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Bleacher Report – Vikings

20/20 hindsight: Grading every Vikings offseason move at the midway point

By Matthew Coller

When the Minnesota Vikings were 2-2, defensive end Everson Griffen said the team needed to go 4-0 during the next quarter of the season. Maybe a shrug-worthy comment at the time, but the Vikings pulled it off and now sit in the driver’s seat to win the NFC North.

Their first-half success has been driven by depth, which, as owner Mark Wilf noted in London last week, was a major focus of the offseason.

But this offseason improved more than just the depth of the roster. It forged the trajectory of this season. With that said, let’s have a look at how the difference-making moves from the summer have turned out…

Signings

Quarterback, Case Keenum

Grade: A-

When the Vikings signed Keenum, they hoped he wouldn’t have to play, but they spent $2 million to make sure they had a quarterback who had proven he could step in and win. That’s exactly what he’s done, leading the Vikings to a 5-2 record when he plays. Keenum’s numbers are not gaudy. He has seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a 88.8 rating in seven appearances. But the former Texan and Ram hasn’t thrown games away and has done enough to operate Pat Shurmur’s offense. Both losses were winable and were frustrating at times, but overall you couldn’t ask for anything more of a backup QB than what Keenum has provided.

Left tackle, Riley Reiff

Grade: A+

Reiff hasn’t just been good, he’s been a revelation at left tackle. The former Lions first-round pick has allowed zero sacks and brought a character and toughness that made him one of the most respected players in the Vikings’ locker room. His run blocking has been outstanding and the Vikings can use him in any type of scheme, whether it’s pulling or getting out in space on screens. Considering he plays the second most important position, Reiff has a good case for being the MVP of the offense during the first half.

Right tackle, Mike Remmers

Grade: B+

After a tough year filling in at left tackle, the Vikings signed Remmers and moved him back to his rightful position. He’s had a very solid first half. A few weak moments in pass protection have been far overshadowed by excellent run blocking, mobility and toughness.

Running back, Latavius Murray

Grade: C

When Murray arrived, he figured to be part of a tandem with Jerick McKinnon. It’s turned out that way, despite a detour that featured Dalvin Cook as the No. 1 back before he suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Since Cook’s injury, McKinnon has had the majority of good days, but Murray’s 113-yard performance against the Ravens was a huge boost for the Vikings’ offense on a day where Keenum struggled at times. For now, Murray has just been a change-of-pace for McKinnon, but more big games in the second half could be on the way.

Defensive tackle, Datone Jones

Grade: F

Looking for solutions at the three-technique position, the Vikings signed the former Packers first-rounder. He didn’t adapt well to the interior D-line and the Vikings cut him. Turns out nobody should have doubted Tom Johnson.

Cornerback, Terence Newman

Grade: A

Newman came back to the Vikings because he believed the team could win a Super Bowl. So far, his decision looks pretty good. Newman switched from outside corner to nickel like it was nothing. At 39, he’s been terrific and allowed the Vikings to let Mackensie Alexander further develop rather than taking a full-time role at a tough position.

Receiver, Michael Floyd

Grade: D

After waiting out a four-game suspension, Floyd caught one pass in his debut, then had to miss a week with a hamstring injury. He barely saw the field against Cleveland, presumably still battling his leg injury. Floyd should get an opportunity to turn things around over the final eight weeks, but thus far, his much-talked-about signing has been much ado about nothing.

Kicker, Kai Forbath

Grade: B+

While Forbath has missed four extra points (one blocked), but he’s been magnificent on field goals, hitting 21-for-22 with three over 50 yards.

Punter, Ryan Quigley

Grade: A

Quigley is ranked as Pro Football Focus’s 10th best punter and has forced the most fair catches.

Trades

Traded up to draft Dalvin Cook

Grade: A+

In a historically good running back draft, some argued that Cook was the best all around player. It didn’t take long for the all-time leader in rushing for Florida State to prove that he belonged in the first round as he rushed 74 times for 354 yards, two touchdowns and caught 11 passes before suffering an ACL tear against Detroit. The Vikings gave up a fourth-round pick and their 48th selection to move up and pick Cook – a small price to pay for a player who will impact the team for a long time.

Traded up to draft Pat Elflein

Grade: A

A key piece to revamping the offensive line has been the former Ohio State standout. Most looked at Elflein as the best center in the draft, so it was surprising that he made it into the third round. He’s made teams regret passing on him over the first eight weeks. Because of Elflein’s smarts and athleticism, he’s been able to anchor the Vikings’ screen game and running attack. It isn’t easy for a rookie to step into a complex position that also includes leadership, but Elflein’s transition from college to the NFL has been seamless.

Traded for Tramaine Brock

Grade: D

Concerned about the progress of second-year corner Mackensie Alexander, the Vikings added depth by acquiring the former 49er. While Brock has had a solid career, he hasn’t found a role in Minnesota. He’s only played 14 defensive snaps and has been noticeably put of place several times on special teams.

Options

Exercised fifth-year option on Anthony Barr

Grade: A

At the time, it was worth wondering whether the 2015 version of Anthony Barr would return, but the Vikings’ 2014 first-round pick has been nothing short of spectacular this season. He’s been terrific in coverage, blown up run plays in the backfield and pressured the quarterback when called upon. It would appear Barr is next in line to get a long-term contract extension.

Declined to exercise fifth-year option on Teddy Bridgewater

Grade: Incomplete

This decision might end up blowing up in the Vikings’ face. At the time they decided not to exercise his option, they didn’t know that he would be ready to return so soon or that Sam Bradford would have his own set of knee issues. Now there could be a battle between the team and Bridgewater this offseason over whether his contract tolls to next season or he becomes a free agent. It’s possible that his contract situation could be resolved if Bridgewater comes back and plays well over the final half of the season and he signs a long-term deal.

Declined to exercise team option on Adrian Peterson

Grade: A+

Maybe Peterson could have given the Vikings the same production as Latavius Murray has this year – AP is averaging 3.7 yards per carry – but letting him walk led to the Vikings drafting their future running back and avoiding any AP-related distractions. Outside of signing Reiff instead of Matt Kalil, this may be the best move of the offseason.

The post 20/20 hindsight: Grading every Vikings offseason move at the midway point appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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