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Jefferson’s Extension & How It Impacts Vikings’ Team Building With PFF’s Trevor Sikkema

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Join ‘The Real Forno Show’ as we delve into the impact of Justin Jefferson’s contract extension on the Minnesota Vikings’ future strategies. Featuring expert analysis from PFF’s Trevor Sikkema, we explore roster building, draft strategies, and the potential implications of this massive deal. A must-listen for every Vikings and NFL fan! SKOL!

This episode of The Real Forno Show, hosted by Tyler Forness, features an in-depth discussion about Justin Jefferson’s historic contract with the Minnesota Vikings and its implications for the team’s future. Special guest Trevor Sikkema from Pro Football Focus joins to analyze how the deal impacts the Vikings’ salary cap, team-building strategies, and their approach to the upcoming NFL seasons, including the 2025 draft prospects. The conversation touches on the evolving value of wide receiver contracts, the shift in draft strategies, and the impressive depth of the 2025 draft class, particularly in defensive tackle and running back positions. The episode concludes with a discussion about the potential quarterback scenarios for the Vikings, including the performance of Sam Darnold and the development of J.J. McCarthy.

Jefferson’s Contract Extension: A Historical Turning Point?

Forness kicked off the show by emphasizing the magnitude of Jefferson’s contract extension and its potential implications for the Vikings’ future.

“What does the Justin Jefferson contract mean when it comes to the big picture outlook for the Minnesota Vikings? We know he deserved the money, he got the money, and there’s not a lot of fluff to it, but now we have to talk about the big picture,” Forness stated.

Sikkema agreed, adding that the unprecedented nature of Jefferson’s deal could set a new benchmark for wide receiver contracts.

“The most fascinating part of Justin Jefferson’s deal is what happens next,” Sikkema said. “CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase are looking for a new contract. If they can sign deals that are similar to that of Justin Jefferson, now you’re talking about a true resetting of the market.”

The Rising Market Value of Wide Receivers and Its Implications

The conversation expanded to how the increasing market value of wide receivers is prompting a significant shift in the NFL. Sikkema suggested that teams might start to reconsider their spending strategies, especially regarding non-elite players.

“Would you rather pay Brandon Aiyuk $32 million a year, or would you rather just draft a wide receiver in the first round? At that point, for where things are going, I think that drafting a wide receiver in the first round becomes more and more compelling,” Sikkema proposed.

The volatility of the cornerback position also came under scrutiny during the discussion. Forness highlighted that, unlike wide receivers, cornerbacks’ performance could fluctuate significantly from year to year, which might make teams hesitant to invest heavily in them.

“Wide receivers don’t really lose it like that unless it’s injury-based. It wasn’t because of ability,” Forness noted.

The Evolving Draft Strategy of the Vikings

As the discussion continued, the hosts examined the changes in the Vikings’ draft strategy under the stewardship of General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Sikkema highlighted the shift towards using in-game athleticism scores to assess players, a method that measures a player’s athleticism during actual games.

“Now it’s getting more and more common to be able to measure in-game athleticism,” Sikkema mentioned, highlighting the evolving approach to player evaluation.

However, both Forness and Sikkema agreed that Adofo-Mensah’s strategy doesn’t seem to follow a rigid pattern and appears to be more flexible and open to adapting based on the team’s needs and player availability.

“I think a lot of people try to pinpoint thresholds or areas where general managers really gravitate towards,” Sikkema said. “And I think it’s more open than we believe it is year in and year out.”

The Role of Analytics in Draft Decisions

The use of data analysis in football has been a topic of discussion for a while now. Teams are increasingly leveraging analytics to inform their decisions and strategies, particularly when it comes to the draft. One of the teams leading the charge in this regard is the Minnesota Vikings.

Tyler Forness, in conversation with Rick Spielman, learned about an intriguing method the Vikings used to scout wide receivers.

“Rick Spielman told me that they had some form of analytics that helped measure a personality test for wide receivers, and that’s how they found Stefan Diggs, and that’s why they took him in the fifth round.” – Tyler Forness

This unconventional application of analytics might raise eyebrows, but the results speak for themselves. Stefan Diggs, a fifth-round pick, has become one of the most productive receivers in the league.

The Controversial Dallas Turner Trade

One of the hot topics around the Vikings is the trade for Dallas Turner. The main point of contention among fans and analysts is the significant draft capital that the Vikings gave up to secure Turner. However, Forness offers a different perspective, suggesting that the two transactions should be viewed separately.

“When it comes to just the trade, all the discussion is focused on how much draft capital the Vikings gave up. And I personally think it’s unfair that they’re grouping in the trade up to 23 in that conversation, because I think they’re two separate moves,” Forness stated.

He believes the focus should not solely be on the draft capital but also on the potential impact Turner could have on the team.

The Art of Nuance in Team Building

Building a successful football team requires a fine balance between scouting and analytics. Trevor Sikkema, a football analyst, emphasizes this point in the discussion.

“Football and team building, it can’t just all be what you see with your eyes and scouting, and it can’t all just be analytics, like it’s gotta be some nuance between the two.” Sikkema emphasized.

The decision to acquire Dallas Turner is a clear illustration of this philosophy. Despite the perception that they gave up too much to secure Turner, Sikkema explains that it was a strategic move based on the team’s needs and Turner’s unique skill set.

He said, “They trade up for Turner because Turner and Verse, they’re very different prospects, they’re very different players. If you liked Dallas Turner the most, like if you were a team that was like, we have Dallas Turner as, we as Edge Rusher 1 in this class, the reason why you would do that is probably because of overall athleticism, flexibility, arm length, things like that.”

Looking Ahead: The Vikings’ Future

The team’s strategy seems to be focused on the present, with an eye towards the future. They have prioritized certain positions and have taken calculated risks that they believe will pay off in the long run. This is evident in their drafting of McCarthy and their aggressive move to get Turner.

As Sikkema puts it, “they’re putting themselves in a position to continue to be in that conversation for who can potentially get a wild card or maybe even a division over the next couple of years.”

Despite the limited draft capital for the coming year, Sikkema believes the Vikings are positioning themselves well for the future.

In conclusion, the Vikings’ approach to team building provides an interesting case study in the use of analytics, the importance of strategic draft decisions, and the need for a nuanced approach in creating a successful football team. Their decisions might not always align with conventional wisdom, but they provide valuable insights into the complexities of managing a football team in the modern era.

The Moneyball Approach and its Impact

In a recent discussion with Tyler Forness and Trevor Sikkema, an interesting approach to team strategy was brought to light – the “Moneyball” approach. According to Forness, Vikings’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been utilizing this strategy, particularly in the safety position.

“Adofo-Mensah is looking at doing some moneyball stuff and he’s already moneyballed a little bit at safety,” Forness stated.

He referred to Josh Metellus’s two-year, eight-million-dollar extension as a payoff for this approach.

Forness also mentioned that the guard position could be the next on the list for the Moneyball strategy.

He said, “my personal belief has always been guards don’t matter in the sense that if you have average, you’re fine. Just don’t be a disaster and be good.”

This suggests that the Vikings may be looking to maximize their resources by investing strategically in positions that offer the best return on investment.

The Future of Sam Darnold with the Vikings

The panel also discussed Sam Darnold’s future with the Vikings.

Sikkema expressed optimism, stating, “If you have a good quarterback, you don’t give that up in any way, shape, or form.”

He suggested that the best-case scenario for the team would be for Darnold to have an exceptional season, which would put the Vikings in a strong position for negotiations next year.

Sikkema anticipates Darnold playing anywhere from four to six games this season. However, he also noted that this might be an “up and down quarterback situation”, suggesting that while Darnold has potential, the team must be prepared for any fluctuations in his performance.

A Look at the 2025 Draft Class: Defensive Tackles Stand Out

The conversation then veered toward the 2025 draft class, with a particular focus on the depth of talent in the defensive tackle category. Sikkema highlighted a few players that have caught his eye, including Mason Graham from Michigan, who he described as a “monster” on the field.

Kentucky’s Deone Walker also got a mention. Sikkema described him as having a unique build and a “power-speed combination that is stupid”, indicating that his performance is exceptional despite his unconventional physique. Walker is listed at 6’6” and 348 pounds.

The Renaissance of the Running Back in 2025 Draft Class

Forness and Sikkema then discussed the impressive depth and talent pool in the running back class for the 2025 Draft. Sikkema gave three players potential first-round grades, indicating the high potential of the class.

Quoting Sikkema, “Quinshon Judkins is 220 pounds. Ollie Gordon’s 225, like these are big boys. These are legit running backs,” which suggests a potential renaissance of the running game with this deep class.

Looking Ahead to the Upcoming Season

While the excitement for the upcoming draft class is palpable, both Forness and Sikkema agreed that they are eager to see how the current Vikings team performs in the coming season.

As Forness put it, “I’m excited for April already, but I don’t want to skip the football season.”

This sentiment echoes the anticipation and enthusiasm for the growth and performance of the team in the present season while keeping an eye on the potential future players who could join the Vikings’ ranks.

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Overall, the conversation provided insights into the Vikings’ current strategy, potential future moves, and the talent to look forward to in the upcoming 2025 Draft Class.

FAN WITH US!!!

Guest Trevor Sikkema @TampaBayTre from Pro Football Focus @PFF, Tyler Forness @TheRealForno of Vikings 1st & SKOL @Vikings1stSKOL and The Sporting News @sportingnews and Dave Stefano @Luft_Krigare producing this Vikings 1st & SKOL production, on the @RealFornoShow. Podcasts partnered with Fans First Sports Network @FansFirstSN and Fans First Sports Network’s NFL feed @FFSN_NFL.

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