EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - One simple statistic has essentially driven an entire offseason strategy for the Minnesota Vikings.
After watching the Vikings allow more points than any other team in the NFL last year, general manager Rick Spielman engineered an exhaustive improvement project to improve his defense.
''We're going to create some great competition for our football team,'' Spielman said on Saturday night after the conclusion of the NFL draft.
Hours after the Vikings finished last season 5-10-1, Spielman fired coach Leslie Frazier and hired former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to replace him. With nose tackle
''The theme here was going defense, was going with guys with a lot of the athletic traits,'' Spielman said.
The Vikings waited until the sixth round to supplement a secondary that was the most glaring problem area last season, taking Virginia Tech's Antone Exum and Maine cornerback
True to form, Spielman maneuvered his way into more picks after making two trades during the first round on Thursday. The Vikings struck two more deals on Saturday to bring their final-day total to six selections, after using their first four picks on a linebacker (
The Vikings took Stanford guard
Zimmer wasn't used to all the activity.
''I just told him, `Relax. We'll get you some players,''' Spielman said, laughing. He added: ''That's why I love the draft. I love manipulating. I love moving around.''
Exum tore the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral meniscus in his right knee in January 2013 and was limited to three games last season. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Exum had five interceptions and 16 pass breakups as a junior .
The Vikings gave up 37 touchdowns passing last season, the most in the NFL. They signed Munnerlyn and cornerback
The only offensive player taken Saturday was the 6-foot-4, 314-pound Yankey, who played his junior year at left tackle, where his size could be a better fit. Stanford coach David Shaw, serving as a guest analyst on NFL Network, said he'd prefer Yankey at right tackle. But with
The unanimous first team All-American became in 2010 the first true freshman offensive lineman to play for Stanford in 10 years. He was part of a dominant Cardinal front five that yielded only 11 sacks in 14 games.
''I think it's huge. I think it's a big focus on technique and having that technical emphasis, and running an offense that is really pro-style gets you really well prepared for the NFL,'' said Yankey, a native of Roswell, Georgia, whose father is from Ghana and mother is from Slovakia.
Highlighting the list of undrafted players who agreed to terms on contracts late Saturday was ex-Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who finished his four-year career with 2,180 yards rushing, an average of 4.9 yards per attempt, but is likely to be a wide receiver in the NFL. Colter has become the face of the union movement among college athletes, arguing for more basic rights like guaranteed medical coverage and the prevention of scholarships being revoked through coaching changes.