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Lunchbreak: Prisco Ranks Zimmer, NFL Coaches

Posted Apr 20, 2017

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is prepping for his fourth season in Purple.

Zimmer is 26-22 in three seasons at the helm and guided the Vikings to an NFC North title in 2015.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports recently revealed his list of the NFL’s top coaches, with Minnesota’s hard-nosed leader making the list at No. 13.

Prisco wrote:

It's hard to evaluate him based on an injury-decimated 2016. No coach, not even (New England’s Bill) Belichick, could have sustained success through that, and yet Zimmer got the Vikings to 8-8. The year before, Zimmer led the Vikings to a division title in his second season. I think that's more of who he is as a coach than last season. His fiery approach is perfect for the modern NFL player.

Zimmer went 7-9 in his initial season in 2014 and followed that up with an 11-5 record and trip to the playoffs. Minnesota went 8-8 last season.

Zimmer has helped turn the Vikings defense into one of the league’s most respected units. Minnesota finished third in yards allowed per game (314.9) and sixth in points allowed (19.2) in 2016.

In 2015, the Vikings finished fifth in points allowed per game with 18.9.

A look at Vikings draft options at linebacker

The Vikings have a pair of strong linebackers in Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.

But with veteran Chad Greenway retiring, Mark Craig of the Star Tribune took a look at what the Vikings could do at the position going forward.

Craig wrote:

With Barr, a former first-rounder, and Kendricks, a former second-rounder, locked in as 25-year-old three-down players with Pro Bowl to All-Pro potential, look for the Vikings to wait until Day 3 of the draft before they take a linebacker. General Manager Rick Spielman has selected a linebacker in the seventh round in each of the past five drafts (Audie Cole, Michael Mauti, Brandon Watts, Edmond Robinson and Stephen Weatherly, who was later moved to end).

Craig said to keep an eye on Robinson, a 2015 seventh-round pick who has two career starts.

Coaches have loved this guy’s atypical height and length, skill set and work ethic since taking him out of tiny Newberry College with the 232nd overall pick in 2015. He has been Barr’s backup on the strong side, starting there twice as a rookie. Can he, in Year 3, evolve into a competitor for playing time on the weak side now that Greenway is gone? 

Craig also offered up a projection on what Minnesota could do in next week’s draft, saying he foresees a potential trade happening.

Spielman will make at least one trade that will garner at least one extra seventh-round pick. Then he’ll use one of those seventh-round picks on a college linebacker for the sixth consecutive season.