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 Lions

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.

Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson named to All-NFL team

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: January 13, 2014 - 12:22 PM

Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was selected on the Pro Football Writers Association All-NFL and All-NFC teams as a kick returner.

He was one of 17 first-time All-NFL honorees by the PFWA. Patterson was the only player selected on either team from the Vikings.

It's been a pretty nice start to his offseason so far for the rookie. Patterson was named into the Pro Bowl as a return specialist and also earned the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for December to go along with the PFWA's selection. He's one of five candidates up for Rookie of the Year (fans can vote here on the award)

Here's the complete All-NFL and All-NFC teams:

QB – Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
RB – Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs; LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
WR – Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns ; Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
TE – Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
C – Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers
G – Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles; Louis Vasquez, Denver Broncos
T – Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers; Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
DE – Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams; J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
DT – Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
OLB – Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts
MLB – Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
CB – Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks; Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
S – Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs; Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Special Teams
PK – Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
P – Johnny Hekker, St. Louis Rams
KR – Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
PR – Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Justin Bethel, Arizona Cardinals

QB – Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
RB – Matt Forte, Chicago Bears; LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
WR – Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions; Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
TE – Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
C – Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers
G – Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles; Josh Sitton, Green Bay Packers
T – Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles; Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers
DE – Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers; Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams
DT – Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
OLB – Ahmad Brooks, San Francisco 49ers; Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
MLB – Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
CB – Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals; Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
S – Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks; Donte Whitner, San Francisco 49ers
Special Teams
PK – Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
P – Johnny Hekker, St. Louis Rams
KR – Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
PR – Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
ST – Justin Bethel, Arizona Cardinals

Vikings hold eighth pick in NFL Draft; top-20 set

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 30, 2013 - 6:27 AM

The Vikings will have the eighth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft with their 14-13 victory over the Lions on Sunday. They entered the final game of the season with an opportunity to pick between 3-8, but they locked in the eighth selection with the win. It didn't matter in the end however as the other four win teams all lost.

Here are the teams that will pick ahead of the Vikings at the moment:

1. Houston Texans (2-14)

2. St. Louis Rams [via Redskins] (3-13)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) (.504)

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) (.516)

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12) (.524)

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) (.553)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) (.573)

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1)

We don’t expect this order to change regardless of the outcome of the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night. It only impacts the SOS, the first tiebreaker in the draft order, of the Bucs and Raiders.

Raiders played both the Cowboys and Eagles this season. Calculating a win and loss into their SOS will have very little impact (the ten-thousandth decimal in case you really care to .523). The Bucs played just the Eagles this season. Even if Philadelphia loses tonight however, it won’t be enough to make up the gap between the Falcons for the seventh pick.

Let the offseason begin.

Update: Here's the top-20 draft order:

1. Houston Texans (2-14)

2. St. Louis Rams [via Redskins] (3-13)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) (.504)

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) (.516)

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12) (.523)

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) (.553)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) (.574)

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1)

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

10. Detroit Lions (7-9) (.457)

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9) (.504)

12. New York Giants (7-9) (.520)

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9) (.551)

14. Chicago Bears (8-8) (.465)

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) (.469)

16. Baltimore Ravens/Dallas Cowboys (8-8) (.484)

18. New York Jets (8-8) (.488)

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8) (.523)

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

The Cowboys and Ravens finished with the same record and same SOS. Since they're in different conferences, most tiebreakers don't apply except the final option: coin toss.

The rest of the draft order (21-32) will be decided based on playoff results.

Halftime report: Vikings 7, Lions 0

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 29, 2013 - 1:57 PM

The Vikings have a 7-0 lead at halftime over the Lions in the finale game at the Metrodome. The Vikings have outgained the Lions 235-56

The good: Cordarrelle Patterson’s only season in the Metrodome has created for some memorable plays. The latest from the wide receiver: a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. It’s the longest touchdown run for a wide receiver in franchise history.

It’s Patterson’s third rushing touchdown this season, breaking Percy Harvin’s single-season record for a wide receiver.

Defensive end Jared Allen also recorded a sack in the first half to give him 10.5 this season. He’s recorded double digit sack totals for seven straight seasons now and sits alone for 13th all-time with 127.5 sacks.

The bad: Allen also took a snap on offense and missed a shot at a touchdown. Everyone knew Allen would likely get the ball once he was announced as an eligible receiver, but he was still wide open on the play action pass. Quarterback Matt Cassel rolled out of the pocket and missed Allen badly, nailing a photographer behind the end zone. Cassel threw an interception two plays later.

The ugly: While the Metrodome is closing, this game has the feel of two teams eliminated from the playoffs with coaches on the hot seat. Some may say it’s a fitting way to say goodbye, but it surely isn’t pretty to watch.

A good example: the Lions had the fourth best run defense in the NFL entering this game. Running back Matt Asiata, who started for the injured Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, has nine carries for 57 yards.

Need another one? Both teams have punted nine times.

Week 17 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: December 29, 2013 - 7:43 AM

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

1. 49ers (11-4)
They’ve won a league-best five straight, including a victory over the Seahawks, heading into today’s game at Arizona. ... Which, um, we predict later on that the Cardinals will win. (Hey, nobody said the NFL is supposed to make sense).


2. Cardinals (10-5); 3. Panthers (11-4); 4. Chargers (8-7); 5. Broncos (12-3); 6. Seahawks (12-3); 7. Patriots (11-4); 8. Colts (10-5); 9. Bengals (10-5); 10. Chiefs (11-4); 11. Saints (10-5); 12. Eagles (9-6);  13. Steelers (7-8); 14. Ravens (8-7); 15. Bills (6-9); 16. Dolphins (8-7); 17. Rams (7-8); 18. Cowboys (8-7); 19. Giants (6-9); 20. Titans (6-9); 21. Jets (7-8); 22. Bears (8-7); 23. Packers (7-7-1); 24. Lions (7-8); 25. Falcons (4-11).

26. Vikings 4-10-1 (Last week: 20):
Financially, the Vikings are giddy about leaving the Metrodome. As for what it means competitively, well, we’ll have to wait and see. The Vikings are 166-92 (.643) at the Dome. And even in a season as miserable as this one has been, the Vikings have won three straight at the Metrodome and can make it four in a row with a win over the Lions today.


27. Redskins (3-12); 28. Buccaneers (4-11); 29. Browns (4-11); 30. Jaguars (4-11); 31. Raiders (4-11).

32: Texans (2-13):
Just a mere 105 days ago, the Texans were 2-0 and considered a Super Bowl contender with a franchise quarterback, a strong defense and stability at head coach. Yeah, things tend to change quickly in the NFL.


Lions plus-2 ½ at Vikings: Vikings 34, Lions 31.
.The Lions were 6-3 with a clear path to the NFC North title thanks to injuries in Chicago and one major injury (Aaron Rodgers) in Green Bay. Then, as they typically do, the Lions underachieved. They’ve lost five of six, including a home game against the Giants a week ago. Now, out of the playoffs, they have to travel in Week 17. Either team could win or lose, win big or be blown out. The guess here is with the home team.

Last week: Vikings plus-8 at Bengals: The pick: Vikings 27, Bengals 24. The final: Bengals 42, Vikings 14. Record: 8-6-1, 6-9 vs. the spread.

Eagles minus-6 ½ at Cowboys. The pick: Cowboys 41, Eagles 38.
Yeah, the Cowboys have an historically awful defense. Yeah, Tony Romo (back surgery) is done for the season. But, in typical illogical NFL fashion, this will be the Week 17 play-in game the Cowboys finally win after falling short multiple times in recent years.

Last week: Cowboys minus-3 at Redskins. The pick: Redskins 41, Cowboys 38. The final: Cowboys 24, Redskins 23. Record: 4-12.

Panthers minus-6 at Falcons: Panthers by 3.
Packers minus-3 at Bears: Packers by 7.
Texans plus-7 ½ at Titans: Titans by 10.
Browns plus-7 at Steelers: Steelers by 14.
Redskins plus-3 ½ at Giants: Giants by 7.
Ravens plus-6 ½ at Bengals: Bengals by 3.
Jaguars plus-10 ½ at Colts: Colts by 3.
Jets plus-5 ½ at Dolphins: Dolphins by 7.
Bills plus-7 ½ at Patriots: Patriots by 6.
Buccaneers plus-12 at Saints: Saints by 14.
Broncos minus-11 at Raiders: Broncos by 7.
49ers minus-1 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 7.
Chiefs plus-10 at Chargers: Chargers by 7.
Rams plus-11 ½ at Seahawks: Seahawks by 7.

Record: Last week: 10-6; 15-1 vs. the spread. Overall: 132-90-1; 108-110-4 vs. the spread.


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