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Minnesota Vikings Post Combine Off Season Plan and Mock Draft

I have already done one plan and it really was not my style. I even professed in the comments that I would not go crazy. But who are we kidding here? A tiger cannot changes his stripes just like I cannot get no sense. I wanted this plan to be less rambling and a bit more concise. Yeah right.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the Vikings free agents ...

Matt Cassel QB, Josh Freeman QB
Toby Gerhart RB, Matt Asiata RB
Jerome Simpson WR, Joe Webb WR
J'Marcus Webb OL, Charlie Johnson OL, Joe Berger OL, Seth Olsen OL
Jared Allen DE, Everson Griffen DE, Fred Evans DT, Kevin Williams DT
Marvin Mitchell LB, Desmond Bishop LB, Larry Dean LB, Erin Henderson LB
Chris Cook CB, Marcus Sherels CB

... I would let them all test the market.

The Vikings have about 28.751 mil in cap space (including the Cassel opt out) right now according to this site here ...
... this site here ...
... has it at about 34.031 mil.
The Vikings can free up a significant amount more with some cuts and/or restructures.

I will go with the 34.031 mil for this plan.

I would probably release Carlson and Guion plus ask Greenway to restructure (saving at least 2 mil this year in the process) or bid him adieu. This would free up another 6 mil for Carlson and Guion. That would put the Vikings at about 40 mil available without doing anything with Greenway which would be foolish IMHO.

In free agency ...

First, I would go hard after Michael Johnson DE (27 years old).  Since he played for Zimmer the Vikings may have a very good chance provided the money is right.

Since he turned down a 5 year 40 mil deal last year it is going to take a little more to get him signed.  I would offer a 5 year 55 mil deal with a 15 mil signing bonus and 23 mil guaranteed.  I would be prepared to up the ante as well to get him on board.  This is the same kind of deal that Calais Campbell signed in 2012 ...
and more than what Carlos Dunlap received from the Bengals last year ...

Next I would go hard after Linval Joseph (25 years old).  I would like to maybe target Pat Sims as I think he will be less expensive but the Raiders have over 50 mil in cap space and are likely to keep him.

I would offer Joseph a 5 year 50 mil deal with a 13 mil signing bonus and 20 mil guaranteed.  This deal is similar to Geno Atkins deal in 2013 ...

Next I would go hard after Alterraun Verner (25 years old) who may not get tagged by the Titans  ...

I would offer him a 5 year 58 mil deal with a 12 mil signing bonus and 25 mil guaranteed.  This is more than what Brandon Carr got in 2012 when he signed with the Cowboys ...

Next, I would go hard after Jon Asamoah (25 years old).  I would offer him a 5 year 32 mil deal with a 7 mil signing bonus and 14 mil guaranteed.

Now this is going to take up a TON of cap space for sure but the way the Campbell, Atkins, Carr, and Weddle deals were structured it cost about 20 mil the first year.  Of course Brez is the expert and he will do it as he sees fit.  Still it is doable.  The Vikings just need to pay the MOST money and I believe they can get the free agents.  They all are very young too.

I really believe the Vikings should offer more than any other team to get these 4 players.  Johnson could be the biggest risk since he does not get a lot of sacks consistently.  But he is very good against the run.  I also think that the Vikings must get their defensive line in order.  They cannot let it slide and now is the time to get it back to an acceptable level.  And no, I do not believe they should rely on the draft to get that done.

If they managed to do these signings, cut Carlson and Guion, plus redo Greenway's deal then they would still have 20 mil to use for more free agents (like a QB) and the rookies.

The remaining free agents I like for this plan are Keith Rivers LB, Brandon Ghee CB, Taylor Mays S, & Toby Gerhart RB.

So now you are thinking why would I (who has been saying for the longest time that Gerhart is gone) re-sign Toby.  Well if you read the opening paragraph and have read some of my past stuff then you would know.

Yes boys and girls.  I am a trade junkie.  I know I said I would not do it but I just cannot put down the pipe (or bong if you really have to know).

After, and this is important that it happens after, the Vikings sign these free agents, I would then trade AP to the Browns.  The Browns will be taking a RB in this draft and need one badly.  They have 10 picks in this draft not counting compensatory which I am not sure they have any coming nor am I going to look.  But what kind of package would the Browns give up?  They have plenty of cap space even if they sign Mack & Ward to high priced extensions.

I would ask for their #4 and #35 pick for AP and the Vikings #8 pick.   That is like getting two 2nd round picks if you think the trade up from #8 to #4 is worth a 2nd round pick (400 points says yes).  I think it is more than fair.

I realize this is not a favorite topic and am aware of the comments to ensue about him being the face of the franchise, how you do not get better by getting rid of your best players, etc.  The situation for me is simple.  He is getting paid a ton of money and in two years it will be too much.   His value will never be higher and I would contend that he would be virtually untrade-able after this next season.  On top of all that, the Vikings are likely to be playing a rookie QB this year (if they are smart) or next year for sure.  Maybe the Vikings can play one more year with a veteran backup, or Lord forbid Ponder, but then AP will more than likely be playing with a rookie QB.  It just seems like this team will be rebuilding/retooling and by the time they are ready to really compete he will definitely be on the down side of his career and not even close to worth 14.75 mil in 2016 or 15.75 mil in 2017.  Plus you never know when he may request a trade to a team that has a legitimate shot at going to the Super Bowl.  If they keep him then that is cool with me but I think the best move now is to get what you can for him while his value is still pretty good (or at least I think it should be).

Now I know some of yous are saying "but wait, the Browns want and need a QB specifically Manziel".  Well I am not too sure of that at all.  They could be very happy with taking Mike Evans at #8 and seeing who drops to #26 in the first round or even trading back up in the first round using one of their two 3rd or 4th round picks to do so.  How would you like to be Cleveland and come out of the draft with AP, Mike Evans, and Derek Carr or Jimmy Garappolo plus still have a 3rd round pick?  That would be pretty sweet.  Hoyer already proved he can do a decent job last year.  Not great but he had not played much before then.

They could have Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Mitchell Schartz, Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon, Mike Evans, and AP on offense.  They could try and sign Geoff Schwartz to play next to his younger brother as well.  And they have John Greco at the other guard.  All they would need is that QB.

Heck they could even take both the #8 and #26 and move up to get the QB they really like.  Would the Rams make that deal?  Cleveland could get Manziel or Bortles or Bridgewater at #2 but then not get Evans.  But with all their cap space they could go after Eric Decker too.  They are sitting pretty right now.

But I digress, this is not about the Browns.  It is about the Vikings.

After the AP trade, they will have another 9.6 mil to use on free agents including their own.

So now onto the draft.

Arif did a very good story about drafting a QB in the first round and in it he mentions value groups ...

VG 1: Picks 1-13
VG 2: Picks 14-28
VG 3: Picks 29-48
VG 4: Picks 49-74
VG 5: Picks 75-114
VG 6: Picks 115-200
VG 7: Picks 200+

The Vikings have the #4, 35, 40, 72, 96, 104, 136, 168, and 200 picks right now (before compensatory picks are awarding which the Vikings will not get any) but no more AP.

With Matt Cassel opting out, and with good reason, I think the team could try to bring him back. But it clearly signals QB is the biggest need on this team.  I do not understand how anyone can think otherwise.  How they fill that position is up for debate.

Here is how I think the draft plays out ...

1. Texans - Teddy Bridgewater  QB  Louisville  Jr  6-3  205

I am not sure about Houston but they really cannot pass on a QB.  They cannot expect to be back at the top of the draft next year.  This is there chance to grab someone and hope they are the long term answer.  I think when it is all said and done that they will go with Teddy B.

2. Rams - Jake Matthews  OT  Texas A&M  Sr  6-5  305

The Rams will probably be looking to trade down. but who is going to give up a bounty this year.  Who is worth it?  I can only see one player worth it and that is Clowney.  But I do not think anyone is going to give them anything to move up.  Most teams will probably be thinking take your tackle and let us get on with the draft.  And the Rams should take a tackle whether it be Robinson or Matthews.  That is the smart thing to do.  I like Matthews because he is better right now than Robinson.  Robinson could have more "upside" but Matthews has shown more.

3. Jaguars - Blake Bortles  QB  UCF  rJr  6-3  230
Jacksonville's owner said they are taking a QB and even though Clowney is here, I think they take that QB because that is what the owner wants.  Also, they could be looking very hard at Clowney because they need a DE too.  But if they pass on a QB then they will be tryigng to move up or taking someone else later which is a distinct possibility.

Now the Vikings are on the clock.  What should they do?  Well if you listen to Spielman he says he wants more picks. But he has Clowney and Manziel staring him right in the face.  Who do you take?  This will be a momentus decision.  I think he trades down with the Falcons who really want Clowney.  But Rick is a better poker player than the Rams and he gets the Falcons to swap their 3rd round pick with the Vikings end of the 3rd round pick and give up their 5th round pick plus a 6th round pick next year.

The Vikings trade the #4 & 96 picks to the Falcons for the #68, 135, & a 2015 5th round pick.

The Vikings now have the #6, 35, 40, 68, 72, 104, 135, 136, 168, and 200 picks.

4. Falcons - Jadeveon Clowney  DE  South Carolina  Jr  6-5  274
The Falcons get their defensive end and the Vikings are saying why did we give Michael Johnson 55 mil when we could have had Clowney.  Duh!  In reality I could and should just take Clowney here.

Now here is where it could all come back and bite the Vikings in the gluteus maximus.  The Raiders can go in any number of directions.  They could take Johnny Manziel here.  They could go with Greg Robinson or Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr.  Utlimately, I think they go with Sammy Watkins.

5. Raiders - Sammy Watkins  WR  Clemson  Jr  6-1  205
This makes alot of sense and they need the help at WR badly.  It wont matter who is at QB if they do not have decent WRs right?  OF course the Raiders could get a WR two in free agency because they have a TON of cap space.

So now the Vikings are on the clock.  JFF is right there looking at them.  You know they are not going to pass right?  Wrong.  Ole tricky Ricky is still doing his thang.  The Bills come calling to move up to #6 to jump ahead of Tampa and take Greg Robinson.  By the way, Robinson would be an excellent pick for the Vikings IMHO.

The Vikings trade the #6 pick to the Bills for the #9, #105, and a 2015 4th round pick.

The Vikings now have the #9, 35, 40, 68, 72, 104, 105, 135, 136, 168, and 200 picks.

6. Bills - Greg Robinson  OT  Auburn  rSo  6-5  320
The Bills bolster their offensive line.

7. Bucs - Khalil Mack  OLB  Buffalo  rSr  6-3  248
The Bucs could go for a QB here but I think they will stick with Glennon and may add someone later on in the draft.  I think they go with Mack here.  This obviously pisses off the Mack lovers.  I like him too but am not sure of the fit in this defense nor do I think it is the best use of his talents.

8. Browns - Johnny Manziel  QB  Texas A&M  rSo  5-11  210
I think the Browns could be thinking about Evans here but ultimately go with Johnny Football.  Now this is going to piss off some Vikings fans for sure.

So here we go.  Spielman has already caused himself to get protection due to the fact he traded AP and passed on Manziel.  He was sitting at the top of the draft and trades back down lower than where he originally started.  What the heck is going on here?  Can we just make a pick already?  I need to get to the john!  Sorry.  No can do.  The Titans want to get a CB especially with Alterraun Verner likely hitting free agency and want to get ahead of the Lions who need one too.  Now that the two best WRs are gone Detroit will likely switch to corner.

The Vikings trade the #9 and #200 picks to the Titans for the #11, #108, and #170 picks.

The Vikings now have the #11, 35, 40, 68, 72, 104, 105, 108, 135, 136, 168, and 170 picks.

9. Titans - Justin Gilbert  CB  Oklahoma State  Sr  6-0  200
The Titans get their corner.  But why Gilbert?  I don't know.  I just like him better than Dennard.

10. Lions - Darqueze Dennard  CB  Michigan State  Sr  5-11  197
The days or Matt Millen are over.  Mik Evans could be the pick but since the WR class is deep they wise up and go with the corner.

OK.  Finally, the freaking Vikings are ready to make their pick.  And it ain't gonna be no stinking punter?  But wait.  What is that noise?  It is the bat phone.  The Rams are calling and they want to jump ahead of the Giants and take Anthony Barr.  Wait.  What?  You want to entertain this offer and risk another team jumping ahead of you to get that QB that is just sitting there?  Abso-freaking-lutely. 

The Vikings trade the #11 pick to the Rams for the #13 pick and #106 picks.

The Vikings now have the #13, 35, 40, 68, 72, 104, 105, 106, 108, 135, 136, 168, and 170 picks.

11. Rams - Anthony Barr  OLB  UCLA  Sr  6-4  248
The Rams get a good looking LB prospect who may or may not be able to play OLB.

12. Giants - Taylor Lewan  OT  Michigan  rSr  6-7  315
The Giants need to protect Eli.  They are not paying him 20.4 mil next year to be a human pinata.

OK.  You mofo.  The Vikings better had be making a gosh dang selection now!  But wait.  Jerra is on the line.  He knows he needs some defensive line help and needs to get ahead of the Bears and Steelers.  So being a big spender and all he cannot resist the trade up.

The Vikings trade the #13 & 105 (obtained from the Rams) pick to the Cowboys for the #16, 78, & 146 picks.

The Vikings now have the #16, 35, 40, 68, 72, 78, 104, 106, 108, 135, 136, 146, 168, and 170 picks.

13. Cowboys - Louis Nix  DT  Notre Dame  rJr  6-2  345
The Cowboys get a player that can replace Frank Kearse or Nick Hayden.  Yeah they need a DT badly.

14. Bears - Kony Ealy  DE  Missouri  rJr  6-5  275
I think the Bears could go in a number of directions here like taking a DT if Melton moves on or a LB as well.   But since Peppers is likely going to be a cap casualty and Corey Wooten is a free agent, they would do good by bringing in a good looking DE.

15. Steelers - Mike Evans  WR  Texas A&M  rSo  6-5  225
The Steelers could lose Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and need to get some size at WR.  I think Evans would be very good for Big Ben.

Now, the Vikings are once again on the clock.  Please don't say they are trading down again.  You have plenty of picks now Ricky.  And you are right.  The Vikings cannot wait any longer because another team could trade up easier now.

16. Vikings - Derek Carr  QB  Fresno State  rSr  6-3  218
Of course the Vikings have to get a QB.  Waiting until the 2nd round is very foolish IMHO.  Now Spielman has some cover too since he traded down and thus Carr is not much of a reach here (according to people smarter than me).

Now after all the wheeling and dealing and selecting Carr the Vikings have these picks left ...
35, 40, 68, 72, 78, 104, 106, 108, 135, 136, 146, 168, and 170 picks.

I am using the drafttek mock as a guide to finish up the picks ...

35. Vikings - Aaron Donald  DT  Pittsburgh  Sr  6-1  285
I know.  This is not a NEED.  The Vikings already have Floyd and you are signing Linval Joseph in free agency.  Why take another undersized DT?  Well, because he is insanely talented and is very similar to Geno Atkins.  I think he could be the player we see on 3rd downs getting after the passer in his first season.  Plus, you really cannot expect

40. Vikings - *Ryan Shazier  OLB  Ohio State  Jr  6-1  237
The Vikings obviously need help at LB.  Shazier is very good and could be a nice fit at OLB.

Trade.  The Vikings trade #68 + #146 to the Seahawks for #64 & # 192

64. *Brandin Cooks  WR  Oregon State  Jr  5-10  186
Greg Jennings will be 32 in September of 2015 and his cap hit will be 11 mil.  If the Vikings let him go they save 5 mil.  This will be a contract that needs to be adjusted or else.  Cooks won the Biletnikoff and is a very good WR and return man.

72. Christian Jones  ILB  Florida State  Sr  6-3  232
I like Jones a lot.  He was used as a DE this year most of the time which hurt his stock IMO.  But he is a very good coverage LB.

78. Charles Sims  RB  West Virginia  rSr  6-0  214
Obviously a running back or two are needed since I stupidly traded away AP.  Sims looked good in the Senior Bowl and tested well at the combine.

104. Keith McGill  CB  Utah  rSr  6-3  214
I think McGill will be a good fit in the secondary at either safety or corner.

106. Terrence Brooks  FS  Florida State  Sr  5-11  197
Another nice addition to the secondary.  Brooks tested well and had a good season at FSU.

108. Ryan Carrethers  DT  Arkansas State  rSr  6-1  330
I think the defensive line needs multiple additions.

136. *Donte Moncrief  WR  Ole Miss  Jr  6-2  226
Yes another WR.  The Vikings only have CP84 & Jennings.  Wright has to step up and the rest are all question marks.  I hope Childs can play but it remains to be seen.  Now the Vikings will have options and someone is going to be fighting for that 6th WR spot if they have one.

135. Brandon Thomas  OG  Clemson  rSr  6-3  317
I like Thomas.  He played left tackle this past season but is likely to move inside in the NFL.  But that versatility is key.  The Vikings will need some quality depth.

168. Antone Exum  CB  Virginia Tech  rSr  6-0  220
Exum played safety and corner so he could be a guy that can do both.

170. Joel Bitonio  OT  Nevada  rSr  6-4  307
I think this would be a great pick here.  Doubtful it happens but the Vikings need depth.

192. Logan Thomas  QB  Virginia Tech  rSr  6-6  250
A total project.  But maybe Norv can work with him.  If not, he could make a good TE!

Here are the entire picks ...

16. Derek Carr  QB  Fresno State  rSr  6-3  218
35. Aaron Donald  DT  Pittsburgh  Sr  6-1  285
40. *Ryan Shazier  OLB  Ohio State  Jr  6-1  237
64. *Brandin Cooks  WR  Oregon State  Jr  5-10  186
68. Christian Jones  ILB  Florida State  Sr  6-3  232
78. Charles Sims  RB  West Virginia  rSr  6-0  214
104. Keith McGill  CB  Utah  rSr  6-3  214
106. Terrence Brooks  FS  Florida State  Sr  5-11  197
108. Ryan Carrethers  DT  Arkansas State  rSr  6-1  330
135. *Donte Moncrief  WR  Ole Miss  Jr  6-2  226
136. Brandon Thomas  OG  Clemson  rSr  6-3  317
168. Antone Exum **  CB  Virginia Tech  rSr  6-0  220
170.  Joel Bitonio  OT  Nevada  rSr  6-4  307
192. Logan Thomas  QB  Virginia Tech  rSr  6-6  250

Eric Ward  WR  Texas Tech  rSr  5-11  205
Marcus Heit  LS  Kansas State  Sr  6-3  252
Brock Vereen  SS  Minnesota  Sr  6-0  199
Colt Lyerla  TE  Oregon  Jr  6-5  250
*George Atkinson III  RB  Notre Dame  Jr  6-1  220
Beau Allen  DT  Wisconsin  Sr  6-3  333

Also, I have a 2015 4th & 5th round pick remaining from this crazy stupid plan!

In summary I want to sign these free agents ...

Michael Johnson DE
Linval Joseph DT
Alterraun Verner CB
Jon Asamoah G
Toby Gerhart RB
Keith Rivers LB
Brandon Ghee CB
Taylor Mays S/LB

Of course not much of this is going to happen.  But Spielman is a good dealer so you never know.  He has done multiple trades in drafts before too.  I doubt he would trade down 5 times in the first only to get Carr.  That will surely piss some people off.  :)