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 NFL draft

Vikings agree to terms with top picks Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 20, 2014 - 1:44 PM

The Vikings and Anthony Barr, the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, have agreed to terms on a rookie contract, according to a league source. And the team has announced the signing of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the 32nd overall selection.

Both deals are four-year deals with a team option for a fifth year, per the collective bargaining agreement.

Barr and Bridgewater are two of the six 2014 first-round picks who have signed or agreed to terms. The others are No. 5 pick Khalil Mack (Raiders), No. 12 pick Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants), No. 14 pick Kyle Fuller (Bears) and No. 20 pick Brandin Cooks (Saints).

The Vikings had their eyes on Barr, an outside linebacker from UCLA, throughout the draft process and selected him after trading back one spot in the first round on May 8. During his two seasons as an outside linebacker at UCLA, Barr made 149 tackles, forced nine fumbles and racked up 23.5 sacks. He also had 40.5 tackles for a loss.

While Barr was practicing with the Vikings for the first time during the team’s rookie minicamp over the weekend, the Vikings and Barr’s representation began discussing a deal.

Barr is back in California now and can't practice with the Vikings again until next month's mandatory minicamp because classes are still in session at UCLA.

Bridgewater, however, remains in town and is already impressing the coaching staff.

The Vikings also announced deals for outside linebacker Brandon Watts and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen. Three of their 10 picks -- defensive end Scott Crichton, running back Jerick McKinnon and safety Antone Exum -- remain unsigned.

Vikings conclude NFL Draft with 10 picks

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: May 10, 2014 - 5:03 PM

The Vikings 2014 NFL Draft appears to be over after three seventh round selections to give them 10 picks -- just like Vikings general manager Rick Spielman wanted.

They took UConn defensive tackle Shamar Stephen with the 220th pick, Georgia Tech linebacker Brandon Watts with the 223rd pick and North Carolina cornerback Jabari Price with the 225th pick.

Stephen started 12 games last season and was named to All-AAC second team. He finished third on the team with 60 tackles, led the team with 10 tackles for loss and second with three sacks. He was one of the Vikings’ top 30 visitors.

Watts started 12 games last season and finished with 66 tackles (42 solo) with 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one interception

Price earned All-ACC honorable mention last season. He started 12 games as a senior and finished with 74 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

Price was the 10th and final pick for the Vikings, but they’re not done yet. Once the final pick is made, the Vikings will look to add more players as undrafted free agents.

Jennings excited to work with Bridgewater, thinks he's in a great spot

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 9, 2014 - 1:20 PM

Greg Jennings wasn’t glued to the television Thursday night during the first round of the NFL draft. But when the Vikings first came on the clock, the draft suddenly had his full attention.

They would pick UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr with the ninth overall pick. Then at the end of the night, they traded up to take Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is expected to eventually be the one throwing the football to the veteran Vikings wide receiver.

“What I know about him is he’s a hard worker,” Jennings said this morning. “He’s a smart kid. And he wants to get better. Just that alone, it makes you want to work with somebody.”

Jennings spoke to youth coaches this morning at a seminar entitled “A Call to Men: The Next Generation of Manhood.” The event was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Afterward, he chatted with a couple of local reporters, including my colleague, Chip Scoggins.

Jennings said he had no idea whom the Vikings would select when they were up early in the first round of the draft. But he had a hunch it wouldn’t be Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

“I didn’t really think Manziel just because I know the personality of Coach Zimmer,” Jennings said of new head coach Mike Zimmer. “I truly believe that given any player, if they’re willing to work and willing to be better, these two coaches -- two literally head coaches that we have on both sides of the ball -- they can make anybody better. But I just didn’t think, which probably was what their thought was, that Manziel fit what we’re trying to get done personality-wise.”

Jennings, who was referring to coordinator Norv Turner as the offensive “head coach,” continued.

“When you’re making a coaching change and you’re raising the bar of accountability and you look at the past history and it’s tough because myself, you never want to hold anybody to that," he said. "You always want to continue to give someone the benefit of the doubt. But when you’re investing the amount of money that these owners and these clubs are investing, that carries a lot of weight.”

Anyway, back to Bridgewater. Jennings feels the 32nd overall pick is in a great spot here in Minnesota because he can learn from starter Matt Cassel without being rushed into action.

“Cassel is the best. If I were a quarterback, I would want Matt to be like my teacher,” Jennings said. “I would want to be behind a guy like Matt because he approaches the game like a true professional. He’s not afraid of helping those who are pursuing his position. He’s just not. His makeup is, ‘Look, if we can all be better, our team is going to be better.’”

20-year perspective: Vikings first round pick

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: May 7, 2014 - 7:33 AM

TODAY'S LOOK BACK: The 40th overall pick.

Looking back on previous NFL drafts for a better understanding of the crapshoot nature of this business is oh so much easier and more fun to do than pretending to know how the next wave of draft picks will perform. We've already looked back through the past 20 drafts for some perspective on the picks the Vikings hold in the second (40), third (72, 96), fourth (108), fifth (148), sixth (184) and seventh (223) rounds of next week's draft.

Now, we move up to the first round to do the same with the No. 8 pick.

Pro Bowlers picked No. 8 since 1994: Half (10) have made at least one Pro Bowl. The best of the bunch? There hasn't been a great No. 8 pick in the past 20 years. Sam Adams, who went to Seattle in 1994, was a three-time Pro Bowler. Roy Williams, the safety who went to Dallas in 2002, was a five-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro. But with hindsight to guide you, would you rather have had Williams or Ed Reed (No. 24 that year) as your safety?

Have the Vikings picked No. 8 since 1994?: Well, technically, in 2003, they had it for 15 minutes and then lost it to Carolina. That was the year the Vikings started the draft with the seventh pick. They wanted Kevin Williams, but felt they could trade down to get him. They thought they have a trade down to No. 10 with the Ravens. But Baltimore never confirmed the trade with the league. Legend has it that then-owner Red McCombs, whose frugal ways favored moving down to save money, told his personnel people not keep trying to trade the pick as time was expiring. The Jaguars jumped ahead of the Vikings and took Byron Leftwich at No. 7. Then the Panthers jumped over the Vikings to take offensive tackle Jordan Gross. It's a humiliating moment in franchise history, but it also culminated with the Vikings selecting one of the best defensive tackles they've ever had.

Ouch 1: The Panthers had the eighth pick in 1996 and a need for a running back. They chose Tim Biakabutuka instead of Eddie George. George went 14th to the Oilers. Then Marvin Harrison went No. 19 to the Colts. And then, if that weren't bad enough, Ray Lewis went to the Ravens at No. 26.

Ouch 2: Randy Moss never did let the Cowboys forget the mistake they made by passing on him in 1998. The Cowboys never forgave themselves either. Or at least Jerry Jones never did. The Cowboys picked a decent player. Edge rusher Greg Ellis lasted 12 NFL seasons and had 84 career sacks. But Moss was, well, Moss. He went No. 21 to the Vikings.

Ouch 3: In 2007, the Falcons needed help defensively. they took defensive end Jamaal Anderson. He lasted four years with them and six seasons overall. He finished his career with 7 1/2 sacks. In picking Anderson, the Falcons passed up Patrick Willis (No. 11), Marshawn Lynch (No. 12) and Darrelle Revis (No. 14), among others.

Other highlights/lowlights of the No. 8 pick since 1994:

1995: In 1995, Seattle took receiver Joey Galloway. A good pick. But not as good as Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who went 12th overall. One pick before Sapp, the Vikings also took a defensive lineman: Derrick Alexander.

1997: The Jets took linebacker James Farrior. He became a Pro Bowl player. But Tony Gonzalez (No. 13) became a Hall of Famer.

2000: The Steelers took Plaxico Burress. A good pick. The Bears followed up at No. 9 with Brian Urlacher. A great pick.

2001: The Bears took David Terrell. A bad pick. The Seahawks took Steve Hutchinson at No. 17. A potential Hall of Fame pick.

2004: The Falcons took DeAngelo Hall. Good pick. The Steelers took Ben Roethlisberger. Franchise-changing pick.

2009: The Jaguars took offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. They traded him to the Ravens last fall. The Jags could have had Percy Harvin (No. 22), B.J. Raji (No. 9), Brian Orakpo (No. 13) or Clay Matthews (No. 26).

20-year perspective: Vikings second round pick

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: May 6, 2014 - 6:51 AM

TODAY'S LOOK BACK: The 40th overall pick.

Looking back on previous NFL drafts for a better understanding of the crapshoot nature of this business is oh so much easier and more fun to do than pretending to know how the next wave of draft picks will perform. We've already looked back through the past 20 drafts for some perspective on the picks the Vikings hold in the third (72, 96), fourth (108), fifth (148), sixth (184) and seventh (223) rounds of next week's draft. Today, we move up to the second round to do the same with the 40th overall pick.

Pro Bowlers picked No. 40 since 1994: 2. In 2000, the Broncos selected linebacker Ian Gold. In 2003, the Vikings selected linebacker E.J. Henderson.

Have the Vikings picked No. 40 since 1994?: Yes. In 1994, they took receiver/returner David Palmer. He played seven years, appearing in 84 games with four starts. Henderson, who was taken in 2003, lasted nine years and 98 yards.

Ouch 1: With all due respect to Palmer, who was a good returner, the Vikings could have had guard Larry Allen. He was taken 46th overall en route to reaching the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ouch 2: In 2004, the Patriots took tight end Ben Troupe. He played five years and had 106 catches. Four picks later, the Colts selected Iowa strong safety Bob Sanders. Sanders was a two-time All-Pro and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.

Ouch 3: In 2009, the Patriots selected defensive tackle Ron Brace. Two picks later, the Bills took safety Jairus Byrd. Eleven picks after that, the Eagles took running back LeSean McCoy.

Other highlights/lowlights of the Nos. 72 and 96 picks since 1994:

2001: Cornerback Ken Lucas, who had 24 interceptions over nine years, was a solid pick. Four picks later, the Panthers took defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, who became a two-time All-Pro.

2006: The Lions took safety Daniel Bullucks. Twelve picks later, the Packers grabbed receiver Greg Jennings.

2008: A solid second round saw the Saints take Tracy Porter 40th overall. Matt Forte (44), DeSean Jackson (49) and Ray Rice (55) were taken over the next 15 picks.

2011: The Cowboys took linebacker Bruce Carter, who hasn't made a Pro Bowl. Three picks later, the Vikings took tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has been a Pro Bowl MVP.

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