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.


Posts about NFL draft

20-year perspective: Vikings' sixth round pick

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: May 2, 2014 - 11:43 AM

TODAY'S LOOK BACK: The 184th overall pick.

Looking back on previous NFL drafts for a better understanding of the crapshoot nature of this business is oh so much easier and more fun to do than pretending to know how the next wave of draft picks will perform. Thursday, we looked back through the past 20 drafts for some perspective on who was taken and who was still on the board with the seventh-round draft pick that the Vikings have this year (223). Today, we move up to the sixth round to so the same with the 184th overall pick.

Pro Bowlers picked No. 184 since 1994: None.

Have the Vikings picked No. 184 since 1994?: Yes. In 2004, they took South Carolina safety Deandre' Eiland. He never played for the Vikings or in the NFL.

Ouch 1: In 2000, the Chargers took linebacker Shannon Taylor. He played 40 games for three teams over four seasons. Fifteen spots lower, at 199, the Patriots selected Tom Brady.

Ouch 2: In 1998, the Buccaneers took cornerback Shevin Smith. He lasted 19 games over two years. Three spots lower, the Packers took quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Ouch 3: In 1995, the Saints took receiver Lee DeRamus. He lasted 23 games over two years. Twelve spots later, the Broncos selected running back Terrell Davis, one of seven members of the NFL's 2,000-yard rushing club.

Here's a year-by-year look back at the No. 184 pick:

2013: The Pick: TE Mychal Rivera, Raiders. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: No one has emerged. Plus, Rivera, who had 38 catches and four touchdowns as a rookie, is one of the rare good draft picks of the Raiders.

2012: The Pick: CB Isaiah Frey, Bears. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: LB Danny Trevathan, Broncos, No. 188.

2011: The Pick: DT David Carter, Cardinals. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: C Jason Kelce, Eagles, No. 191.

2010: The Pick: LB Adrian Tracy, Giants. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: WR Antonio Brown, Steelers, No. 195.

2009: The Pick: TE Bear Pascoe, 49ers. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: CB Jason McCourty, Titans, No. 203.

2008: The Pick: G Mike Gibson, Eagles. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: C John Sullivan, Vikings, No. 187.

2007: The Pick: FS John Wendling, Bills. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: K Mason Crosby, Packers, No. 193.

2006: The Pick: WR Adam Jennings, Falcons. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: G Charlie Johnson, Colts, No. 199.

2005: The Pick: DE Bill Swancutt, Lions. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: G Chris Myers, Broncos, No. 200.

2004: The Pick: S Deandre Eiland, Vikings. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: P Andy Lee, 49ers, No. 188.

2003: The Pick: G Scott Tercero, Rams. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: LB Cato June, Colts, No. 198.

2002: The Pick: WR Kahlil Hill, Falcons. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: C Justin Hartwig, Titans, No. 187.

2001: The Pick: DT Chris Cooper, Raiders. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals, No. 204.

2000: The Pick: LB Shannon Taylor, Chargers. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: QB Tom Brady, Patriots, No. 199.

1999: The Pick: S Rashard Cook, Bears. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: No one of note, but WR Donald Driver, Packers, No. 213.

1998: The Pick: CB Shevin Smith, Buccaneers. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: QB Matt Hasselbeck, Packers, No. 187.

1997: The Pick: RB Damion Shelton, Jaguars. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: NT Grady Jackson, Raiders, No. 193.

1996: The Pick: G Reggie Green, Seahawks. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: DE Orpheus Roye, Steelers, No. 200.

1995: The Pick: WR Lee DeRamus, Saints. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: RB Terrell Davis, Broncos, No. 196.

1994: The Pick: OT Jerry Reynolds, Bengals. Could Have Had Between Picks 185-204: RB Jamal Anderson, Falcons, No. 201.

Vikings position-by-position snapshot: Defensive backs

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: May 2, 2014 - 8:16 AM

The Vikings have selected at least one defensive back every spring since Rick Spielman took over the team’s draft preparations prior to the 2007 draft. Spielman also would be among the first to admit that his batting average in those picks isn’t the best.

But it has come a long way since the team took cornerback Marcus McCauley in the third round (72nd overall) in 2000 and safety Tyrell Johnson in the second round (43rd) in 2008.

Considering the problems the Vikings have faced within their division with an undermanned secondary in recent years, the team’s inability to draft defensive backs ranks right up there with the frustrations of not being able to land a franchise quarterback. Theoretically, it should be easier to find multiple useful to elite corners and safeties throughout the draft. But only recently has that begun to happen for the Vikings.

Spielman could argue that it has only happened since he was given final say over personnel decisions as general manager in 2012. Since then, he has traded back into the first round to pick free safety Harrison Smith in 2012 and selected cornerback Xavier Rhodes 25th overall last year.

Smith and Rhodes should be cornerstones in the secondary for years. Pro Bowls and All-Pro honors are possibilities, particularly for Smith, if good health and their current career arcs are maintained.

But the Vikings need more help. They face Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and their dangerous arsenals of receivers a combined six times a year. So you can count on a defensive back or two being selected at some point next week. Don’t be surprised if it’s safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or one of the top two corners, Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard, in the first round.

In the seven drafts since 2007, the Vikings have selected 11 defensive backs. They took three in 2012 and two in 2009 and 2011.

Hits: Smith, Rhodes, Jamarca Sanford (seventh round, 2010).

Misses: McCauley, Johnson, Asher Allen (third round, 2009), Chris Cook (second round, 2010), Brandon Burton (fifth round, 2011), Mistral Raymond (sixth round, 2011).

Still to be determined: Josh Robinson (third round, 2012), Robert Blanton (fifth round, 2012).

PROJECTED STARTERS: CBs Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn; FS Smith, SS Sanford.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT: Safety Kurt Coleman. The free-agent acquisition from Philadelphia has experience (29 starts) and youth (25), and had some decent production (seven picks from 2010-2012) before falling out of favor with new coach Chip Kelly a year ago. He could force his way alongside Smith as a starter.

LEVEL OF NEED: High. The team needs six starting-caliber defensive backs to be productive in the nickel and dime packages that are so vital in today’s NFL. Right now, they know they have two (Smith and Rhodes) that they can expect to play at a consistently high level if healthy.

FIVE PROSPECTS TO REMEMBER: Alabama free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward, Gophers strong safety Brock Vereen.

OUR BEST GUESS: The Vikings will take a safety and a corner. One of them will come in the first two days of the draft (Rounds 1-3).

20-year perspective: Vikings' 223rd overall pick

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: May 1, 2014 - 11:42 AM

TODAY'S LOOK BACK: The 223rd overall pick.

Looking back on previous NFL drafts is oh so much clearer than looking ahead to the next one. So today, we'll go back through the past 20 drafts to give some historical perspective on the 223rd overall pick, which the Vikings own in the seventh round of next week's draft. We'll work our way up to the first round with a daily look at each round.

Pro Bowlers picked No. 223 since 1994: None.

Have the Vikings picked No. 223 since 1994?: Yes. In 1996, they took Duke tackle Jon Merrill. He never played for the Vikings or in the NFL.

Ouch 1: In 1998, the Cowboys took running back Tarik Smith. He never played a game. When the draft was over, the Rams signed linebacker London Fletcher as a rookie free agent from Division III John Carroll in Cleveland. Fletcher played 256 games over 17 seasons for three teams before retiring after last season.

Ouch 2: In 2002, the Cardinals took tight end Mike Banks. He played 18 games with no starts. Nineteen picks later, the Steelers signed defensive end Brett Keisel. And if that weren't enough, the Steelers also signed linebacker James Harrison as a rookie free agent. Keisel and Harrison helped the Steelers win a couple of Super Bowls. Harrison was the league's defensive player of the year in 2008.

Ouch 3: In 2003, the Ravens took tight end Trent Smith. He played five games. After the draft, the Chargers signed three rookie free agents -- tight end Antonio Gates, guard Kris Dielman and receiver Kassim Osgood -- who have combined on 15 Pro Bowl appearances.

Here's a year-by-year look back at the No. 223 pick:

2013: The Pick: DT Nicholas Williams, Steelers. Could Have Had: Free-agent TE Joseph Fauria, Lions.

2012: The Pick: OLB Travis Lewis, Lions. Could Have Had: Free-agent LB Vontaze Burfict, Bengals.

2011: The Pick: FB Shane Bannon, Chiefs. Could Have Had: LB Malcolm Smith (No. 242), Seahawks.

2010: The Pick: CB R.J. Stanford, Panthers. Could Have Had: Free-agent WR Victor Cruz, Giants.

2009: The Pick: S Troy Nolan, Texans. Also took: Free-agent RB Arian Foster, Texans.

2008: The Pick: QB Alex Brink, Texans. Could Have Had: Free-agent FB Mike Tolbert, Chargers.

2007: The Pick: OT Mike Otto, Titans. Could Have Had: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (No. 250), Giants.

2006: The Pick: QB D.J. Shockley, Falcons. Could Have Had: Free-agent WR Miles Auston, Cowboys.

2005: The Pick: WR Marcus Maxwell, 49ers. Could Have Had: NT Jay Ratliff (No. 224), Cowboys; QB Matt Cassel (No. 230), Patriots.

2004: The Pick: CB Jacques Reeves, Cowboys. Could Have Had: C Scott Wells (No. 251), Packers; free-agent WR Wes Welker.

2003: The Pick: TE Trent Smith, Ravens. Could Have Had: Free-agent QB Tony Romo, Cowboys; free-agent TE Antonio Gates, Chargers; free-agent G Kris Dielman, Chargers; free-agent WR Kassim Osgood, Chargers.

2002: The Pick: TE Mike Banks, Cardinals. Could Have Had: DE Brett Keisel (No. 242), Steelers; Free-agent LB James Harrison.

2001: The Pick: SS Than Merrill, Buccaneers. Could Have Had: Free-agent LB Antonio Pierce, Redskins.

2000: The Pick: DE James Cotton, Bears. Could Have Had: Free-agent C Shaun O'Hara, Browns.

1999: The Pick: OT Ryan Young, Jets. Could Have Had: Free-agent TE Jermaine Wiggins, Jets.

1998: The Pick: RB Tarik Smith, Cowboys. Could Have Had: Free-agent LB London Fletcher, Rams;  free-agent C Jeff Saturday, Colts.

1997: The Pick: WR Mike Adams, Steelers. Could Have Had: Free-agent NT Pat Williams, Bills; free-agent RB Priest Holmes, Ravens.

1996: The Pick: OT Jon Merrill, Vikings. Could Have Had: Free-agent K Adam Vinatieri, Patriots.

1995: The Pick: LB Jessie Cox, Colts. Could Have Had: Free-agent WR Wayne Chrebet, Jets.

1994: The Pick: None. There were only 222 picks. Could Have Had: Free-agent QB Kurt Warner, Packers; Free-agent S Robert Griffith, Vikings.

20-year perspective: Vikings' 223rd overall pick

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: May 1, 2014 - 11:13 AM

TODAY'S LOOK BACK: The 223rd overall pick.

Looking back on previous NFL drafts is oh so much clearer than looking ahead to the next one. So today, we'll go back through the past 20 drafts to give some historical perspective on the 223rd overall pick, which the Vikings own in the seventh round of next week's draft. We'll work our way up to the first round with a daily look at each round.

Pro Bowlers picked No. 223 since 1994: None.

Have the Vikings picked No. 223 since 1994?: Yes. In 1996, they took Duke tackle Jon Merrill. He never played for the Vikings or in the NFL.

Ouch 1: In 1998, the Cowboys took running back Tarik Smith. He never played a game. When the draft was over, the Rams signed linebacker London Fletcher as a rookie free agent from Division III John Carroll in Cleveland. Fletcher played 256 games over 17 seasons for three teams before retiring after last season.

Ouch 2: In 2002, the Cardinals took tight end Mike Banks. He played 18 games with no starts. Nineteen picks later, the Steelers signed defensive end Brett Keisel. And if that weren't enough, the Steelers also signed linebacker James Harrison as a rookie free agent. Keisel and Harrison helped the Steelers win a couple of Super Bowls. Harrison was the league's defensive player of the year in 2008.

Ouch 3: In 2003, the Ravens took tight end Trent Smith. He played five games. After the draft, the Chargers signed three rookie free agents -- tight end Antonio Gates, guard Kris Dielman and receiver Kassim Osgood -- who have combined on 15 Pro Bowl appearances.

Here's a year-by-year look back at the No. 223 pick:

2013: The Pick: DT Nicholas Williams, Steelers. Could Have Had: Free-agent TE Joseph Fauria, Lions.

2012: The Pick: OLB Travis Lewis, Lions. Could Have Had: Free-agent LB Vontaze Burfict, Bengals.

2011: The Pick: FB Shane Bannon, Chiefs. Could Have Had: LB Malcolm Smith (No. 242), Seahawks.

2010: The Pick: CB R.J. Stanford, Panthers. Could Have Had: Free-agent WR Victor Cruz, Giants.

2009: The Pick: S Troy Nolan, Texans. Also took: Free-agent RB Arian Foster, Texans.

2008: The Pick: QB Alex Brink, Texans. Could Have Had: Free-agent FB Mike Tolbert, Chargers.

2007: The Pick: OT Mike Otto, Titans. Could Have Had: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (No. 250), Giants.

2006: The Pick: QB D.J. Shockley, Falcons. Could Have Had: Free-agent WR Miles Auston, Cowboys.

2005: The Pick: WR Marcus Maxwell, 49ers. Could Have Had: NT Jay Ratliff (No. 224), Cowboys; QB Matt Cassel (No. 230), Patriots.

2004: The Pick: CB Jacques Reeves, Cowboys. Could Have Had: C Scott Wells (No. 251), Packers; free-agent WR Wes Welker.

2003: The Pick: TE Trent Smith, Ravens. Could Have Had: Free-agent QB Tony Romo, Cowboys; free-agent TE Antonio Gates, Chargers; free-agent G Kris Dielman, Chargers; free-agent WR Kassim Osgood, Chargers.

2002: The Pick: TE Mike Banks, Cardinals. Could Have Had: DE Brett Keisel (No. 242), Steelers; Free-agent LB James Harrison.

2001: The Pick: SS Than Merrill, Buccaneers. Could Have Had: Free-agent LB Antonio Pierce, Redskins.

2000: The Pick: DE James Cotton, Bears. Could Have Had: Free-agent C Shaun O'Hara, Browns.

1999: The Pick: OT Ryan Young, Jets. Could Have Had: Free-agent TE Jermaine Wiggins, Jets.

1998: The Pick: RB Tarik Smith, Cowboys. Could Have Had: Free-agent LB London Fletcher, Rams;  free-agent C Jeff Saturday, Colts.

1997: The Pick: WR Mike Adams, Steelers. Could Have Had: Free-agent NT Pat Williams, Bills; free-agent RB Priest Holmes, Ravens.

1996: The Pick: OT Jon Merrill, Vikings. Could Have Had: Free-agent K Adam Vinatieri, Patriots.

1995: The Pick: LB Jessie Cox, Colts. Could Have Had: Free-agent WR Wayne Chrebet, Jets.

1994: The Pick: None. There were only 222 picks. Could Have Had: Free-agent QB Kurt Warner, Packers; Free-agent S Robert Griffith, Vikings.

Totally unfounded Vikings trade speculation and the cost of moving up or down

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 25, 2014 - 1:21 PM

The NFL draft being held in early May means that we will be subjected to an additional two weeks of relentless draft speculation. Frankly, I’m feeling a little left out.

So since it’s almost the weekend, let’s get wacky and put our speculating hats on and take a look at which teams picking around the Vikings might be interested in brokering a draft night trade.

Heck, this might even be informative. After all, G.M. Rick Spielman has shown he isn’t afraid to wheel and deal, so it is worth getting an idea of what it would cost to move up from No. 8 and what could be gained from moving down, according to the old-school NFL draft value chart. Of course, demand (or lack thereof) can change the cost, but the chart is a helpful starting point.

SCENARIO #1: BLOCKBUSTER TRADE WITH THE RAMS

Spielman has made aggressive trade-ups in each of the past two drafts, but that would be nothing compared to a potential bold move for the No. 2 pick. The Rams have two picks in the top 13 and there is speculation they could be looking to drop back from No. 2 and accumulate more picks. So what would it cost Spielman to make a splash by moving up six spots? The value chart says a fair deal would be trading the Rams a 2014 second-rounder and a 2015 second-rounder (and maybe throwing in a late-round pick). Of course, the cost would likely be even greater if the Texans passed on Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick. The Rams could really cash in then.

SCENARIO #2: JUMPING UP TWO OR THREE SPOTS

The Raiders at No. 5 and the Falcons at No. 6 are two teams that could end up dropping back. The Raiders have a ton of needs and could benefit from adding a couple of extra picks. The Falcons, meanwhile, are a team that many feel could try to move up because they gambled a couple of years ago on Julio Jones. But that deal hurt their overall depth, and they could look to replenish the roster if they feel they can get a player they really like a couple of picks later. A second-round pick or a combination of a third and a fourth might be enough to get this done.

SCENARIO #3: CATCHING A FALLING STAR (QB)

Now it’s time to really start speculating. Say the Vikings really love a certain star quarterback. We’ll call him Johnny Bridgebortles. He is still on the board at No. 7, but the Vikings get a call from the Buccaneers, who inform them that a team in the teens has expressed an interest in trading up for a quarterback. Maybe it’s real. Maybe it’s not. But if you love a certain QB, do you have the stones to sit tight at No. 8? To move up, it might cost a fourth-rounder. Or maybe even one of your two third-round picks. But if you really believe that Johnny Bridgebortles is the answer at quarterback -- and I’m not saying they think he is -- it’s a deal you might be forced to make.

SCENARIO #4: DETROIT WANTS A WIDE RECEIVER

Another popular draft rumor you keep hearing -- and that fact that you keep hearing it might prompt you to question its merits -- is that the Lions want to trade up and select a wide receiver to play alongside Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Wait, these are the Lions we are talking about, so trading up for a wide receiver actually sounds totally legitimate. Anyway, if Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans is still on the board and the Vikings aren’t all that interested, they could score an extra fourth-round pick by swapping picks with the Lions, who have the No. 10 pick.

SCENARIO #5: DROPPING TO THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK

Spielman is known for trading up. But with a new coach tasked with overhauling the league’s 31st-ranked defense, maybe he considers dropping back to give Mike Zimmer a couple of extra draft picks to build with. One team that comes to mind is the Rams, who are picking at No. 13. But since we’re throwing stuff off the wall here, let’s look at what the Vikings could stand to get if, say, the Ravens wanted to make a Spielmanian move up the draft order. It might bum you out if the Vikings were to slide back nine picks, but would you feel better about it if they added a second-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a late-round pick in 2015? It’s something to think about.

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