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Kiper: Top offensive tackle options slim in upcoming NFL draft

Should the Vikings look to this spring’s NFL Draft to rebuild at offensive tackle, one analyst doesn’t see many top options.

“It’s not a great year at all,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Probably a mediocre year for offensive tackles in general.”

A consistent failure to protect the edges for quarterback Sam Bradford and a limited run game partially stemmed from the Vikings losing both starting tackles to injury by the season’s fifth game.

Moving forward, the Vikings can restart with only a few tackles – T.J. Clemmings, Willie Beavers and Rashod Hill — currently under contract for the 2017 season. Four in Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Jake Long and Jeremiah Sirles are pending free agents.

And Kiper doesn’t see many tackles flying off draft boards before the Vikings’ first scheduled pick in the second round. Minnesota’s 14th-overall selection sits with the Eagles after the September trade to acquire Bradford.

“The first round is only going to have, I think, three offensive tackles,” Kiper said. “That would be Cam Robinson, Alabama, Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, and Garett Bolles from Utah.”

The lack of top options, in Kiper’s assessment, stands in contrast to last year’s draft when three tackles were selected within the first 13 picks – and five overall in the first round. Five tackles were also taken in 2015′s first round.

If the Vikings stand pat and don’t jump back into the first round, which is doable with five picks between rounds two and four, Kiper pinpointed a few potential second-round and third-round picks along the offensive line in Temple’s Dion Dawkins, Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton and Troy’s Antonio Garcia.

Moton started at both right tackle and right guard for Western Michigan under newly-hired Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck.

“I think those three Dawkins, Moton and Garcia would be in that second and third round area who could be really nice players,” Kiper said. “I think Moton’s versatility really is a plus and I thought Dawkins and Garcia graded out well.”

As the Vikings approach a crossroads with star Adrian Peterson, who is under contract for an unrealistic $18 million, they’ll also need help at running back where recent standouts from Arizona’s David Johnson to Chicago’s Jordan Howard were taken with mid-round picks.

“There’s great depth at running back pretty much every year,” Kiper said. “None of the final four teams in the NFL right now have a running back on the field who went in the first round that’s making a key contribution. Of the 12 playoff teams, 11 of them didn’t have a running back that went in the first round.”

Adrian Peterson admits he has eyes on hometown Texans, other teams

ADRIAN_PETERSON_011017

Adrian Peterson suggested today that he believes he still  deserves to  earn $18 million this upcoming season and named three teams he would have interest in playing for in 2017 if the Vikings aren’t willing to pay him.

In an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” this morning, Peterson was asked what he would look for  in his next team if the Vikings declined to pick up his option and they could not find middle ground on a new deal.

Starting his reply, Peterson put emphasis on “If that doesn’t happen.” He then said “I’ve earned my way up to that [$18 million], by the way.”

He continued: “But if it doesn’t happen, [I would want] a place where me and my family are comfortable, [and] just the opportunity to compete for a championship. That’s my main goal that I want to accomplish.”

Peterson said that he would hope to sign with a contender that had a good defense, a “good offensive scheme” and “a great coaching staff.”

“There’s a couple of teams out there that I’ve thought about,” he said.

Pressed, he mentioned the Buccaneers, Giants and Texans. Houston, his offseason home, is about a two-hour drive from his hometown of Palestine.

Peterson, who rushed for 72 yards on 37 carries this past season, then said: “I’ll stop right there. … I’m just throwing random names out there.”

The Vikings will not be exercising the $18 million team option by paying Peterson’s $6 million roster bonus on March 11. But they are receptive to bringing Peterson back in 2017 at a reduced salary if he is willing.

Peterson did say on ESPN that he hopes to finish his career in Minnesota.

“I see myself in purple. A lot has to take place,” Peterson said. “I see myself finishing off in purple. It is a business at the end of the day, so with that, things could end up differently. … Hopefully we can work things out.”

If the Vikings  move on from Peterson, who missed 13 games due to injury in 2016 and turns 32 this spring, they will look to the draft for a potential replacement. This class of running backs is said to be stacked.

Peterson, meanwhile, reiterated on ESPN that he feels he has a few more productive years left in the tank, something he said a few weeks ago.

“I definitely have five more strong years, without a doubt,” Peterson said.

Final, 2/7 1 2 3 4 F
Carolina 0 7 0 3 10
Denver 10 3 3 8 24

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