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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Spielman slams door on Adrian Peterson trade talk

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated April 30th at 10:18pm 302060861

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman squashed once and for all (hopefully) the questions about whether the Vikings will trade Adrian Peterson when asked about it a few moments ago.

Asked if they were trying to move Peterson, he said, “No. Not at all. Nothing has changed with Adrian. End of story.”

When asked if anyone had called him about Peterson, Spielman snapped, “I’m not getting into who called or not. Adrian Peterson is under contract as a Minnesota Viking. End of story.”

As for trading back into the first round for the third time in four years, Spielman also shot that down after staying at No. 11 and selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to,” Spielman said. “We don’t have enough currency, I guess is the best way to put it, to get back into the first round. If I had made a trade down [from No. 11]. I was looking to see what the value was and to see if that would give us more to get back into the first. But when the value wasn’t there and you knew that even with what they were offering, you weren’t going to be able to get back into the first, then I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”

Vikings draft Trae Waynes in the first round

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 30th at 10:19pm 302048391

With the 11th pick in the NFL draft, the Vikings selected Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.

Of course.

The majority of mock drafts in recent weeks had the Vikings selecting Waynes, who played in 36 games over three years with the Spartans. In 2014, his junior year, he picked off three passes and broke up eight passes. He finished his Michigan State career with six interceptions.

Waynes is listed at 6-foot and 186 pounds and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds at the combine, solidifying him as the top cornerback in the draft in the eyes of most analysts. He is a feisty cover man who likes to press at the line, which surely appealed to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

The Vikings have one promising young corner in Xavier Rhodes. Now they have added Waynes to a mix that includes Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Robinson and free-agent addition Terence Newman.

Before the Vikings were on the clock, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin White were selected by the Raiders and Bears, respectively. Offensive lineman Brandon Scherff went to the Redskins.

The Vikings aren’t scheduled to be on the clock until the 45th overall pick in the second round. But with General Manager Rick Spielman manning the draft room, don’t go to bed just quite yet.

Here’s more information on Waynes:

Size: 6-0, 186 pounds
Age: 22 (Born July 25, 1992)
Hometown: Kenosha, Wis.
College: Michigan State
On Twitter: @twaynes_15
Key stat: Waynes’ 4.31-second 40-yard dash was the fastest among defensive backs at the combine
At Michigan State: Started 27 games, was first-team All Big Ten in 2014 and a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back in college football). Played in 36 games over three seasons with Spartans, starting 27. Had one year of eligibility remaining. Selected as first-team All-Big Ten in 2014. Was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award (top defensive back). Was defensive recipient of MSU’s Jim Adams Award (unsung hero). Had three interceptions and 46 tackles in 2014. In 2013 started all 13 games and played in nine games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman.
At Bradford High School in Kenosha: All-state in football as a senior despite missing three games because of injuries. All-county in baseball as an outfielder, and was third in the 100 meters (10.85 seconds) at the 2011 Division I state track meet.
Did you know? Waynes and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon were teammates at Bradford High School. Carmen Gordon, Melvin’s mother, told ESPN about Waynes, “He’s like my son too.” Gordon was taken at No. 15 by the Chargers.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: “He’s a little bit stiff, but most of those long guys are. He’s got great speed and he comes from a college program where they tackle and are held accountable. He is clean on and off the field.”
And finally: Waynes’ parents, Erin and Ron, are middle-school counselors. “[The NFL] was never our agenda in raising him,” Ron Waynes told the Chicago Tribune. “Don’t tell me about the pros, tell me what degree you want to get. And we put him in everything — piano, swimming, drums, wrestling, basketball, soccer, cross-country. Our thing was just be a good person.”

'Instant Top 11' NFL draft analysis: 11, Trae Waynes

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated April 30th at 11:23pm 302029881

Yep, we got it all figured out. Minutes into the careers of the top 10 players in this year’s NFL draft, we (I) will give my immediate, knee-jerk reaction and then think of a way to destroy any evidence of this blog post a year from now.

Here we go:

7:12: 1, Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Knee-jerk reaction: Don’t like it. Too many character issues. Too immature. On the field, he had all those great comebacks. But usually he had to come back because he put his team in holes with bad decisions. Not saying he won’t succeed. And, believe it or not, he didn’t interview with me or do a private workout in my backyard. And I didn’t make him take a psychological test or do a background check on him. This is a gut feeling. And this guy would scare me. But not nearly as much as it would if there wasn’t a rookie salary cap.

7:20: 2, Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Knee-jerk reaction: He’s better than any quarterback they have, so I like it. You can’t win with the QBs, the Titans have. I would have preferred the loot that allegedly was being discussed before the pick: The 20th pick, a future No. 1, a No. 3 and multiple starters from Philadelphia. That sounds better than a QB who doesn’t overwhelm me. But the bottom line is he’s someone they can build around as opposed to what they have.

7:27: 3, Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr. DE/OLB, Florida

Knee-jerk reaction: I like this pick, which is why I picked him in my mock over Leonard Williams, the more popular No. 3 selection. He’s a playmaker who disrupts the backfield and plays hard and fast. Will he be great? Who knows. But I like him at No. 3 for a team that needs a difference-maker on defense. Or offense. Or anywhere, really.

7:34: 4, Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Knee-jerk reaction: Well, I had Kevin White going here because he’s bigger and faster than Cooper. I can’t get out of my old-Raiders mentality. Oakland appears to be getting more competent on draft day. This is a solid pick of the receiver who is most ready to play right away. Good pick of a guy who not only had the good 40 time, but the production and tape to boot.

7:40: 5, Redskins: OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Knee-jerk reaction: The guy many thought was going to the Vikings went higher than anyone predicted. But that doesn’t mean he was a reach. That just means all of us on the outside don’t have all the information we think we need to make these calls. Scherff can play guard or tackle. He’s a mauler and he can play and play well right away. Solid pick from a franchise that has been learning in recent years that glitzy moves don’t pay off without decisions like this to make the team bigger and stronger.

7:47: 6, Jets: Leonard Williams, DT, Southern Cal

Knee-jerk: Wow. I didn’t think the Jets would stay true to the whole best-player-on-the-board thing that everybody says they do and then don’t. I had Williams sliding past the Jets to the Bears. The Jets don’t have a need there, but Williams was too good to pass at No. 6. You have to admire them for that.

7:53: 7, Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Knee-jerk reaction: Yeah, he’s a talented receiver who’s big with the whole catch radius and ball skills thing. But what about that horrible defense in Chicago. The Bears have ranked 31st in the league in points allowed in back-to-back years. They needed defense, defense and more defense. Don’t like the pick. But won’t say it’s a total botching of the pick. The size of the Bears’ top 2 wideouts are once again a matchup headache for teams that don’t have two big corners.

8:00: 8, Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Knee-jerk reaction: The Falcons needed a pass rusher and the best player on the board sure seemed to be this guy. So it looks like a good pick. The Falcons have the QB and the WRs. Now, they have a key piece to knock down the other teams’ QBs and disrupt the rhythm with those QBs’ WRs.

8:06: 9, Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

Knee-jerk reaction: We all knew the Giants were going to address their offensive line with this pick. It’s a wise decision when you have a top-10 pick and need help up front. This guy can play left tackle, but has the size and strength to play on the right side if needed. I had the Giants taking this guy. Some would say he went too high, but give the Giants credit for identifying the player they liked regardless of all the chatter.

8:13: Rams: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Knee-jerk reaction: I could regret this in 10 years, but I hate this pick. No way I’d take a running back coming off a torn ACL. No way. They say he’s the next Adrian Peterson. So maybe that makes people less concerned about the knee. But there’s only one AP. He ran for 2,097 yards the year after tearing an ACL. I wouldn’t bet a 10th overall pick on Gurley being great after his injury. Not saying he won’t do it. Just saying I wouldn’t bet a No. 10 overall on it.

AND A BONUS KNEE-JERK …

8:19: Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Knee-jerk reaction: I had them taking DeVante Paker, but I like this pick. I like it even more after the Bears took Kevin White, the big West Virginia receiver, No. 7 overall. The Vikings need two big press corners to compete in the NFC North. This guy can start right away opposite Xavier Rhodes. And now Captain Munnerlyn can move inside to the No. 3 corner spot. Good pick.

That’s it for the knee-jerk reactions. Enjoy the draft.

Matt Vensel's (sure-to-be-wrong) seven-round Vikings mock draft

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 30th at 12:22pm 301850011

I don’t have intimate knowledge of how the Vikings have stacked their draft board. I would try to break into Rick Spielman’s office, but my editors tell me that would be unethical. And illegal, they say, too. I considered contacting Miss Cleo for assistance but remembered it’s not 1998 anymore.

But while I unfortunately don’t know precisely what the Vikings plan to do in the NFL draft, I do feel I have a pretty good understanding of their needs and how they go about their draft business.

So because I can’t get enough of the draft and you can’t get enough of the draft, I decided to try my hand at a seven-round Vikings mock draft using FanSpeak.com’s handy draft simulator.

I’m aware that I might go 1-for-7 on this and I would be ecstatic if I hit two or three. I’m not too worried about that, though. The purpose of this exercise is simply to project how the draft might play out and which positions the Vikings will prioritize and when. This mock draft, which does not allow for trades, should also serve as a reminder that you can’t always get what you want.

So without further ado, here is my seven-round Vikings mock draft. Be sure to take a screen grab and mock me later, which I’m sure the Vikings will do after I strike out on all seven of these picks.

1st round (11th overall): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State. I was tempted to select Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker with this pick, like my colleague Mark Craig did in his entertaining mock draft in today’s newspaper. But I do believe that coach Mike Zimmer feels his secondary can be a lot better even though the Vikings did soar to seventh in the NFL in pass defense last season. Most mock drafts have the Vikings selecting Waynes here, and I see the logic. He has good tape and measurables and he ran well at the combine. And the Vikings must find a cornerback to pair with Xavier Rhodes for the long term, and I don’t think that player is on the roster now.

2nd (45th): A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina. Left guard should be a priority for the Vikings in this draft. Charlie Johnson really struggled last year and was released. Joe Berger was brought back, but ideally he would be their top backup on the interior. Perhaps David Yankey will be ready to compete this year, but he was not strong enough physically to do it as a rookie. The Vikings in recent years have tended to target interior lineman in the later rounds, so perhaps this might be too early for a guard. But Cann is a powerful run blocker who should be ready to play right away.

3rd (76th): Eric Rowe, S, Utah. With middle linebacker being a perennial need for the Vikings, I was hoping that TCU’s Paul Dawson would still be on the board here. He went a few picks earlier, though. But Rowe was still available, and he is an intriguing player. He was measured at 6-foot-1 at the combine and he was a top performer among defensive backs at every combine drill. He played cornerback last year, but he had been a safety before then. As I wrote for Tuesday’s newspaper, it has become difficult to find a good safety in the draft, but Rowe may have the skills to grow into one.

4th (110th): David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa. Spielman is on the record as saying that he feels this is a really deep, talented class of running backs. I have been saying for several weeks now that I don’t believe the Vikings will trade Adrian Peterson. But that probably won’t keep them from taking a talented young back like Johnson, whom the Vikings reportedly hosted at Winter Park for a pre-draft visit. Johnson is 6-foot-1 and he tipped the scales at 224 pounds at the scouting combine. He impressed in drills there, too. In theory, he could be groomed to one day help replace Peterson.

5th (137th): Lynden Trail, DE, Norfolk State. At 6-foot-7 and 269 pounds, and with arms that are nearly 35 inches long, Trail looks a lot like the kind of defensive ends Zimmer had with the Bengals, including Michael Johnson, the free agent they failed to woo last month. Trail is said to be a raw prospect, and there are questions about how he will transition from small-school Norfolk State, where he had 19.5 sacks in three seasons. The Vikings, who also had Trail in for a Winter Park visit, need reinforcements at defensive end, and he might be a project worth taking on for Zimmer.

7th (228th): Amarlo Herrera, MLB, Georgia. I would have liked to address this need sooner, but after the second round of the draft the talent there really dropped off. Zimmer might feel the same way, too. At the combine, he remarked that it wasn’t a great class for middle linebackers, especially ones that can play all three downs. Herrera isn’t the fastest or most athletic prospect, and he’s a little short, but he is a smart, instinctive player who reportedly lined up the Bulldogs defense last season. He has some coverage ability, too, so perhaps he could develop into a three-down player.

7th (232nd): Austin Hill, WR, Arizona. This is another need I would have liked to have gotten to earlier, especially with such a deep, talented group of receivers. Alas, you can’t get to every need unless you make trades and move around the draft, something Spielman will try to do but I couldn’t in this trade-free mock draft. Hill is an interesting prospect. He is 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, and the Vikings lack a receiver with his size. He missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL and his 2014 numbers weren’t close to his 2012 numbers. But it’s worth taking a flyer late on a receiver with his skill set.

Your turn. Use the draft simulator I linked to above and post your seven-round mock below.

Vikings mock draft roundup: Final mocks are out

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated April 30th at 11:55am 301821011

Rejoice! The NFL draft is finally upon us.

The first round starts tonight, so it won’t be long until all those mock drafts become outdated and irrelevant. But while the latest ones are freshly-published and somewhat relevant, let’s take one final look at the players the most notable of draft analysts are linking to the Vikings at pick No. 11.

Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes continues to be the popular pick, though Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has the Vikings selecting Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker — perhaps only because Waynes went in the top 10 in his mock. There are a couple of other dissenters, too.

Here’s a look at which players a dozen draft analysts and NFL insiders think the Vikings will take:

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Waynes. “The top three wide receivers are off the board, and they get immediate help at cornerback while pushing Captain Munnerlyn to a better position in the slot,” he wrote.

Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Waynes. “Might be too light at 186 to be the kind of physical corner many teams would want, but the only highlight I saw of Waynes in run defense put the kibosh on that: In the 2013 Big Ten championship game, he made a physical stop of Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde (40 pounds heavier) for no gain,” King wrote. “Mike Zimmer needs two good physical cover corners, and adding Waynes to Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikes two first-round young players at that position.”

Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Parker. “Parker was Bridgewater’s teammate from Louisville,” he wrote. “Parker can high-point the football, and was highly productive when on the field.”

Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Waynes. “While the Terrance Newman signing was good for depth, the Vikings still have a need at cornerback and could draft the top defensive back on their board with this pick,” Brugler wrote.

Charles Davis, NFL Network: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia. “My top-ranked WR comes off the board here, and immediately helps second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater,” he wrote. “Louisville WR DeVante Parker will be a consideration, as will Michigan State CB Trae Waynes.”

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington. “Waynes is a good player, but he’s not the NFL-ready talent Marcus Peters is,” Miller wrote. “Yes, Peters has some off-field baggage after being dismissed from Washington, but he’s the type of prospect head coach Mike Zimmer can turn into an All-Pro talent. Peters needs hard coaching and a leader he trusts, and Zimmer has both the experience and leadership to be that person.”

Todd McShay, ESPN: Waynes. “This is another pick I’ve made a few different times during the draft process, but it continues to make sense,” he wrote. “The Vikings need a press-man corner opposite Xavier Rhodes, and Waynes is the best cornerback prospect in this class who figures to fit best in press-man or Cover 2 alignments.”

Josh Norris, Rotoworld: Waynes. “Everything points to the Vikings selecting a cornerback. So will it happen? I could see one of three names: Waynes, Byron Jones and Kevin Johnson,” Norris wrote. “Waynes is a press corner (or man in his zone) who uses length and frame to stick with receivers and combat the catch point.”

Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Waynes. “Waynes could go earlier, depending on team needs in the top 10. He is a 6-foot, 186-pound corner who starred in a man-to-man defense at Michigan State,” he wrote. “Don’t forget, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive backs coach at heart. Xavier Rhodes showed flashes last year; here’s his battery mate.”

Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports: Waynes. “After passing on Aaron Donald a year ago, nose tackle Danny Shelton could be their guy, but I say they go with who many believe to be the best corner in the draft,” he wrote. “So many capable deep passing attacks in their division. A potential shutdown corner makes sense.”

Jamie Newberg, Scout.com: Waynes. “I am so tempted to change my Minnesota mock pick to wide receiver Devante Parker but I have gone with Trae Waynes from practically the beginning,” he said. “I still have strong feeling that the draft’s top corner will be picked inside the top 10.”

Nate Davis, USA Today: Waynes. “The Vikes must contend with Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Golden Tate, Alshon Jeffery and Randall Cobb, among others, twice a year,” Davis wrote. “Bolstering the secondary with a talented cover man like Waynes aces the common sense test.”

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NY Yankees - WP: N. Eovaldi 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: W. Miley 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco 5
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: C. Villanueva 2
Milwaukee - WP: M. Fiers 6 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 1
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 4 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 5
Philadelphia - LP: C. Hamels 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: D. Haren 7
Toronto - WP: A. Sanchez 11 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 4
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 4
Cincinnati - WP: J. Marquis 8 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Stults 4
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 1 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Detroit - WP: D. Price 2 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: E. Volquez 1
Seattle - LP: T. Walker 4 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 11
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 7 FINAL
Texas - WP: K. Kela 8
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: B. Morrow 4
Arizona - LP: E. Marshall 4 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: J. Nicasio 6
San Antonio 109 FINAL
LA Clippers 111
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Red Bull New York 1 FINAL
New England 2
Colorado 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 0

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