, a leader without speaking. It was his presence that influenced games. The way he studied the game and showed his teammates the way to prepare and be a mature player made a big impact on me.” — Randle
“Chris was a phenomenal player and a guy who could have excelled in any decade. His size, speed, balance and skill level were ahead of their time. He changed how teams could play against us. Chris was a good friend and teammate and earned the respect of the locker room.” — Studwell
“Doleman is one of those rare guys, maybe one of four or five that I played against during my career right there with Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, that you had to know where they were and set your protection accordingly. You had to know if you were going to help the tackle out with a tight end or running back to chip on those guys. Doleman was someone you always had to worry about because you knew he could get to the quarterback. The amount of time and attention that went to preparing for Chris Doleman benefitted the others guys on those defensive lines. He was one of
those guys that you had to make sure could be blocked in one way or another.” — Moon
Tags: Chris Doleman, John Randle, Ring of Honor, Scott Studwell, Warren Moon
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As a LB for the Vikings from 1977-1990, Scott Studwell was tremendously productive and earned a reputation as a leader with a tireless work ethic. Since his playing days, Studwell has carried those traits with him to the Vikings front office, where he currently works as the franchise’s Director of College Scouting.
In honor of his long and distinguished (and on-going) career, the organization inducted Studwell into the Vikings Ring of Honor during the 2009 season. Inclusion in the Ring of Honor is the highest individual honor one can receive from the club.
With that background in mind, it’s impressive to note that Studwell was once again a leader during the Vikings annual playground build event this past Friday. Each of the last 5 years, the entire Vikings organization and a large group of volunteers from KaBoom! and Toro have built a playground for a local school. And in each of those events, Studwell’s leadership and work ethic has been obvious.
“I am the first person on the site for the Vikings each year with set-up and prep duties and each year, the first person to get to the site is Scott Studwell and he hits it hard from start to finish,” said Brad Madson, Vikings Executive Director of Community Relations/Youth Football. “I remember when we were at the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul a few years back and we hadn’t even set up for morning registration yet and here comes Stud with broom in hand and he proceeded to start to clear the sidewalk and steps in preparation for landscaping. With that type of work ethic, it’s easy to understand why he is the Vikings all-time leading tackler!”
Although he prefers to remain out of the spotlight and probably wishes this blog entry never existed, Studwell exudes the kind of leadership and work ethic that yields great results, whether it be on the football field, in the front office or at a community event. He’s a source of pride for the Vikings organization.
Now that I’ve shared this on the blog, I’ll probably have to hope he doesn’t form tackle me in the hallway.
Tags: Scott Studwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1 Comment »
A talented Vikings defensive line got much more talented on Saturday morning with the selection of Everson Griffen. By all accounts, Griffen is a 1st round talent but some minor off-field concerns as well as consistency and effort level questions might have caused him to slip in the draft this year.
To be fair, the off-field concerns and consistency issues are not something with which I’m too familiar, so I’ll give him a chance to explain those. And, the truth of the matter is, what happened in the past matters much less than what will happen going forward. As Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said earlier this morning, it’s not as if Griffen is a bad person. The Vikings have made clear their commitment to finding good people who are also good football players, so I’m confident Griffen will fit in well with the type of players Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and Head Coach Brad Childress have brought in under the Wilf ownership.
Anyway, here’s some more analysis from Studwell and also NFL.com on Griffen…
Studwell: “He’ll see the sense of urgency. He’s coming from a program that competes and plays hard every day in practice. So he’s going to come into our tempo and understand it; I think he’ll buy into it quickly.”
NFL.com analysis: “The Vikings get a top-25 talent in the fourth round with the addition of Everson Griffen. The energetic pass rusher has excellent initial quickness, and his ability to pressure the pocket will undoubtedly earn him minutes in a deep Vikings rotation. This is an excellent value pick for the team, regardless of his off-field issues.”
Studwell: “He can play both sides. He’s big enough to be a base end. He’s athletic enough to be a right end. He can also go inside nickel as I said before. He’s got a lot of versatility. He actually could probably be a standup player in a 3-4 (defensive scheme). We’ve got a new toy and we may put him in a lot of different places.”
Tags: Everson Griffen, Scott Studwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 5 Comments »
The Vikings got to work early on Day 3 of the 2010 NFL Draft by using their only (as of now) 4th round draft pick on Everson Griffen, a 6-3, 273-pound DE from USC. Griffen was projected to go much higher in this year’s draft, but concerns of inconsistency may have hurt his draft stock, according to NFL.com.
Speaking with reporters immediately after the pick, Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell acknowledged the concerns that come with Griffen, but also expressed excitement and optimism about adding a player as talented as Griffen to the roster.
“He’s got all the athletic traits that we’re looking for in a defensive lineman,” Studwell said. “He can play on both sides, he can probably also go inside on nickel. He can run, he’s athletic.
“The consistency level has to improve somewhat in his play. There were games where he was a first round pick and games when he would disappear. But he’s got great value where we took and I think he’ll blossom as a pro.”
Studwell said the Vikings were confident that tutelage from DL coach Karl Dunbar and the presence of players such as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams in the meeting room will help Griffen improve and blossom as an NFL player.
The selection of Griffen is another example of the Vikings sticking to their philosophy of drafting the best available player and not drafting based on need. Studwell said Griffen was the highest-rated player on their board at the time and they decided to move on him even though DE wasn’t a position of need.
“It wasn’t a priority position for us,” Studwell said. “We’ve got some pretty good defensive ends on our team right now. But he just had too much ability to pass.”
Tags: Everson Griffen, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Scott Studwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 12 Comments »
The Vikings announced the team’s 8th annual All-State High School Football Team last week and recognized the team during halftime of Sunday’s Vikings-Bengals game.
Joining in the on-field ceremony to recognize the all-state team was recent Vikings Ring of Honor inductee Scott Studwell.
In addition to the 30 players selected to the all-state team, Ron Stolski of Brainerd High School has been named the 2009 Coach of the Year.
Presented by U.S. Army, the 2009 All-State High School football team consists of 30 of the best prep players throughout the state as selected by a committee of sportswriters, broadcasters, Vikings staff and Minnesota high school football coaches.
Also, All-State member and Minnesota’s 2009 Mr. Football recipient Zach Vraa of Rosemount served as the game’s honorary captain and joined the Vikings captains for the coin toss.
Tags: Scott Studwell
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