September 22, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Tate and Irv Smith (84) of the Minnesota Vikings against the Oakland Raiders at US Bank Stadium. Compulsory Credit: Jeffrey Baker – USA Today Sports
Vikings Insider, GM’s view
First-round pick Lewis Cine and his fellow draft picks hit veterans for the first time this week at the Vikings practice ground, and as usual, it was the veterans who had the most impact on observers like me.
Yes, Cine looked smooth and athletic in terms of safety as per his advance notice. And it must have been even more exciting for the Vikings coaches to pick Andrew Booth Jr. on the field in the second round, participate in drills and look like he has recovered from sports hernia surgery, so he should be ready to participate fully in his training camp. Starts at the end of July.
It’s hard to project too much from the 2022 rookie class until we see them in their full pad at training camp and then in the three preseason games, when most rookies will have enough time to claim their roster spot and possibly a starting role.
What caught my attention more than the cunning at Tuesday’s OTA session was the two keys to the Minnesota defense (and perhaps with the Vikings’ playoff hopes and the performance of the Kirk cousins) – Daniel Hunter and J’Darius Smith on the field together in 7-on-7 drills. And Irvine Smith sees Jr. back in practice and thinks about his impact on the Vikings in a position of skill.
Just something special to see the sheer athleticism of Daniel and Zadarias, even in the half-speed drills at OTA. Both players were smiling on the field and during their post-practice media sessions when they said they were excited to be on the same team together. For Hunter, switching to a 3-4 base defense is even more dramatic because he was basically 4-3 in his entire career under Mike Zimmer. It is expected that the Vikings will merge into some 4-3 as a change-up, and Hunter says he has run past from a permanent position (which he would normally do as a 3-4 outside linebacker / edge racer).
“Last year we played 3-4 little by little … remember the Arizona game. It was a lot of fun, ”Hunter said of playing with three sacks of Kyler Marr in 2 weeks. I mean, we’re back. ”
Hunter praised Jaderius Smith as “cool, a good overall character” and had previously connected with him in the Pro Bowl when they played together.
Smith is undoubtedly accustomed to 3-4 because he was adept at that defense at Green Bay (just ask the cousins, Smith is the victim of lots of sacks). Speaking about playing with Hunter, Smith said, “It’s great to be here and to have the opportunity to be on the opposite side. I just can’t wait. ”
Even Vikings coaches and fans can’t wait to see them chase quarterbacks together. But it would be a fine balancing act to ensure they are healthy and ready to come on the first day against the Packers, a matchup against his former team that Smith has already fired.
Smith played just one game for the Packers in 2021, a back injury knocking him off the lineup, while Hunter is returning from his torn pack that cost him 10 games last season.
The Vikings will rely on the Vikings’ training staff and head coach Kevin O’Connell, defensive coordinator Ed Donatel, assistant head coach Mike Pattin and outside linebacker coach / pass rush specialist Mike Smith to handle the workload of Hunter and J’Darius. Smith in OTA, mini-camp, training camp, and three pre-season games (and I would recommend that they play only one series যদি if any সম্ভবত perhaps in these two nonsense games).
Irv Smith Jr. will need the same type of load management as he returns from a meniscus injury that landed him in the injured reserve for the entire 2021 season. Irv is a highly athletic tight end who has excelled in his first two seasons of pro bowling talent. This is a huge year for him because he can hit free agency next spring and a big season sets him up for a nice salary.
The Vikings need Irv Smith to be healthy and productive so that he can be an outlet for the Cousins in short and mid-passing games and has the speed to open up against linebackers and safety. The Smith Vikings’ excellent wide receiver trio of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thiellen and KJ Osborne with Dalvin Cook’s great run could help open things up.
With the loss at Tyler Conklin’s free agency, the Vikings have no experienced player who can make an impact like Smith, although last year’s fifth-rounder Jack Davidson was able to catch several passes in the 7-on-7 on Tuesday. And some speed flashes for a big guy (6’7 “). The other tight edges – free agent signer Johnny Mund, returnee Ben Elfson and seventh round pick Nick Muse – look more like a blocking-type tight end than a threat.
When draft picks and underachieved rookies get their feet wet and more comfortable in offensive and defensive schemes, they will become more noticeable or leave the roster after arriving at training camp. In Week 1 of the full squad OTA, the Veterans are the main story — and in particular these three main Vetts, Hunter and Two Smith, who are returning from major injuries and could play a big role in the Vikings play-off. Packers pose a threat for team and division titles.
Will the Vikings sign another splash around the NFL watch and before the training camp?
We are now in the third wave of the NFL Free Agency, which is the time between the start of the draft and the training camp when the teams re-evaluate their list after the first two waves of the free agency and the draft and consider signing the free agents available at the location. Needy Team Capitalists are crunching numbers to see how much salary cap room they have to budget for a full roster of 53 players and injured reserve players and practice squad players who regularly count below the cap when the season arrives.
The Vikings currently have a cap room of -12 11-12 million for the top 51 players, as measured by a team’s cap room until the final roster is set in early September. There are still many top-flight, early-caliber players on the open market who are waiting for the right team / right offer before signing or perhaps rehabilitating a major injury to prove their worth signing (such as Odell Beckham and his surviving ACL Tier Super Bowl). ).
The list of available players includes wide receivers Beckham and Julio Jones, defensive end / edge racer Jadevan Clooney and Trey Flowers, defensive tackle Endamukong Suh and Vikings-killer Akim Hicks, future Hall of Fame Tight and Rob Grancock and Rob Grancock Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr. Then add quarterback Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garopolo, who are looking to trade the Browns and the 49ers.
This is a pretty strong list of players who can probably help a team win more. Some free agents can wait from elementary to midterm training camp to see if any injuries create a good opportunity financially or with a play-off-caliber team. We’ll see if the Vikings will pat up, run or wait for an available, high-profile free agent, and see if any injuries force their hands.
Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former president of the Tennessee Titans and was named NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the IFA, an NFL agent group based in Minneapolis, and does other sports consulting and media. Work with college / corporate speaking. Follow him and message him directly on Twitter- jeffdiamondnfl.