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.

Posts about Vikings draft

Reviewing the Vikings' 2010 NFL Draft

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: February 25, 2014 - 10:48 AM

The Vikings made eight selections in the 2010 NFL Draft following a 12-4 season that ended a win away from a spot in Super Bowl XLIV. Only four of those players selected were on the roster last season and all will be free agents this season.

The team has since gone 24-39-1 with more coaching changes, two, than playoff games, one.

The Vikings didn’t operate with a general manager at the time but general manager Rick Spielman was Vice President of player personnel and handled the draft, but former head coach Brad Childress had final veto power on all personnel moves. Spielman didn't have the final say as he does now.

“Different philosophy back then,” Spielman said. “It was a different structure back then. Some haven’t panned and some have, but I think what we’ve done since then is go back and assess and analyze and I know exactly what went wrong with the ones that didn’t make it and what went right with ‘em. But we’ve used that as we’ve gone forward especially over the last two draft classes. Basically that’s my total responsibility now."

Well, a lot didn’t pan out. When asked about the philosophy in the draft, Spielman repeated, “I’ll just leave it at that it was a different philosophy.”

It’s a big reason why the Vikings have struggled to remain consistent and now have an emphasis to build through the draft. Here’s a look at who they picked and some notable players they missed in each round.

First Round

The Vikings traded their 30th overall selection to the Lions for a second (34th) and seventh (214th) pick. They also swapped fourth round selections.

The Lions drafted Cal running back Jahvid Best, who retired due to his concussion history.

Noteworthy players after selection: OT Rodger Saffold to the Rams (33rd overall pick; second round)

Second Round

With the second pick in the second round acquired from Detroit, the Vikings selected Virginia cornerback Chris Cook. The team needed a cornerback and Cook had the size and athleticism listed at 6-2 and 212 pounds at the time, but he turned out to be a bust.

Cook hits free agency without an interception in four seasons with the Vikings. He missed the final 10 games in 2011 due to an ongoing domestic assault arrest that was he was later found not guilty. He was cleared on gun charges that same year prior to the arrest.

On the field, Cook couldn’t stay healthy. He played 12 games last season, a career-high, but he wasn’t productive. He was ejected in Week 13 against the Bears after making contact with an official after allowing a 46-yard touchdown catch to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who previously had an 80-touchdown against Cook and set the franchise record with 249 receiving yards.

Noteworthy players after selection: S T.J. Ward to the Browns (38th overall); TE Rob Gronkowski to the Patriots (42nd overall); LB Daryl Washington to the Cardinals (47th overall)

The Vikings traded up to the 51st overall pick, swapping second round picks with the Texans and giving their third round pick, to select Stanford running back Toby Gerhart.

He served as Adrian Peterson’s backup and had his most productive season when Peterson tore his ACL in 2011. Gerhart has a career-high 109 carries for 531 yards.

Both Cook and Gerhart are free agents this offseason and it doesn’t appear that either will return. Gerhart wasn’t a bust however and will draw some interest from other teams as a possible starting running back.

Noteworthy players after selection: DE Carlos Dunlap to the Bengals (54th overall); LB Sean Lee to the Cowboys (55th overall);

Third Round

The Vikings didn’t have a third round pick due to the Gerhart trade.

Noteworthy players after selection: WR Brandon LaFell to the Panthers (78th overall); WR Eric Decker to the Broncos (87th overall); LB NaVorro Bowman to the 49ers (91st overall); TE Jimmy Graham to the Saints (95th overall)

Fourth Round

After swapping fourth round selections with the Lions, the Vikings drafted USC defensive end Everson Griffen with the 100th overall selection.

He was considered to be a first round pick but there were questions about his effort and off the field issues. Following his rookie season, Griffen was arrested twice in three days for public intoxications and driving with an invalid driver’s license.

Griffen made just one start in four seasons behind defensive ends Brian Robison and Jared Allen. He’s so versatile that the Vikings used him at all four positions on the defensive line during his tenure.

Griffen and Gerhart were clearly the two best players the Vikings selected in the draft but both were primarily backups over the last four years. Though Griffen has expressed interest to return, the Vikings will have a difficult time bringing him back. There aren’t many good 4-3 defensive ends in the draft and free agency.

Noteworthy players after selection: CB Alterraun Verner to the Titans (104th overall); TE Aaron Hernandez to the Patriots (113th overall); TE Dennis Pitta to the Ravens (114th overall); DT Geno Atkins to the Bengals (120th overall): S Kam Chancellor to the Seahawks (133rd overall; fifth round); WR Riley Cooper to the Eagles (159th overall; fifth round)

Fifth Round

With the 161st overall selection, the Vikings drafted Wake Forest offensive tackle Chris DeGeare. He was wavied and signed to the practice squad in 2011 and released right before the start of the 2012 season. He spent that season on the Titans’ practice squad.

DeGeare has signed a reserve/future contract with the Giants in January.

The Vikings also had a compensatory pick and selected Gophers linebacker Nathan Triplett with the 167th overall pick. He was cut in preseason and spent three seasons with four teams after the Vikings. He wasn’t signed with a team last season.

Noteworthy players after selection: DE Greg Hardy to the Panthers (175t5th overall; sixth round); RB James Starks to the Packers (193 overall; sixth round); WR Antonio Brown to the Steelers (195th overall; sixth round); WR Trindon Holliday to the Texans (197th overall; sixth round)

Sixth Round

With the 199th overall pick, the Vikings selected UAB quarterback Joe Webb. The team got good value for Webb, who served as a wide receiver, running back, quarterback and special teams.

However, his tenure with the Vikings will be remembered for his performance in the franchise’s last playoff game. He was the starting quarterback in the 2012 NFC Wild Card matchup against the Packers due to a deep tricep bruise quarterback Christian Ponder suffered in the final regular season game against Green Bay.

Webb became the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start a postseason game after not starting in the regular season. He went 11 of 30 for 180 yards with an interception and a fumble in the 24-10 loss.

Noteworthy players after selection: WR Marc Mariani to the Titans (222nd overall; seventh round);  DE George Selvie to the Rams (226th overall; seventh round)

Seventh Round

The Vikings selected Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler Jr. with the 214th overall pick and Rutgers linebacker Ryan D’Imperio with the 237th overall selection. Shuler Jr. was cut twice by the Vikings in 2010 and 2012. He spent last season on the Falcons practice squad.

D’Imperio switched from linebacker to fullback was cut in 2012 by the Vikings. He retired before the start of last season after signing with the Giants.

Leslie Frazier on Sharrif Floyd: Perseverance paid off

Posted by: Updated: July 20, 2013 - 12:24 PM

With Vikings training camp just around the corner, we’ll kick off our extensive camp preview coverage with Sunday’s in-depth profile of Sharrif Floyd, the organization’s top pick this year and expected to have an immediate impact at defensive tackle. Floyd seems to be a perfect fit both in the Vikings’ defensive scheme and in the locker room. And as we detail in our Sunday story, his path to the NFL has been anything but ordinary, requiring great perseverance and resilience to overcome a rough childhood in Philadelphia. (Stay tuned for that piece.)

But now that Floyd has arrived in Minnesota, he’s ready to start establishing himself as a force. Recently, we had a chance to pick head coach Leslie Frazier’s brain on Floyd’s arrival. Here are some of the more notable thoughts Frazier shared. 

On the skill set Floyd brings to the table and why he’s a great fit at under tackle in the Vikings’ defense …
“I like his athleticism. That really jumps out at you when you’re watching tape. His quickness for a big man his size, his agility to be able to get off of blocks, get up the field, change directions is amazing. All the things we kind of look for in that position are there. But heading into the draft, I just didn’t think that when we were getting to pick he’d be around. Everybody is always looking for big guys. Especially teams that play the way we do in the 4-3. So I was surprised that we got him. And I think he’s going to be a pleasant surprise for us on the field as well. … His agility, his quickness, his strength and then the fact that he played multiple positions at Florida. All of those things were attractive. And when we got done grading everything, we talked about how we would stack the guys – who’s No. 1, who’s 2, who’s 3? And when I was going through it with our d-line coach [Brendan Daly], we all said the way we stack it we’re not going to have a shot at Sharrif Floyd. And yet lo and behold, we’re watching that draft and here he comes, coming our way. It was just ‘Wow.’ … I can’t remember what pick Dallas had [18th]. But I knew their coaches run a similar style to us and they were picking so close to where we were in the draft. And when he got past Dallas, then I started saying, ‘Whoa. This is a real possibility.’ Sure enough, it happened.”
On what’s most impressive about Floyd’s humility and ambition after all he endured growing up …
“It was like he was forced to raise himself. In the inner-city. The odds just aren’t in your favor. To be where he is today? There’s a special quality there for him to be able to take care of himself, make good decisions, wind up with the right people around. That still resonates with me. Because there are so many stories that go the other way. Sad stories. … He has an amazing quality. And myself and the staff have talked about it. A lot of times when people come up the way Sharrif did, they tend to veer off and drift in a different direction. But those who don’t, a lot of times they’re the ones who end up achieving great things. The ones who end up staying on that right path. He seems to be that type of person. He did stay away from certain things. You wonder how he was able to. But he’s the one who can achieve potential greatness because he’s seen a lot of things but made some good choices along the way.”
On the biggest transition for Floyd as he enters the NFL …
“For him the next greatest challenges will always be off the field. What you do in this building, in your preparation with the coaches and your teammates, it’s hard to mess that up when you’re as talented and driven as he is. But when you leave this building, there are so many things that come at you. And as much as I could try to prepare him for it by talking to him, he needs to know, you always need to keep making those right decisions. When you go back through Philadelphia, when you walk through the neighborhood, when you’re up in your hotel room, that part of the transition for all young guys – not just Sharrif – is still the biggest part of this transition. … He’ll find out quickly that he can fit in here talent-wise with the other players. But now when you get that idle time that you might not have had in college, what do you do? To me, that’s always the challenge. But he seems to be very mature in that way. He’s really focused on trying to do the right things. And I’m sure that’s because of his background and how he came through.”


NFL officially moves back 2014 draft to second week of May

Posted by: Updated: May 28, 2013 - 12:59 PM

The NFL is in the final stages of sorting out its 2014 offseason calendar and this morning the league announced the official dates for next spring's draft. As speculated, the event will indeed move back into May, slated next year for May 8-10.

The league has yet to make a final decision on keeping the draft in the month of May for the long haul. But that's where this whole calendar reshuffling situation is headed. In the big picture, the NFL's quest to dominate the sports calendar year-round is leading to a more spread out schedule of events.

As far as next year goes, the league's combine in Indianapolis will remain untouched, scheduled to take place Feb. 18-25. The start of the league year and the opening of free agency will also stay the same, inked in for March 11.

But don't be surprised if the combine and free agency are altered for 2015 and beyond with speculation already brewing and the wheels turning toward a decision to push the combine into March with free agency leapfrogging ahead in the offseason chronology.

NFL calendar change could push draft into May, combine into March

Posted by: Updated: May 20, 2013 - 3:41 PM
Since February there has been talk that the NFL was fully engaged in brainstorming to alter its annual calendar. The primary league goal, it seemed, was to slot a major event into every month of the year if possible.
Ya know, to create 24-7-365 buzz. More so than already exists.
Initially, the chatter centered around pushing several major events back a month – moving the scouting combine to March, the opening of free agency into April and the draft into May. And while two of those three moves may still happen, a report this afternoon from ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicates that the opening of free agency may ultimately leapfrog the combine on the league calendar.
According to Schefter, the league and the NFL Players Association are hammering out the details on the schedule change with the union “close to signing off” on a proposal that would move the draft into May for at least the next three years.
Media-wise, that would provide another month or so to spin in circles with endless pre-draft analysis and 11 or 12 versions of every expert’s mock drafts. And who doesn’t want more of that?
More significantly, however, would be the flip-flopping of the combine and free agency, an interesting move that would change the dynamics between teams and agents in the offseason -- if it happens.
At present, agents are allowed to connect with team representatives at the combine in Indianapolis, legally able to discuss upcoming unrestricted free agents still under contract with that specific team. If the new change is adopted, free agency will already have opened by the time those combine meetings take place.
Which would then heighten the significance of the 3.5-day courting window that the league installed this March as a sort of cocktail hour ice-breaking period before free agency begins.
So essentially we could be looking at a situation as early as 2015 where the Super Bowl will end in early February, the start of free agency and the new league year will come in either late February or early March, the combine will be in March and the draft will be in May.
The obvious question that still needs answering: What in the world would anyone do in April?
Perhaps even more importantly for teams, opening free agency before organizations have the opportunity to watch, analyze and fully engage with prospects at the combine may change the way decisions are made to upgrade the roster. With less opportunity to become more comfortable with college prospects, we could be headed down a road where teams find themselves giving veteran free agents a longer look in free agency than they might otherwise have.
UPDATE: According to a new Tweet from Schefter, the draft moving to May would happen next year with the combine-free agency flip-flop.
An NFL spokesman has told the Star Tribune that there has been no official decision on moving the draft into May but that the need to change the date of next year's draft surfaced due to a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall. There will be no change in the start of free agency or the combine in 2014. But the league is exploring things beyond that.
At present, the re-scheduling of the 2014 draft may be slated for May 7-9.

Hold off on buying that Urlacher jersey ...

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: May 15, 2013 - 11:43 AM

The Brian Urlacher-to-the-Vikings rumor reading has moved from tepid to cool today after Vikings coach Leslie Frazier shot down Tuesday's report by a Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist that Urlacher was leaning toward signing with the team.

Frazier said today on NFL AM that the Vikings would continue to plan on using players already on their team at the middle linebacking spot.

Said Frazier: "Brian has been a great player in our league for a long, long time. He was a thorn in our side for many years. At this point we want to look at the guys on our roster, give them a chance to compete for the middle linebacker position then we'll see where it takes us."

Erin Henderson continues to be the leading candidate to move from the outside to the middle for the Vikings.

Tuesday's report, along with the Vikings' rookie signings, can be found here.

Here's the transcript, courtesy of, of Frazier's chat:

On if running back Adrian Peterson has wanted to work out too hard this offseason:

“It kind of happened not by his choice. He had the abdominal strain late in the season and that has kind of slowed him this offseason as far as being able to kick things into overdrive and doing things the way he wants to do it. It has slowed him down a little bit, but he just about back to 100% doing everything he needs to be able to do to be in the best possible shape for this season.”

On if the offseason moves were geared towards easing the workload of running back Adrian Peterson:

“We would like to be more balanced. We obviously pride ourselves on being able to run the football and being able to stop the run on defense but we think in order to take that next step, as a team and as an offense, we need to be able to create that balance by being able to pass the ball a little bit better. We think with the acquisition of Greg, along with what we did in the draft, and some of the other guys coming back – a healthy Jerome Simpson, our tight end Kyle Rudolph – we think we are going to be a better team throwing the football, which should, hopefully, open up more holes for Adrian Peterson.”

On quarterback Christian Ponder:

“This will be his third season, his second season as a full time starter. We are expecting him to take another step forward. We saw glimpses in the month in December – when we went 4-0 – of what he can be. We are really excited about some of the things we saw down the stretch of the season and we are looking for him to carry that over to our next season.”

On if the Vikings are interested in linebacker Brian Urlacher

“Brian has been a great player in our league for a long, long time. He has been a torn in our side for many years. At this point, we want to take a look at the guys on our roster, give them a chance to compete for the middle linebacker position and then we will see where it takes us.”

On new Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings:

“His experience jumps out at you for sure. Knowing where we are, at the receiver position, having a guy of his caliber – a Pro Bowl player, a great player in our league for a number of years now – his leadership, his experience, his big play ability, it’s still there. He was been banged up a bit the last couple of years but he is healthy now. We are looking forward to him having a great season in Minnesota.”

On the three first round draft picks: defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson:
“I like our guys. They are going to be good players for our football team. We are hoping they are going to have an impact this first season.”

On if the expects the first round picks to be week 1 starters:

“There is enough competition on our team where they don’t have to come in and start right away. But if that were to happen, it would be a good thing for our team. Each one will have a chance to start.”

On if defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is upset with how far he fell in the draft:

“He pretty excited about being a Minnesota Viking. Once you get to know Sharrif, you realize he is a very humble guy who kind of gets it for a young guy. He is not caught up on where he was taken. He is happy to be a Viking.”





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters