NFC North: Jonathan Martin

Frazier won't allow Vikings to haze

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
7:30
AM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Each year at the start of training camp, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier goes through his rules for the team, covering a list of dos and don'ts for how the team will handle its business on and off the field. One of the things highest on Frazier's list of what he won't allow is rookie hazing.

Frazier saw it happen when he played for the Chicago Bears' 1985 championship team, and he has encountered it at different times in his career as a coach. Before his first full season as the Vikings' head coach, Frazier made it clear he wouldn't tolerate his players doing it.

Frazier
"Just as a former player and seeing what guys experienced who were hazed, and then as a coach witnessing guys that were being hazed and the effect it had on them, I just didn’t want that to be a part of what we were trying to do once I became a head coach," Frazier said. "I just didn’t see the benefit of it when it comes to wins and losses. I have no regrets about that."

The issue, of course, is a hot topic in NFL circles this week in light of what Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito allegedly did to teammate Jonathan Martin, using racial slurs and threats in the name of hazing. Martin left the team before its game on Oct. 31, and Incognito has since been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

Frazier said he's had veteran players try to talk him out of his rule, and he reprimanded defensive linemen Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Brian Robison for taping rookie Chase Baker and pouring ice, water and Pepto-Bismol on his head during training camp last year. Allen said there can still be a place for hazing, within reason, to keep rookies in line, pointing out that veterans made him buy fried chicken for them and put himself in danger of missing team flights when he was a rookie. But these days, linebacker Chad Greenway said, the Vikings don't do much more than make rookies bring veterans donuts and coffee.

Not that everyone gets treated the same, of course.

"After those guys saw me in training camp, they really weren't trying to bother me too much," running back Adrian Peterson said. "I think I earned their respect rather quickly."

As long as Frazier is the Vikings' coach, it seems any major form of hazing won't be tolerated.

"Everybody has their own way of doing things," he said. "Those guys that you’re messing with are guys that we're counting on to help us to win. You want the right chemistry in the locker room as well. I just didn’t see the pluses to doing it."
We noted earlier that ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had changed his pick for the Minnesota Vikings at No. 3 overall in his latest mock draft Insider, elevating LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne into a slot long held by USC left tackle Matt Kalil. ESPN's Mel Kiper joined McShay in that swap in an updated mock released Wednesday Insider. Now let's take a look at their picks for the rest of the division:

19. Chicago Bears
Kiper:
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus
McShay: North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples
Seifert comment: There seems to be universal mock agreement that, all things relatively equal, the Bears will choose a defensive end rather than an offensive lineman in the first round. Mercilus was my choice in the ESPN blogger mock draft. Coples would be a fascinating debate if he falls as far as No. 19. He has top-10 talent but there are lingering questions about his work ethic after a lackluster 2011 season.

23. Detroit Lions
Kiper:
Boise State running back Doug Martin
McShay: Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin
Seifert comment: I realize the Lions have a need in the backfield, but will they really spend a high draft choice on a running back for the third consecutive year? We've wondered collectively how valuable running backs really are here in the NFC North's Air and Space division. At this point in McShay's mock, three cornerbacks were already off the board.

28. Green Bay Packers
Kiper:
Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin
McShay: Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus
Seifert comment: We haven't had much of any discussion on the connection between Mercilus and the Packers, who run a 3-4 and presumably would need to use him at outside linebacker. I would be surprised if he is available at No. 28, but no one really knows anything at this point. McClellin was my choice in the blogger mock.

(Note: McShay's mock goes a full seven rounds. You'll need an Insider subscription to see beyond what I've provided.)
The 2012 ESPN.com blog network mock draft is in the books. It was actually a lot of fun, and I hope you got a chance to jump into the fray for at least a few moments. If not, here is the chat transcript.

I learned a few things. First, I'm much more conservative than I thought I was. I tried to drum up trade interest in the Minnesota Vikings' No. 3 overall pick, but for the most part I was content to let everyone else wheel and deal and then sit tight for targeted players to drop in a way that I thought would only happen in my dreams.

Second, every draft has some unexpected trades and some unconventional picks. Having eight people participate helped lend a sense of that dynamic, even if the trades we made and the picks that resulted don't happen this week. You got a more realistic sense of how it could go, I think, than in a conventional mock draft.

We faced decisions at each stop, which I'll detail below for those interested:

3. Minnesota Vikings
My pick:
USC left tackle Matt Kalil
Final decision: Kalil or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne
Process and reasoning: I felt obligated to solicit trade offers for anyone who might be interested in Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I pressured AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley, who is convinced the Cleveland Browns do not want to trade up from No. 4. I leaned on AFC West blogger Bill Williamson, suggesting Tannehill would be a nice target for the Kansas City Chiefs. "I'm good," Williamson said. And I tried to entice AFC East blogger James Walker, letting him and the Miami Dolphins know I was talking to the Hensley/Browns and Williamson/Chiefs.

Walker sat tight. With my time (almost up), I was left to the decision we've been discussing in recent days. I can't see the Vikings taking Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, so it was down to Kalil or Claiborne.

In the end, I took Kalil because my top goal in this exercise was to avoid overthinking. Left tackle is one of the most difficult jobs to fill in the NFL. The Vikings don't have a left tackle, not since they released Bryant McKinnie last summer, and their quarterbacks were pummeled in 2011. Kalil is one of the draft's best prospects and certainly the top left tackle available.

It's true that the Vikings are short on cornerbacks as well, but I would feel more comfortable finding a cornerback at the top of the second or third round than a left tackle. Claiborne and Kalil are both excellent prospects. So Kalil it was. We'll soon see if the Vikings agree.

19. Chicago Bears
My pick:
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus
Final decision: Mercilus or Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones
Process and reasoning: If the real thing goes anything like our mock draft, it appears the Bears will have their pick of defensive ends to fill an important but untouched roster hole. I was holding out hope for North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, who slipped as far as No. 17 before Hensley grabbed him for the Cincinnati Bengals. But ultimately I was left to choose between Mercilus, Jones, USC's Nick Perry and Alabama's Courtney Upshaw.

Why Mercilus? The Bears have spent a good bit of time visiting and researching Mercilus during the past few months, and while there are questions about the best positions for some of the other defensive end prospects, Mercilus is a clear and obvious 4-3 defensive end. I liked him more than any of the receivers on the board at the time, and I didn't think the Bears would chose an offensive tackle -- even Stanford's Jonathan Martin -- in this spot.

Ultimately, Martin went at No. 22 to the Browns, where he will presumably play right tackle.

23. Detroit Lions
My pick:
Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick
Final decision: Kirkpatrick or trade down
Process and reasoning: Frankly, I was surprised that Kirkpatrick fell that far. I can see a team jumping first for South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore, as Paul Kuharsky did for the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 15. But having Kirkpatrick available at No. 23 for a team whose secondary collapsed in 2011 was a pretty good situation.

I had previously discussed a trade with Hensley and the Baltimore Ravens at No. 29, something that could arise Thursday night. But I was more than happy to sit with Kirkpatrick at that point.

Why Kirkpatrick over North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins? Frankly, for the obvious and previously-stated conservative reasons. The Lions had three members of their 2011 draft class run into marijuana-related issues. Jenkins has a long history dating back to his removal from the University of Florida team two years ago.

I realize Kirkpatrick was cited in January for marijuana possession, but ultimately he was not prosecuted.

28. Green Bay Packers
My pick:
Boise state outside linebacker Shea McClellin
Final decision:
McClellin or Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw
Process and reasoning: I had targeted McClellin as someone I would hope to draft for the Packers and was caught off guard when Upshaw was still available. I got some tweets and live suggestions for both players, but chose McClellin because I think he's a better fit for the Packers' 3-4 and that he'll be ready to start in Week 1 for a team that is a Super Bowl contender in 2012.

There is enough concern about Upshaw's fit as a 3-4 linebacker, as opposed to a 4-3 defensive end, that I felt more comfortable with McClellin here.

I would be willing to discuss this further in the blog, probably Tuesday. Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.
ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. has produced a two-round mock draft this week. Let's dive in, knowing that the entire file Insider requires an Insider subscription and that you should be eternally grateful to me for lifting the NFC North-relevant information for you.

3. Minnesota Vikings
Mel's picks:
USC offensive lineman Matt Kalil. Second round: Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith
Seifert comment: Smith is a borderline first-round pick. Getting a starting safety at the top of the second round would be nice value. As for Kalil, Mel remains in the camp that refuses to overthink the Vikings' choice at No. 3.

19. Chicago Bears
Mel's picks:
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Second round: LSU receiver Rueben Randle
Seifert comment: Most mockers have dropped away from the idea of the Bears selecting a receiver in the first round, partially because Notre Dame's Michael Floyd figures to be long gone by No. 19. A lineman for either side of the ball seems reasonable, and getting Randle in the bottom third of the second round seems like a good value.

23. Detroit Lions
Mel's picks:
Stanford offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Second round: Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson
Seifert comment: Both players make sense as far as needs go. Johnson has gotten a lot of publicity in this draft despite playing at Montana. You would think he would have an immediate chance to start. Martin would get a year behind Jeff Backus.

28. Green Bay Packers
Mel's picks:
USC linebacker Nick Perry. Second round: Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick
Seifert comment: Defense, defense, defense. It's also notable that Mel didn't feel compelled to draft Wisconsin center Peter Konz for the Packers. I agree on that one.
So, two days away from the blog at the end of March was long enough to miss out on the conception and some of the execution of an ESPN.com blog network mock draft. I handled the NFC North's first two choices, for the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. My ESPN.com blog colleagues filled in on the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

There will be more mock drafts to come from the blog network, in addition to those authored by ESPN's host of draft analysts. So hang on. Below are the NFC North choices from Monday's blog network mock:

3. Vikings: USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil
Comment: There are of course no trades in this mock so we can't really explore what might be the Vikings' top choice here at No. 3. But barring a trade, I'm not prepared to predict they will choose outside the box at this spot. They don't have a left tackle, and Kalil is the consensus choice as the best non-quarterback prospect available. Despite general manager Rick Spielman's posturing, I don't see him getting cute. Yet.

19. Bears: Stanford T Jonathan Martin
Comment:
I bet NFC East colleague Dan Graziano will grab Martin in our next mock, considering the newly-revealed Achilles injury of Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. But for now, we get to ponder a Bears future with a more promising left tackle than current starter J'Marcus Webb. Coach Lovie Smith expressed support last week for Webb, but you have to couch such pre-draft statements. I was actually hoping that Stanford guard David DeCastro would be available, but AFC North colleague Jamison Hensley grabbed him for the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 17. DeCastro is a beast.

23. Lions: South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore
Comment: This is a perfectly logical and reasonable choice by my colleagues, addressing a need with an appropriately-ranked player. Gilmore would give the Lions an immediate alternative to Aaron Berry and/or Jacob Lacey at cornerback, and would certainly give them depth at a position that contributed to their defensive collapse in 2011. We all know that general manager Martin Mayhew doesn't make decisions based on need, especially at the top of the draft, but this might be a fortuitous combination of talent and need.

28. Packers: Wisconsin center Peter Konz
Comment:
Again, I see where my colleagues were coming from. Scott Wells departed via free agency and replacement Jeff Saturday is a year-to-year proposition. But I wonder if there is enough urgency to draft a center in the first round. Often you can find a development center in the later rounds, and the Packers have a total of 11 picks after the first. Unless general manager Ted Thompson thinks Konz is so far beyond the rest of the class, I'm not sure he would pull the trigger on this one.

Related: Two other mock-related features posted during my short time away from the blog. ESPN.com's Todd McShay offered a two-round mock Insider that, among other things, got the Vikings a receiver (South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery) and the Bears a tight end (Clemson's Dwayne Allen) in the second round. Meanwhile, ESPN.com debuted a "Draft Machine" that allows you to conduct your own mock and compare it to your friends'. By all means, go at it.
Earlier Friday, our friends at Football Outsiders offered an Insider-only (!!) look at NFC North team needs. We can now pair that post with another Insider offering that matches those needs with specific players available Insider in the draft. I have to leave most of the good stuff behind the paywall, but here is a smidgeon of what Scouts Inc's Kevin Weidl wrote:

Chicago Bears: Two offensive linemen to keep in mind at No. 19 overall are Stanford's Jonathan Martin and Ohio State's Mike Adams. Both could conceivably play left tackle.

Detroit Lions: If the Lions want to upgrade at guard, one possibility at No. 23 overall is Stanford's David DeCastro. Another is Georgia's Cordy Glenn.

Green Bay Packers: Assuming the Packers agree with Football Outsiders' suggestion to focus on their defensive line, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox could be an option at No. 28 overall. In the second round, Boise State's Tyrone Crawford would be an intriguing prospect.

Minnesota Vikings: No. 3 overall is high for a cornerback, especially if USC offensive lineman Matt Kalil remains on the board. Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson could be a player worth considering at the top of the second round.

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