Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zimmer: ‘I like having first-round draft picks that leave other places’

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — Entering his third season as head coach, Mike Zimmer and the Vikings have established a clear approach in building the roster. An emphasis on ‘high-character’ players is stressed through psych evaluations on draft prospects. Though they’ve also shown a propensity for taking swings on other teams’ valued picks.

Of the Vikings’ six new signings this month, two are former first-round picks in safety Michael Griffin and offensive tackle Andre Smith. That makes three such additions, including cornerback Terence Newman, since Zimmer was hired more than two years ago. Nose tackle Linval Joseph, the Vikings’ coveted free agent addition in 2014, was a second-round pick by the New York Giants. It’s a trend Zimmer acknowledged last week at the league owners meetings.

“I like having first-round draft picks that leave other places,” he said. “Because they have pedigrees.”

At times last season, more than half (6) of the Vikings defense was comprised of former first-round picks between Newman, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and linebacker Chad Greenway. That trend could continue with the signing of Griffin, the Titans’ 19th-overall pick in 2007, or should the Vikings go defense again with the 23rd-overall pick in next month’s draft.

The Vikings fight an over-the-hill stigma by adding once-coveted players, but they’ve already produced one such success story in the 37-year-old Newman. It’s also an approach aimed at rounding the roster with talent without breaking the bank. Through three offseasons under Zimmer, Joseph’s $12.5 million guaranteed remains the most given by the Vikings to an outside free agent. For comparison, at least 19 free agents inked deals with more guaranteed money (on new teams) this month.

The Vikings have combined that approach with another pillar of their free agency strategy, which calls for firsthand knowledge before investing. Coaching connections have fingerprints all over the new signings, including Griffin, Smith, former Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and even guard Alex Boone, whom Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano knew in San Francisco. It’s spilled over to offense, where Smith has been added to the right tackle competition.

Though the Bengals let Smith walk, seven years after taking him sixth overall in 2009. He’s reportedly struggled with weight and consistency in the NFL and Zimmer said that reputation likely pushed some suitors away.

“I think that was a big part of why he didn’t maybe get a whole bunch of play,” Zimmer said. “Andre is a really good athlete and I think he has some more room to develop. He doesn’t have weight issues and he doesn’t have issues off the field.”

Smith (6-4, 325) signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal this month. It’s relatively low risk at just $1 million guaranteed, though perhaps expectations outweigh the money as they’ve made Smith, 29, one of the new pieces in a retooled offensive line — the Vikings’ top priority this offseason.

“It was more about that I know what type of athlete [Smith] is and what kind of ability he has. That was the biggest thing,” Zimmer said. “He’s a good guy and he’s got a good pedigree.”

The post Zimmer: ‘I like having first-round draft picks that leave other places’ appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>