Believe it or not, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is entering his fifth season in Minnesota.
Zimmer was hired by the Vikings in January of 2014 and has compiled a 39-25 regular-season record to go along with a pair of NFC North titles.
Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld recently released his annual head coach rankings, and had the Vikings head man slotted in the eighth spot.
Bill Belichick was at the top of the list, followed by Pete Carroll, Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh and Ron Rivera. Sean McVay was listed at ninth after his first season.
Daugherty explained why Zimmer was in the top quartile of all NFL head coaches, noting his resiliency and reputation as one of the game’s top defensive minds and credited a “controlled intensity” by Zimmer:
The Vikings’ 252 points allowed were the fewest in the NFL. With Zimmer’s side of the ball shutting teams down, the offense managed to get on a roll with journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. The end result was the Vikings’ first NFC Championship Game appearance since 2009-10. After four years, it’s clear what Zimmer provides. Both his defensive prowess and leadership are amongst the best in the NFL.
Zimmer was the top-ranked NFC North coach on Daugherty’s list. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, who also has 39 regular-season wins over the past four seasons, was 10th.
Of the seven coaches ranked ahead of Zimmer, five have led their teams to a Super Bowl title.
Vikings look for certain traits when drafting defenders
There are many factors that go into a team selecting a player in the NFL Draft.
In-game productivity, combine testing drills, face-to-face interviews and background checks are all boxes teams check off before welcoming a player to their team.
But the Vikings also tend to trend toward ultra-athletic players who have a noticeable upside, something Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune wrote about after being in Indianapolis for the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.
The Vikings have stockpiled pass rushers that look like basketball players, snapping up Danielle Hunter when his lack of sacks in college caused the LSU product to slip to the third round in 2015. (Stephen) Weatherly started to get more playing time last season after spending most of 2016 on the practice squad, and Tashawn Bower — whom the Vikings targeted as a rookie free agent after he stuck out to Patterson — could be next in line after something of a redshirt year on the active roster in 2017.
Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (a seventh-round pick last year) ran a 4.72-second 40-yard dash and tied for second in the broad jump among defensive ends last year. Linebacker Ben Gedeon (a fourth-rounder last year) had the fastest 20-yard shuttle time at linebacker.
And back in the Vikings’ first draft with Zimmer and Spielman, they used the ninth overall pick on Anthony Barr, the 6-foot-5 linebacker who ran a 4.66 40. The next day, they used a third-round pick on Jerick McKinnon, a converted triple-option quarterback who put up eye-popping workout numbers as a running back.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman explained last week how Minnesota’s selection process of a combination of input from coaches, scouts and crunching numbers.
“I could have a backboard of 500 guys and (scouts) can, through a process of elimination, bring 20, 30 to our attention,” Spielman said. “A lot of times many of those guys on the backboard have one or two looks at the most, because they’re way over there. But when they ID those type of guys, it gives you an opportunity to go back and group study them and make a determination if he stays way over there or move to the forefront.”
The Vikings currently hold the 30th pick in the first round of April’s draft.