In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, ESPN Senior Draft analyst **Mel Kiper addressed the Vikings 23rd pick** in the 2016 NFL Draft. Kiper expects Minnesota to go after a wide receiver during the offseason, predicting it will happen on draft night rather than through free agency. Kiper said TCU receiver Josh Doctson would be an ideal option for the Vikings in the first round. Viking Update's Eric Oslund recapped Kiper's comments, saying Doctson's combine performance bolstered his prospect resume.
"He's long and he's very athletic, and he's tough," Kiper explained. "He's 6-2, he's 202 [pounds], ran a 4.50 [in the 40-yard dash]. I thought he'd run 4.55, ran a little bit better than I thought he would. Did 14 reps [in the bench press]. You can see a lot of receivers did 13, 10, 11; he did 14. And he had a [41-inch] vertical. ... To me, his numbers across the board were probably as good or better than you thought. Better vertical than I thought, better 40 than I thought, so even though it's not a 4.40, a 4.50 is good enough."
Kiper listed the Vikings as one possible destination for Doctson, along with Kansas City, Cincinnati and Houston, who picks directly before Minnesota. Currently, Kiper is predicting the Texans to snag Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller. The Bengals and Chiefs have the 24th and 28th picks, respectively.
In addition to Doctson's combine numbers, Kiper likes what he sees from Doctson on film.
"The way he controls his speed, the way he's quick out of his break, the way he goes out and gets the football at any point on the field – down the field or across the middle – he's tough," Kiper said. "He's got great hand-eye coordination. He's the centerfielder that tracks the ball to the warning track as good as anybody, so to me he's first round, and you've got plenty of teams."
Vikings building deep linebacker corps for 2016
Minnesota signed two free agent linebackers Thursday, Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis. ESPN's Ben Goessling looked at how the **two additions increase depth** for the Vikings defense.
Lamur, who played for Zimmer in 2012 with the Cincinnati Bengals before missing 2013 with a shoulder injury, had primarily worked at strongside linebacker for the Bengals, but spent some time at both [outside linebacker] spots.
In addition to bolstering the defense, Goessling pointed out the importance of talented linebackers on the Vikings special teams unit, something both Lamur and Lewis have experience with. The Lions primarily utilized Lewis on special teams during the second half of the 2015 season. Over four seasons in Detroit, Lewis recorded 18 special teams tackles.
Ultimately, the Vikings have several options to work with. Goessling wrote:
The additions give the Vikings seven linebackers under the age of 28 who played at least seven games last season. For now, at least, the status of the group's senior member remains unresolved, though linebacker Chad Greenway continues to talk with the Vikings about a contract for 2016. Those talks have been productive, Greenway said Thursday, and they come as the Vikings focus on their top priority -- improving the offensive line.
Change of part of street name proposed
Marino Eccher of the Pioneer Press wrote about a proposal to rename part of a street near U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Vikings set to open this summer:
Among the reasons: tradition, precedent from other local teams — and a deep-seated aversion to an address evocative of a division rival.
The street in question is Chicago Avenue.
The proposed change would apply to the section between Third Street and Sixth Street, located on the west side of the new stadium. Eccher added:
It is currently named both Chicago Avenue and Kirby Puckett Place, a commemorative holdover from the days of the Metrodome.
An analysis by public works staff said the request was "reasonable" and recommended its approval. Typically, street names are not supposed to identify a specific business, tenant or living person, but the Vikings "are a longstanding cultural and historical entity," the analysis said.