Building a new soccer stadium in Minneapolis will be "very difficult" if requested tax breaks aren't secured this year, Minnesota United FC team owner Bill McGuire said Thursday. But he added that stadium backers are flexible about how the property tax savings are achieved.
I don’t have intimate knowledge of how the Vikings have stacked their draft board. I would try to break into Rick Spielman’s office, but my editors tell me that would be unethical. And illegal, they say, too. I considered contacting Miss Cleo for assistance but remembered it’s not 1998 anymore.
But while I unfortunately don’t know precisely what the Vikings plan to do in the NFL draft, I do feel I have a pretty good understanding of their needs and how they go about their draft business.
So because I can’t get enough of the draft and you can’t get enough of the draft, I decided to try my hand at a seven-round Vikings mock draft using FanSpeak.com’s handy draft simulator.
I’m aware that I might go 1-for-7 on this and I would be ecstatic if I hit two or three. I’m not too worried about that, though. The purpose of this exercise is simply to project how the draft might play out and which positions the Vikings will prioritize and when. This mock draft, which does not allow for trades, should also serve as a reminder that you can’t always get what you want.
So without further ado, here is my seven-round Vikings mock draft. Be sure to take a screen grab and mock me later, which I’m sure the Vikings will do after I strike out on all seven of these picks.
1st round (11th overall): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State. I was tempted to select Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker with this pick, like my colleague Mark Craig did in his entertaining mock draft in today’s newspaper. But I do believe that coach Mike Zimmer feels his secondary can be a lot better even though the Vikings did soar to seventh in the NFL in pass defense last season. Most mock drafts have the Vikings selecting Waynes here, and I see the logic. He has good tape and measurables and he ran well at the combine. And the Vikings must find a cornerback to pair with Xavier Rhodes for the long term, and I don’t think that player is on the roster now.
2nd (45th): A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina. Left guard should be a priority for the Vikings in this draft. Charlie Johnson really struggled last year and was released. Joe Berger was brought back, but ideally he would be their top backup on the interior. Perhaps David Yankey will be ready to compete this year, but he was not strong enough physically to do it as a rookie. The Vikings in recent years have tended to target interior lineman in the later rounds, so perhaps this might be too early for a guard. But Cann is a powerful run blocker who should be ready to play right away.
3rd (76th): Eric Rowe, S, Utah. With middle linebacker being a perennial need for the Vikings, I was hoping that TCU’s Paul Dawson would still be on the board here. He went a few picks earlier, though. But Rowe was still available, and he is an intriguing player. He was measured at 6-foot-1 at the combine and he was a top performer among defensive backs at every combine drill. He played cornerback last year, but he had been a safety before then. As I wrote for Tuesday’s newspaper, it has become difficult to find a good safety in the draft, but Rowe may have the skills to grow into one.
4th (110th): David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa. Spielman is on the record as saying that he feels this is a really deep, talented class of running backs. I have been saying for several weeks now that I don’t believe the Vikings will trade Adrian Peterson. But that probably won’t keep them from taking a talented young back like Johnson, whom the Vikings reportedly hosted at Winter Park for a pre-draft visit. Johnson is 6-foot-1 and he tipped the scales at 224 pounds at the scouting combine. He impressed in drills there, too. In theory, he could be groomed to one day help replace Peterson.
5th (137th): Lynden Trail, DE, Norfolk State. At 6-foot-7 and 269 pounds, and with arms that are nearly 35 inches long, Trail looks a lot like the kind of defensive ends Zimmer had with the Bengals, including Michael Johnson, the free agent they failed to woo last month. Trail is said to be a raw prospect, and there are questions about how he will transition from small-school Norfolk State, where he had 19.5 sacks in three seasons. The Vikings, who also had Trail in for a Winter Park visit, need reinforcements at defensive end, and he might be a project worth taking on for Zimmer.
7th (228th): Amarlo Herrera, MLB, Georgia. I would have liked to address this need sooner, but after the second round of the draft the talent there really dropped off. Zimmer might feel the same way, too. At the combine, he remarked that it wasn’t a great class for middle linebackers, especially ones that can play all three downs. Herrera isn’t the fastest or most athletic prospect, and he’s a little short, but he is a smart, instinctive player who reportedly lined up the Bulldogs defense last season. He has some coverage ability, too, so perhaps he could develop into a three-down player.
7th (232nd): Austin Hill, WR, Arizona. This is another need I would have liked to have gotten to earlier, especially with such a deep, talented group of receivers. Alas, you can’t get to every need unless you make trades and move around the draft, something Spielman will try to do but I couldn’t in this trade-free mock draft. Hill is an interesting prospect. He is 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, and the Vikings lack a receiver with his size. He missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL and his 2014 numbers weren’t close to his 2012 numbers. But it’s worth taking a flyer late on a receiver with his skill set.
Your turn. Use the draft simulator I linked to above and post your seven-round mock below.
Andrew Wiggins this afternoon will become the ninth Minnesota top pro athlete — and first Timberwolves player — to win Rookie of the Year honors in his or her respective league over the past 25 seasons.
Here is a ranking of those nine athletes and how their careers turned out (with Wiggins’ ranking based on potential).
(Note: Numerous entities hand out top rookie honors in the NFL, but for our purposes this is a winner of the Associated Press award for either the top offensive or defensive rookie):
1) Adrian Peterson, NFL, 2007: Even with what transpired in the past year, Peterson will retire someday as one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. Whether he does so in purple remains to be seen, but there’s no denying that he built on an amazing rookie season and kept on going.
2) Maya Moore, WNBA, 2011: The Lynx hadn’t made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons until Moore joined the team in 2011. Not only did they make it that year, but they also won the WNBA title. By her fourth season, she was the league MVP. It doesn’t get much better than that.
3) Randy Moss, NFL, 1998: He burst onto the scene, electrifying a fan base and taking the Vikings to the brink of the Super Bowl as a rookie. He had six great years here, a not-so-great-seventh, and some major accomplishments with New England. You could argue he belongs at the top of this list, but I put him here because there’s still a part of me that wonders if he could have been even better. I don’t wonder that about Peterson or Moore.
4) Andrew Wiggins, NBA, 2015: This is lofty company, showing what I think of Wiggins’ potential. He might not have the gear to become one of the greatest ever at his position like Peterson or Moss, but can I picture a day when he’s one of the top 10-15 players in the NBA? Easily, and it’s not that far off.
5) Seimone Augustus, WNBA, 2006: She’s a five-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2011 finals — a great player, a smooth scorer and a huge part of the success the Lynx have had in recent years.
6) Chuck Knoblauch, MLB, 1991: His career and later his life took a downturn, but let’s not forget that a rookie Knoblauch was a key to the 1991 World Series title and an in-his-prime Chuck was a sight to behold. In 1996, for example, he hit .341 with 140 runs scoerd, 62 extra-base hits, a .448 OBP and a .965 OPS — one of the top seasons at the plate for any Twins hitter in the past 20 years.
7) Percy Harvin, NFL, 2009: There was a time when I could not have imagined Harvin being so far down on this list. But for as dynamic as he can be, Harvin has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season and is on his fourth NFL team.
8) Betty Lennox, WNBA, 2000: Won top rookie honors and then played just 16 more games with the Lynx before being traded. Lennox revived her career with Seattle and had a nice prime, but her rookie season still might have been her best.
9) Marty Cordova, MLB, 1995: A very good rookie year, a great second year … and then his production dipped for the rest of his career.
Rejoice! The NFL draft is finally upon us.
The first round starts tonight, so it won’t be long until all those mock drafts become outdated and irrelevant. But while the latest ones are freshly-published and somewhat relevant, let’s take one final look at the players the most notable of draft analysts are linking to the Vikings at pick No. 11.
Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes continues to be the popular pick, though Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has the Vikings selecting Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker — perhaps only because Waynes went in the top 10 in his mock. There are a couple of other dissenters, too.
Here’s a look at which players a dozen draft analysts and NFL insiders think the Vikings will take:
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Waynes. “The top three wide receivers are off the board, and they get immediate help at cornerback while pushing Captain Munnerlyn to a better position in the slot,” he wrote.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Waynes. “Might be too light at 186 to be the kind of physical corner many teams would want, but the only highlight I saw of Waynes in run defense put the kibosh on that: In the 2013 Big Ten championship game, he made a physical stop of Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde (40 pounds heavier) for no gain,” King wrote. “Mike Zimmer needs two good physical cover corners, and adding Waynes to Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikes two first-round young players at that position.”
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Parker. “Parker was Bridgewater’s teammate from Louisville,” he wrote. “Parker can high-point the football, and was highly productive when on the field.”
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Waynes. “While the Terrance Newman signing was good for depth, the Vikings still have a need at cornerback and could draft the top defensive back on their board with this pick,” Brugler wrote.
Charles Davis, NFL Network: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia. “My top-ranked WR comes off the board here, and immediately helps second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater,” he wrote. “Louisville WR DeVante Parker will be a consideration, as will Michigan State CB Trae Waynes.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington. “Waynes is a good player, but he’s not the NFL-ready talent Marcus Peters is,” Miller wrote. “Yes, Peters has some off-field baggage after being dismissed from Washington, but he’s the type of prospect head coach Mike Zimmer can turn into an All-Pro talent. Peters needs hard coaching and a leader he trusts, and Zimmer has both the experience and leadership to be that person.”
Todd McShay, ESPN: Waynes. “This is another pick I’ve made a few different times during the draft process, but it continues to make sense,” he wrote. “The Vikings need a press-man corner opposite Xavier Rhodes, and Waynes is the best cornerback prospect in this class who figures to fit best in press-man or Cover 2 alignments.”
Josh Norris, Rotoworld: Waynes. “Everything points to the Vikings selecting a cornerback. So will it happen? I could see one of three names: Waynes, Byron Jones and Kevin Johnson,” Norris wrote. “Waynes is a press corner (or man in his zone) who uses length and frame to stick with receivers and combat the catch point.”
Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Waynes. “Waynes could go earlier, depending on team needs in the top 10. He is a 6-foot, 186-pound corner who starred in a man-to-man defense at Michigan State,” he wrote. “Don’t forget, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive backs coach at heart. Xavier Rhodes showed flashes last year; here’s his battery mate.”
Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports: Waynes. “After passing on Aaron Donald a year ago, nose tackle Danny Shelton could be their guy, but I say they go with who many believe to be the best corner in the draft,” he wrote. “So many capable deep passing attacks in their division. A potential shutdown corner makes sense.”
Jamie Newberg, Scout.com: Waynes. “I am so tempted to change my Minnesota mock pick to wide receiver Devante Parker but I have gone with Trae Waynes from practically the beginning,” he said. “I still have strong feeling that the draft’s top corner will be picked inside the top 10.”
Nate Davis, USA Today: Waynes. “The Vikes must contend with Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Golden Tate, Alshon Jeffery and Randall Cobb, among others, twice a year,” Davis wrote. “Bolstering the secondary with a talented cover man like Waynes aces the common sense test.”