In the delusion that many Minnesota Vikings fans share, player comparisons get thrown around from time to time that can make you roll your eyes. A new comparison that caught my attention on Thursday morning when Sid Hartman called new Vikings WR Jerome Simpson the next Cris Carter.
"He's gonna be another Cris Carter before it's all over with," Hartman said. "Maybe not quite as good as Cris Carter, but close."
Now hold on. Cris Carter?
I know Carter isn't in the Hall of Fame yet, but he likely will be some day. This isn't just any receiver we're talking about. This is statistically the greatest Viking receiver of all time. You can't just throw comparisons like that around.
I'm aware that Simpson has made some pretty nice catches in OTAs so far, but this is in comparison to a guy that "all he did was catch touchdowns."
Simpson is entering his fourth year of playing professional football and has 71 receptions, 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns to show for it.
By Carter's fourth year in the league, he already racked up 1,450 yards and 19 touchdowns. When he first joined the Vikings in 1990, Carter was only able to score three touchdowns in his first year. After steadily improving, he exploded in 1995, scoring 17 touchdowns and continued to produce at a high level for the next five seasons.
Surely, Hartman isn't comparing the two statistically—he'd be nuts to make that kind of claim. But as far as the style of play and athleticism? Maybe he's on to something.
Carter's playing size was defined by his 6'3", 208-pound frame. Simpson plays at 6'2" and 190 pounds, which isn't all that far off.
Carter wasn't necessarily the fastest guy in the league, but he was certainly fast enough to make some plays. The same can be said for Simpson, who will be relied on to stretch the field for second-year QB Christian Ponder.
My issue with the Hartman's claim is that, when Carter put up his 17-touchdown season in 1995, the Vikings went 8-8 in the regular season, including losses to all of the division teams and obviously the team missing the playoffs.
It wasn't until 1998 when the Vikings drafted Randy Moss, that the Vikings saw true success as they went 15-1 in the regular season, winning all but one division game and going to the NFC Championship Game.
In that season, Carter received 78 passes for 1,011 yards and 12 touchdowns. Clearly, Moss took some of Carter's touches away, but the team was the most successful in the back nine of his career.
Where am I going with this?
Simpson could very well become "the next Cris Carter" and I would certainly welcome it. But for any of it to be worthwhile, the Vikings need to find the next Randy Moss that can blow the top off defenses and make big plays downfield for them to truly utilize Simpson.
Whether that be Devin Aromashodu, Greg Childs or a receiver the team hasn't drafted yet, they need to find that guy to get their offense to the point that it needs to be to win this division.
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