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Kyle Rudolph Stays Home; Signs Extension

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By: AJ Condon
June 11, 2019

While most people were watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals late Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings were able to keep Minnesotan-loving Kyle Rudolph with the team for four more years.

Contract Details

The Vikings and Rudolph have been in contract talks this whole offseason as well as some rumors of being traded. The Vikings draft selection didn't help those rumors simmer out either, when they selected Irv Smith Jr., tight end out of Alabama, with the 50th pick in this years draft.

All those rumors were put to rest late Monday night when Rudolph posted a very meaningful post about how much Minnesota meant to him with the caption "#UnfinishedBusiness #Skol" with this screenshot.

That was quickly followed by multiple reports of Rudolph and the Vikings coming to terms. Later that night, the details came out for the deal, four years, $36 million. This puts Rudolph as the fourth highest paid tight end in terms of average per year behind Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, and Jordan Reed.

Rudolph's cap hit for this season is $3.55 million and the future four-year breakdown will come out soon. Multiple reports reported that this deal actually freed up $4 million in cap space for this season.

Looking Forward

With Rudolph being locked up until 2023, the Vikings have many weapons that fans should be excited for. Kirk Cousins behind center with Dalvin Cook in the backfield, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs out wide, and Smith Jr. and Rudolph running a two-tight end set.

I will bring back this stat of Kirk Cousins while in Washington when he was working with a two-tight end set. Cousins has been the best quarterback from 2015-2017 when working with two tight ends. Given his two tight ends were Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, Rudolph and Smith Jr. aren't as dangerous as those two were, but don't be surprised if we see the tight ends being used more these next couple of years than Vikings' fans are used to.
The two-time Pro Bowler will turn 30-years-old later this season, but he has been one of the most reliable tight ends in the league and for the Vikings. He has played in all 16 games in the last four seasons, and had his career year in 2016. He has averaged 625 yards and six touchdowns over those years.

Last season Rudolph was targeted 82 times, which was 13.5% of Cousins attempts and had his highest catch percentage catching 78 percent of balls that came his way. He also has only fumbled the ball once in his career.

It isn't just his strong hands that impress me, his red zone presence is very reliable. In the past two seasons, Rudolph has hauled in 71 percent of his targets and reeled in ten touchdowns inside the 20. In the past two seasons he has also been responsible for 20.8 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively, for his teams' targets in the red zone.

This is probably the last offseason move for the Vikings, but caps off a busy one. The Vikings resigned Anthony Barr, restructured Everson Griffen, and signed Thielen to a long-term deal.
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Minnesota Vikings Draft Dru Samina

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Minnesota Vikings Draft Dru Samina

 Oklahoma's Dru Samia poses for a photo during the University of Oklahoma's football media day at Gaylord Family -Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Sunday, July 22, 2018. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

   Photo by: Brian Terry, The Oklahoman 

By: Preet Shah
In the 4th round of the Minnesota Vikings selected Dru Samia. The Vikings started their third day in the draft by trading up to pick 114 to select the guard out of Oklahoma. The Vikings traded pick 120 and 204 to the Seahawks for pick 114. This is the 4th consecutive pick in this draft where the Vikings selected a player on offense, which comes as a surprise due to the well documented defensive nature of coach Mike Zimmer. Samia was part of the best offensive line in college football last year where he helped keep first overall pick Kyler Murray clean in the pocket. He will now team up with the Vikings first round pick, Garrett Bradbury, and join the offensive line.

I would doubt with the signing of Josh Kline that Samia will start right away but instead will prove to be a much-needed depth piece on the offensive line. Samia has experience at both right tackle and guard but will likely play at guard due to his shorter size. I think that Samia will compete with Brett Jones and Danny Isidora to be the first guard off the bench.

This pick, much like the Bradbury pick seems to have Dennison’s and Kubiak's fingerprints all over it as Samia was rated considered one of the best zone blocking lineman in the draft. This pick will be good for providing competition and depth to a position group that in recent years has lacked both. As always leave your comments and opinions below and Skol Vikes.

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Vikings Draft Irv Smith Jr

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Minnesota Vikings Draft Irv Smith

Image result for irv smith
Photo:Kevin Kuo-USA Today Sports
By:Preet Shah

With the 50th pick in the NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Irv Smith Jr., a tight end out of the University of Alabama. With this pick, it seemed like the Vikings went with the best player available to them. Irv Smith Jr. is the son of former first-round draft pick Irv Smith Sr. who played tight end for New Orleans, San Francisco, and Cleveland. Irv was considered the best tight end in the after T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant and projected to go in the late first round or the early second round by most draft experts, but the sheer absurdity of the first round and the run on defensive backs to start the second pushed him into the mid second round.

When I asked my friend Savitra Kulkarni, who is a huge crimson tide fan, about Irv he had this to say “He’s your prototypical modern-day tight end, he possesses some blocking skill but that area needs a bit of improvement. However, when he has the ball is when he really shines. With the athleticism and the speed that he has he always is a threat to gain yards after the catch.”

    Irv may be the player to take over as the true third-receiving option to take the pressure off of Diggs and Thielen. This pick may also signal the end of the Kyle Rudolph era in Minnesota as the Vikings currently have just over a million in cap space and need about seven million to sign all of their draft picks to deals. Though cutting Rudolph would be devastating as he is a class act both on and off the field, it would free up about 7 million dollars which would be just over the amount needed to sign the rookie class. Another scenario could have Rudolph restructure his deal to get less money but get it guaranteed.

I like this pick due to both Irv’s athleticism and ability to run after the catch, which Kirk also loves in tight ends, and also the potential for the Vikings to get more cap space quickly. As always leave your comments and opinions below and Skol Vikes.

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Vikings Draft Garrett Bradbury

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Minnesota Vikings Draft Garrett Bradbury

NC State Wolfpack guard Garrett Bradbury against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the college football opener at Bank of America Stadium. (Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports)
Photo:Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports
By: Preet Shah

The Minnesota Vikings selected Garrett Bradbury at pick number 18 in the 2019 NFL Draft finally addressing the need at the interior offensive line position. The Center from NC State was the first center off the board and for good reason, as he was voted the best center in college football this past season, winning the Rimington Trophy. Now Bradbury joins the Vikings offensive line where he will most likely displace current center and 2016 Rimington trophy winner Pat Elflein.

With the overall absurdity of this Draft, the Vikings were put in a tough position at pick 18. They could have bolstered up the tackle positions by selecting Andre Dillard or Jawaan Taylor or they could have taken former Mississippi State standout Montez Sweat to add more depth to the defensive line. This pick, however, seems to have Kubiak and Dennison's fingerprints all over it as Bradbury’s mobility makes him a great fit in the outside zone scheme that they plan to run next year. Most experts loved this selection, with an analyst from Daniel Jeremiah saying “This is the best center in the draft and one of the best to come out in the last handful of years.”

To gain further insight on this pick I spoke to my friend Jake Kistler, a die-hard NC State fan, to understand Bradberry more. Jake went on to say “He’s very versatile for a big guy. He is very light on his feet and he should make a big Impact fast.”

Overall I am a huge fan of this pick. I believe that this is exactly what the Vikings needed and Bradberry fits perfectly with the other young offensive lineman in O'Neill and Elfein who both can get out into space and attack blockers at the second level. Leave your opinions on the selection in the comments below and as always Skol.

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Vikings Schedule Released

The time has finally come Viking fans, the 2019 NFL schedule is here. After months of speculation and rumors from experts and fans we now know what exactly the Vikings’s slate of game is going to look like. The Vikings will be opening season at home vs Atlanta and closing the season at home vs Chicago, the same team they played in week 17 last year who ultimately keep them out of the playoffs. They are also playing whole NFC East as well as NFC west. The Vikings schedule has five prime time matchups, which is tied for a league high. Those primetime games are what will make or break the season, as a poor record in prime time hurt the team heavily in 2018. Overall Kirk Cousins has struggled mightily in primetime games over his career with a poor 5-13 record. If that trend continues, the Vikings will not be going anywhere this season no matter who they are playing. With that being said, all you can do as a fan of the purple is stay faithful to your team and start your countdown to the regular season (144 days!) Below is the full 2019 schedule, enjoy!

Week 1 | Sunday, Sept. 8 | NOON | vs. Atlanta Falcons | FOX 
Week 2 | Sunday, Sept. 15 | NOON | at Green Bay Packers | FOX 
Week 3 | Sunday, Sept. 22 | NOON | vs. Oakland Raiders | FOX 
Week 4 | Sunday, Sept. 29 | 3:25 PM | at Chicago Bears | CBS 
Week 5 | Sunday, Oct. 6 | NOON | at New York Giants | FOX 
Week 6 | Sunday, Oct. 13 | NOON | vs. Philadelphia Eagles | FOX 
Week 7 | Sunday, Oct. 20| NOON  at Detroit Lions | FOX
Week 8 | Thursday, Oct. 24 | 7:20 PM | vs. Washington Redskins | NFLN 
Week 9 | Sunday, Nov. 3 | NOON | at Kansas City Chiefs | FOX |

Week 10 | Sunday, Nov. 10 | 7:20 PM at Dallas Cowboys | NBC |

Week 11 | Sunday, Nov. 17 | NOON | vs. Denver Broncos | CBS |

Week 12 | Sunday, Nov. 24 | Bye Week |

Week 13 | Monday, Dec. 2 | 7:15 PM | at Seattle Seahawks | ESPN |

Week 14 | Sunday, Dec. 8 | NOON | vs. Detroit Lions | FOX |
Week 15 | Sunday, Dec. 15 | 7:20 PM | at Los Angeles Chargers | NBC 
Week 16 | Monday, Dec. 23 | 7:15 PM | vs. Green Bay Packers | ESPN 

Week 17 | Sunday, Dec. 29| NOON | vs. Chicago Bears | FOX
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First Round Pick Predictions

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Image result for vikings draft
April 24th, 2019

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft takes place in the Music City, Nashville, Tennessee tomorrow evening. A few of the writers at VikingNations have teamed up to predict our first round picks including an analysis.

Jonah Williams 

By: Zach Brown 
While looking into who the Vikings might select in this year’s draft I came across an interesting statistic: since 2010, the Vikings have only selected an offensive lineman in the first round once and the second round once. You read that right, TWO offensive lineman between the first and second round in nine drafts, and only one since Mike Zimmer took over as coach in 2014. 

Something to keep in mind is the previously mentioned second rounder was tackle Brian O’Neill, and he was drafted in 2018. So basically, the Vikings had a span of more than of a decade where they completely abandoned a position group which ultimately led to their demise in 2018. 

The purpose of this article though is not to talk where the Vikings have gone wrong in previous drafts but how to turn around what has turned into their biggest headache. The Vikings have a chance to make up for all the years of drafting of late round mediocre offensive lineman and get a player that can be an immediate starter for a depleted offensive line group and become a reliable player for years to come.  

Minnesota has done an excellent of drafting and developing players and that has given them the luxury to draft based on need rather than best talent available. Normally, I am under the mindset of drafting the best player available, but this draft is a special case. Drafting a highly rated offensive tackle or guard will give a huge boost to a Minnesota offensive line that already has improved by signing free agent  guard Josh Kline this offseason, and I believe the player they will select is former Alabama tackle Jonah Williams.

Jonah Williams is a versatile player, meaning he can play left tackle, right tackle or even guard if needed. A versatile player if something they needing considering the uncertainty from the current offensive line. Williams has been on the record saying he prefers to play tackle rather than making the switch to guard, but unless talks of tackle Riley Reiff switching to guard come to fruition, look for him to make that switch to guard this season. 

One thing that sets Williams apart from the other lineman in this draft is his technique. Many experts have said that Williams’ technique is the best in this draft class, which is important to succeed at the next level. Believing that Williams will fall to 18 could be wishful thinking, but some of the physical tools he lacks such as long arms could scare enough teams that are picking before Minnesota. Any lack of skills he has though, I believe, he will make up for though with his football IQ. The Vikings will draft him at 18 and plug him in as an immediate starter.

Andre Dillard 

By: Tanishka Mhaskar
It’s pretty well established that we need to draft offensive line, at least if GM Rick Spielman wants to go home. One intriguing option would be OT Andre Dillard out of Washington State. 

Dillard is a premier left tackle who excels in pass blocking because of Washington State’s air raid offense. He’s a talented four year starter who has adequate core power with good arm length. He’s quick and has balance to adjust to second level targets and strike with force. 

The only negative about Dillard is the lack of tape on him run blocking, due to the style of Washington State’s offense. With Coach Zimmer nagging to run the ball more, the Vikings must be sure of run blocking that can be coached. 

If we draft Dillard, Reiff will likely move in to play left guard, which he played some in college. The two bookends of Dillard and O”Neill would be a lethal duo of athletic tackles for the next decade.

Noah Fant 

By: AJ Condon
Yes, the offensive line is an issue for the Minnesota Vikings, however, they made that a key area for improvement during free agency and signed a few new players which could open up their first round pick in the upcoming draft.

The offensive line could still use some help and that could be done in the second and even the third round because I believe Noah Fant, tight end, is a player who could impact the offense even more. When Kirk Cousins came to Minnesota, I was really excited to see what he would do with Kyle Rudolph. 

From 2015-2017, Kirk Cousins was the best quarterback in the NFL while working with two TEs. He completed 177 passes for a combined total of 2,621 yards. His completion percent was also very accurate for this big of a sample size coming in at 69.1 percent. Having Fant work with Rudolph in a two TE set would allow Cousins to work like he did in Washington with Reed and Davis.

In Fant’s sophomore and junior years at Iowa, he combined for over 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on 69 receptions. He also destroyed the NFL Combine this year, leading TEs in: 40 yard dash with 4.50 seconds, vertical jump with 39.5 inches, broad jump with 127 inches, three cone drill with 6.81, and the sixty yard shuffle with 11.49 seconds. This guy is a freak athlete!

Drafting Fant with our first round pick and addressing the offensive line in the later rounds is a smart move for the Vikings and I think will have the biggest effect with Cousins improvement this year.

Christian Wilkins 

By: Preet Shah
I know that most people will come at me saying that we need to draft an offensive lineman, but we’ve seen time after time that Spielman drafts for best player available (BPA) over need. With the departure of Sheldon Richardson and Linval Joseph, 30 years old, beginning to slowly decline, the Vikings may need to address defensive tackle early on in this draft.

This is why I think they will draft Christian Wilkins, who starred on the Clemson defensive line where he played alongside fellow potential first-round picks in Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell. On such a star-studded defensive line you could see Wilkins impact in all aspects of play from him stopping the run to rushing the passer. In his senior season, Wilkins racked up 14 tackles for loss along with 5.5 sacks. 

Wilkins was actually eligible last year to enter the draft, and in all likelihood would have been a first round pick. Instead, he decided to come back to get a shot at another national championship and to be able to become a substitute teacher. Ask any coach at Clemson and they will rave about Wilkins’ character and the positive impact he has on his teammates. Wilkins seems to be a guy who can bring a winning culture to a team.

If the Vikings draft Wilkins, they could also put Joseph in a spot where he could mentor Wilkins and teach him some of the skills to be able to succeed while he ages gracefully and eventually either retires or moves to another team. In short, the fact that Vikings always go BPA over need along with this year’s defensive line class being one of the best in recent memories and Wilkins character it truly would not be a surprise to see his name called during the Vikings pick.

The draft is in around 24 hours, and the angst of the first round pick and the offensive line will be hopefully put at rest, but make sure to turn in tomorrow evening! 
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2019 Preseason Games

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By: Tanishka Mhaskar
April 13th, 2019
Photo: Dhartist.

The 2019 NFL preseason schedule was officially released earlier this week. Today I’m going to delve into the games and the new faces the Vikes will face.

The Vikings will kick off the preseason with a visit to the New Orleans Saints. They’ll be facing their former first round pick, QB Teddy Bridgewater as well as Nick Easton, Latavius Murray and Marcus Sherels who all signed with the Saints this offseason.

For their first game back home, they will host Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks which will be nationally televised on NBC. The Vikings will also play the Seahawks in the regular season when they take another visit to Century Link Field.

The “dress rehearsal” game will come against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Here, they will face rookie HC Kliff Kingsbury and possibly Kyler Murray (with the No.1 pick).

Minnesota will close out the preseason on the road against the Buffalo Bills, who blew them out last season. Luckily for us, Anthony Barr and Josh Allen will not be playing.

Vikings Preseason Games

  • August 9th: at New Orleans Saints, 7 pm CT
  • August 18th: vs Seattle Seahawks, 7 pm CT
  • August 24th: vs Arizona Cardinals, 12 pm CT
  • August 29th: at Buffalo Bills, 6:30 pm CT
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