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Minnesota Vikings 2023 Training Camp


2022 RECAP

The Vikings showed improvement for the second consecutive season in 2022. After finishing 2-14 in 2020, Minnesota won 8 games in 2021 followed by 10 games in 2022. However, they still failed to reach the playoffs thanks to a late season let down. The Vikings were 9-3 coming into the last quarter of the season. But the team dropped 3 of 4 to miss the post-season for the third straight season.

Minnesota's defense led the way in 2022 as they were ranked in the top 5. Daniel Te'o-Neshelm finished the season with his 7th consecutive season in which he reached 8 sacks or more (every year of his career). He's now 21st all-time on the RZL sack leaders list and just turned 30-years-old. If he manages to maintain his current pace for 4 more seasons he may end up in the top 3 on this list.

Melvin Tirrell continues to prove that age is only a number. The late bloomer finished the season with 7 sacks as a DT. He now has 24 sacks in 3 years with the Vikings. He only had 20 in his first 7 seasons with San Diego. Unfortunately age may be catching up to him as he turned 33-years-old after the season.

But the biggest impact players on the defense were in the secondary. Sam Shields and Jerome Murphy have created one of the best CB tandems in the league. While the pressure up front certainly helps, it's safe to say that without these two players this defense would be dramatically different.

In fact, without either of them the Vikings likely wouldn't have finished at 10-6. The offense has still been in the middle of the pack ranking 18th in points scored, which isn't all that odd considering Joe Lawson has only 2 seasons under his belt. The Vikings really need Lawson to step it up in year 3 and they have been trying to provide him with more weapons. Darrius Heyward-Bey was acquired during the season, but he was injured shortly after and missed the remainder of the year.

While the offense was 18th in points scored, they were 30th in passing yards and 27th in passing TDs. The running game was a bit more average as it stayed in the middle of the pack. Statistically, the Vikings were actually very lucky to have scored as many points as they did. Perhaps they had great field position as a result of a stingy defense. In fact, that may be the case exactly. Only five teams forced more turnovers than Minnesota did in 2022. The Vikings were also tied for 1st in the league for defensive 3rd down percentage.

Obviously the plans for 2023 would be to improve their offensive output. If Joe Lawson makes a leap, another WR steps up on the offensive side, the team should become more balanced. With aging players like Melvin Tirrell on the defensive side, and an underwhelming group of LBs, the offense needs to make a big jump for this team to be post-season worthy.


TRANSACTION RECAP

Releases

The Vikings released: RE Bob Parker, Cliff Matthews, DT Chester Lester and FS Darrell Stuckey.

Parkers and Matthews were released due to a lack of roster space. Both players were reserve players for the Vikings and while they did not cost much against the cap, the team brought in two new players in Matthew Collins and David Veikune. With Daniel Te'o-Neshelm and Jarvis Estrada as returning starters, there was too much depth at the position.

Chester Lester was a player that the team could really use this coming season. However, due to his ridiculous contract and lack of playing time, Lester has become a distraction in the locker room. The team is short at the position and really positioned themselves to become very weak up the middle unless theyíre able to bring someone else in.

Darrell Stuckey was in a similar issue with Lester. Actually, both were signed together back in 2019 by then-GM Lincoln Ison. Neither of them played an important role on the team and became very vocal about being relegated to their backup role. It was their cap hit that kept them on the team this long. Minnesota would have liked to have released them sooner if they could have in order to free up cap space, but their hits were too expensive until now. While both are obviously talented players, Minnesota felt the team was better with other players in the lineup. Lester and Stuckey were two of the highest paid players on the team despite having a very small role on the team. If you were to compare how much they contributed based on what they received in pay, these two players would likely be at or near the tops in the league.

Isiah Pead and Milton Maxwell were able to slip into free agency despite not being released. GM Tom Collins stated that there was a contractual foul up and a grievance has been filed with Commissioner Kevin Mullendore. "Both of these players should have been restricted free agents, but we never received an opportunity to submit a tender," Collins said. "Somehow they snuck into free agency and that shouldn't have been the case. We are following up with the league on this matter. The initial reaction by the league was that it was a foul up on our end, but I can assure all of our fans we have been very active this off-season, despite not seeing a lot of moves. We have been diligent in taking care of our obligations in a timely manner, and this was not an exception. We expect to reach a favorable conclusion shortly."


Trades

Despite shopping their 1st round pick and looking for another WR, the Vikings did not make any trade this off-season. It may be the first off-season in several seasons in which the team did not reach an agreement. However, since the Vikings finished 10-6 last year, itís not at all that surprising that they arenít going to rock the boat too much. The rule for this off-season: Donít mess with success.

One trade the team did consider was moving their 1st round pick to Detroit in exchange for Allen Bailey. While Bailey is obviously very talented, the Vikings eventually declined the offer after it was learned that Detroit also wanted a future 2nd round pick as well. It was the cap price of $10.33 million that really deterred Minnesota from making the deal and the fact that by not doing the trade Detroit could conceivably miss out on the rookie they were hoping to draft. Eventually they were able to make the deal before, which, in the Vikings opinion, weakened their team anyways.


Free Agency

The Vikings signed RE David Veikune, P Thomas Morstead , and MLB Joseph Burnett this off-season.

Veikune was originally a DT but the team felt he was better served as a DE. He lacks the ideal strength for an interior defensive lineman, although the team could really use another body there. He will move to the right side and compete with Jarvis Estrada and rookie Matthew Collins for the starting spot. Morstead will immediately upgrade the Special Teams and likely means the end for Scott Kovanda. Burnett was obtained to provide greater depth. Paul Connor was injured his rookie year and the team didn't have a suitable backup. The team did acquire a backup last year in Rafael Darrington but it's better to be safe than sorry. Originally Minnesota acquired Burnett because they expected a trade to happen with the Kansas City Chiefs, which eventually fell through. The team decided Burnett was worth hanging onto anyways.

The Vikings also made an effort to bring back Isaiah Pead in free agency, even though they have filed a grievance with the league. They were unsuccessful at luring him back to the team and because of that the grievance will be pushed through.

Draft

1.20 DE Matthew Collins

Collins was a pick made for a couple of reasons. First, the team felt he was the most talented player available. Second, the team has expressed interest at upgrading the right defensive end position held by Jarvis Estrada. Collins may have an opportunity to start right away. However, newly signed David Veikune could make a play at the position. Veikune is seen as a 1 year player and will not impact the future for Collins at DE.

4.20 FS Kevin Robinson

With a weak draft, Robinson was seen as the BPA. Unfortunately for him, the team had second thoughts and didn't even sign try to sign him. Robinson became a free agent after the draft.

5.15 CB Keith Griffin

Griffin was selected in hopes that he could potentially develop into something better than what Minnesota's scouts felt he would. The chances are slim that this could happen, but it's a low risk option.

5.20 CB Kenny Wood

Similar to Griffin, Wood was a gamble later on at little to no risk. The chances of even making the team appear to be slim so it's doubtful he becomes any kind of impact player.

6.20 LOLB Gerald Lowe

Lowe is another player that may stick around as a cost efficient backup. If there were an injury to a starter, he would likely stay in the same role as the team would look at other options.


PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

WR Andre Crane is being called upon to step up in his second season with the team. With the loss of Riley Cooper this off-season, the team is looking for another receiver to step in with fellow sophomores Tra Strong and Danny Glover. The 6'2" receiver has great speed for his size and has excellent leaping ability. The team is hoping that he can make improvements in his game to become a bigger threat to opposing defenses.

LT Luke Joeckel was the team's first draft pick this off-season. He is charged with holding down Lawson's backside at the left tackle position. The team is happy with his athleticism, but the biggest area of need for Joeckel is his strength. And that is probably one of the easiest to improve, as it is extremely difficult to improve one's speed.

On the defensive side, Paul Connor is another sophomore expecting to start in 2022. Connor made the switch from outside to the inside last season, but his season was ultimately cut short due to injury. His athleticism was enough for him to dominate the collegiate level, but in professional football, he still has a lot of work to do. The team is hoping he can continue to build on that athleticism to put him in better position to make plays for the team.

CB John Clark stepped in as the second CB last season due to a lack of depth. While he didn't blow anyone away, he played well last season and showed that he has a future in this league. Clark's downfall is his lack of size. However, what he lacks in that area he makes up for in athleticism. Last season he made strides in improving his athleticism and it appears as though he is ready to continue building upon the progress he made last season.

Crane, Clark, and Connor teamed up with team strength and conditioning coach Michael Johnson. All three players spent a great deal of time running normal sprints as well as sprints with a parachute attached to their backs. They also ran uphill and often times ran full speed while the other player held onto his hips, creating resistance. None of them focused much time on the cone drills this off-season as they felt pressure to increase their speed and acceleration. Aside from the sprints they spent a great deal of time working on short, five yard bursts and working on their balance and a lower center of gravity. All three players were looking for that quickness that could kill and that is exactly what each player pushed for all off-season. It appears as though their hard work has paid off as Johnson has stated that it appears as though all four players were able to improve upon their marks set prior to the conditioning program.

Joeckel was a different story. There wasn't a lot of running with his workouts, as he was more interested in increasing his strength. After meeting with the strength and conditioning staff, Joeckel was given a list of routines to increase his upper body strength as well as his lower body strength. He utilized the bench press, inclined bench, squats and cleans. He also took advantage of many of the new equipment items in the Vikings facility that mimic real gameplay while also building strength.


PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

QB: Joe Lawson | Blaine Gabbert | Brandon Weeden
RB: Jahvid Best | Jeff Gearhart
FB: Gerald Lewis
WR: Darrius Heyward-Bey | Danny Glover | Tra Strong | Andre Crane | Henry Browning
TE: Dorin Dickerson | Shawn Boss

LT: Luke Joeckel | Rodolfo Hines
LG: Nats Luzak | James Farentz
C: Jacques McClendon | Ricky Wagner
RG: Nats Luzak | Fidel Scroggins
RT: Alan Steele | Boyd Shelton

LE: Daniel Te'o-Neshelm | Jarvis Roland
DT: Melvin Tirrell | Lynwood Christian
RE: Matthew Collins | David Veikune | Jarvis Estrada

LOLB:Kavell Conner | Gerald Lowe
MLB: Paul Connor | Joseph Burnett | Rafael Darrington
ROLB: Luis August | Kyle Bosworth

CB: Sam Shields | Jerome Murphy | John Clark | Charles McMann | Dominique Franks | Keith Griffin | Kenneth Wood
FS: George Iloka | Ahmad Maroney
SS: Russell Simmons | Conner Michaels
K: Edmundo Pace
P: Thomas Morstead | Scott Kovanda


2023 OUTLOOK

There actually weren't too many changes this off-season. After two consecutive improvement years, the Vikings should be on the cusp of reaching the post-season. There aren't many areas that really could be upgraded and therefore there weren't many blockbuster types of moves. Rather than continue to make big changes to the personnel, Minnesota felt that continuity was necessary. If your team enjoyed a winning season, you need to be careful not to tweak too many things. Itís far more likely that the team could be weakened by making the wrong move than improving much beyond a 10-6 record.

The team obviously felt that development was a priority. Rather than acquiring new personnel, they decided to focus on developing who they already had in house. Joe Lawson is the most obvious example to this philosophy. While Lawson has not disappointed the Vikings front office, thereís no question that he still needs to improve in his third year. Minnesota is still looking for a sidekick for Darrius Heyward-Bey with the hopes that improved targets will provide Lawson with more reliability.

The offensive line saw no changes this off-season, and if there is a position group that really needs continuity itís the line. That should result in better pass protection for Lawson, and hopefully improved wiggle room for Jahvid Best. Best is coming back after securing a two year deal. The dip in his performance the past two seasons has raised concerns, but the team is hoping that he will be able to achieve similar numbers before the contract dispute seemed to really play a role in his play.

The only starting position that looks to change may be the right defensive end. The team has three options in Jarvis Estrada, rookie Matthew Collins, or veteran David Veikune. The signing of Veikune and drafting of Collins in the first round is not a sign of confidence in Estrada. Despite having resigned him this off-season (before these two players were brought in), it appears as though he has lost his footing on the starting job. Whether or not Veikune wins the job over the rookie really depends on how both players look in camp, and whether the Vikings believe the defense will play just as well without the experience Veikune can offer.
Defensive tackle is becoming a weak point as the team has elected to go with athletic players over big, strong run stuffers. As the players begin to age and lose some of their athleticism, they must rely on size and strength, which is something that they really never had. Both Lynwood Christian and Melvin Tirrell are in this boat as theyíre losing some of that athleticism due to age.

2023 Expectation: 11-5 Record; 1st place finish

The team was 1 win away from a playoff berth in 2022. After starting 9-3 the team finished at only 10-6. Losing 3 of their last 4 kept them out of the playoffs. Hopefully they are able to get over the hump and reach the post-season after missing for the past three years. With some improvements by Joe Lawson, a full season with Darrius Heyward-Bey and hopefully another WR target acquired before the season, improving 1 game is not out of the question for Minnesota.
Forum Discussion (by T_Collins on 04/12/2014) Replies - 5 :: Views - 132
Minnesota Vikings 2022 Training Camp


2021 RECAP

2021 entailed a surprising rebound from the 2020 record of 2-14. The team started a rookie QB in Joe Lawson as well as two rookie WRs in Danny Glover and Tra Strong. The team's offense was only ranked 23rd in points scored, but that is a big improvement from the 31st offense the season before. Despite the rookies placed into starting roles, the team was able to build upon their struggles from the previous season. Lawson had one of the finest rookie seasons in league history.

The defense was what kept the team alive last season. Minnesota finished as the 8th best defense in terms of points allowed. Their pass rush was led by Daniel Te'o-Neshelm as he accumulated 13 sacks for the Vikings last year. Looking at the personnel groupings from last season, it's a surprise that their defense did so well, considering the talent that they had on the field.

An 8-8 season while starting 3 rookies on offense and coming off a 2-14 campaign was exactly what the team needed. The front office is hoping that they can build on their success last year, rather than take a step backwards, which has been the Vikings way for far too long.


RELEASES

The Vikings released: QB Tim Hiller, LE Olin Ramsey, P Chas Henry, C Mike Fladell, and WR Will Franklin this off-season to make room for many new additions.

Tim Hiller and Olin Ramsey were primarily reserves for the team in the event of an injury. The loss of these players should not see any kind of impact on the team. Both Mike Fladell and Will Franklin were on the team as a veteran presence to help develop the younger starters.

Henry was the team's starting punter last season. He was released after the team expressed displeasure with their field position this past season. While he placed the ball inside the opponent 20 yard line on 24% of his kicks (ranking 9th last season), the average yardage per kick was too low for Minnesota's likings (ranking 22nd last season).


TRADES

Minnesota traded WR Riley Cooper and their 2nd round pick to Chicago in exchange for CB Jerome Murphy and FS Ahmad Maroney. Murphy provides the team with one of the best CB duos in the league now that he is teaming up with Sam Shields. Teams will now be forced to respect their pass defense and try to grind yardage out through the run game. Maroney was acquired as a backup to George Iloka. The team plans to release Darrell Stuckey once they can afford to absorb his ridiculous cap hit.

Cooper was expendable as the team's rookie WRs from last year, Tra Strong and Danny Glover, exceeded expectations. The team is hoping that they can build upon the success they had in 2021. Cooper would have most likely been relegated to the third WR spot, which would be a waste of his talent. The team is likely to call upon one of their young WRs to fill that void.

The Vikings also shipped LOLB Rosario Garza and their 4th round pick to Carolina in exchange for QB Blaine Gabbert and their 6th round pick. Garza is now 32-years-old and reaching the end of his career. Minnesota traded him while he still had value, despite creating a hole at the linebacker position.

Gabbert was acquired as an insurance policy for Lawson. Lawson was dinged up several times throughout the season. While he did not miss any significant time, and backup QB Brandon Weeden only logged 18 pass attempts, the thought of what would happen if Lawson was seriously injured was too concerning for the Vikings. Gabbert will now provide Minnesota with an excellent backup in the event that Lawson is lost for any significant time.


FREE AGENCY

The Vikings signed OLB Luis August, DT Lynwood Christian, OLB Rafael Darrington, and OL Jared Gaither this off-season.

August will start on the right side, filling in for Kavell Conner, who has moved to the left side with the departure of Rosario Garza.

Christian will compete at DT with Vance Walker. Walker has excellent athleticism, but feel as though he could not achieve similar results to Melvin Tirrell because of his lack of speed and strength. Christian is more similar to Tirrell and may start this season.

Darrington will move inside to middle linebacker to backup sophomore Paul Connor. Connor is rebounding from an injury in his rookie season that forced Stephen Hodge to step in for the remainder of the season. With Hodge gone, Minnesota needed another insurance policy.

Gaither will shake up the offensive line. He is moving to the RG position so that Jacques McClendon can move to C. With so much youth on offense, the team needed to solidify their offensive line. It is not yet known if Andrew Willis's future is over in Minnesota.


DRAFT

1.15 LT Luke Joeckel

Joeckel was made the Vikings top draft choice this off-season. The selection was a surprise by many, but Minnesota made the pick as he was viewed as the best player available at the positions of need. Joeckel will immediately step in at LT for the team.

3.15 C Ricky Wagner

The young lineman was drafted with the hopes of pushing Andrew Willis for the starting spot. But with the signing of Jared Gaither and moving Jacques McClendon to the center spot, it doesn't appear that he will make an impact for a while.

4.32 SS Conner Michaels

The young safety has the strength of a linebacker but the size of a safety. His athleticism isn't the greatest, but he provides the team with a player who could excel on special teams.

5.15 CB Charles McMann

The 5'9" CB has decent awareness and doesn't have blazing speed. However, his agility and acceleration are excellent and may give him a chance to make the team.

6.11 LG James Farentz

Farentz doesn't have great size, athleticism or strength. He does have good awareness and blocking skills which will probably keep him on the team, but for a reserve only.

6.15 P Scott Kovanda

Minnesota thought enough of him to dump Chas Henry. However, it has yet to be seen whether or not he will land the starting job. His low awareness and kicking accuracy are a liability.

7.15 LE Jarvis Roland

If Roland had the proper size, his athleticism would allow him some playing time. However, he is too small (6'0", 265lbs) and too raw to make an impact.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

WR Andre Crane is being called upon to step up in his second season with the team. With the loss of Riley Cooper this off-season, the team is looking for another receiver to step in with fellow sophomores Tra Strong and Danny Glover. The 6'2" receiver has great speed for his size and has excellent leaping ability. The team is hoping that he can make improvements in his game to become a bigger threat to opposing defenses.

LT Luke Joeckel was the team's first draft pick this off-season. He is charged with holding down Lawson's backside at the left tackle position. The team is happy with his athleticism, but the biggest area of need for Joeckel is his strength. And that is probably one of the easiest to improve, as it is extremely difficult to improve one's speed.

On the defensive side, Paul Connor is another sophomore expecting to start in 2022. Connor made the switch from outside to the inside last season, but his season was ultimately cut short due to injury. His athleticism was enough for him to dominate the collegiate level, but in professional football, he still has a lot of work to do. The team is hoping he can continue to build on that athleticism to put him in better position to make plays for the team.

CB John Clark stepped in as the second CB last season due to a lack of depth. While he didn't blow anyone away, he played well last season and showed that he has a future in this league. Clark's downfall is his lack of size. However, what he lacks in that area he makes up for in athleticism. Last season he made strides in improving his athleticism and it appears as though he is ready to continue building upon the progress he made last season.

Crane, Clark, and Connor teamed up with team strength and conditioning coach Michael Johnson. All three players spent a great deal of time running normal sprints as well as sprints with a parachute attached to their backs. They also ran uphill and often times ran full speed while the other player held onto his hips, creating resistance. None of them focused much time on the cone drills this off-season as they felt pressure to increase their speed and acceleration. Aside from the sprints they spent a great deal of time working on short, five yard bursts and working on their balance and a lower center of gravity. All three players were looking for that quickness that could kill and that is exactly what each player pushed for all off-season. It appears as though their hard work has paid off as Johnson has stated that it appears as though all four players were able to improve upon their marks set prior to the conditioning program.

Joeckel was a different story. There wasn't a lot of running with his workouts, as he was more interested in increasing his strength. After meeting with the strength and conditioning staff, Joeckel was given a list of routines to increase his upper body strength as well as his lower body strength. He utilized the bench press, inclined bench, squats and cleans. He also took advantage of many of the new equipment items in the Vikings facility that mimic real gameplay while also building strength.


PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

QB: Joe Lawson | Blaine Gabbert | Brandon Weeden
RB: Jahvid Best | Isiah Pead | Jeff Gearhart
FB: Gerald Lewis
WR: Danny Glover | Tra Strong | Andre Crane |Milton Maxwell | Henry Browning
TE: Dorin Dickerson | Shawn Boss

LT: Luke Joeckel | Rodolfo Hines
LG: Nats Luzak | James Farentz
C: Jacques McClendon | | Andrew Willis | Ricky Wagner
RG: Nats Luzak | Fidel Scroggins
RT: Alan Steele | Boyd Shelton

LE: Daniel Te'o-Neshelm | Cliff Matthews | Jarvis Roland
DT: Melvin Tirrell | Lynwood Christian | Vance Walker | Chester Lester
RE: Jarvis Estrada | Bob Parker

LOLB:Kavell Conner | Dillon Shouse
MLB: Paul Connor | Rafael Darrington
ROLB: Luis August | Kyle Bosworth

CB: Sam Shields | Jerome Murphy | John Clark | Romeo Hilliard | Charles McMann | Dominique Franks | Tracy Porter
FS: George Iloka | Ahmad Maroney | Darrell Stuckey
SS: Russell Simmons | Conner Michaels
K: Edmundo Pace
P: Scott Kovanda


2022 OUTLOOK

The team expected to win 4 games last year and ended up winning 8. Minnesota is hoping to put an end to the roller coaster ride from season to season. The goal is to build upon the previous season, rather than to take several steps backwards every time they experience success.

The defense looks to be as strong or stronger than last season. The only significant starter that the team lost on the defensive side was Rosario Garza. Stephen Hodge played a significant portion of time but only as a result of a season ending injury to Paul Connor (Hodge is still an unsigned free agent). The team was able to bring in Jerome Murphy to start alongside Sam Shields, putting John Clark in the much better suited nickel role. Kavell Conner moved from the right side to the left after Garza's departure, and August should step into the right side position without a hitch. The defensive line remains nearly intact and could be the exact same starters as last year if Lynwood Christian doesn't beat out Vance Walker for the starting job. The #8 defense from last year seems to have improved.

On the offensive side, the team is hoping for some more consistency amongst their younger players. Joe Lawson, Tra Strong and Danny Glover had their ups and downs last season as rookies. After experiencing what pro football was like, the team is hoping they build upon their success this season. Riley Cooper was traded to bring Jerome Murphy to the club, which opens the slot WR position. The odds are that Andre Crane will lock down that job. If so, the Vikings top three receivers will be sophomores (and it would have been one of the best draft classes Minnesota has ever had). To hopefully give these young players a greater chance at success, the team drafted a LT in Luke Joeckel in the first round and signed a veteran in Jared Gaither. Gaither will push into the LG spot, giving Joeckel a veteran presence next door. Natz Luzak will switch sides, pushing Jacques McClendon to Center. The team is hoping the moves will provide the team with greater protection.

2022 Expectation: 9-7 Record; 1st place finish

The team was 1 win away from forcing a tie-breaker with the Detroit Lions. With the improvements the team has made, building upon last year's 8-8 record with 1 more win is not out of the question. Last season a 9-7 record won the division, here's to hoping the same is the case in 2022.
Forum Discussion (by T_Collins on 08/27/2013) Replies - 1 :: Views - 35
Minnesota Vikings Training Camp


MINNESOTA VIKINGS TRAINING CAMP COVERAGE


2020 RECAP

After a surprising 2019 campaign in which the Vikings reached the playoffs, they reminded us all again in 2020 that they just aren't ready to be a contending team. Minnesota finished with just 2 wins in 2020, giving them the #2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

The team that reached the post-season in 2019 remained mostly in tact last season. There were a handful of minor changes to the roster, but nothing that would otherwise indicate the 2-14 finish the team would ultimately seal. Brady Quinn struggled last season, to the point that Vikings management lost hope and dealt him to Miami.

The team relied on a platoon of QBs, none of which were able to impress the team. GM Tom Collins went record last season stating that "this team does not have many glaring holes. We certainly are better than our record would indicate. I believe our production at quarterback is what is preventing us from giving our fans a winning season. Unfortunately I don't see much improvement in that department throughout this season."

After the disappointing season, Minnesota once again entered into a rebuilding phase, as the team's key players were all aging and the roster was lacking the injection of youth that they sorely needed. It looks like another tough season in 2021 is on the horizon.


EARLY OFF-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

The Vikings were very active this off-season. They knew that they couldn't compete in 2021 and that if they waited any longer, their key players value would plummet. With this knowledge, Minnesota traded many cornerstones to their team and have officially entered into rebuilding mode. The Vikings traded WR Rudolph Nash, CB Julian Mawell, MLB Audie Cole, CB Brandon Ghee and a handful of their draft picks, including the second overall pick.

The team also released several players who were unhappy with the current situation in Minnesota. These players included LOLB Stevenson Sylvester, SS Danny Porch, HB Braxton Murphy, WR Austin Perkins, QB Nick Foles, TE Jimmy Turner, LG Sheldon Stevenson, WR Malcolm Sanders, DT Fletcher Cox, and HB LaRod Stephens-Howling.

After all deals were completed, Minnesota acquired starting TE Dorin Dickerson and backups WR Greg Little and HB Isiah Pead. They also entered the draft with four 1st round picks, a 2nd, four 3rds, and a 5th.


FREE AGENCY

Minnesota made a minor splash in free agency. They brought in RG Alan Steele who will immediately move to RT. They also acquired C Mike Fladell who is likely to move to LT and become a mentor, WR Will Franklin who was also signed as a mentor, and backups LOLB Kyle Bosworth and LOLB Dillon Shouse.


DRAFT

1.13 QB Joe Lawson

This was the easiest choice for the Vikings. QB was by far their biggest need before the off-season. After the off-season, it was probably CB but the team missed out on an early CB run just before this pick. Lawson was their guy all along. The only difficult choice was how far they could hold out to select him. In the end, they chose the safe route and selected him with their first of four picks in the first round. Lawson has great arm strength and awareness for a rookie. His accuracy needs some fine tuning and his healthy could be a potential question mark. The Vikings are hoping the latter won't be an issue moving forward.

1.21 WR Danny Glover

This was a difficult selection for Minnesota. They really wanted a CB in the first round, but all the talented players at the position were taken in the first 20 picks. The team was forced to adapt and decided to target the best player available with this pick. They felt Glover had top 15 potential and was a great selection at 1.21. With his size and speed, he could definitely present some matchup issues for opposing defenses, and will immediately step into the starting lineup with fellow rookie Joe Lawson.

1.24 LOLB Paul Connor

Once again, the best targeted the best player available. There were some risky choices at this point in the draft. The team toyed with the idea of going after a very athletic, yet raw player, but chose the safe route with Connor. Other analysts believed Ozzie Gomes was the better player, but the Vikings felt comfortable with Connor. The team is likely to move him to MLB and start him immediately.

1.31 CB John Clark

Minnesota finally pulled the trigger on a CB. Clark is very fast and athletic and will provide the team with their #2 CB. The only issue is that Clark is more of a Nickel CB and his size (5'10") and strength provide glaring weaknesses for the CB. He is likely to develop into a fine #3 CB, but the team is likely to rely on him to fill the starting spot opposite Sam Shields. It's likely to be a daunting task, but we've seen crazier things happen.

2.2 WR Tra Strong

The Vikings addressed the passing game once again in this draft, for the third time in five picks. The team's passing game was what many attributed to their lackluster 2020 season and Minnesota wasted no time in addressing that. Strong would have been selected in the 1st round for Minnesota, but the team was worried that the 1st round expectations may have put too much pressure on Strong to produce. The Vikings were happy he was still available early in the 2nd round and wasted no time in selecting him to be their #2 WR alongside fellow rookie Danny Glover.

3.15 HB Jeff Gearhart

After the loss of LaRod Stephens-Howling, the team was in need of a kick returner. While facing a rebuilding mode again, it's likely the Vikings defense give up a lot of points in 2021, which means plenty of kick return opportunities for whoever lands the job. Gearhart has exactly what the Vikings admire in returners, fast with the ability to break tackles, make defenders miss, and hold onto the ball. Gearhart is projected to be the team's primary returner and #3 RB.

3.16 WR Henry Browning

At this point in the draft, the team was looking for the best player available. Someone who could make an impact on the team and not just provide the team with cheap depth. Minnesota was hoping for a surprise from Browning. He has good height and athletic ability for his size and will provide the team with depth at the position. But Minnesota was hoping they could strike gold in the 3rd round. It's safe to say they didn't.

3.21 WR Andre Crane

Like Browning, the team was hoping to find value late in the draft. Crane will likely provide the team with depth at the position and provides very little value in terms of starting ability.

3.24 LG Boyd Shelton

Another late pick by Minnesota with the hopes they found someone who could eventually become a starter. Shelton could work his way into a starting role if Andrew Willis was plagued with an injury. Shelton provides the team with solid depth on the offensive line and will likely avoid losing his spot on the team whereas Browning and Shelton can't say that for themselves.

5.2 LE Olin Ramsey

The final pick by Minnesota was a depth choice. Ramsey provides the team with very little talent and is likely to find his way into free agency eventually. As for now, the team will hold onto him as a roster filler. If the team finds itself looking to cut salary or open a roster spot, Ramsey will likely be in the unemployment line.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

QB Joe Lawson knew that a lot was going to be expected of him this year. It's difficult for a rookie QB to begin his career as a starter. With the team coming off a two win season, fans are expecting to see big strides in 2021. Much of the blame for 2020 fell on poor quarterback play. And you can be certain that they are going to be watching Lawson, the first QB taken in the 2021 draft, like a hawk. He has the ability to become Minnesota's starter for years to come, but they've been fooled before.

Likewise, another rookie player expected to start this season expects similar criticism throughout the season. WR Danny Glover is being called upon to improve the team's terrible passing game. The 6'3" speed receiver is expected to stretch the field and provide the team with the dynamic deep threat they were lacking last season. But questions still remain about how ready he is, as he was primarily a deep threat in college and is not accustomed to coming across the middle for the difficult catch.

Riley Cooper is also expecting to work on his athleticism this off-season. That is especially true after the team selected four WRs in the draft, two of which are expected to be starting in week 1. Cooper was the team's #2 WR last season and failed to impress. He is hoping he can improve his speed and combine it with his large frame to give the team another dynamic target in the passing game. It's likely he will be pushing himself to the max to beat out Strong and Glover in the pre-season.

On the defensive side, rookie CB John Clark is expected to step in as the #2 corner for the time, alongside Sam Shields. Clark possesses great athleticism, but he is lacking in size. Clark is 5'10" in a league dominated by tall receivers. While he may be in position to make a play, his height will ultimately be the key determination in whether or not Clark can succeed at this level. Expect Clark to work on increasing his already electrifying athletic abilities to hopefully compensate for what God didn't give him in terms of size.

Paul Connor is another rookie expecting to start in 2021. Another first round pick, Connor is expecting to make the switch from outside linebacker to middle linebacker for the Vikings. His athleticism was enough for him to dominate the collegiate level, but in professional football, he has a lot of work to do. The team is hoping he can continue to build on that athleticism to put him in better position to make plays for the team.

Glover, Cooper, Clark, and Connor teamed up with team strength and conditioning coach Michael Johnson. All four players spent a great deal of time running normal sprints as well as sprints with a parachute attached to their backs. They also ran uphill and often times ran full speed while the other player held onto his hips, creating resistance. None of them focused much time on the cone drills this off-season as they felt pressure to increase their speed. Aside from the sprints they spent a great deal of time working on short, five yard bursts and working on their balance and a lower center of gravity. With all three players having great size, quickness would kill and that is exactly what each player pushed for all off-season. It appears as though their hard work has paid off as Johnson has stated that it appears as though all four players were able to improve upon their marks set prior to the conditioning program.

Lawson was a different story. There wasn't a lot of running with his workouts, as he projects to be a pocket passer for the Vikings. For Lawson, he spent a lot of time reworking his mechanics to increase the velocity of his throws. Creating a throwing motion that was more smooth than what he was used to took some adjusting, but eventually began to feel comfortable. And the results were seen quite quickly as several players reported more zip on his throws. When he wasn't throwing, he learned a variety of stretches to use on his right arm to create more flexibility, making his arm movements much easier and quicker.


PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

QB: Joe Lawson | Brandon Weeden | Tim Hiller
RB: Jahvid Best | Isiah Pead | Jeff Gearhart
FB: Gerald Lewis
WR: Danny Glover | Tra Strong | Riley Cooper |Milton Maxwell | Henry Browning| Andre Crane | Greg Little
TE: Dorin Dickerson

LT: Matt Reynolds | Rodolfo Hines | Mike Fladell
LG: Andrew Willis | Boyd Shelton
C: Nats Luzak | | Donald Thomas
RG: Jacques McClendon | Fidel Scroggins
RT: Alan Steele

LE: Daniel Te'o-Neshelm | Cliff Matthews | Olin Ramsey
DT: Vance Walker| Melvin Tirrell | Chester Lester | Ra'Shon Harris
RE: Jarvis Estrada | Bob Parker

LOLB: Rosario Garza | Dillon Shouse
MLB: Paul Connor | Stephen Hodge
ROLB: Kavell Conner | Kyle Bosworth

CB: Sam Shields | John Clark| Romeo Hilliard
FS: George Iloka | Darrell Stuckey
SS: Russell Simmons | Clay Alvarado
K: Edmundo Pace
P: Chas Henry


2021 OUTLOOK

After a disappointing 2020 season, the Vikings dismantled their team once again in hopes that they could develop youth. It seemed on paper that the team had all their holes covered last year, but that wasn't the case. After removing some of their better players, and starting a large amount of raw players, it's unlikely they improve upon last year. 4 wins isn't out of reach, as it takes an extremely weak team to finish with fewer. A repeat of 2020 is possible, and the team could win 6 games at the very most; 4 is a safe bet for 2020. Look for Minnesota to hang onto their 1st round pick and take a stud player in the top 10, rather than trading back again next year.

2020 Expectation: 4-12 Record; 4th place finish
Forum Discussion (by T_Collins on 09/03/2012) Replies - 1 :: Views - 26
Minnesota Vikings Training Camp


MINNESOTA VIKINGS TRAINING CAMP COVERAGE


2020 RECAP

After a surprising 2019 campaign in which the Vikings reached the playoffs, they reminded us all again in 2020 that they just aren't ready to be a contending team. Minnesota finished with just 2 wins in 2020, giving them the #2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

The team that reached the post-season in 2019 remained mostly in tact last season. There were a handful of minor changes to the roster, but nothing that would otherwise indicate the 2-14 finish the team would ultimately seal. Brady Quinn struggled last season, to the point that Vikings management lost hope and dealt him to Miami.

The team relied on a platoon of QBs, none of which were able to impress the team. GM Tom Collins went record last season stating that "this team does not have many glaring holes. We certainly are better than our record would indicate. I believe our production at quarterback is what is preventing us from giving our fans a winning season. Unfortunately I don't see much improvement in that department throughout this season."

After the disappointing season, Minnesota once again entered into a rebuilding phase, as the team's key players were all aging and the roster was lacking the injection of youth that they sorely needed. It looks like another tough season in 2021 is on the horizon.


EARLY OFF-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

The Vikings were very active this off-season. They knew that they couldn't compete in 2021 and that if they waited any longer, their key players value would plummet. With this knowledge, Minnesota traded many cornerstones to their team and have officially entered into rebuilding mode. The Vikings traded WR Rudolph Nash, CB Julian Mawell, MLB Audie Cole, CB Brandon Ghee and a handful of their draft picks, including the second overall pick.

The team also released several players who were unhappy with the current situation in Minnesota. These players included LOLB Stevenson Sylvester, SS Danny Porch, HB Braxton Murphy, WR Austin Perkins, QB Nick Foles, TE Jimmy Turner, LG Sheldon Stevenson, WR Malcolm Sanders, DT Fletcher Cox, and HB LaRod Stephens-Howling.

After all deals were completed, Minnesota acquired starting TE Dorin Dickerson and backups WR Greg Little and HB Isiah Pead. They also entered the draft with four 1st round picks, a 2nd, four 3rds, and a 5th.


FREE AGENCY

Minnesota made a minor splash in free agency. They brought in RG Alan Steele who will immediately move to RT. They also acquired C Mike Fladell who is likely to move to LT and become a mentor, WR Will Franklin who was also signed as a mentor, and backups LOLB Kyle Bosworth and LOLB Dillon Shouse.


DRAFT

1.13 QB Joe Lawson

This was the easiest choice for the Vikings. QB was by far their biggest need before the off-season. After the off-season, it was probably CB but the team missed out on an early CB run just before this pick. Lawson was their guy all along. The only difficult choice was how far they could hold out to select him. In the end, they chose the safe route and selected him with their first of four picks in the first round. Lawson has great arm strength and awareness for a rookie. His accuracy needs some fine tuning and his healthy could be a potential question mark. The Vikings are hoping the latter won't be an issue moving forward.

1.21 WR Danny Glover

This was a difficult selection for Minnesota. They really wanted a CB in the first round, but all the talented players at the position were taken in the first 20 picks. The team was forced to adapt and decided to target the best player available with this pick. They felt Glover had top 15 potential and was a great selection at 1.21. With his size and speed, he could definitely present some matchup issues for opposing defenses, and will immediately step into the starting lineup with fellow rookie Joe Lawson.

1.24 LOLB Paul Connor

Once again, the best targeted the best player available. There were some risky choices at this point in the draft. The team toyed with the idea of going after a very athletic, yet raw player, but chose the safe route with Connor. Other analysts believed Ozzie Gomes was the better player, but the Vikings felt comfortable with Connor. The team is likely to move him to MLB and start him immediately.

1.31 CB John Clark

Minnesota finally pulled the trigger on a CB. Clark is very fast and athletic and will provide the team with their #2 CB. The only issue is that Clark is more of a Nickel CB and his size (5'10") and strength provide glaring weaknesses for the CB. He is likely to develop into a fine #3 CB, but the team is likely to rely on him to fill the starting spot opposite Sam Shields. It's likely to be a daunting task, but we've seen crazier things happen.

2.2 WR Tra Strong

The Vikings addressed the passing game once again in this draft, for the third time in five picks. The team's passing game was what many attributed to their lackluster 2020 season and Minnesota wasted no time in addressing that. Strong would have been selected in the 1st round for Minnesota, but the team was worried that the 1st round expectations may have put too much pressure on Strong to produce. The Vikings were happy he was still available early in the 2nd round and wasted no time in selecting him to be their #2 WR alongside fellow rookie Danny Glover.

3.15 HB Jeff Gearhart

After the loss of LaRod Stephens-Howling, the team was in need of a kick returner. While facing a rebuilding mode again, it's likely the Vikings defense give up a lot of points in 2021, which means plenty of kick return opportunities for whoever lands the job. Gearhart has exactly what the Vikings admire in returners, fast with the ability to break tackles, make defenders miss, and hold onto the ball. Gearhart is projected to be the team's primary returner and #3 RB.

3.16 WR Henry Browning

At this point in the draft, the team was looking for the best player available. Someone who could make an impact on the team and not just provide the team with cheap depth. Minnesota was hoping for a surprise from Browning. He has good height and athletic ability for his size and will provide the team with depth at the position. But Minnesota was hoping they could strike gold in the 3rd round. It's safe to say they didn't.

3.21 WR Andre Crane

Like Browning, the team was hoping to find value late in the draft. Crane will likely provide the team with depth at the position and provides very little value in terms of starting ability.

3.24 LG Boyd Shelton

Another late pick by Minnesota with the hopes they found someone who could eventually become a starter. Shelton could work his way into a starting role if Andrew Willis was plagued with an injury. Shelton provides the team with solid depth on the offensive line and will likely avoid losing his spot on the team whereas Browning and Shelton can't say that for themselves.

5.2 LE Olin Ramsey

The final pick by Minnesota was a depth choice. Ramsey provides the team with very little talent and is likely to find his way into free agency eventually. As for now, the team will hold onto him as a roster filler. If the team finds itself looking to cut salary or open a roster spot, Ramsey will likely be in the unemployment line.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

QB Joe Lawson knew that a lot was going to be expected of him this year. It's difficult for a rookie QB to begin his career as a starter. With the team coming off a two win season, fans are expecting to see big strides in 2021. Much of the blame for 2020 fell on poor quarterback play. And you can be certain that they are going to be watching Lawson, the first QB taken in the 2021 draft, like a hawk. He has the ability to become Minnesota's starter for years to come, but they've been fooled before.

Likewise, another rookie player expected to start this season expects similar criticism throughout the season. WR Danny Glover is being called upon to improve the team's terrible passing game. The 6'3" speed receiver is expected to stretch the field and provide the team with the dynamic deep threat they were lacking last season. But questions still remain about how ready he is, as he was primarily a deep threat in college and is not accustomed to coming across the middle for the difficult catch.

Riley Cooper is also expecting to work on his athleticism this off-season. That is especially true after the team selected four WRs in the draft, two of which are expected to be starting in week 1. Cooper was the team's #2 WR last season and failed to impress. He is hoping he can improve his speed and combine it with his large frame to give the team another dynamic target in the passing game. It's likely he will be pushing himself to the max to beat out Strong and Glover in the pre-season.

On the defensive side, rookie CB John Clark is expected to step in as the #2 corner for the time, alongside Sam Shields. Clark possesses great athleticism, but he is lacking in size. Clark is 5'10" in a league dominated by tall receivers. While he may be in position to make a play, his height will ultimately be the key determination in whether or not Clark can succeed at this level. Expect Clark to work on increasing his already electrifying athletic abilities to hopefully compensate for what God didn't give him in terms of size.

Paul Connor is another rookie expecting to start in 2021. Another first round pick, Connor is expecting to make the switch from outside linebacker to middle linebacker for the Vikings. His athleticism was enough for him to dominate the collegiate level, but in professional football, he has a lot of work to do. The team is hoping he can continue to build on that athleticism to put him in better position to make plays for the team.

Glover, Cooper, Clark, and Connor teamed up with team strength and conditioning coach Michael Johnson. All four players spent a great deal of time running normal sprints as well as sprints with a parachute attached to their backs. They also ran uphill and often times ran full speed while the other player held onto his hips, creating resistance. None of them focused much time on the cone drills this off-season as they felt pressure to increase their speed. Aside from the sprints they spent a great deal of time working on short, five yard bursts and working on their balance and a lower center of gravity. With all three players having great size, quickness would kill and that is exactly what each player pushed for all off-season. It appears as though their hard work has paid off as Johnson has stated that it appears as though all four players were able to improve upon their marks set prior to the conditioning program.

Lawson was a different story. There wasn't a lot of running with his workouts, as he projects to be a pocket passer for the Vikings. For Lawson, he spent a lot of time reworking his mechanics to increase the velocity of his throws. Creating a throwing motion that was more smooth than what he was used to took some adjusting, but eventually began to feel comfortable. And the results were seen quite quickly as several players reported more zip on his throws. When he wasn't throwing, he learned a variety of stretches to use on his right arm to create more flexibility, making his arm movements much easier and quicker.


PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

QB: Joe Lawson | Brandon Weeden | Tim Hiller
RB: Jahvid Best | Isiah Pead | Jeff Gearhart
FB: Gerald Lewis
WR: Danny Glover | Tra Strong | Riley Cooper |Milton Maxwell | Henry Browning| Andre Crane | Greg Little
TE: Dorin Dickerson

LT: Matt Reynolds | Rodolfo Hines | Mike Fladell
LG: Andrew Willis | Boyd Shelton
C: Nats Luzak | | Donald Thomas
RG: Jacques McClendon | Fidel Scroggins
RT: Alan Steele

LE: Daniel Te'o-Neshelm | Cliff Matthews | Olin Ramsey
DT: Vance Walker| Melvin Tirrell | Chester Lester | Ra'Shon Harris
RE: Jarvis Estrada | Bob Parker

LOLB: Rosario Garza | Dillon Shouse
MLB: Paul Connor | Stephen Hodge
ROLB: Kavell Conner | Kyle Bosworth

CB: Sam Shields | John Clark| Romeo Hilliard
FS: George Iloka | Darrell Stuckey
SS: Russell Simmons | Clay Alvarado
K: Edmundo Pace
P: Chas Henry


2021 OUTLOOK

After a disappointing 2020 season, the Vikings dismantled their team once again in hopes that they could develop youth. It seemed on paper that the team had all their holes covered last year, but that wasn't the case. After removing some of their better players, and starting a large amount of raw players, it's unlikely they improve upon last year. 4 wins isn't out of reach, as it takes an extremely weak team to finish with fewer. A repeat of 2020 is possible, and the team could win 6 games at the very most; 4 is a safe bet for 2020. Look for Minnesota to hang onto their 1st round pick and take a stud player in the top 10, rather than trading back again next year.

2020 Expectation: 4-12 Record; 4th place finish
Forum Discussion (by T_Collins on 04/03/2012) Replies - 3 :: Views - 45
Vikings win 2 in a row, make changes going into bye week
After a tough win against the Bills and an impressive victory against the Rams, the Vikings made changes to hopefully upgrade their offensive production. They had the 20th ranked offense before they put up 49 points against the Rams. Something that the need was not happy with since they had relatively small turnover on offense.

The entire offense aside from the FB position had remained the same. Thomas Tapeh was the only new starter through the first 5 weeks of the season. Tapeh was the starting FB for the Miami Dolphins last year and paved the way for Tony Hunt's spectacular season. However, with the Vikings struggling in the ground game, they felt they needed to add more than just Tapeh.

Today the team signed free agents Jeff Saturday and Flozell Adams to hopefully give them a more reliable and effective run game. Both players are savvy veterans who immediately upgrade the team. While they aren't the most athletic players anymore, they do know the game inside and out and have excellent blocking skills. The starters now consist of Levi Brown, Flozell Adams, Jeff Saturday, Kendall Simons, and Steve Hutchinson.

The AWR of these five OL are 78, 99, 96, 87, and 87. That should definitely improve the protection for Colt McCoy and open more holes for Chris Wells. However, if Wells cannot elevate his game the team may start looking for another featured back. That might be a change the team will be forced to take in the off-season though, as the team's cap situation is anything but pleasant.

They had to release several players such as Julius Wilson, Jeb Putzier, Lewis Kelly, Chris Gocong, and Larry Triplett. That resulted in several millions in cap penalties. The team can only cut less than $3 million in bonuses now and do not have much cap room to acquire a high priced running back. After the bye week the team will be hosting the Chicago Bears who are 5-0 right now.
Forum Discussion (by T_Collins on 11/01/2008) Replies - 3 :: Views - 31

All Team News Stories

At A Glance

VIKINGS FRONT OFFICE
GM T_Collins
Head Coach Cam Cameron
Offensive Coordinator Pete Mangurian
Defensive Coordinator Troy Vincent
Special Teams Terrell Owens
Salary $183.51M
Cap Penalty $15.06M
Cap Room $760K

INJURY REPORT
PLAYER POS OVR LENGTH
Vikings George Iloka FS 90 Out for season
Vikings Tra Strong WR 76 3 weeks

NFC North
RNK TEAM W-L-T PCT DIV
#3 Vikings Vikings 13-3-0 0.81 6-0
#18 Lions Lions 8-8-0 0.50 3-3
#20 Bears Bears 7-9-0 0.44 2-4
#32 Packers Packers 3-13-0 0.19 1-5

VIKINGS SCHEDULE
WK DATE OPPONENT TIME/RESULT
1 Sun at Seahawks Seahawks #7
Won 38-31
2 Sun vs Packers Packers #32
Won 34-21
3 Sun at Texans Texans #17
Won 28-19
4 Sun vs 49ers 49ers #28
Won 17-14
6 Sun vs Lions Lions #18
Won 17-7
7 Sun vs Rams Rams #30
Won 31-21
8 Sun at Lions Lions #18
Won 42-39
9 Sun at Cardinals Cardinals #24
Won 45-17
10 Sun vs Jaguars Jaguars #9
Lost 22-26
11 Sun at Titans Titans #2
Lost 12-30
12 Sun vs Bears Bears #20
Won 36-32
13 Sun vs Colts Colts #31
Won 12-7
14 Sun at Packers Packers #32
Won 26-6
15 Sun at Bears Bears #20
Won 42-10
16 Sat at Redskins Redskins #11
Won 13-12
17 Sun vs Saints Saints #4
Lost 7-24

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