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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Vikings draft T.J. Clemmings, two others on offense

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated May 2nd at 2:15pm 302303801

With the 110th pick in the fourth round, the Vikings took Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings.

Clemmings, projected by some analysts as a potential first-round pick, dropped in the draft due to concerns about a stress fracture in his foot. If his foot is fine, the Vikings might find good value here.

He started 26 games at right tackle the past two seasons and was named first-team all-ACC as a senior. All this after the Panthers converted him from defensive end to offensive tackle in 2012.

Clemmings, who is 6-foot-5 and 308 pounds, was a highly-rated defensive end recruit and a NCAA hoops prospect coming out of high school, too. At the scouting combine in February, Clemmings ranked second among offensive linemen in the vertical jump and fourth in the 20-yard shuttle.

The Vikings reportedly had Clemmings in here at Winter Park for a pre-draft visit.

The Vikings do not have a clear starter at left guard right now, but Clemmings projects as a tackle in the NFL. Left tackle Matt Kalil is coming off a disappointing season and right tackle Phil Loadholt’s 2014 season was cut short by a torn pectoral. The Vikings as a team allowed 51 sacks last season.

At the start of the fifth round, General Manager Rick Spielman traded the 137th overall pick to the Falcons for the 146th pick and a sixth-rounder (No. 185 overall), giving him 10 selections overall.

With the 143rd pick in the fifth round, the Vikings selected Southern Illinois tight end MyCole Pruitt. Pruitt is a two-time first-team FCS All-American. He was a top performer among tight ends at the combine in a few drills, including the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump and the 20-yard shuttle.

Three picks later, with one of the picks they got from the Falcons, the Vikings selected Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs was a highly-recruited prospect coming out of high school and stayed close to home at Maryland. He is a great athlete, but couldn’t meet the hype in college.

The Vikings have four more picks as of now, two in the sixth round and two in the seventh.

Highlights from Vikings GM Rick Spielman after Day 2 of the NFL Draft

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated May 2nd at 12:33am 302285371

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman spoke the media after Day 2 of the NFL Draft on Friday. The Vikings made two selections, UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round and LSU defensive Danielle Hunter in the third round, while trading back in the third twice to collect a fifth-rounder from the Lions and a sixth-rounder from the Chiefs. They have six picks remaining heading into Day 3 on Saturday.

Here’s what Spielman had to say about Kendricks, Hunter and Day 3 of the draft

On drafting Kendricks with the 45th overall pick

We had a lot of activity on teams trying to trade up. We felt he was the most instinctive linebacker in this draft. As we talked through with our coaches, we feel he can play either Will or Mike [linebacker positions]. He’s very good in coverage. He’s very instinctive against the run. He’s not overly big as far as size, but he’s still over 6-feet and about 235 pounds. He ran well and plays very heavy handed to shed, get off blocks and really locate the ball. He has great range from sideline-to-sideline. He has the athletic skillset to be a three-down backer. We were kind of surprised that he fell to us where we were at.

On what separated Kendricks from the other linebackers in the draft

I think just watching how he played the game — his instincts, his ability to be a three-down linebacker, his ability to play multiple positions, his character and background that we felt comfortable with and his intelligence. And I know Zimmer stresses that we want to have smart, tough, passionate football players. He fit every one of those boxes.

On why the Vikings didn’t ask former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr about Kendricks

He tweets too much. You know how I am about Twitter.

On selecting Hunter with the 88th overall pick

We met with him at the Combine, myself and [defensive coordinator] George Edwards went down and worked him out at LSU’s pro day. He’s a physical specimen. He’s 6-5 and change and weighed 252 [pounds]. We measured his arms at 35 ½ [inches], and I think he had a 10’10 broad jump, which is extremely unique for his size and his position. …He plays extremely hard. He’s raw. He’s a project that I know we’re going to have to work with.

On whether Hunter will project as a defensive end or linebacker

We look at him as a defensive end. When you watch his workout at the combine and you watch his workout at his pro day, he’s an incredible athlete when we put him through drops and coverage. He’s an Anthony Bar type athlete. Maybe not as fluid, but he has the ability to do a lot of things depending on how he develops and where our coaches see him.

On holding six picks in Day 3 of the draft

We’ve got a pretty good amount where we can move up and down now. We feel there’s some pretty good depth, especially on the offensive side of the ball. So we may look to address some of those needs, but we’re always going to stick to our board if we can continue to add good football players, regardless of position, we will definitely do that.

On whether the Vikings can address offensive needs in Day 3

We’re not going to force it if it’s not there, but I think there’s some depth there that we can add. But we do have some good, young talent on our offensive line and some guys I’m anxious to see how they’ve progressed. If there’s an offensive lineman or two that we can potentially add, there are some guys we’ve targeted at certain points in the draft, we’ll look to address it if it presents itself. But we’re not going to force the issue. We’re not going to reach. We’re going to continue to take the best football players.

UCLA LBs Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks reunite with the Vikings

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated May 1st at 9:21pm 302264791

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr thought it was a joke initially, but Eric Kendricks wasn’t kidding.

There will be a west coast reunion in the Vikings front seven this season with the Vikings selecting Kendricks, the inside linebacker out of UCLA, with the 45th overall selection in the second round. The two were not only best friends in Westwood but roommates during their tenure at UCLA.

“As soon as the pick came in, he called me on the phone and I couldn’t hear a word he said,” Kendricks said. “It was just kind of like a bunch of mumble jumble, laughter and excitement. He’s happy that I’m there too.”

The two talked about the possibility of playing together again, but Barr didn’t exactly think it would happen.

“There’s 32 NFL teams,” Barr said. “What are the odds that he’s our choice in the second round?”

Barr said he didn’t speak to general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer about Kendricks. The team only met with the inside linebacker for 15 minutes at the NFL Combine, but it was more than enough, however. The addition of Kendricks addressed a need at linebacker, and he has the capability to play either at middle or weakside.

“When I got the call and there were kind of going over it, it took at least a minute to really realize what was happening, where I was going and who I was playing with,” Kendricks said. “I really felt like it was kind of disrespectful because I wasn’t saying much. I was in complete shock. Once it finally clicked, I was so happy.”

Kendricks has the same sense of humor as Barr as well. He’s a leap year baby, meaning his birthday lands on Feb. 29. So technically, Kendricks is only 5 years old.

“Being 5 and in the pros is definitely an accomplishment,” Kendricks said. “I’ve dreamt about this since I was 3 years old.”

Vikings go D, draft Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated May 1st at 11:10pm 302258381

For a second straight year, the Vikings have used one of their top picks on a linebacker from UCLA.

With the 45th pick in the draft, the Vikings selected UCLA inside linebacker Eric Kendricks. He is a former teammate of outside linebacker Anthony Barr, the team’s first pick last year.

A three-year starter at UCLA, Kendricks led the Pac-12 with 150 tackles in 2012. He made 106 tackles in 2013 and made 149 in 2014, third in the nation. For that he just won the Butkus Award.

A little on the short side at 6-foot and tipping the scales at 232 pounds, Kendricks makes up for his smaller frame with speed — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds in Indy — and the ability to cover in space. He could end up being the three-down middle linebacker the Vikings are looking for.

The Kendricks pick is the first time the Vikings have selected a player in the second round since General Manager Rick Spielman gained final say in the team’s draft room before the 2012 draft.

In the third round, Spielman finally got busy on the trade front. He added a sixth-round pick (No. 193 overall) from the Chiefs by trading down from the 76th pick to the 80th pick. He then traded the 80th pick to the Lions for the 88th overall pick in the third round and a fifth-rounder (No. 143).

When Spielman finally picked a player in the third, he went with LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter.

Hunter, a junior, had just 1.5 sacks this past season. But he led LSU with 13 tackles for a loss and recorded 73 tackles. He was a two-year starter at LSU. At 252 pounds, Hunter will probably need to put some weight on over time, but he is 6-foot-5 with arms longer than 34 inches. He is explosive, too, having run the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds at the combine, tops among all defensive linemen.

The Vikings will enter the final day of the draft with six picks. They have one fourth-rounder (No. 110 overall), two fifths (Nos. 137 and 143), one sixth (No. 193) and two sevenths (Nos. 228 and 232).

Despite showing great improvement defensively under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have used their top three picks on defenders after selecting cornerback Trae Waynes in the first round.

Vikings' CB Trae Waynes eager to start

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated May 1st at 8:26pm 302220231

Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes was introduced to the media on Friday a day after he was selected in with the 11th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.

And he was eager to start his journey as an NFL cornerback.

“I’m ready to get back to work and get over all this media stuff,” Waynes said.

He flew in this morning from Chicago, where the Michigan State product walked across the draft stage to shake NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand after his name was announced.

“It’s been hectic,” said Waynes of the last 24 hours. “I was anxious and ready to get this process over with but after I got that call, I was finally able to breathe a little bit. Then I realized I was able to start this new journey.”

Waynes said he’s looking forward to being coached by Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who considers himself an expert at coaching defensive backs. Waynes said Zimmer coached him during Michigan State’s pro day.

“He told me earlier him coaching me at pro day was nothing, and he coached me pretty hard,” Waynes said. “I’m really excited to see what type of player he can turn me into and hopefully I can help make an impact on this defense.”

Some other tidbits from Waynes’ presser:

On his aggressive style of play

“Just having that edge, I’ve always enjoyed tackling people and that just got brought out even more when I was at Michigan State but just by the coach. Coach [Harlon] Barnett always emphasized bringing that dog let that other guy out on the field. And we practiced tackling and we hitting drills more than anything else and that’s something they instilled in us.”

On if Waynes, a two-sport athlete in high school, ever consider picking baseball over football

“I thought about it. I never really thought about it seriously until I think my junior year. My baseball coach asked me if I was going to take it serious because he thought I had the potential to potentially get drafted. Football is my passion. This is what I love to do and I got ejected for two games because I ran over the catcher, just out of frustration. So obviously I had to stick with football. This is something I grew up watching and I love playing, so I just had to follow my dream.”

On what it means for the Kenosha, Wisconsin native to stay in the Midwest

“It means a lot. It’s really big just for a family standpoint. They’re going to be able to come to a lot of my games and not have to travel across the country just to see me play. My parents, they’re not really big on flying, so this is only a short drive away.”

On if he was a fan of the Packers growing up

“No.”

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Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 1
Miami - WP: M. Latos 2 FINAL
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 1
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Estrada 3
Philadelphia - LP: C. Billingsley 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: S. Miller 9
Baltimore - LP: B. Norris 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 3
Tampa Bay - LP: D. Smyly 0 FINAL
Boston - WP: R. Porcello 2
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Garza 2
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 3 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Vargas 5
Detroit - LP: S. Greene 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Samardzija 5
Oakland - WP: J. Chavez 2 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1
Texas - WP: W. Rodriguez 7 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Feldman 1
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Harris 7
Arizona 0 Postponed
Colorado 0
Seattle - LP: D. Leone 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Street 5
San Diego - LP: A. Cashner 0 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 6
Washington 90 FINAL
Atlanta 106
Memphis 97 FINAL
Golden State 90
Chicago 1 FINAL
Minnesota 0
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Houston 0

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