Sunday, July 16, 2017

Offseason Review Series: Day 12: The Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings

Division: NFC North

2016 record: 8-8 (3rd in NFC North, Missed Playoffs)


Hi, and welcome to the Minnesota Vikings' Offseason Review Series post. There's a lot to dissect. I'm /u/skepticismissurvival, and I'll be your tour guide. First, you can see the skeleton of the post. This includes the factual information on the changes that occurred on the Vikings in a neat fashion. If you're interested in bite-sized takes on the team and don't have a lot of time to spend, this is for you. However, if you're bored or really want to learn as much as possible about the Vikngs, the meat of the post is in the comments. There is a tree of comments you can follow. That tree sprouts from this top comment. That comment will provide links to everything you want to see. If you just want to jump into the discussion, hide the top comment and it be out of your way. Thanks for joining me, and enjoy your ride.

Coaching Changes

Position New Coach Former Team Former Title Departing Coach New Team New Title
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur Vikings Tight Ends/Interim OC Norv Turner None None
Running Backs Kennedy Polamalu UCLA Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski Vikings Quarterbacks Coach
Tight Ends Clancy Barone Denver Broncos Offensive Line Pat Shurmur Vikings Offensive Coordinator
Quarterbacks Kevin Stefanski Vikings Running Backs Scott Turner Michigan Offensive Analyst
Wide Receivers Darrell Hazell Purdue Head Coach George Stewart Chargers ST Coordinator/Assistant HC
Assistant OL Andrew Janocko Vikings Offensive QC Hank Fraley UCLA OL Coach
Head Strength and Conditioning Mark Uyeyama 49ers Head S&C Brent Salazar US Tennis Association Director of Performance

Offseason Departures

Player Position Method Current Team Thoughts
Brandon Fusco G Released San Francisco 49ers Not the same after returning from injury. He wasn't pulling his weight and the release makes sense.
Mike Harris G Released Not Cleared to Play Missed 2016 with a head injury that we don't have a lot of details on.
Chad Greenway LB Reserve/Retired Retired Retirement press conference.
Rhett Ellison TE Unrestricted Free Agency New York Giants Got way more than I would have paid him. He's a blocker first, and damn good at it, but has not been a particularly effective receiving threat on the Vikings. I think he's replaceable with Morgan.
Captain Munnerlyn CB Unrestricted Free Agency Carolina Panthers One of the better slot corners in the league. With two high draft picks (Waynes and Alexander) at CB recently, it didn't make sense to retain him.
Matt Kalil LT Unrestricted Free Agency Carolina Panthers Holy shit that contract is fucking terrible. Sorry Cam.
Charles Johnson WR Unrestricted Free Agency Carolina Panthers He was a decent vertical threat but struggled to get open and also get on the field. I think he's very replaceable.
Jeff Locke P Unrestricted Free Agency Indianapolis Colts Luck was trash for his first three seasons and was decent (if still below average) last year. I didn't really want him back.
Audie Cole LB Unrestricted Free Agency Jacksonville Jaguars Cole flashed some but never got significant playing time.
Cordarrelle Patterson WR Unrestricted Free Agency Oakland Raiders Patterson is the best kick returner in the league and an exciting player with the ball in his hands. He showed good development as a WR in 2016, but is nowhere near a complete player. He didn't live up to his draft status but he should contribute in Oakland.
Adrian Peterson RB Unrestricted Free Agency New Orleans Saints Peterson was a non-factor last year, as he was injured for almost all of the season and terrible when he did play. He is one of the greatest Vikings of all time, but his lack of availability (21/49 possible games played from 2014-2016) and age were compelling reasons to not pick up his ridiculously large 2017 option and let him walk to another team.
Andre Smith RT Unrestricted Free Agency Cincinnati Bengals Smith was bad and then got hurt.
Matt Asiata RB Unrestricted Free Agency Detroit Lions Asiata was totally ineffective in short yardage, which is what he was supposed to be good at.
Zach Line FB Unrestricted Free Agency Free Agent Saw a decline in usage last year with the shift in offensive coordinators and it didn't make to much sense for him to continue to be on the team.
Shaun Hill QB Unrestricted Free Agency Free Agent Hill started Week 1 for the Vikings as Bradford was getting acclimated. He led the Vikings to victory, but the offense scored 0 TDs. Hill is old, lacks arm strength at this point, and is a risk-taker. He hasn't been picked up.
Scott Crichton DE/DT Released Free Agent A former third round pick who was a great athlete, but never won playing time.
Marquis Lucas OT Waived Free Agent Inconsequential
Sterling Bailey DE Waived Free Agent Inconsequential
Cedric Thompson S Waived Free Agent Inconsequential
BJ DuBose DT Waived Free Agent Inconsequential
Mitch Mathews WR Waived Free Agent Inconsequential
Toby Johnson DT Waived Free Agent Had an interesting stretch where he was signed to the active roster, then cut, then signed to the active roster in a span of 8 days. I'm a little surprised he was let go this soon.

Offseason Additions


Player Position Length Salary
Jeremiah Sirles OT 1 year $690k
Adam Thielen WR 3 years $17MM
Terence Newman CB 1 year $3.25MM
Brian Robison DE 2 years $7.5MM
Moritz Böhringer WR Reserve/Future Contract The kid from Germany who is super athletic, Moritz spent 2016 on the practice squad after being drafted in the 6th round. Hopefully we will get to see his progress this preseason.
Kyle Carter TE Reserve/Future Contract Carter will have a chance to make a splash as the Vikings are inexperienced behind Kyle Rudolph at TE.
Cayleb Jones WR Reserve/Future Contract Jones will likely get lost in the mix of returning players and incoming rookies.
Marquis Lucas OT Reserve/Future Contract Now Cut
Tre Roberson CB Reserve/Future Contract Showed exciting growth learning a new position last offseason.
Bishop Sankey RB Reserve/Future Contract A former second round pick who flamed out with the Titans, Sankey was not a technician at the position. Maybe he has grown.
Sterling Bailey DT Reserve/Future Contract Now Cut
Austin Shepherd OT Reserve/Future Contract I wanted the Vikings to keep Shepherd on the active roster last year after he showed promise in 2015. They did not, but maybe he will get a shot this year.
Cedric Thompson S Reserve/Future Contract Now Cut

FA Signings

Player Position Previous Team Length Salary Thoughts
Riley Reiff LT Lions 5 years $58.75MM Reiff, a former first-round pick out of Iowa, was asked to move to RT last year after the Lions drafted Taylor Decker. When the Vikings signed him this offseason, his contract numbers made it clear they were signing him to play LT. I preferred Reiff's performance at RT last season to his previous performances at LT, so this isn't my favorite thing in the world, and Reiff now has the 8th biggest APY of all LTs. That's a bit much for a player who is better run blocking than his is protecting the QB, but it's also better than paying Matt Kalil $11 million a year so I guess I'm not too upset.
Mike Remmers RT Panthers 5 years $30MM Coming off a disappointing 2016 campaign where he was asked to play LT because of Michael Oher's injury, Remmers inked a respectable deal to move back to RT with the Vikings, who he was with briefly in 2013. His reputation has taken a hit in his last 17 games played, but he is a strong run blocker who was miscast at LT. Don't ask him to block the likes of Von Miller off the edge without help, but otherwise you should be ok.
Latavius Murray RB Raiders 3 years $15MM Murray burst onto the scene in 2014 with a huge game of 112 yards on just 4 carries. He has been Oakland's lead back in the past two seasons, eclipsing 1000 yards in 2015 and scoring 12 TDs while missing some time due to injury in 2016. He is very tall for a back, and this can sometimes get him in trouble as he runs high, but he is also an impressive physical specimen and has become an excellent pass blocker. I expect him to be a contributor as part of a committee this year.
Datone Jones DE/DT Packers 1 year $3.75MM Jones is a former first round pick who never found a starting role in GB. In 2016, he played multiple roles, switching between OLB and DE in the Packers' 3-4. With the Vikings, there's been a lot of talk of him playing at 3-tech, which makes sense with the absence of Sharrif Floyd.
Case Keenum QB Rams 1 year $2MM One of the most prolific passers in NCAA history, Keenum's most recent stint was with the Rams, where he led the team to a 4-5 record in its first year back in LA before being benched for Jared Goff. He is not a starting quality player, but should theoretically be an effective backup. He would be a great #3 option assuming a healthy Bridgewater, and I'm also fine with him as a backup. He's not expensive at $2 million, and I am perfectly content, albeit not excited, with the signing.
Ryan Quigley P Arizona Cardinals 1 year $2MM After week three of 2016, the Cardinals cut Drew Butler and brought in Ryan Quigley to be their punter. Quigley was bad enough that they cut him and then brought Butler back. Chuck Zodda, a former college kicker, tracks punting statistics. Quigley was second in hang time among punters last year, but next to last (ahead of only Butler) in Zodda's Target Distance Punted metric, which adjusts punt distance for field position.
Michael Floyd WR Patriots 1 year $1.5MM Floyd is a bit of an odd case as the Vikings signed him knowing he had a suspension coming for a DUI last year, but not knowing the length. That is now a 4 game suspension. The hope is that the former first-round pick out of Notre Dame will be able to turn his life around back in his home state of Minnesota and become a productive player.
Will Sutton DT Bears 1 year $690k
Terrell Sinkfield CB BC Lions (CFL) Reserve/Future Contract We had him in camp last year as a WR and returner, and he was cut. I don't have high hopes for him at CB either.
Reid Fragel OT Chiefs Reserve/Future Contract Honestly we have so many bodies on the OL I can't see him making the team or even coming close. I also know next to nothing about him.
Marshall Koehn K Dolphins Reserve/Future Contract He'll be in a kicker competition with Kai Forbath. Spent time on the practice squad last year.
Taylor Symmank P N/A Reserve/Future Contract In a punter competition with Ryan Quigley.
Mitch Mathews WR Browns Reserve/Future Contract Now Cut. I was kind of excited about him but it appears that excitement was misplaced.
Nick Truesdell TE Cleveland Gladiators (AFL) Reserve/Future Contract A huge target (6'7", 250) he ran a 4.47 at this year's veteran combine. He has been in camps before, but has never made a roster.

NFL Draft

The Vikings love trading on draft day and that showed in the 2017 draft. Before the first pick was made, the Vikings were down the 14th overall selection because of the Sam Bradford trade, and had an additional 3rd and fourth from the Dolphins from a trade during the 2016 draft. This meant that they entered the draft with the following selections:

Round Overall Selection
2 48
3 79
3 86
4 120
4 128
5 160
6 199
7 232

In a dizzying array of moves, the team made 7 trades over the second two days of the draft and ended with with 11 draft picks, including 4 7th rounders. Of those 11 draft picks, 9 were acquired during the draft, so the Vikings only stayed put at two spots (120 and 232 overall). The team traded up twice, down four times, and swapped a pair of picks once. Especially on the last day, I had no idea what selections the Vikings had or who they had traded with until the picks were made. Overall, the trades involved:

Vikings Vikings Give Other Team Other Team Gives
Vikings #48, #128 Bengals #41
Vikings #79, #160 Jets #70
Vikings #86 Chiefs #104, #132, #245
Vikings #104 49ers #109, #219
Vikings #132 Eagles #139, #230
Vikings #139 Chiefs #170, #180
Vikings #199, #230 Redskins #201, #220

With the selections they acquired, the Vikings took:

Round Overall Pick Player Position School/Team Thoughts
2 41 Dalvin Cook RB Florida State Cook is a mature runner who shows strong patience, vision, and excellent balance. He was unimpressive at the Combine, but the tape shows an elusive runner with a knack for explosive runs. He is very effective in the open field, and that translates to the receiving game. He is a bit on the small side, and sometimes struggles to run with good pad level which causes a lack of power and is a poor blocker. Overall, I believe he can become an immediate contributor and will be the lead back for the Vikings this season.
3 70 Pat Elflein C Ohio State I think that Elflein was a steal in the 3rd round; I would have been comfortable with the Vikings taking him at 48 (their original top pick). He is a mauling run blocker with a nasty attitude. His tape is littered with pancakes. He is an effective puller, which is rare for Cs, and really effective climbing to the second level. I have more concerns about him as a pass protector, but he was generally solid. There are cases where he overextends and gets knocked off balance, and he's not the best athlete in the world, but you don't need to be to play C.
4 109 Jaleel Johnson DT Iowa Johnson is an intelligent player who consistently shows strong mental processing and an understanding of defensive line play. He's not a great athlete, but will showcase good timing and uses that to make plays. While he lacks the quick twitch ability of dominant interior pass rushers like Geno Atkins or Gerald McCoy, he is a stout run defender and occasionally disrupts the passer. At 315, his primary role is likely going to be 3-tech, but he does have the size and strength to play some 1-tech if called upon.
4 120 Ben Gedeon ILB Michigan Gedeon is an average athlete, but a smart defender who diagnoses run plays well and does a good job keeping square to the line of scrimmage, engaging blockers and keeping clean to make plays. His strong diagnosis will help him make plays in the backfield, but he does not have great sideline-to-sideline speed. For me, he projects as at best, a two-down MLB. I do not expect him to be effective in coverage at the NFL level.
5 170 Rodney Adams WR South Florida Adams is a burner who was also a good kick returner at South Florida. He lacks technical refinement, but could be able to find a home early as a kick returner and occasional deep threat as he refines his route running.
5 180 Danny Isidora G Miami Danny Isidora is a mauler of a guard. He is powerful and effective when asked to move forward and block downhill. He is effective (although not as good as Elflein) on pulls, and is able to consistently help open holes for the running game. As a pass blocker, he is a project. He struggles to win one-on-one in a phonebooth, often overextending or getting beaten by interior pass rushers.
6 201 Bucky Hodges TE Virginia Tech At 6'6", 257lbs, Bucky Hodges ran a 4.57s 40 yard dash and jumped 39" vertically and 11'2" horizontally. At Virginia Tech, he was basically a receiver, and primarily a deep threat at that. In the NFL, he profiles as player who will stretch the seam and can probably contribute as a red zone threat right away. He is a bad blocker and will need significant improvement in that area if the Vikings want to use him as an in-line blocker. A lot of places had Hodges as a 3rd or 4th round prospect, some as high as the second round, so getting him in the 6th is a steal.
7 219 Stacy Coley WR Miami There are a lot of receivers who are more exciting and enticing than Coley, but I'm not sure Rodney Adams is better than him. Coley was a dependable receiver in college who could probably translate that dependability into the NFL. I don't think the Vikings are getting a star, but I do think that they're getting someone who can do what Jarius Wright does.
7 230 Ifaedi Odenigbo DE Northwestern Odenigbo was a pass rush specialist who put up good, if not amazing (he's not a force player) testing numbers at the Combine. At 258, he showcases a strong bullrush and the beginnings of other pass rush moves. He was not asked to defend against the run often, and size is a concern there. As a 7th round pick, he is a "draft and develop" type player.
7 232 Elijah Lee LB Kansas State Lee is a lean and lanky player, which as become en vogue in the current NFL. He moves well laterally and easily has the range to move sideline-to-sideline. He's pretty fluid in coverage and he makes bigger hits than his frame suggests when moving downhill. He can struggle with pursuit angles and moving through trash. I like him a lot and was surprised he lasted until the 7th. I do not think he will play immediately, but he may be the Vikings' answer at Will in a year or two. Immediately, he can contribute on special teams.
7 245 Jack Tocho S North Carolina State Tocho will be moving to Safety for the Vikings. He was a solid zone corner in school and has some man chops as well, but lacks the speed to be a boundary corner. He tackles well and should have a shot at getting on Special Teams as he learns his new position.

Undrafted Free Agents

Player Position School Notes
Wes Lunt QB Illinois #4 QB on Gil Brandt's UDFAs to Watch
Terrell Newby RB Nebraska
RJ Shelton WR Michigan State
Josiah Price TE Michigan State #16 TE on Gil Brandt's UDFAs to Watch.
Aviante Collins OT TCU #5 OL on Gil Brandt's UDFAs to Watch.
Nick Fett OT Iowa State Cut
Freddie Tagaloa OT Arizona
Tashawn Bower DE LSU
Caleb Kidder DE Montana
Sam McCaskill DE Boise State
Dylan Bradley DT Southern Mississippi
Eric Wilson LB Cincinnati #13 LB on Gil Brandt's UDFAs to Watch.
Shaan Washington LB Texas A&M #17 LB on Gil Brandt's UDFAs to Watch.
Horace Richardson CB SMU
Tommy Armstrong Jr S Nebraska Cut

Projected 53 Man Roster

This is my projected 53-man roster for day 1 of the NFL season.

This is my projected lineup, or what I think will happen. Please note that in this scenario, Teddy Bridgewater starts the year on the PUP and Michael Floyd starts the year suspended.

The two most difficult positions for me to project are WR and OL. There are many guys towards the bottom of the roster at those spots and I honestly have no idea what will happen.

Position Starter Backup 3rd String
QB Sam Bradford Case Keenum Taylor Heinicke
RB Dalvin Cook Latavius Murray Jerick McKinnon
WR X Adam Thielen Isaac Fruchte
WR Z Laquon Treadwell Rodney Adams
WR F Stefon Diggs Stacy Coley
TE Kyle Rudolph David Morgan Bucky Hodges
LT Riley Reiff Rashod Hill
LG Alex Boone Zac Kerin
C Pat Elflein Nick Easton
RG Joe Berger Jeremiah Sirles
RT Mike Remmers TJ Clemmings
NT Linval Joseph Jaleel Johnson
UT Datone Jones Tom Johnson Will Sutton
DE Everson Griffen Stephen Weatherly
DE Danielle Hunter Brian Robison
SLB Anthony Barr Ben Gedeon
MLB Eric Kendricks Kentrell Brothers
WLB Edmond Robinson Elijah Lee
CB1 Xavier Rhodes Trae Waynes
CB2 Terence Newman Tre Roberson
SCB Mackensie Alexander Marcus Sherels
S1 Harrison Smith Jayron Kearse
S2 Andrew Sendejo Anthony Harris
K Kai Forbath
LS Kevin McDermott

*I think it is more likely the Vikings will sign a punter who gets cut by another team than role with Symmank or Quigley.

Preliminary Practice Squad Predictions:

This list is OL heavy and defense light but I don't know what to do with all of these offensive linemen.

Player Position
Danny Isidora G
Ifeadi Odenigbo DE
Jack Tocho S
Willie Beavers G/T
Austin Shepherd T
Aviante Collins T
Marshall Koehn K
Moritz Böhringer WR
Kyle Carter TE

Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses

Position Key Attractions 2015 Ranking 2016 Projection
QB Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater 16-22 10-16
RB Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon Bottom 5 10-15
WR Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen 18-23 10-15
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-10 5-10
Pass Blocking Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers Bottom 5 20-25
Run Blocking Alex Boone, Pat Elflein, Joe Berger, Mike Remmers Bottom 5 10-15
Interior Line Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Datone Jones 15-20 15-20
Edge Rushers Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Brian Robison Top 5 Top 5
LBs Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr 15-20 7-12
Secondary Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman Top 10 Top 5
Kicking Kai Forbath Bottom 5 20-25
Returning Marcus Sherels 1 Top 10

Schedule Prediction

I'm not going to go too in depth with my predictions, but they should give you a general feel.

Week Opponent Predicted Result % Chance Expanation
1 Saints W 60 This is Monday Night of opening weekend, and will bring a lot of hype with Adrian Peterson returning to the Vikings. I don't think Peterson has anything left, and expect him to be a dud. I expect the Saints' defense to be bad once again, and give the Vikings the edge because of that.
2 @Steelers L 70 The Steelers have one of the most potent offensive attacks in the league, and Ben won't be missing his customary 1 to 2 games a season due to injury this early. Add on the fact that it's in Pittsburgh and I don't feel great about the Vikings' chances.
3 Buccaneeers W 65 The Buccaneers loaded up with weapons on offense this past season, but Jameis is still a questionable at best decision-maker and I believe that leads to at least two picks against the Vikings' secondary.
4 Lions W 70 The Lions are one of the biggest regression candidates in my mind, pretty much only winning close games last season. Divisional games are wonky, but I think the Vikings have a big edge here.
5 @Bears L 51 Don't. Pick. The. Vikings. To. Win. At. Soldier.
6 Packers W 51 I predict the Vikings will win the home game against the Packers and lose the road game, just like I do every year.
7 Ravens W 60 I don't believe in overpaid Joe Flacco but that defense is strong. I expect a low-scoring game where the Vikings end up at the top of the pile.
8 @Browns W 75 The Browns are (still) in the middle of a rebuild. Unless Kizer surprises everyone and is ready from day one, they don't have a QB that can win them games.
10 @Redskins W 55 Thus begins a really weird stretch where the Vikings play 4 of their last 8 games against the same opponent and at the same location they did in that respective week the year before. The Vikings have a lot of trouble winning in Washington and that concerns me quite a bit but I also believe Kirk Cousins is a massive pretender at QB. The tape and the numbers don't line up. I feel like he's a flop in 2017 and that defense is not strong enough to carry that team.
11 Rams W 70 A Wade Phillips-led defense, with that amount of talent, scares me. That offense? Not so much. I love Todd Gurley but it's hard to look at the rest of the skill position players and see a quality team.
12 @Lions L 51 I'm pretty confident about winning the first game and the Lions regressing but Matthew Stafford still exists and that means no lead is safe.
13 @Falcons L 65 The Falcons made the Super Bowl last year. They almost won it. Super Bowl hangover? Maybe. Do they still have Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Matt Ryan, a great offensive line, and a lot of young talent on defense? Definitely. I don't expect the Vikings to win this one, but things get muddled late in the season.
14 @Panthers L 60 The Panthers are bipolar. Either they are a 10+ win team or dive under .500. Last year was an off year, 2017 looks to be an on year. The defense should regress to be better, and the offense looks to get a spark with two electric rookies. The concern I have is that Cam actually dies as Matt Kalil tries to protect his blindside.
15 Bengals W 55 Mike Zimmer returns and plays his previous team, the Bengals. They have an awesome array of weapons on offense now, but in my mind lack the line to actually use them. A serious candidate for worst offensive line in the league, I don't expect the Bengals to perform exceptionally well on offense in 2017.
16 @Packers L 51 I predict the Vikings will win the home game against the Packers and lose the road game, just like I do every year.
17 Bears W 65 The Bears traded up one spot and got fleeced by the 49ers to draft Mitchell Trubisky. Everyone laugh at them.

Training Camp Battles

There are a number of training camp battles going on for the Vikings. I will try to list them in the order of the ones I think will be most competitive, and I'm only listing competitions for significant playing time.

Position Incumbent Challengers Predicted Winner Dark Horse
WLB None Emmanuel Lamur, Edmond Robinson, Elijah Lee Edmond Robinson Eric Kendricks
RG None Joe Berger, Danny Isidora, Zac Kerin, Jeremiah Sirles Joe Berger Pat Elflein
C Joe Berger (moves to RG) Pat Elflein, Nick Easton Pat Elflein Joe Berger
RB Jerick McKinnon Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray Dalvin Cook Jerick McKinnon
CB 2 Terence Newman Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander Terence Newman Tre Roberson
SCB None Mackensie Alexander, Marcus Sherels Mackensie Alexander Terence Newman
WR 3 None Laquon Treadwell, Michael Floyd, Isaac Fruechte, Jarius Wright, Rodney Adams, Stacy Coley Laquon Treadwell Isaac Fruechte
TE 2 David Morgan Bucky Hodges David Morgan Nick Truesdell
KR None Marcus Sherels, Rodney Adams, Stacy Coley Marcus Sherels Stefon Diggs
P None Ryan Quigley, Taylor Symmank Ryan Quigley Someone else
K Kai Forbath Marshall Koehn Kai Forbath Someone else



System: West Coast

Mastermind: Pat Shurmur


System: Base 4-3

Mastermind: Mike Zimmer

Shoutout to all of my writers who make this series great. Thanks to the people who offered proofreading suggestions.

Shouts to the mods, who always give my series great visibility and are my friends. Shoutout to all of my fellow Vikings fans, there are too many of you to name.


Submitted July 16, 2017 at 10:26AM by skepticismissurvival
via reddit

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