VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData and Patrick Donnelly, who has written on a variety of Minnesota sports topics. Mitchell and Donnelly are Twin Cities-based Vikings and NFL experts who crunch numbers, watch video and tell you what's on their minds.

Posts about Vikings

VikesCentric: Four who flashed vs. Houston

Posted by: Patrick Donnelly Updated: August 10, 2013 - 1:34 AM

We're going to debut a new feature here at VikesCentric for the hotly awaited 2013 preseason (also known as the NFL's annual festival of gouging season-ticket holders by charging full price for a glorified scrimmage). We're calling it "Four Who Flashed" because "flashing" is our favorite preseason football cliché. No, it has nothing to do with Dino Ciccarelli (but just to be safe, don't read this with your garage door open). It's a buzzword used by the likes of Mike Mayock to describe a player who showed tremendous ability on the football field, perhaps even rising beyond expectations to merit extra attention. And we're limiting it to the preseason because in the regular season we'd have to call it "Adrian Peterson and Three Other Guys" – though we discussed tweaking it in Week 1 and calling it "While You Were Having Your Breath Taken Away by Adrian Peterson" to highlight the work of one of the less-heralded 52 Vikings. Honestly, we're still workshopping it. Stay tuned.

So without further delay, here are the Four Who Flashed on Friday night against the Texans:

1. Stephen Burton – The Vikings' seventh-round pick in 2011 hasn't had much of a chance to shine since leaving the hardscrabble (we assume) fields of West Texas A&M. With seven total catches in his first two NFL seasons, he's clearly fighting for a job this year. His performance on Friday gave him a leg up on the competition. The 52-yard catch-and-run, complete with the stop-on-a-dime cutback at midfield that broke the play wide open, surely caught your eye. I was more sold on his downfield blocking, particularly on Zach Line's rumble down the sideline for the Vikings' sole touchdown of the night. Those are the kinds of plays that will help Burton stick around in Minneapolis for another glorious season of Vikings football.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson – We're going to have to learn how to spell this guy's name without looking it up pretty soon (pro tip: if you think a consonant should be doubled, you're probably right). Because it's becoming increasingly clear the Vikings are going to find a way to get the ball in his hands this year. His 50-yard kickoff return to open the game electrified the crowd (as much as one can electrify a preseason crowd) and he showcased his guts and girth by going over the middle and bouncing off would-be tacklers en route to a 4-catch, 54-yard night. I'm still not sure he got all 10 toes in bounds on that sideline catch in the second quarter, and you can quibble about him letting a Matt Cassel dying quail slip through his fingers, but for one week at least, you can close your eyes and imagine Patterson picking up at least some of the slack left by Percy Harvin's departure.

3. Sharrif Floyd – Playing the role of Kevin Williams on Friday night (because Williams was playing the role of a highly paid spectator, like most of the Vikings' starters), Floyd batted down a pass at the line, broke through for a tackle-for-loss, and generally provided energy on the second-team d-line. He gave everybody quite a scare when he crumpled to the ground with a knee injury, but postgame reports indicate that he could have returned had the game meant anything, which, of course, it most definitely did not, unless you're the Wilfs' accountant. But he's got a lot on his mind this week anyway, so Floyd joined his mentor on the sidelines for the remainder of the game and that's probably for the best.

4. John Carlson – No former Notre Dame player who didn't have a fake girlfriend was more eager to see the 2013 season begin than Carlson, who cashed a big paycheck to come back home and then caught only eight balls in another injury-riddled season. On Friday, with fellow ex-Domer Kyle Rudolph a mildly interested spectator, Carlson was on the other end of two passes from Cassel. One took the offense inside the 5-yard line before True MVP Blair Walsh hit the first of his two field goals on the night. The other was a quick-hitter that resulted in Carlson being quickly hit by numerous Texans. That he held onto both balls was a good sign. That he popped right back up and rejoined the fray was an even better sign. You might have heard that multiple tight ends are all the rage in the NFL these days, and if the Vikings can pair Rudolph with a healthy Carlson for 16 games, their offense will be a bit more dangerous on days when Peterson is held to 175 or so rushing yards.


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

VikesCentric: Bishop is latest Packer to cross St. Croix

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: July 24, 2013 - 9:15 AM

The NFL doesn't have a true offseason, what with the draft and OTAs and minicamps filling the time between the Super Bowl and the start of training camp. Even in the month-long quiet period, when most players and coaches and personnel types are reacquainting themselves with their families and friends and pets, the Vikings usually seem to make news.

They did so again on Monday, signing former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop to a one-year contract. Thus Bishop becomes the latest in a long line of former Packers – Greg Jennings, Brett Favre, Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, et al – to cross the St. Croix River and catch on with Green Bay's rival to the west.

The signing is pretty low-risk for the Purple. Bishop, who will turn 29 in a month, spent all of last season on the Packers' IR with a torn hamstring, so when Green Bay decided to release him last week, he didn't have much leverage in contract negotiations. The Vikings, meanwhile, were prepared to go into training camp with Erin Henderson at middle linebacker and an assortment of rookies and undrafted free agent-types battling it out for the weakside spot.

Don't assume, however, that Bishop's presence means Henderson will automatically move back to his starting spot on the weakside. Reports from OTAs and minicamp were that Henderson was impressing in the middle, and Bishop has experience playing outside and inside in the Packers' 3-4 defense. The plan going forward appears to be to let both veterans get reps at both linebacker spots before the coaching staff settles on who will line up next to Chad Greenway and who'll play on the outside.

Given that Bishop racked up 8.0 sacks in his last two seasons with the Packers, don't be surprised if he finds himself on the weakside with a chance to rush the passer, leaving Henderson – who's more familiar with Alan Williams' defense – in the middle to call the signals.

Either way, sit back and enjoy hearing Packers fans whine about the defection of another one of their former favorite sons. That's always fun, no matter the time of year.


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

VikesCentric: What they gave up for Patterson

Posted by: Patrick Donnelly Updated: April 26, 2013 - 11:30 AM

The first round of the NFL Draft was a whirlwind on Thursday night. The Vikings got a gift when Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd fell to them at No. 23, and they got a replacement for Antoine Winfield in Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25.

But the biggest story of the night was yet to come. The Vikings pulled off a deal with New England, sending four picks (Nos. 52, 83, 102 and 229) to the Patriots for the 29th pick, which they used to select Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

(One quick aside: The Purple needed a quality receiver for a couple of important reasons – to make up for the loss of Percy Harvin, and to give themselves the best chance possible to truly evaluate Christian Ponder this year. At the end of the 2013 season, they absolutely have to know whether Ponder is capable of being their franchise quarterback. Thus far, his rookie year was a wash due to the NFL lockout that robbed him of his first offseason, the presence of Donovan McNabb and late-season injury problems. Last year, it wasn't entirely clear whether Ponder's struggles were self-inflicted or caused by an anemic crop of receivers that became downright putrid when Harvin missed the last two months with an ankle injury. The additions of Greg Jennings and Patterson should remove any excuse for Ponder and allow the coaching staff to assess exactly what they've got in their third-year starter.)

The reaction to the Patterson trade was predictable. Fans gathered at Mall of America Field were beyond thrilled to see the Vikings maneuver back into the first round and grab a big-name player they could instantly envision slicing through opposing defenses in that slick new uniform. The national take was not as kind, in part because "four for one" always sets off alarms, and in part because the national media always swoons in the presence of Bill Belichick.

But what did the Vikings actually give up in that trade? The oft-cited Draft Trade Value Chart popularized by former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson in the early 90s has somewhat fallen out of favor among football insiders, but given that the talking heads on TV are usually about a decade late to the dance, you'll probably see the following breakdown at some point in the discussion:


Value to NE

Value to MIN



















So, pretty much a push, right? Factor in the Vikings' desperate need at wide receiver, and it makes even more sense to spend that draft capital on a potential impact player at that key position in a critical juncture for the franchise, with a likely make-or-break year for Ponder looming.

As for history, what kind of return can the Patriots expect on those picks? Or to put it another way, let's slap some names on those draft picks and see who was taken there in the last five years. Players in bold are considered likely starters heading into this year.

Pick No. 52






Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina


16 games, 68 tackles, 5.5 sacks


Marvin Austin, DL, North Carolina


7 games, 8 tackles, no starts


Jason Worilds, LB, Virginia Tech


42 games, 45 tackles, 10 sacks


David Veikune, DE, Hawaii


14 games, no starts, out of NFL


Quentin Groves, LB, Auburn


on 4th team in 6 years, 29 starts


Pick No. 83






Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers


8 games, 16 rec, 154 yds, 4 TDs


Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy


17 games, 3 rec, 22 yds, 0 TDs


Corey Peters, DT, Kentucky


2-year starter, lost job to injury


Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina


solid PR/KR, 37 catches, 643 yards


Jeremy Zuttah, G, Rutgers


74 games, 60 starts


Pick No. 102






Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan St.


Solid backup to RGIII


Jordan Cameron, TE, Southern Cal


22 games, 20 rec, 226 yds, 1 TD


Darryl Sharpton, LB, Miami


27 games, 11 starts, 60 tackles


Donald Washington, DB, Ohio St.


32 games, 5 starts, out of NFL


Jeremy Thompson, DE, Wake Forest


15 games, 3 starts, out of NFL


Pick No. 229






Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas St.


564 yds, 4 TDs, filled in for McCoy


Jonathan Nelson, DB, Oklahoma


2 games, out of NFL


Eric Cook, C, New Mexico


6 games, no starts, out of NFL


Manuel Johnson, WR, Oklahoma


2 games, 1 catch, out of NFL


Cary Williams, DB, Washburn


2-year starter in BAL, now in PHI

Of course, the Patriots (like any organization) will argue that they'll do a better job of player evaluation and come up with a few diamonds in the rough, but the tables show that in the last five years, just 35 percent (7 of 20) of the players drafted in with the four picks the Vikings gave up for Patterson went on to become starters. That's not to say the Vikings robbed New England or vise-versa. We just wanted to lay out the facts and let you decide, rather than have one of the TV talking heads tell you who got the better end of the deal.

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

VikesCentric: Up close with Vikings new uniforms

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: April 25, 2013 - 7:07 PM

The Minnesota Vikings unveiled their sparkly new uniforms at their Draft Party Thursday night. Yeah, I know the uniform images were surreptitiously leaked all over the Internet earlier this week, but this was our first chance to get an up-close and personal look at the new outfits. If nothing else it was a good pre-draft diversion for those in attendance at Mall of America Field.

I think Vikings fans got what they wanted – a move away from the Denver Broncos-esque template toward an older, simpler time. But they didn't simply go back to a previous version; they gave the new uniform some refinements and flourishes. Had they gone even more modern, toward some Oregon Duck-inspired look, there would have been something of a revolt among the Vikings faithful. And had they attempted some sort of two-toned helmet fiasco akin to what the Jacksonville Jaguars unleashed on our ill-prepared eyeballs this week there likely would have been outright wailing and gnashing of teeth on the floor of the Metrodome.
Here are a few shots of the new threads. The first is from the Vikings. The last two are courtesy of Bo Mitchell photography (with a cameo appearance by KARE-11's Eric Perkins):


As you can see, the new uniforms have something of a throwback look. 

The overall feel is somewhat reminiscent of their old uniforms from the 1970s and 1980s, especially the pants stripe, which I tried to capture in the final photo below.

I thoroughly enjoy the matte helmet and black facemask. It gives the overall ensemble a more rugged feel… or something. I don't know; I'm just partial to the matte helmet as opposed to the shiny ones most teams are wearing right now. This is clearly a trend, though. A lot of teams will likely be going with the matte hats in years to come.
The uniform has a deeper purple, a step away from the nearly-lavender tones (under the wrong lighting) we've witnessed in the past. The gold trim seems sharper and a bit brighter, which is cool. They also did away with the gold "collars" from last year, thankfully. That look never really worked for me.
Personally, my favorite part of the new uniforms is the return of the purple pants for road uniforms.
I've been calling for the purple pants to make a triumphant and permanent comeback since they first disappeared decades ago. The Vikings dabbled with the purple pants a handful of seasons ago, but they suddenly disappeared as quickly as they reappeared, much to my chagrin.
Let's hope they are back to stay this time.
Speaking of the purple pants, there is a version of the uniform not pictured here that includes the pairing of purple pants and purple jersey – the full Barney look. I imagine this look will be saved for special occasions, but I do not have that confirmed.
The Vikes added some "curve appeal" to the new jerseys, and I'm not crazy about it. It's my only quibble. That's probably nit-picking, I realize. The striping on the sleeve is toned down and looks pretty sharp, but gets thicker and curves on the back of the jersey. I tried to capture this element on the final photo here – the one where he's talking to Perk. This shoulder stripe curving corresponds to the curving that you probably notice on the edge of the numbers (see the Adrian Peterson examples above). I get what they were going for here – something to do with the curved bow of a Viking ship. This curving will have to grow on me, though.
And with that, I think I've gone more in-depth on uniforms than I ever thought I would. I'll stop there.
I'm sure Vikings fans reading this post have plenty of opinions on the new uniforms so please feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comment section below. Do you like them or loathe them?
Most importantly to the Vikings and NFL, how quickly will you rush out and purchase yourself a new Vikings jersey?
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Best and worst of the first round

Posted by: Patrick Donnelly Updated: April 24, 2013 - 1:16 PM

The Vikings have made 51 first-round draft picks dating back to their NFL debut in 1961. We're not going to rank all 51 of those picks because we don't have a death wish, but would you be interested in seeing the best and worst of those picks? If so, read on.

1. (tie) Carl Eller 6th overall pick, 1964
1. (tie) Alan Page
15, 1967
1. (tie) Ron Yary – 1, 1968
1. (tie) Chris Doleman
– 4, 1985
1. (tie) Randall McDaniel
– 19, 1988

Maybe that's a cop-out, but how do you rate one Pro Football Hall of Famer over another? You might look at value and say McDaniel was the best pick, or say that Page was the man because he won the NFL's MVP award, but honestly, you could make the case for ranking these five in any order and you'd get no argument here.

6. Adrian Peterson – 7, 2007
He's a sure-fire future Hall of Famer who only solidified those credentials with his super-human effort returning from a torn ACL to post the second-most rushing yards in a season in NFL history. He'll be up there within that top class the day his bust is unveiled in Canton.

7. Randy Moss – 21, 1998
Just like Peterson, you'll see Moss in a garish yellow blazer within the next decade. He gets a few demerits for not fully living up to his potential in Minnesota – seriously, he could have been the greatest receiver who ever lived had he cared enough to try on every play – but he changed the fortunes of the entire franchise the first day he took the field in Mankato.

8. Chuck Foreman – 12, 1973
Here's another player who revolutionized his position. Foreman never truly got the accolades he deserved nationally, perhaps because he was part of those Vikings teams that couldn't win the big one, but Jerry Burns' precursor to the West Coast offense wouldn't have been nearly as effective without Forman's unique rushing and pass-catching abilities.

9. Korey Stringer – 24, 1995
His career was tragically cut short after just six seasons, but he made a huge impact on the franchise in his too-brief time in Minnesota. Stringer had just made his first Pro Bowl and was emerging as a possible heir to McDaniel as the leader on the offensive line and in the locker room when he succumbed to heat stroke during training camp in 2001. His death not only sent the Vikings into a spiral – they missed the playoffs in six of the next seven seasons, after they'd made the postseason in eight of the previous nine years – but also triggered policy changes regarding practicing and playing in oppressive heat and humidity from youth football up to the NFL that has likely prevented numerous other fatalities.

10. Joey Browner – 19, 1983
A nine-year starter and six-time Pro Bowler, Browner was named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. Plus, he had the strongest hands in the NFL – as Vikings fans were reminded every week by network announcers who thought they were breaking news – which he used to yank down opposing carriers and pick off 37 passes, fourth-most in team history.

11 through 46 – all kinds of great, good, mediocre and bad players, not to mention a few guys who remain works in progress (Matt Kalil, for one, has a great shot at cracking the top 10). But we're running out of pixels here, so let's dive into the five worst first-round picks in Vikings history.

47. D.J. Dozier – 14, 1987
His best season was his rookie year, when he rushed for 257 yards and five touchdowns. He wound up retiring from the NFL to play pro baseball. But his failure did arguably more damage to any franchise than any player in history, because if he'd delivered what the Vikings thought they were getting, they never would have made the Herschel Walker trade.

48. Derrick Alexander – 11, 1995
The Vikings needed a defensive lineman. They took Alexander, who finished his five-year NFL career with 164 tackles and 20 sacks. They passed on Warren Sapp, who finished his 13-year NFL career with 438 tackles, 96.5 sacks, and a bust in Canton. Oops.

49. Leo Hayden – 24, 1971
Who? That's right, the Vikings took a guy named Leo Hayden in the first round of the 1971 draft. He appeared in seven games as a rookie, never touched the ball, and washed out of the league two years later after an unremarkable stint with the Cardinals. Who did they pass up that year? Jack Ham, Dan Dierdorf and Ken Anderson, just to name a few better options.

50. Dimitrius Underwood – 29, 1999
Dennis Green infamously referred to Underwood as an "extra pick" acquired from Washington in exchange for Brad Johnson. Green obviously thought Underwood was worth the gamble, despite numerous red flags and unenthusiastic reports from his own coaches at Michigan State. Underwood showed up for training camp in battle fatigues, suggesting he was ready for combat, then walked out on the team after his first practice in Mankato, never to return.

51. Troy Williamson – 7, 2005
Underwood hurt the Vikings by not playing. Williamson hurt the Vikings by playing. His selection was a textbook overreaction on so many levels. The No. 7 pick came from the Raiders in the Moss trade, and they clearly felt pressure to use that pick to replace Moss. They reached for a receiver who looked great in shorts and a T-shirt at the NFL Combine but had one little problem that plagued him in his three years in Minnesota – he couldn't catch the ball. In 39 games here he caught 79 balls – and dropped at least half that many – despite numerous creative efforts to improve his vision, his hands and his route-running. They all failed, earning him the coveted title of the worst first-round pick in Vikings history.

Who'd we miss, good or bad? Let's hear about it in the comments.

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

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      
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


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