VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

Posts about Vikings fans

VikesCentric: The Vikings' first-round history at this year's 'need' positions

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: April 23, 2013 - 11:50 AM

The countdown to the Thursday night start of the NFL Draft is officially on. No, we don't have an actual clock ticking down the seconds on the wall here at the SportsData offices, but I wouldn't be opposed to the idea. Then again, I'm sure NFL Network and ESPN will have one gracing the corner of their screen soon enough.

 
As the countdown winds down, Vikings fans and media members continue to speculate who the team will select with their bevy of picks. Most of the focus centers on four positions of need: wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and defensive line.
 
What's that? Teams don't draft for need? They just take the best player available regardless of position. Yeah, right. And Manti Te'o had a real online relationship with a real girl.
 
Speaking of Te'o, the whole catfish saga is water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. It was all pretty dumb. He probably lied or made up some of it to cover his butt and I'm sure he was embarrassed by the whole mess. But who among us is proud of 100 percent of what they did during their college years? [crickets] If Te'o doesn't have some kind of compulsive lying disorder, I only care about whether he can play football. Likewise, if the Vikings or any other team think he can play, they likely won't downgrade him for the bizarre episode that played out last fall or the media frenzy that's sure to follow him this summer.
 
In fact, I would not be one bit surprised if Te'o were to wind up with the Vikings. And they'll have to take him with one of those first round picks if they want him, barring some trade maneuvers to move into the early second round.  I think he goes in round one.
 
The talk of linebackers, wide receivers, corners and d-linemen got the VikesCentric crew reflecting on past first-round picks the Vikings have spent on the aforementioned positions identified most often as their need positions.
 
Let's take a glance back at Vikings history, shall we?
 
Vikings First-round selections      
       
Defensive linemen Wide Receivers Linebackers Cornerbacks
Erasmus James (2005) Percy Harvin (2009) Chad Greenway (2006) D. Washington (1994)
Kenechi Udeze (2004) Troy Williamson (2005) Dwayne Rudd (1997)  
Kevin Williams (2003) Randy Moss (1998) Fred McNeill (1974)  
Chris Hovan (2000) Gene Washington (1967) Jeff Seimon (1972)  
Dimitrius Underwood (1999) Jack Snow (1965)    
Duane Clemons (1996)      
Derrick Alexander (1995)      
Gerald Robinson (1986)      
Chris Doleman (1985)      
Keith Millard (1984)      
Doug Martin (1980)      
Randy Halloway (1978)      
James White (1976)      
Mark Mullaney (1975)      
Alan Page (1967)      
Jerry Shay (1966)      
Carl Eller (1964)      
Jim Dunaway (1972)      
 
As you can see in the chart above, the Vikings have spent a lot of first-round picks on defensive linemen with varying degrees of success. The good includes three Hall of Famers (Eller, Page and Doleman) along with an All-Pro (Millard). The bad includes almost everyone else (I said almost), with special distinction going to Underwood as the worst Vikings draft pick of all time. In fact, the Vikings have spent more first-round draft picks on defensive linemen (18) than any position, but have not done so since Erasmus James in 2005. With Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen all entering the final year of their contracts, they may increase that number by one.
 
Here's a breakdown of Vikings first-round draft picks:
Vikings First-round selections by position      
QB RB WR OL DL LB CB S
3 10 5 7 18 4 1 2
 
An entire list of Vikings first-round picks can be found here.
 
If the Vikings do wind up taking Te'o, he will become just the fifth linebacker ever selected in the first-round by the team. Of the previous four linebackers selected, three turned out golden (Greenway, McNeill and Seimon). That's a nice precedent of success.
 
The Vikings history of first-round wide receivers has been all over the map: one bust (Williamson), one player who spent his entire career with a team other than the Vikings (Snow), one All-Pro who played just seven years (Washington)… and then the talented yet enigmatic Harvin and Moss.
 
The team's history at cornerbacks selected in the first-round is brief, as you can see. I had to double-check this one to be certain the count was correct. But it's true -- Dewayne Washington is the only cornerback the Vikings have ever selected in the first round. That's the lowest of any position aside from tight end, kicker and punter – on which they have never used a first-rounder.
 
Of course, none of this really matters to general manager Rick Speilman. I'm pretty certain he's not going to review the Vikings' first-round history by position and let it help dictate which players they'll select. It is, however, pretty interesting and pretty fun to look back at the breakdown. Besides, those among you who are card-carrying Vikings rubes might be able to use this data to stump your friends with some Vikings Draft Day trivia Thursday.
 
I'll see you at the Draft Party at Mall of America Field. Enjoy the festivities.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: What uniform changes do you want to see?

Posted by: Updated: March 31, 2013 - 1:05 AM

The news rocketed through the Internets this week – the Vikings will introduce a redesigned uniform at their 2013 Draft Party at Mall of America Field on April 25. Ever since the team overhauled their look in 2006 (aka Year 1 of the Wilf Regime) traditionalists have been grumbling about their space-age clown suits that look like rejects from an Arena Football League catalog. 

And let's face it – for the first 45 years in the Vikings' history, not much changed in their uniform set. Purple pants were briefly an option in the early 60s, the tint of the home jerseys seemed to lighten a bit over the years, and the stripes on the sleeve of the purple jerseys disappeared for a time. But that's about it. So a bit of resistance to the 2006 change was to be expected. 

But rumors are swirling that the new look will bring the team closer to the throwback versions they've worn from time to time in the last seven years. You know, the uniforms that generally set Twitter ablaze with Vikings fans saying they should wear them every week. 

Even though Nike is behind the redesign, the hope here is that the Vikings return to more of a classic look. If you can't wait until April 25, go to VikingsUniformInsider.com and sign up for an account that will allow you to leverage various forms of social media to earn sneak previews of the new uniforms. 

Here's a quick list of changes one life-long Vikings fan would like to see: 

1.     Get rid of the swooshes. I know, it's Nike, but the contrasting panels on the sides of the jerseys and the horn-like stripes down the sides of the pants scream "branding opportunity." Solid purple, solid white, with traditional purple-and-gold stripes on the pants, please.

2.     A darker shade of purple. The home jerseys look positively washed out compared to the glory days of the 1970s. Maybe they decided to lighten the tint when the team moved indoors, where the old lighting and dingy dome roof made every game feel like a night game, but come on – they're not the Lavender People Eaters. Besides, the current roof at the dome allows much more light to filter through, and they'll be outdoors for two seasons, so let's get back to the darker purple jerseys and helmets.

3.     Gray facemasks. For 20 years, the team was fine with gray facemasks. They dabbled with white for five years, but they've been purple since the mid-80s. But the gray cages look so sweet with those throwback jerseys. Just bring them back full-time.

4.     Black shoes. Did you know that the Vikings switched to white shoes in 1983? What else happened in 1983? Oh yeah … Les Steckel happened in 1983. The football gods clearly were not happy with the flashy footwear. The Wilfs brought back the black kicks in 2006, probably the only true improvement in that set of uniforms. Let's keep 'em.

5.     No more purple pants, at least for home games. I realize this is more of a regulation on the usage of the uniform components, but if the choice is no purple pants or the possibility that the Vikings taking the field looking like a giant bruise, I'll go with the first option. If they promise to only wear purple pants with their white jerseys … OK, I'm down with it. But please, let's not repeat this ever again. 

What changes do you want to see when the new uniforms are revealed on April 25? What do you like best and hate most about the different looks the Vikings have sported over the years? Leave your observations in the comments.  

Patrick Donnelly is a Senior Editor at SportsData, a contributor to the 2012 Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for FOXSportsNorth.com, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.

VikesCentric: Jennings' value (both real and fantasy) remain intact

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2013 - 11:05 AM

The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricey. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.

 
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
 
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
 
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
 
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
 
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
 
That could make him a fantasy value.
 
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
 
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
 
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
 
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Jennings' value (both real and fantasy) remain intact

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2013 - 11:00 AM

The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricy. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.

 
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
 
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
 
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
 
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
 
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
 
That could make him a fantasy value.
 
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
 
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
 
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
 
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsDataand a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric Extra: What happens now that Harvin is gone?

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 11, 2013 - 2:25 PM

I was plugging away at our palatial SportsData offices late this morning when NFL insider Adam Schefter appeared on SportsCenter telling ESPN's audience that the Vikings were in serious talks with the Seahawks about a trade involving Percy Harvin for draft picks. Not 10 minutes later my Tweetdeck feed blew up with reports that the deal was done, pending a physical.

 
"That escalated quickly" – Ron Burgundy
 
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports was the first to report it, according to my scorecard, not that it matters much. Within seconds, others like ESPN 1500's Tom Pelissero and the Star Tribune also had it. Within minutes, reaction to the blockbuster took off via Twitter… including much of my own (@BoMitchell).
 
Yeah, some of the reaction was clearly of the tongue-in-cheek variety (see photo) and much of it was wild speculation. That's where we come in.
 
We'll probably know a lot more within the next 24-36 hours, as NFL free agency kicks off at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday, but what say you, Vikings fans? Where do the Vikings go from here at wide receiver?
 
If it wasn't already their most glaring position of need, it most certainly is now.
 
Reports currently have the Vikings armed with at least $17 million in salary cap space as well as two first-round draft picks (their own pick plus the Seahawks' pick in return for Harvin.) That's solid ammo to go after wide receiver help.
 
The most immediate reaction to the news was that the Vikings now have more cap room to make a run at Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings in free agency. And more of a dire need to do so.
 
The Palm Beach Post reported Monday that Wallace to the Dolphins was a "done deal," but that was before the Harvin Twitter bomb exploded. The USA Today had a piece on Jennings over the weekend in which the soon-to-be-former Packers wide receiver said that the quality of quarterback would be a factor in deciding where to sign in free agency. That would seem to work against the Vikings, but never forget: money talks. Plus Jennings seems to have a certain level of admiration for Adrian Peterson, if his late-season comments are any indication.
 
One theory has the Vikings taking one of those first-round picks and making an offer to Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is a restricted free agent and was assigned a first-round tender about an hour after the Harvin news broke. Should the Vikings make Cruz an offer he can't resist to come and do his salsa dancing in Minnesota? They have an "extra" first-round pick to give the Giants now.
 
Then there's Larry Fitzgerald, for whom many Vikings fans have been pining for a long time. "Bring home, Larry," the thinking goes. "He's one of us. He belongs in purple." There's no arguing he'd be a great fit in the Vikings offense (or pretty much any offense for that matter). There's also no arguing with the potential PR bonanza, jersey sales, etc. Fitzgerald has never been a malcontent a la the departing Harvin. Quite the opposite, actually – he's long been considered a "good guy." To borrow a popular Twitter meme, if the NFL were the WWE, Fitzgerald would be a face and Harvin would be a heel. Both are fantastic, yet different, talents.
 
Of course, the Vikings could just stay the course, lay low in free agency, and grab one or two wide receivers in the draft. Having multiple first-round picks also affords them the option of moving up in round one to grab someone they really covet.
 
Let's face it, the Vikings had to get rid of Harvin because it's likely only a sliver of what actually transpired between him and the team was ever made public. He was going to be a free agent in a year, was likely going to hold out, reportedly didn't want to be here and definitely would have left in 12 months for a fat payday elsewhere. They got a good return for him, all things considered, as my VikesCentric colleague Ted Carlson points out. Moreover, if the likes of Wallace, Jennings, Cruz, Fitzgerald, or some other wide receiving talent we're not even considering yet, winds up in Purple as a result, even better.
 
Time for you to weigh in, Vikings fans… who would you like to see your team pursue at wide receiver now that Percy is gone?
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Harvin package exceeds expectations

Posted by: Updated: March 11, 2013 - 2:05 PM

Well done, Rick Spielman.

We'll likely never have all of the insider details around the Vikings' choice to trade Percy Harvin, but if it absolutely had to happen, the Purple did well in netting a sizable return for the dynamic, multi-faceted All-Pro.

Harvin brings a different skill set to the table than a typical NFL wide receiver, but prior to a deal being done, we still had to gauge his trade value against recent history. A few weeks ago, I told fellow VikesCentric bloggers Bo Mitchell and Patrick Donnelly that people were crazy to think we'd even get a first-round pick for Percy.

My evidence:

>>In March 2012, the Bears acquired Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins in exchange for two third-round picks.

>>In October 2011, the Rams acquired Brandon Lloyd from the Broncos for a conditional sixth-round pick (turned into a fifth). Lloyd led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010.

>>In April 2011, the Jets acquired Santonio Holmes from the Steelers for a fifth-round pick. Holmes had 79 catches and 1,248 yards in 2010.

>>In March 2010, the Dolphins acquired Marshall from the Broncos in exchange for two second-round picks.

>>In March 2010, the Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals in exchange for a third-round and a fourth-round pick.

Again, I understand that Harvin possesses a unique package of talents beyond just being a pass-catcher and is still headed into his prime years. But he also carries off-field baggage and a reported desire to sign a $16.5 million/year contract (or something close to that) in the very near future.

Given all that came with Harvin (good and bad) and given recent NFL history with notable wide receiver trades, Vikings fans should at least be pleased that the squad received a first-rounder (2013), a seventh-rounder (2013), and a mid-round pick (2014).

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