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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

To what (arm) lengths will Zimmer's Vikings go to in the NFL draft?

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 28, 2014 - 1:07 PM

I spent a little time this weekend digging through NFL scouting combine results and pre-draft measurements of recent Bengals draft picks to try to get a bead on the traits that new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer covets besides intangibles like intelligence, toughness and aggression.

Of course, the Vikings want speed, strength and explosiveness, just like every other NFL team.

But length was one key attribute the Bengals looked for when Zimmer was their defensive coordinator from 2008 through 2013, especially at defensive end and in their secondary.

Once again, they were not alone in that regard. Many teams, most notably the 49ers, prefer players with tall frames and long arms. That length allows defensive ends to latch onto offensive linemen and get the upper hand and helps cornerbacks like Xavier Rhodes get a jam at the line. Obviously, those long arms are handy in pass defense, whether linemen are trying to bat down passes in the trenches or defensive backs are covering tall, athletic receivers down the field.

The Bengals drafted 19 defenders combined in the last five drafts. Not all of them had long arms. In fact, defensive tackle Geno Atkins, perhaps the best of the bunch, had below-average arms, which suggests that Sharrif Floyd’s shorter arms don’t necessarily have to be a detriment.

But when it came to the pass rushers and defensive backs they drafted, there was a lot of length.

For example, Carlos Dunlap, a 2010 second-round pick, is 6-foot-6 with arms that were measured at 34 5/8 inches at the scouting combine that year. That was more than an inch longer than the recent average for the position. Margus Hunt, a second-round pick last spring, has arms that are slightly above average at 33 3/4 inches, but the dude is a monster at 6-foot-8. I couldn’t find an official arm length for Michael Johnson, the 2009 third-round draft pick that just signed a monster contract with the Buccaneers, but he is 6-foot-7 and is said to have long levers, too.

And while they haven’t had the kind of Superlative success that the Seahawks have had with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and company, the Bengals have also coveted size and length in the secondary. They drafted three cornerbacks taller than 6-foot in the past five years, including 2012 first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick. And they have drafted a pair of towering safeties in Robert Sands and George Iloka. Both of those guys are 6-foot-4 with above-average arm lengths. Iloka’s 34 1/2-inch arms were the longest among DBs at the 2012 scouting combine.

I’m not saying the Vikings will look to turn the draft into an arms race. They still care about how a guy plays on tape and covet other traits, too. But length might be something they also look for.


St. Louis 5
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Minnesota 2
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Washington 1
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 4
NY Yankees 10 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
Tampa Bay 0 Cancelled
Baltimore 0
Detroit 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Chicago WSox 3 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 6
Texas 6 FINAL
Oakland 7
Cleveland 2 FINAL
Arizona 3
Arizona 7 FINAL
LA Angels 2
Miami 0 Cancelled
Houston 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 5
San Francisco 8 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
San Diego 7
Milwaukee 8 FINAL
Cincinnati 6
Detroit 111 FINAL
Orlando 97
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Philadelphia 98
Charlotte 107 FINAL
Washington 110
Boston 96 FINAL
New York 92
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Brooklyn 106
LA Lakers 83 FINAL
Toronto 94
Miami 86 FINAL
Atlanta 99
Golden State 107 FINAL
Memphis 84
Sacramento 88 FINAL
New Orleans 102
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Houston 120
Dallas 76 FINAL
San Antonio 94
Utah 91 FINAL
Denver 107
Portland 87 FINAL
Phoenix 81
Calgary 2 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 5 FINAL
Chicago 2
Dallas 0 FINAL
Edmonton 4
Gonzaga 74
NC State 65 FINAL
Louisville 75
Utah 57 FINAL
Duke 63
Kent State 73 FINAL
Northern Ariz 74
Michigan State 62 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
(15) North Carolina 65 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 67
(18) Iowa 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 81
(9) Arizona State 65 FINAL
(7) Florida State 66
(14) Stanford 60 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 81
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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 NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




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