Minnesota arguably has the most reconstruction to do out of any other team in the league, and it should start with replacing this list of players when free agency hits just a couple weeks from now.
The painful truth for Charlie Johnson is that he’s just not athletic enough to man the left tackle position.
He just isn’t able to handle the league’s elite defensive ends on a consistent enough basis.
I do feel as though Johnson has a future as a starter with the Minnesota Vikings, but as their right guard. He’s a better overall blocker than Anthony Herrera and may even be a bit more athletic than Herrera, too.
Rick Spielman could scour the free-agent wire for a replacement, but the best option will be Matt Kalil, who’ll be sitting there at No. 3 when the Vikes make their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Having met the guy, I love Anthony Herrera as a person—you may not find a nicer person in the NFL, other than Tim Tebow, of course.
Unfortunately, he’s not cut out to be a starter in the NFL.
Herrera is talented enough to be a backup at the guard positions, and the Vikings should keep him for that reason—especially because of the injury concerns with Steve Hutchinson.
The No. 1 priority on Rick Spielman’s list should be signing All-Pro free-agent guard Carl Nicks away from the New Orleans Saints.
Having Nicks and Matt Kalil on the offensive line would immediately provide dividends for this team offensively.
If the Nicks scenario doesn't come to fruition, Charlie Johnson would still be an upgrade over Herrera.
On a side note: Shouldn't this jersey number be retired by now?
With Cedric Griffin, it’s not so much a talent issue as it is the injuries.
He’s shown us he had the ability to be a solid starter in this league before the two reconstructed knees, but now he lacks the necessary speed to hang with today’s NFL receivers.
With all the heavy talk surrounding Antoine Winfield and his potential move to safety, nobody has mentioned a change of position for Griffin.
At 6"0', he has the size to play the safety position and is still fast enough to play in the Cover Two scheme, without having to cover receivers off the line.
It’s an experiment I would welcome with open arms.
However, replacing him may be a tough issue here.
The Vikings don't have tons of cap space this year, and going after a top-flight wide receiver and guard will be their main focus in free agency.
It would be nice, though, if they could land a guy like Brandon Carr from the Kansas City Chiefs. He's a solid all-around corner and would be a huge upgrade to the secondary.
Jarmarca Sanford did the best he could this past season, so I don’t fault him.
He gave his all, and that’s all you can ask from a guy who was thrust into the starting lineup after Minnesota released Madieu Williams.
That being said, his all isn’t enough to be starting material, and last season proved it.
In my opinion, above going after Carl Nicks and a big-name WR in free agency, the No. 1 priority for the Vikings should be signing LaRon Landry away from the Washington Redskins to instantly shore up that secondary.
Some say Phil Loadholt actually improved this past season versus his 2010 season. I didn’t see it.
He just hasn’t developed into what everyone thought he was going to be coming out of Oklahoma in 2009.
His biggest struggles come from the speed rushers, and it may have to do with the fact that he’s simply too big. It’s the same issue Bryant McKinnie struggled with for years.
Going forward, if Leslie Frazier and the rest of the coaching staff feel he’s the best option, I certainly hope they at least draft a guy or bring someone if via free agency to push him.
Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins combined for 64 catches and 934 yards, while scoring four times.
In comparison, Percy Harvin caught 87 balls for 967 yards and six TDs.
That’s surely not the type of production you would like out of a starting receiver... especially when it comes to Aromashodu. He was targeted 84 times and hauled in only 26 passes.
At least Jenkins brought in 38 balls on 55 targets.
When it comes to upgrading the WR position, it’s looking more and more like the Vikings will be addressing this need through free agency.
There’s been plenty of talk about making a big play for either Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston—Jackson would be the preferred option, but drafting a receiver also a must.
Guys such as Tommy Streeter and Nick Toon should be on the Vikings radar when the third round nears.
The Remi Ayodele experiment didn’t quite go according to plan.
He was brought in from New Orleans to replace Pat Williams on that interior front and provide the kind of run-stuffing defense Vikings fans have come to expect over the past six seasons.
Instead, he finished the season 15 tackles (four solo) and 1.5 sacks.
It will be tough to address this need via free agency after Minnesota is done throwing money at its more glaring concerns, so tackling this issue through the draft seems to be the likely option.
Look for Minnesota to take a long, hard look at Dontari Poe out of Memphis. The 6’4” 345-lbs. house is a run-stuffing beast that will be sitting there in Rd. 2 when the Vikes are on the clock.
Poe would come in and be an immediate starter alongside Kevin Williams—saying they opt to not address the cornerback situation.
There’s nothing good to say about Benny Sapp’s performance as a starting cornerback this past year.
Vikings fans were overjoyed when the team got rid of him the first time—there’s no reason they should have to get rid of him again.
I get that we signed him off the street and he was basically a warm body to throw out there because of all the injuries, but Minnesota never should have brought him back in the first place.
I stated earlier that defensive tackle Dontari Poe would be the option if the Vikings don’t address the cornerback situation.
That being said, I fully expect the Vikings to draft Chase Minnifield out of Virginia to come in and replace the ineptitude that currently festers at the cornerback position.
The same feelings I have for Benny Sapp goes for Asher Allen—maybe even more so.
I know that he’s started only a handful of games because of injuries, but he did play in a ton of nickel situations, and in today’s NFL the nickel back is basically a starter.
Allen has never displayed the ability to cover the NFL’s average receivers, let alone the league's elite.
Seriously, it’s amazing how he’s secured himself a roster spot the last two seasons.
It doesn’t matter who the Vikings bring in to replace Allen—anyone will be an upgrade at this point.
I don’t fault Mistral Raymond for the struggles in the Vikings secondary this past season.
He was just a rookie thrust into a starting role because of the injury to Hussain Abdullah.
However, he’s just too raw right now. He still needs a great deal of coaching before he can be considered starting material.
It should be noted that Abdullah shouldn’t be just given his job back in 2012. He didn’t do anything in the games he played to garner himself a starting spot.
Attacking this position through free agency would be the best course of action here—going after someone who’s thrived in the cover-two scheme would be the best course of action for the Minnesota Vikings.
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