Hartman: Pressure is on Vikings draft picks to produce

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 22, 2013 - 8:54 PM
hide

The Vikings hope this year’s draft class — led by their three first-round picks, defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, defensive back Xavier Rhodes and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson — can perform as well as last year’s group did. The team’s 2012 draft class included standouts such as Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith and Blair Walsh, among others.

Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Without a doubt, the Vikings’ excellent 2012 draft had a lot to do with the team finishing 10-6 and advancing to the NFC playoffs.

They grabbed left tackle Matt Kalil with the No. 4 overall pick, a move that enabled them to move Charlie Johnson back to his more natural position at left guard, then grabbed Kalil’s Southern California teammate, running back Rhett Ellison, in the fourth round.

Those two players effectively helped to counteract any major negative effects from the retirement of Jim Kleinsasser, who had been so instrumental in the blocking schemes for more than a decade.

Then the surprise pick came in the sixth round when they selected Georgia kicker Blair Walsh, which effectively ended Ryan Longwell’s tenure with the squad. Special teams coach Mike Priefer had looked extensively at Walsh’s technique and saw that a few minor changes could turn him into the All-Pro he was in his rookie season.

But last season saw just a few major pieces that needed to be replaced: Kleinsasser retired, and the team chose to release or not re-sign veterans such as Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, E.J. Henderson and Cedric Griffin, all of whom were not as effective as they were earlier in their careers.

When it comes to replacements this year, it will be a different story.

At the top of the list, the Vikings have to replace Percy Harvin, a great wide receiver, kick returner and running back who was traded to Seattle. Their top defensive back for years has been Antoine Winfield, who was released and also ended up with the Seahawks. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who started every game, signed with Arizona. And then eight-year punter Chris Kluwe was released and signed with Oakland.

The Vikings drafted punter Jeff Locke of UCLA to replace Kluwe, but he doesn’t have the NFL experience that Kluwe had, not only punting in crucial situations but also as an outstanding holder.

At this point they don’t have a middle linebacker to replace Brinkley, although Erin Henderson has a chance to do that job. But if that happens, they need to find somebody who can replace Henderson at outside linebacker.

The plan is for free agent Greg Jennings and first-round draft choice Cordarrelle Patterson to replace some of the offense Harvin produced and hope that Locke can match Kluwe in punting and as a holder.

And last but not least, the Vikings don’t have somebody with the experience and production that Winfield provided in his long career here.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, director of college scouting Scott Studwell and others in the team’s front office should be able to provide the replacements just as they have in the past. But the team needs this year’s draft class to perform as well as last year’s did.

Peterson praises Spielman

Adrian Peterson was on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday and talked about where he sees the team going, and also about the big departure of Harvin.

“You know, I feel like the pieces are coming,” Peterson said. “Our GM, Rick Spielman, has done a great job in the first two years of bringing in guys who have been productive and helped this offense flourish, and defensively as well.

“Greg Jennings is a guy I have played against and watched several times on the sidelines, I’m always asking myself, ‘How is he getting so open?’ Now being in OTAs and being around that guy, I see why.”

Regarding quarterback Christian Ponder, he said: “The biggest piece, he is definitely getting more comfortable and that confidence is showing through, that’s something I’ve been able to see the past month. We have the right pieces and we’re headed in the right direction.”

Peterson was also asked if he thought the departure of Harvin was necessary to move the team forward if the star receiver truly wasn’t happy here.

“I don’t know, it’s kind of hard because it’s hard to replace a guy like Percy, to be honest with you,” he said. “But if you have a guy that really doesn’t want to be there, if that’s the case, then yes, it’s better off for the team. For whatever reason he wasn’t happy where he was, and now he’s in Seattle and I wish him the best.”

Buxton could be moving

Twins 2012 first-round pick Byron Buxton continues to dominate at Class A Cedar Rapids. He entered Saturday second in the Midwest League in hitting with a .338 average, is first in on-base percentage at .428, fourth in RBI with 52 and first by a lot in runs scored with 66.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan likes what he sees from Buxton and believes he will be moved up soon.

“He has a chance to be real good,” Ryan said. “He’s got all the skills, the makeup, he’s athletic, a pure center fielder, can run, throw, field, hit, power, steal a base and makeup. That’s why we took him. He’s off to a good start at Cedar Rapids, and that’s just as important. We’re looking for guys not only with those ceiling tools but also guys that perform, and he’s doing all the above.”

Jottings

• Look for Timberwolves President Flip Saunders to make every effort to draft Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who would give the Wolves just what they need in the backcourt.

• The top three Vikings draft picks should receive signing bonuses in this order: Sharrif Floyd, $4.2 million; Xavier Rhodes, $4.1 million; and Cordarrelle Patterson, $3.6 million, according to the 2013 estimates of NFL teams’ rookie pool. The Vikings have signed all their draft picks except those three.

• During the past two Final Fours, the Wall Street Journal has published the values of top college basketball programs as figured by Ryan Brewer of Indiana University-Purdue University-Columbus. Last year’s report placed the Gophers 10th in the nation and third in the Big Ten with a worth of $87.9 million. The Gophers didn’t make the top 10 this year, but Brewer said in an e-mail that the Gophers came in at No. 12 this year with a valuation of $114.76 million.

• Minnesota native Tom Lehman has played in eight events this year on the Champions Tour and has earned $390,590. Lehman also toured the Children’s of Alabama hospital earlier this month before the Regions Tradition tournament with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

• Connor Mayes, a center from Van Alstyne, Texas, who recently committed to the Gophers, has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 4 in San Antonio.

• Twins President David St. Peter reported the club and Major League Baseball expect to unveil the 2014 All Star Game logo sometime in August. Tickets will be sold in three-event strips, including the Futures Game, the workout day/Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself. Twins season-ticket holders will be given priority.



 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close