It’s Monday! That means that I was too busy yesterday to update you all on the goings on in Vikings land, which provided me with enough anxiety last night to literally keep me up all night. So, strap in, cause I’m getting close to 24 hours without sleep! Woo! Quick Editors Note… The site has been growing a lot as of late (Thank you Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google News! and or team of amazing writers/content creators) and it’s been really, really awesome. So, I just wanted to thank you all for your support as we’re just regular Vikes fans that really, really love the team and the culture that surrounds/supports them/it, and is striving to build the best Vikings news/community there is!
But, back to reality. So, while I felt bad about not updating the site yesterday, there really wasn’t a whole lot going on. With the start of free agency being weeks behind us now (Unless you’re AP…) and the draft still a few weeks out, things have slowed considerably since the onslaught of news/opinion and rumors that surrounded us just a few weeks ago. However, there still are things to talk about, if you know where to look. Me? I looked at Reddit’s Vikings sub (SKOL!) and saw a post by /u/TheGrayPaladin that linked to WalterFootball.com’s 2017 Draft Meeting Tracker.
Now, it’s common practice for teams to meet with a myriad of players before the draft for a myriad of reasons (Genuine interest/Smoke and mirrors/Tire kicking) and the guys over at WalterFootball do a great job of explaining that difference from player to player. Also, there’s a difference between a casual meeting (Perhaps at the combine sidelines) and a “Private” visit. Each team is allotted 30 private meetings each year. Keep that in mind. That’s why I’m also going to post a key of sorts that explains when and where the meeting was held and the apparent level of interest that the Vikings/team has (That, again, the fellas over at WalterFootball.com came up with)… I just wanted to shout them out again because this is an amazing piece that deserves accolades.
But without further ado, here’s the key:
SR – Senior Bowl meeting.
EW – East-West Shrine meeting.
COM – Combine meeting.
INT – Interested.
VINT – Very Interested.
PRO – Pro Day or campus meeting/workout.
LOC – Local visit. Prospect making a local visit.
PRI – Private visit. Prospect making an official 30 visit.
WOR – Private Workout. Members of an organization working out a player in private.
STM – Some Type of Meeting.
% – indicates more than one meeting at an event.
^ – has met with team at more than one event.
# – indicates meeting set up outside of the 2017 Senior Bowl or the 2017 East-West Shrine Game
And here’s the Vikings meeting list:
- Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio (SR)
- Dylan Bradley^, DE, Southern Mississippi (PRO, PRI)
- Chunky Clements, DT/3-4DE, Illinois (EW)
- Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (WOR)
- Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State (PRI)
- Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse (SR)
- Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech (COM)
- Dan Feeney, G, Indiana (PRI)
- Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State (WOR)
- Worth Gregory, P, East Carolina (PRI)
- Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (PRI)
- Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami (SR)
- Jadar Johnson, S, Clemson (EW)
- Jaleel Johnson, DT/3-4DE/NT, Iowa (SR)
- Aaron Jones, RB, Texas-El Paso (COM)
- Josh Jones, S, N.C. State (PRI)
- Kyle Kalis, G, Michigan (EW)
- Alvin Kamara^, RB, Tennessee (COM, PRI)
- Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State (PRI)
- Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky (COM)
- Carl Lawson, DE/3-4OLB, Auburn (COM)
- Elijah Lee^, OLB/ILB, Kansas State (PRI, WOR)
- Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida (PRI)
- Damien Mama, G, USC (COM)
- Malik McDowell, DT/3-4DE, Michigan State (WOR)
- Leon McQuay III, S, USC (PRI)
- Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Wisconsin (PRI)
- James Onwualu, OLB, Notre Dame (EW)
- Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (COM)
- Jonah Pirsig, OT, Minnesota (PRI)
- Duke Riley, OLB/ILB, LSU (COM)
- Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State (PRI)
- Weston Steelhammer, SS, Air Force (EW)
- Damarius Travis, SS, Minnesota (LOC)
- Chad Williams, WR, Grambling (PRO)
- Eric Wilson, ILB, Cincinnati (WOR)
- Rodney Adams, WR, South Florida (PRI)
Wow. There’s A LOT to chew on here. The first thing that stood out to me was the amount of wide receivers that the Vikings have met with. If you’re a long-time follower of our site you’ll know that I have and had a general disdain for last years first round pick, Laquon Treadwell. While I don’t mean that as a personal shot at Treadwell, who I’m sure is a super nice guy (I kinda met him in person at his draft party (Via KFAN) and he seemed like a great guy despite the fact that Vikings fans absolutely MOBBED him when he stepped into Buffalo Wild Wings, he had to essentially leave while a hoard of people in purple jerseys shoved memorabilia in his face). But, I made it clear last year that I wanted the Vikings to essentially take any receiver BUT Treadwell. We held a live chat during the draft and it was the first thing that I said. I should’ve saved that chat log because it ended up looking like a slow motion car crash, as I slowly realized that we were destined to draft him.
Treadwell has been a point of contention on the award (Participation!) winning podcast The purpleJOURNAL Podcast. When the Vikings made a move for Alshon Jeffery a few weeks ago, some (Including me) saw that as a sign that the team has lost any remaining faith that they had in Treadwell and were looking to add another receiver to play alongside Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen (Who the Vikings did resign this off-season). With Cordarrelle Patterson leaving, also, it’s really not that surprising that the Vikings have met with a couple receivers in the lead up to the draft. The corps is talented, but thin and seems to be missing a true down the field, play-making receiver.
So, with that in mind, the one receiver that stands out to me, is (Of course) Curtis Samuel, who had a private visit with the team about a week ago now. I wrote about this meeting in depth, so check that out to see how I feel about the Ohio State Jack of All Trades (That the Vikings currently need). But to really (to sum things up, quickly), I like Samuel because I think he can fill multiple needs on both offensive and special teams. Losing Patterson hurt the receiving corps, sure, after a season in which he (Finally) proved that he can contribute and run routes. However, losing him as a kick returner could be devastating for a team that had the best 1-2 kick and punt return tandem in the league (Shout out to fellow Gopher, Marcus Sherels!).
The other big need that the Vikings have is at the running back position. Some assumed that when the Vikings signed 27 year old running back Latavius Murray a few weeks back, that essentially, the Vikings were set at the running back position (As they also have Jerick McKinnon under contract as a change of pace back, a position he was actually drafted for). However, as purplePTSD Senior Writer Luke Braun explained, Murray is NOT a replacement for Peterson. Apparently the Vikings agree with that assessment, as they’ve met with seven running backs so far this draft season.
Of those seven, six had private meetings (Sorry, Aaron Jones of Texas – El Paso). One could also argue that Samuel can be/is a running back, but that’s an argument for a different article (That I linked above, I guess). Of that seven, one that I find interesting is Oklahoma running back (And Joe Mixon teammate) Samaje Perine. If you listened to our Draft Special episode of the purpleJOURNAL Podcast (With special guest, draft expert @JReidDraftScout on Twitter), you’ll hear Luke Braun explain how Perine is actually a better fit and a sneakier pick than Mixon. A lot was made of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s meeting with troubled Oklahoma back Mixon and the sheer public aspect of that meeting seemed entirely out of character for the Vikings organization and was looked at as more smoke than fire.
While I’m planning an article about Mixon, I would say that of that group above I could totally see the Vikes going after Perine if he’s available at 48… However, of that bunch, the one that personally excites me most is Wisconsin (Shudder) back Dare Ogunbowale. While he didn’t have a ton of carries in his career (91 in 2016), he’s decently sized (5’11” and 205 pounds), fits the ‘Thumper’ role that Braun discussed in his Murray piece. He is also clearly adept at playing in a running back by committee system. Also, he’s the only Big Ten back (Unless, again, you consider Samuel a RB/WR hybrid) and my bias for the BEST conference in NCAA sports has been explained countless times.
The offensive and defensive lines obviously also have been addressed (Especially with the news of Sharrif Floyd changing EVERYTHING a couple weeks back) with a multitude of meetings on both sides of the ball. But, instead of delving into that (Yawn) the last position that I wanted to point out was the safety position. Between general safeties and strong safeties, the team has met with six different players. Of those six, two had private meetings (Leon McQuay III of the University of Southern California (USC) and Josh Jones from North Carolina State). Some Vikings fans/writers thought that the safety position wouldn’t be as much of a priority considering the improved play of current Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo and the need for at least a nickel corner to replace Captain Munnerlyn. However, those same fans/writers have long yearned for the Vikings to add another good to great safety to play along-side (arguable) Vikings defensive MVP, free safety Harrison Smith.
So, if you put a gun to my head and asked me to predict what position the Vikings were going to draft with their first overall pick (In the second round, 48th overall) after reading this list… First I’d say, “Hey, don’t point that at me”. Then, I’d cry a bit. After that, I’d say… Honestly. I have no idea and end up getting shot in the face. And that’s exciting and a good sign, actually. A month ago had you, yet again (Or I guess, for the first time?) pointed a gun at my head and asked the same question… I’d definitely say that the Vikings were going to load up on offensive lineman, and not just with only their second pick. However, with free agency (Both the players added and lost) the dynamic/needs changed. The Vikings have done an admirable job in the past couple weeks of alleviating a lot of the obvious weaknesses that the team showed during 2016’s catastrophe. I’ve said this a couple times now, but the Vikings at least patched up some of those obvious needs which gives them a lot more flexibility when it comes to the draft. Something that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman typically uses to his/the team’s advantage. Hence the name Slick Rick.
So. I personally can’t wait for the draft! Hopefully this list will help you guys get a better sense of what the Vikings may do at the end of the month. Or, it’ll just confuse you even further, which is kind of where I’m at this morning (Again, I haven’t slept). So… I’d really love to hear what you guys think about the draft, these meetings, the team in general and even your thoughts on the site. We do have a Message Board now, that is free to REGISTER for and will hopefully become one of the best Vikings communities online. Let us know what you think, and thanks for the support!