Access Vikings

Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

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History behind the Vikings' 2015 draft picks: No. 76 overall

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated April 27th at 7:52am 301405521

Heading into the draft, we are giving the recent history at each of the Vikings’ seven draft slots.

We continue this series with pick No. 76, the third of the Vikings’ seven selections. Immediate expectations should be high for this pick. In the past four years, two of the 76th picks – Keenan Allen in San Diego and Will Rackley in Jacksonville – have started 14 games as a rookie. Last year’s 76th pick – Detroit center Travis Swanson – started five games and has now officially replaced longtime veteran Dominic Raiola.

Before we look at the good, bad and ugly, here is a list of the last 10 players to go 76th overall:

2014: Travis Swanson, C, Lions

2013: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

2012: Brandon Brooks, G, Texans

2011: Will Rackley, G, Jaguars

2010: Chad Jones, DB, Giants

2009: DeAndre Levy, LB, Lions

2008: Brad Cottam, TE, Chiefs

2007: Jason Hill, WR, 49ers

2006: Anthony Schlegel, LB, Jets

2005: Karl Paymah, DB, Broncos

The good… There are some choices. Allen helped prove that good receivers can come from beyond the first round when he had eight touchdowns and a 1,000-yard season as a rookie. Brooks has started 30 games the past two years. But the winner is Levy, who has started 82 of 89 games, including 10 as a rookie, and remains a starter for the Lions.

The bad… Again, there are choices. Paymah started only seven games in his six-year career, although two of them came in 2009 while helping the Vikings reach the NFC title game. Cottam started eight games and lasted only two years with Kansas City before his career ended. Hill had only 78 catches in a seven-year career with three teams. But we’ll go with Schlegel, who made it only one year with the Jets. He played just one more year in Cincinnati and was done after five career starts.

The ugly… Not really a choice here. Jones not only didn’t play for the Giants in 2010, he didn’t play for any NFL team. Ever.

Having the Vikings ever picked 76th? Yes. Three times. Neither defensive back Bob Hall (1966) nor receiver Eddie Hackett (1971) ever played for the Vikings or the NFL. Linebacker Mike McGill (1968) played through the 1972 season.

Best 76th pick in NFL history? There isn’t a Hall of Famer or an historically great player who jumps out. In fact, going back to the beginning of the draft in 1936, only two players picked 76th overall have gone on to make first-team All-Pro. And those two guys — Bills defensive end Ron Snidow, drafted in 1963, and Seahawks linebacker Fredd Young, drafted in 1984 – made first-team only once. Other choices are 49ers receiver John Taylor (1986) and quarterback Chris Chandler, who played 18 seasons for multiple teams and (look away, this is going to sting) upset the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC title game during the 1998 season. But our pick is running back Ahman Green. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, who picked him in 1998, Green’s four Pro Bowls and the majority of his 9,205 rushing yards and 60 touchdowns came in Green Bay.

Big thanks to Pro Football Reference and their invaluable Draft Finder for making our work easy.

History of the Vikings' pick: No. 110 overall

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated April 26th at 7:32pm 301360121

Heading into the draft, we will give the recent history at each of the Vikings’ seven draft slots.

We continue this series by taking a look at the Vikings’ 110th overall selection in this year’s draft. There’s one name that stands out among the rest, but he’s a running back that’s no longer in the league. Outside of that, there hasn’t been too much talent produced from this pick

Here’s the list of the last 10 players to go 110th overall:

2014: Maurice Alexander, DB, Rams

2013: Ryan Nassib, QB, Giants

2012: Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers

2011: David Arkin, OG, Cowboys

2010: Darrell Stuckey, DB, Chargers

2009: Victor Butler, LB, Cowboys

2008: Shawn Murphy, OT, Dolphins

2007: John Bowie, DB, Raiders

2006: Leon Williams, LB, Browns

2005: Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants

The good… Jacobs retired last year, but he had a solid career with the Giants. He rushed for 5,094 yards and scored 64 total touchdowns in nine seasons. The Southern Illinois product was also a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Giants in 2007 and 2011.

The bad… Arkin made just one appearance in three seasons with the Cowboys. He’s currently on the Colts.

The ugly… There are a lot of whiffs listed, but Dolphins cut Murphy a year after he was drafted. He only appeared in one game in his short-lived career. The Dolphins traded up to get Murphy, who is the son of seven-time MLB All-Star Dale Murphy.

Having the Vikings ever picked 110th? The Vikings have only made one selection with the 110th pick. They drafted linebacker Kivuusama Mays out of North Carolina in 1998. Mays played just seasons in the NFL. He made 27 appearances with the Vikings and finished the 1999 season with the Packers.

Best 110th pick in NFL history? The Raiders selected defensive end Greg Townsend in 1983, and he went on to have a successful 13-year career. He tallied 109.5 career sacks, which is the 22nd most in NFL history.

History of the Vikings' pick: No. 137 overall

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated April 26th at 7:32pm 301359821

Heading into the draft, we will give the recent history at each of the Vikings’ seven draft slots.

The Vikings have the first pick in the fifth round, acquiring the 137th overall selection from the Bills via Tampa Bay in a trade that shipped quarterback Matt Cassel to Buffalo. There’s a good cornerback that was recently drafted at this spot, and there’s one quarterback Vikings fans will remember fairly well for all the wrong reasons

Here’s the list of the last 10 players to go 137th overall:

2014: Dakota Dozier, OL, Jets

2013: Jesse Williams, DT, Seahawks

2012: Malik Jackson, DT, Broncos

2011: Buster Skrine, DB, Browns

2010: Perrish Cox, DB, Broncos

2009: Jason Phillips, LB, Ravens

2008: John David Booty, QB, Vikings

2007: Le’Ron McClain, RB, Ravens

2006: Terna Nande, LB, Titans

2005: Ronald Fields, DT, 49ers

The good… Skrine just inked a five-year deal with the Jets this offseason. He was a solid cornerback that lined up on the opposite side of Joe Hayden during his tenure with the Browns. See, Vikings fans, you can a good No. 2 cornerback in Day 3 of the draft.

The bad… And you can also find a bad linebacker. Nande never panned out for the Titans. He was cut after a season and only made one appearance in the NFL.

The ugly… And, of course, there’s Booty. He famously said he wanted to play for the Vikings before the draft. He was eventually cut after a season because some guy named Brett Favre joined the team. Something about a news chopper and a private jet, I think?

Having the Vikings ever picked 137th? Outside of Booty, the Vikings haven’t had another selection with the 137th pick. It’s probably safe to say they won’t use a quarterback with the pick this year, regardless of how badly the prospect wants to be a Viking.

Best 137th pick in NFL history? Historically, there isn’t a high bar. The Steelers drafted linebacker Clark Haggans in 2000, and he went on to have a decent career. He made 104 starts in his 13-year career. Haggans finished with 355 tackles and 46.5 career sacks.

Vikings draft positional primer: Linebackers

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated April 25th at 5:30pm 301305811

Each day this past week, we have broken down where the Vikings stand at certain positions heading into next week’s NFL draft. Today, we conclude the series with a look at the linebackers.

When it comes to analyzing the Vikings’ current roster and guessing breaking down what they’ll do in the 2015 NFL draft, no position is more intriguing and confounding than linebacker.

On the one hand, they have promising youngsters they really like as Chad Greenway’s eventual heir apparent (Gerald Hodges) and Jasper Brinkley’s replacement (Audie Cole, Casey Matthews or dark horse candidate Michael Mauti).

On the other hand, the temptation of linking them to a dynamic, three-down playmaker to use alongside potential All-Pro Anthony Barr seems too irresistible.

University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman has been called a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine who could be available in the second round. Washington’s versatile Shaq Thompson, who could play three downs inside and eventually replace Greenway as an outside starter, is a first-round possibility, but more likely a target if the Vikings trade down from No. 11.

But would it be all that bad if the Vikings stood pat?

When Cole was asked to start at middle linebacker at Green Bay as a rookie in 2013, he had 18 tackles and a sack in his NFL starting debut. When asked to start outside in last year’s finale, he had 14 tackles. He also has ideal size and strong instincts.

Meanwhile, in a start against the Jets, Hodges made one of the top two defensive plays of the year, leaping for a one-handed interception and returning it for a touchdown 12 seconds into the game.

The Vikings also like Mauti, haven’t fully given up on Brandon Watts and quietly signed Matthews, who started 11 games in Philadelphia a year ago.

So the Vikings certainly are prepared to stand pat. But can they resist the temptations?

PROJECTED STARTERS: SLB Barr, MLB Cole, WLB Greenway.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT: Matthews’ signing wasn’t a big splash or much of a ripple. But don’t be surprised if the 26-year-old former Eagle ends up being Brinkley’s replacement. He made 11 of his career 16 starts at inside linebacker in Philly’s 3-4 defense last year.

LEVEL OF NEED: Medium with an asterisk. There are intriguing youngsters throughout the depth chart. But if a dynamic playmaker is sitting there on Day 1 or 2, it will be difficult for the Vikings to take a pass. The second round appears to be the hot spot for temptation.

FIVE PROSPECTS TO REMEMBER: Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Washington’s Shaq Thompson, UCLA’s Eric Kendricks, Miami’s Denzel Perryman, TCU’s Paul Dawson.

OUR BEST GUESS: Unless Beasley falls to them (very unlikely) or they trade down, the Vikings won’t be tempted on a linebacker until the second round. But we think they’ll look elsewhere in Round 2 because they invested mightily in that position last year (Barr) and already have young players they really like.

–MARK CRAIG

NFL Draft Truth or Hype: ex-Washington cornerback Marcus Peters

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated April 24th at 4:03pm 301240591

We’ll take a daily look at some of the most talked about prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft and tell you whether they’re worth the hype or not.

We analyzed Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes on Thursday. Now let’s focus on Washington cornerback Marcus Peters. …Well, I should say ex-Washington cornerback.

Peters was kicked off the team in November and his character has come into question during the draft. He was suspended twice last season before head coach Chris Petersen ousted Peters from the team for throwing a tantrum on the sideline and being late to meetings. In 2011, he failed a drug test for marijuana and in 2013 he was suspended a quarter in Washington’s bowl game for an undisclosed infraction.

He comes in with a lot of baggage, but Peters’ talent suggests he’s one of the best cornerbacks in this class.

By the Numbers:

Redshirt Freshman (13 games): 44 tackles (26 solo), three interceptions, one touchdown, 11 passes defended, two tackles for loss

Redshirt Sophomore (13 games): 55 tackles (44 solo), five interceptions, nine passes defended, one forced fumble, one touchdown, one sack, 3.5 tackles for loss

Redshirt Junior (nine games): 30 tackles (25 solo), three interceptions, seven passes defended, four tackles for loss

Peters definitely has better stats than Waynes in a pass happy Pac-12 conference. He finished with 11 career interceptions and 27 passes defended in 35 games. He had just 22 starts however due to his character issues and run-ins with Petersen and his staff.

NFL Combine/Pro Day results:

40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds

Bench press (225 pounds): 17 reps

Vertical: 37.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, one inch

Peters’ 40-yard dash time was outside of the top 10 and over two-tenths of a second slower than Waynes, who led all defensive backs with his 40-yard dash time (4.31 seconds). He was in the top 10 with his bench press and vertical, but Peters didn’t post any eye-popping measurements.

The Film

Though Peters was constantly in trouble, there’s enough snaps to get a good idea of what kind of cornerback he was in college. Listed at six feet and 197 pounds, Peters played with an edge at the position. He’s very confident, some may say cocky, and did a really good job knocking receivers off their routes in man coverage.

A really good example of that last year was Peters’ battle with Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Stong, who I consider the third best wide receiver in this class. It was a great matchup to watch all game (that included winds strong enough to knock out the ESPN feed and derail both passing attacks), and Peters did about as well of a job on Strong as any other corner last year.

 

Peters seems like one of those prospects that can run faster on the field than he can in a 40-yard dash. He’s got some wheels on him and good instincts to provide some eye-raising plays in coverage or in the backfield. It’s what made Peters so good as a blitzing cornerback

 

Peters will need to polish his technique, but he’s no different than some of the other top cornerbacks in this draft.

But which Peters will you see at practice and during the heat of the moment? These prospects are trained and programmed to say the right things during the interview process, so it’s not a surprise Peters has gone on a media tour touting that he’s a changed man. It’s what he should be doing to bump his stock up and get more money on his rookie contract. I can’t hate on that.

It makes me a little weary to take Peters in the first round, despite his talent, because of the character concerns. There isn’t too much that separates Peters from Waynes, LSU cornerback Jalen Collins, Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson and I’ll even in Connecticut CB Byron Jones. They all have the ability to play corner in the NFL and will be considered in the first round.

If we’re just taking into context what he’s capable of doing on the field though, Peters would probably be ranked as the top cornerback over Waynes. He’s the real deal, but he needs to control his emotions first and foremost. If a team thinks it has the proper infrastructure in place to take on a player like Peters, say like the Seahawks, I’d pull the trigger. But Peters is definitely not for every team.

Verdict: Truth

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Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 6 FINAL
Detroit - WP: K. Lobstein 8
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: A. DeSclafani 2
Washington - LP: G. Gonzalez 2 FINAL
Miami - WP: D. Haren 6
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 5
Atlanta - LP: T. Cahill 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 5
Boston - LP: W. Miley 7 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 18
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 3 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Blazek 6
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Robertson 3
Kansas City - LP: E. Volquez 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 5
Texas - WP: N. Feliz 5 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: J. Alvarez 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: T. Clippard 6
Los Angeles - LP: S. Baker 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: B. Morrow 3
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 8 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Hellickson 0
San Francisco 0 Postponed
Colorado 0
Minnesota - WP: C. Fien 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: T. Olson 2
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: C. Shreve 6
Cleveland 101 FINAL
Boston 93
LA Clippers 114 FINAL
San Antonio 105
Toronto 94 FINAL
Washington 125
Houston 109 FINAL
Dallas 121
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Montreal 2 FINAL
Ottawa 0
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Toronto FC 2 FINAL
Orlando City 0
Portland 0 FINAL
Seattle 1

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