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.


Posts about Percy Harvin

Access Vikings: Georgia Southern RB McKinnon taken in third round

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: May 9, 2014 - 10:57 PM

With the 96th overall pick in the third round, the Vikings selected Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon.

"We're trying to find another third-down type back that gives us another version of what we have with Adrian [Peterson] and what we have with Matt [Asiata]," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said.

Listed at 5-9 and 209 pounds, he had an impressive NFL Combine performance with a 4.41 40-time, 32 reps on the bench press, 40.5 inch vertical jump and 132-inch broad jump.

Spielman said McKinnon had one of the longest Pro Days he's ever seen working out as a running back, punt returner and corner.

"He was just, from an athletic standpoint, too good of an athlete to pass up," Spielman said. "Just too explosive of a player."

McKinnson served as triple-option quarterback and running back throughout his time at Georgia Southern. He started in nine games – five at quarterback and four at running back – last year. McKinnon had 1,050 rushing yards with 12 rushing touchdowns and threw for 1,500 passing yards on 161 carries. 

"He's elusive, he has great speed in the open field and he kind of gives us that dynamic third-down type back that will gives us a spark when he comes in," Spielman said.

The Vikings had this extra third round pick as the final piece to the Percy Harvin trade last year with the Seahawks. 

Factoids and trends from recent Vikings drafts

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 5, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Will history repeat itself for the Vikings during this week’s NFL draft? Well, the Vikings have a lot of history -- six decades and counting -- so sure, some things are bound to feel familiar.

But what about the recent history? Which positions have they been picking? Which schools have they scoured? When have they been selecting players? And how many had staying power?

Partially to entertain and inform you but mostly just to educate myself because I’m new here, I decided to look for some trends and factoids from recent Vikings draft classes. I dug through the eight drafts from 2006 to 2013 (GM Rick Spielman came on board after the 2006 draft). Also, if I would have gone the whole way back to 1961, I wouldn’t have finished this by Thursday night.

Here is a quick look at the who, what, whens and wheres of the Vikings’ last eight draft classes (I’ll leave the whys -- or the whys?!?!? -- up to you).

--- The Vikings drafted 61 players from 2006 to 2013. Of those picks, 31 were used for defensive players, 28 were used for offensive players, one was used for a kicker and one for a punter.

--- Which positions have they targeted the most? They have selected nine linebackers, nine wide receivers and nine offensive linemen. They drafted eight cornerbacks, too. Which have they targeted the least? They have drafted just two running backs and not a single fullback (although they took Rutgers linebacker Ryan D'Imperio in the seventh round in 2010 with the idea of converting him to fullback, which they did).

--- They have drafted players from 39 different schools. Spielman and the Vikings have a reputation for coveting Golden Domers, and it’s legitimate as they have drafted four players from Notre Dame since 2006. That is tied for the most with Florida State and USC. They have selected three players apiece from Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas and my alma mater, Penn State.

--- They have drafted just one player, linebacker Nate Triplett, from the U of Minnesota.

--- The Vikings have drafted 12 players from the SEC, the most of the major BCS conferences. That should come as no surprise given the SEC’s powerhouse reputation. They have drafted nine players apiece from the Big Ten and the Pac 10, eight from the ACC and five from the Big 12.

--- The Vikings have made 35 trades involving draft picks over the past eight years, and that includes player-for-pick trades during the regular season. They had seven trades involving draft picks in both 2008 and 2012. The 2008 year was the one when they acquired Jared Allen.

--- The Vikings have selected nine players in the first round, including five the past two years. They have drafted nine in the second (but none in the past two drafts), three in the third (and just one in the past four), eight in the fourth, 10 in the fifth, 10 in the sixth and 12 in the seventh.

--- Of their nine first-round picks, only two were in the top 10 and just three were in the top 16.

--- Their earliest pick was USC tackle Matt Kalil at fourth overall in 2012. Their latest was the 237th pick in 2010, used on D'Imperio.

--- The most picks they had in one draft was 10 each in 2011 and 2012. The fewest were five, which they had in both 2008 and 2009. They will enter Thursday’s draft with eight selections.

--- The most valuable five draft picks, based on Pro Football Reference's weighted career approximate value, in order were Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Percy Harvin, John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt. Christian Ponder was the seventh most valuable, for what it is worth.

--- Of their 61 draft picks from 2006 to 2013, 27 are still on the roster (that includes Jasper Brinkley, who left and came back). But just eight Vikings drafted between 2006 and 2010 remain.

Fifth-year options and draft-night dealing

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 23, 2014 - 10:02 AM

We have spilled a fair amount of digital ink these past few days on the subject of fifth-year options. And if you’re still unsure about how they work, you should probably familiarize yourself.

That’s because no one will be making more of these decisions in the next few years than Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who has drafted five players in the first round the past two years.

In 2012, Spielman selected left tackle Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick then traded back into the back end of the first to nab safety Harrison Smith. Last year, he drafted defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (with the first-rounder acquired in the Percy Harvin deal) then jumped back into the first to select wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, too.

In the case of Smith, assistant general manager George Paton explained last year that they simply wanted Smith and had the draft assets to strike the deal with the Baltimore Ravens to make it happen. But an added bonus was that the Vikings will get Smith for five years instead of four.

Which begs the question: Will NFL teams, especially the ones eyeing up quarterbacks early in the second round, attempt to move into the first round to gain that extra year of contractual control?

“It could be a consideration because look at San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick,” former NFL agent Joel Corry told me this week. “Assuming everything checks out with this Miami incident, he is going to be at a minimum of $18 million per year on his next deal. If they had traded up into the bottom of the first round [in 2011], they’d have him locked up for another year.”

Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports also had the same thought, and he spoke with an NFL G.M. about it.

"Things have changed with all the good players from that 2011 first round and it's going to cost more to get a team to move out now,” the G.M. told Kirwan. “Back in the old days teams liked to move out of the bottom of the first to avoid the contract expense but now it's reversed."

Just something to think about as the first round winds to a close two weeks from tomorrow.

Vikings roster analysis: Wide receivers/Tight ends

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: February 13, 2014 - 9:49 AM

We'll take a daily look at where the Vikings' roster stands at the moment position-by-position leading up to our NFL Combine coverage next week.

Position: Wide receivers/Tight ends

On the roster: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Childs, Kamar Jorden, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford

Free agents: Jerome Simpson, Joe Webb

Outside of the quarterback position, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has some good pieces to play with on offense. We looked at running backs on Wednesday, and Turner has the power ground game in place with running back Adrian Peterson. He also has the deep passing threat with some of the wide receivers and tight ends on the roster.

The Vikings finished 23rd in pass offense last year, averaging 214.2 yards. They didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver, which was more a reflection on the inconsistency at the quarterback position. Greg Jennings led the unit with 68 receptions, 804 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson also had four receiving touchdowns to go along with three rushing and two on kickoff returns. He was eased into the game plan and proved to be just as dynamic in the final month of the season and former Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. Patterson could be in line for a monster sophomore season with Turner as his offensive coordinator given how Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon led the league last year in receiving yards with Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer as his quarterbacks.

Jerome Simpson was second on the team with 726 receiving yards, but he will be a free agent this offseason. He started his career with the Bengals in 2008, the same year Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer joined as a defensive coordinator. There’s some familiarity there, but Simpson, 28, has signed a one-year deal in consecutive seasons now with the Vikings. He said during the season he wanted to show that was worth a multi-year contract. Simpson also pleaded guilty to a third-degree DWI and careless driving charges to a Nov. 9 arrest but avoided jail time.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he hasn’t heard from tight end John Carlson on whether he’s made a decision to return. Carlson said retirement could be an option this offseason with the amount of concussion he’s suffered during his career.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph suffered a broken foot he suffered nine weeks into the season. Rudolph, Jennings and Patterson will be a nice trio of weapons for the next Vikings’ quarterback. That doesn’t even include wide receiver Jarius Wright and tight end Chase Ford. Both had a few solid performances last year (Wright blew right by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on a double move for his first touchdown catch last year) and mentioned by Spielman and some of the young talented players on the roster that Zimmer will inherit.

Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson named to Pro Bowl

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: January 3, 2014 - 9:18 AM

Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson won’t be snubbed from the Pro Bowl after all.

Patterson has been named as a replacement to the event, replacing Steelers wideout Antonio Brown as a return specialist. Brown was selected as both a wide reciever and return specialist, but he will participate as a receiver because he had more votes than Patterson.

He's the seventh rookie in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl along with Chuck Foreman, Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Blair Walsh and Matt Kalil

Patterson became the first player in NFL history to record four receiving, three rushing and two kick return touchdowns in a season. He finished with 469 receiving yards and 158 rushing yards.

The rookie also won the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Month honors in December on Thursday. He will join running back Adrian Peterson as the only Vikings selected to the Pro Bowl.

The teams won’t be set until Jan. 22 when Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders select their squads.

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