This week, the Vikings surprisingly sidelined defensive tackle Armon Watts and wide receiver Ifmir Smith-Marcette. In 2022, he is two talented footballers who were expected to play sizable roles, at least from outsiders. It made two moves to acquire Ross Blackrock and Jaylen Rieger from the Texans and Eagles, respectively.
We don’t know exactly why Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings decided to make such a move, but we did get a little insight from his public comments at Thursday’s press conference, and we’re making an educated guess. can be used to fill in the blanks.
Blackrock was the first move. Just minutes after the shocking news broke that the Vikings had waived Watts, Traded a sixth-round pick to Houston for BlackRock and a seventh-round pick.Draft payouts of that amount are almost meaningless, suggesting that the Texans wanted to do everything they could for the disappointing former high draft pick in two seasons in the NFL.
From a Vikings perspective, moving from Watts to Blacklock saved about $1.2 million in cap space, a key part of the computation. However, from a soccer point of view, the logic of swapping is somewhat difficult to understand. Watts is arguably a better NFL defensive than Blackrock He’s a lineman and Minnesota’s most productive interior his pass I recorded a sack. Claimed by the Bears at waivers, Watts played in the Vikings’ first-team defense for much of training camp.
Money aside, I feel like there are three factors that led to the decision to abandon Watts and buy Blacklock.
Adofo-Mensah likes to use the term “time horizon” when talking about football decision-making. It’s basically about acting with an eye to the future, not just this season. Blackrock, 24, is two years younger than Watts. Watts is about to finish his contract year, though his rookie contract has two years left on him. That means the Vikings will gain another year of control over him at the position, allowing them to coach BlackRock over the next two seasons and see how he fits into their long-term plans beyond. .
“We’re always trying to understand how the team is forming and fitting, and what different skill sets we’re trying to add,” says Adofo-Mensah. “We saw this as an opportunity to add someone to Blackrock who has a very good pass rushing skill set and is very disruptive in that phase. And along the time horizon we’re looking to compete in this league…sometimes those deals make sense.”
Back in 2020, Blackrock was voted 40th overall by TCU. He finished his final college season with 3.5 sacks, 9-TFL and helped Stocks by running a 4.9 40 with a nice split for 10 yards at 6’3″, 290 pounds. com’s Lance Zierlein described Blacklock as a “constant pass rusher with excellent lateral quickness and direction change”, possessing “rare movement flair and compelling rushing potential”. Zierlein also warned that Blacklock needs a lot of development in his technique. He now takes blocks in run defense.
In his two seasons with the Texans, Blackrock’s perceived weaknesses have emerged far more than his strengths. He played just 254 defensive snaps as a rookie and pro his football by his focus, he played at least 200 snaps and was rated last dead among 133 internal defensive his linemen I was. Blackrock improved in his second year, especially as a pass rusher. He played his 450-plus snaps and showed flashes of penetrating power, including recording 25 pressures and his one pair of sacks. However, due to his low PFF ratings in the run defense and tackle categories, Blackrock saw him only jump as high as 100 out of his DT of 145.
PFF grades are an imperfect indicator, but there’s a reason lower-ranking Texans left him after two years with little in return.
Still, the Vikings clearly see Blackrock as a good fit for their plan with the advantage of improving in the new situation. Only he hasn’t lost the trait that made him a top 40 pick two years ago. Defensive Line His coaches Chris Rumph and his A’lique Terry look to help Blacklock continue to grow and leap forward in his third season. Watts has become a promising inner pass rusher since a 2019 sixth-round pick, but he also had issues with his run defense.
It helps that BlackRock isn’t asked to be a star. The Vikings have top-notch starting defensive tackles in Harrison, his Phillips, and Dalvin, his Tomlinson, both of whom are robust against runs. Following his two of these, they like deep players like Jonathan Bullard and James Lynch. That means Blacklock doesn’t have to step in to his Watts role as his one-on-one replacement. The Viking thinks he would fit well as an interior he passes as a rusher that puts him in a situation where he can do what he’s good at to the best of his ability.
The next day, the Vikings made a similar startling act. Swing Regor trading He then released Smith Marsett, who was to be the No. 4 receiver, after an ACL injury to Bishie Johnson. In addition to the seventh-round pick they acquired from the Texans in their BlackRock deal, they gave the Eagles a conditional fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2024, depending on whether they reach certain statistical marks. sent a nomination for Smith-Marsett, like Watts, was asked for waivers by the Bears, giving him the possibility of getting revenge on his old team in the years to come.
The leaguer famously went one position above Justin Jefferson in the first round of the 2020 draft. Leaguer’s place in Philadelphia when Jefferson rose to superstardom almost immediately and became the first player in NFL history to record his 3,000 receiving yards in his first two seasons. struggled to establish a , and was labeled bust.
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The “timescale” description doesn’t work the same when it comes to this movement. Reago was drafted a year earlier than Smith-Marsette, who is eight months older than him. It is almost certain that he will earn his fifth year option for 2024. In other words, the Vikings traded a player with three years left on his rookie contract for a player with two years left on his rookie contract that was noticeably more expensive ($1.8 million cap his hit). This year he hits the $2.4 million cap, but next year he hits the cap).
This is about fit, upside and special teams. Reagor was just 23 years old and a very exciting prospect coming out of TCU. There, Blackrock teammates with former Vikings first-round pick Jeff Gladney (who died tragically in May), and Vikings offensive lineman Austin Schrottmann. did.
Reagor broke out as a junior in 2018, gaining over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and scoring 11 touchdowns despite erratic quarterback play. He has his 4.47 speed, 5ft 11in, 197lb stout build, and amazing explosive power. Gee Alleyne, a pre-draft scout in his report, said Rhaegar was inconsistent in his running of concentration and routes, but described him as a “smooth athlete”. At breakneck speed” and “Electricity with a ball”.
It didn’t happen with the Eagles. Reagor has only had a 64/695/3 receiving line through his two seasons, and last year he was charged with four drops. In his 2021 he averaged only 0.67 yards per route and at least he has 20 targets.He ranked 134th out of 139 receivers.
Like Blackrock, the Vikings are betting on leaguers who have potential he can unleash in the new situation. Because of his skill, it can be dangerous as a gadget weapon. I may be able to help.
“We’re always looking for opportunities. We call it ‘going all out’,” Adofo-Mensah said. Not only does Jalen personally have a very good skill set, but we also saw him as a way to complement that (receiver) room and complement an attacking football team. make those decisions when the value proposition aligns with what you think in terms of your vision. “
His career at Reago has had a disappointing start, but he’s still young and talented. He should serve as his fourth receiver for the Vikings after Jefferson, Adam Thielen and KJ Osborne, and his speed and his YAC ability make him a slightly different skill set than they already have. You can give them a set. After catching passes from Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia, the Leaguer will play with Kirk Cousins.
At both Blackrock and Lee Goal, the Vikings balanced what scouts and coaches saw as draft prospects with their growth in their two seasons in the NFL.
“Kevin and I meet with new staff and coaching staff to talk about the players we’ve seen them coming out and any new information we have.” It’s a little bit of art, a little bit of science, and we like the decisions we made.”
Perhaps the main area where Reagor can contribute immediately is as a punt returner. He averaged 17.8 yards per return, scoring two touchdowns in that phase in TCU and averaging 9.2 yards per TD in the NFL. He needs to be a little more consistent to catch the ball cleanly, but the leaguer has natural instincts and athleticism that make him dangerous as a punt returner.
Head coach Kevin O’Connell said, “I’m going to give him every opportunity to do that. There are others on the roster who feel good if they need it, but Jalen is thrilled about the opportunity.” I think he’s got good experience doing that.”He’s going from day one today and we’ll see where it goes in Green Bay. He’s comfortable going back there and we’re In our opinion, he’ll be back there if that’s the best option to give him a chance to make an impact in the game.”
Overall, the Vikings moved from Watts and Smith-Marsett to Blackrock and Leaguers using sixth- and fourth- or fifth-round pitchers.
If it works out and the Vikings can help BlackRock and Leaguer have their best NFL season in Minnesota, the upside could be pretty big. This collection of moves could go from surprising to disappointing if he becomes a key player for division rivals the Bears.
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