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.


Spielman summarizes six Saturday selections

Posted by: Updated: April 27, 2013 - 9:39 PM
The Vikings completed their 2013 NFL Draft on Saturday by selecting six players – linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, punter Jeff Locke, offensive guards Jeff Baca and Travis Bond and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins.
For Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, Saturday’s selections capped a weekend that got off to an electrifying start Thursday night with three first-round picks – defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
 
So what did the GM have to say about each of Saturday’s six picks? Here’s the summary of Spielman’s thoughts…
 
Gerald Hodges, Penn State linebacker (selected fourth round, 120th overall)
 
What the GM said: “We felt he was a very unique athlete. He’s a former safety who moved down [to linebacker]. We had a chance to meet with him at the combine and a few other spots. And he has the position flexibility to play all the different linebacker spots. Either the SAM, the WILL and we’ll look at him some at the MIKE. The coaches will figure that all out when he comes in. But the thing he really has is the athletic skill set. The way he played in space. At Penn State this year, he was usually lined up outside, they put him over the slot at times, they stacked him a few times. And you can see the athletic skill set and the position flexibility he can bring.”
 
Jeff Locke, UCLA punter (selected fifth round, 155th overall)
 
What the GM said:It has nothing to do with anything Chris Kluwe is off the field. When we’re making decisions, we’re purely making them in trying to bring in the best competition possible regardless of position. … This was just another normal personnel move. It had nothing to do with Chris Kluwe’s off-field concerns, I have no issues if Chris Kluwe wants to express his opinion, that’s his right, that’s his freedom of speech. This is just a football decision to bring in a guy to come in to compete. … [What drew us to Jeff was] one, the character. Two, he’s a left footed punter, which helps. Three, he’s a great directional kicker. Four, he’s excellent at getting the ball inside the 20. Very good holder, good athlete.
 
Jeff Baca, UCLA guard (selected sixth round, 196th overall)
 
What the GM said: “He’s played up and down the line. Tackle, guard, center. He’s one of those Viking-fit type. I know what [offensive line coach] Jeff Davidson looks for. He’s a very tough, competitive kid that has some position flexibility. We’re very excited that he got in the mix.”
 
Michael Mauti, Penn State linebacker (selected seventh round, 213th overall)
 
What the GM said:As a middle linebacker, he was having a very good year before he went through his ACL [injury]. Blew it out I think. I know that was the third time he blew out his ACL and we were very strict on him at the Combine. I’ve asked [head athletic trainer Eric] Sugarman 8,000 times, ‘Is this guy healthy?’ Because he’s a heck of a football player and has a great attitude and great leadership. What he’ll do is he’ll come in and we feel we’ll start rehabbing him but he should be ready to go by training camp. He was just too good of a football player, too good of character to pass up. … I know our medial staff with Eric Sugarman and how we’ve had success rehabbing guys coming off ACLs have been very high. I would match our medical staff and our rehab program against anyone in the NFL, I think we are the best at it. The results speak for itself from Chad Greenway to when we had Heath Farwell to Adrian Peterson; that all comes from our medical staff and they know what they’re doing and they know how to rehab those guys to get them on the field as quickly as they can.
 
Travis Bond, North Carolina guard (selected seventh round, 214th overall)
 
What the GM said:It was funny, I went to the North Carolina-Louisville game in September and I didn’t have any 2012 tape at the time, so I watched 2011 tape and I saw this big guard that was about 370 pounds or whatever he was and saw that he didn’t move very well. But then they came running out of the tunnel and I’m looking and looking to see this guy saying, I’ve got to see how big he is. But I couldn’t find him. Then I saw they pulled half a man out of him and I was like, ‘Is this the same guy, the same number? And I went over and talked to the offensive line coach and he had lost a tremendous amount of weight [almost 50 pounds] and then I’m sitting there watching him play live and he’s moving night and day from what I saw when he was too heavy. … He fits the type of lineman we’re trying to bring in here. Guys that can move at the point, especially with the running game we try to establish.
 
Everett Dawkins, Florida State defensive tackle (selected seventh round, 229th overall)
 
What the GM said: "He was a little but undersized but a very quick up-field, one-gap penetrator. He was the highest rated guy on our board at the time and felt he was just too good of a player not to draft and to pass up."

 

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LA Angels - J. Weaver 6:05 PM
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2014 preseason     
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