Vikings thinking big and defensive during NFL free agency

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 13, 2014 - 12:00 PM

One day after adding a nose tackle, Minnesota is looking at a defensive tackle and cornerback.

From triple-teaming Alabama’s Pro Day to setting up visits with two intriguing defenders to introducing their next-generation nose tackle, the Vikings spent Day 2 of NFL free agency multi-tasking their way toward what they hope will be a better roster than the one that went 5-10-1 in 2013.

With Matt Cassel locked up as their bridge to the future at quarterback, the Vikings took a peek at someone who might wind up on the other side of that bridge. General Manager Rick Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to observe several Crimson Tide players, but most notably quarterback AJ McCarron and outside linebacker C.J. Mosley, another Vikings need player who will go high in the draft.

Meanwhile, the Vikings also were making news by setting up visits with Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton and Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. The 27-year-old Melton, who would provide depth behind Sharrif Floyd and interior pass-rushing skills assuming he’s recovering well from reconstructive knee surgery last October, will visit Thursday. The 25-year-old Munnerlyn, who would be the team’s first qualified inside slot corner since Antoine Winfield was released last spring, arrived Wednesday night and will continue his visit Thursday.

Melton’s visit is further proof that Zimmer considered defensive line to be his new team’s highest priority and the bedrock upon which to build a unit that can distance itself from the one that ranked last in scoring defense in 2013.

If Melton were to sign, he’d be the third defensive lineman locked up in the first week, joining end Everson Griffen, who was re-signed, and nose tackle Linval Joseph, who left the Giants and chose the Vikings over the Raiders and Falcons.

Joseph, 25, hasn’t made a tackle yet, but he probably scored some public relations points when he met with local reporters for the first time on Wednesday. Asked to name the nose tackles he most admired earlier in his career, the 6-4, 328-pounder paid homage to popular former Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams.

Joseph suggested that his size, quickness and physical style are similar to the traits that helped Williams anchor a defense that led the league in run defense for three straight years (2006 to 2008).

“I have size, I have speed, I have smarts and I make plays,” Joseph said. “At the end of the day, that’s what this game is about. Making plays. … Pat made a lot of plays as a Viking. He’s loved around here. I just want to be the same way.”

Meanwhile, back in Tuscaloosa, McCarron was exhibiting a similar level of confidence in front of reporters and representatives from all 32 teams. When a reporter asked McCarron whether he thought he was one of the best quarterbacks in the draft, he was quoted as simply saying, “Why not?”

Good question. But even with all his passing records, two national championships and a 77-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio, McCarron finds himself listed behind Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Jimmy Garoppolo by most draft experts.

“The rest of those guys feel like they’re the best,” McCarron told reporters. “It’s a mind-set you have to carry in yourself. I feel like my play speaks for itself over the three years I started in the SEC.”

McCarron reportedly threw the ball well during his workout.

“I’ve been hearing everything about arm strength,” McCarron said. “I feel like I should silence all that. I threw it deep early in the workout, and I threw it deep late. I felt like it was a real good day.”

Melton’s knee will have to have a good day when the Vikings check him out on Thursday. From 2011 to 2012, Melton’s 13 sacks from the tackle position were second in the league behind the 17 posted by Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins. But after making the Pro Bowl in 2012, he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the third game of last season.

Munnerlyn would be able to help a pass defense that ranked 31st in 2013. The 5-9, 195-pounder has returned five of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns and is coming off career highs in tackles (74), passes defensed (12) and sacks (3 ½).

Although he’s obviously biased now, at least one guy, Joseph, believes the Vikings are heading in the right direction. Asked about winning a Super Bowl with the Giants in his second season, Joseph compared what happened then to what he thinks will happen with the Vikings.

“The first [Super Bowl win] came so fast,” Joseph said. “We’re going to get together, and the second one is going to be bigger than the first one.”



 

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Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland 0 Bottom 8th Inning
LA Angels 4
Los Angeles 2 Top 9th Inning
San Diego 2
Washington 7 Top 9th Inning
Seattle 2
Milwaukee 2 Bottom 6th Inning
San Francisco 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 6 3rd Qtr 13:26
Arizona 31
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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