Minnesota Vikings: Why Jerome Simpson Is Just What the Vikings Need

Mike Nelson@Mike_E_NelsonCorrespondent IJune 18, 2012

Minnesota Vikings: Why Jerome Simpson Is Just What the Vikings Need

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    On Jan. 8th, I wrote an article that assessed the positions Minnesota needed help at. Among those six positions was wide receiver.

    Only one Minnesota wide receiver caught more than 38 passes, three touchdown receptions or accumulated over 500 yards receiving. That one man was Percy Harvin, who is on his way to becoming an elite NFL wideout.

    Knowing it had deficiencies at the position, Minnesota acquired three wide receivers this offseason who are likely to make the roster: Jarius Wright (via the 2012 NFL Draft), Greg Childs (via the 2012 NFL Draft) and Jerome Simpson (via free agency).

    Simpson is the man I want to focus on. He was suspended for the first three games of the regular season for possession of marijuana.

    With the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, Simpson caught 50 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers don't jump off the page, but he's just what the Minnesota Vikings needed.

A Deep Threat

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    The one player not named Percy Harvin who had deep-threat capabilities from the wide receiver position last season was Devin Aromashodu.

    For his career, Aromashodu has been a big tease. He has the size (6'2" and 201 pounds) and the speed to become an elite wideout, but Aromashodu lacks consistency. He drops easy passes and isn't always able to separate from his defender.

    Jerome Simpson could be the deep threat the Minnesota Vikings need in 2012.

    "He's a legitimate split end," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN. "He has speed to threaten down the field and also get in and out of breaks and beat man coverage."

    In that same article, a personnel director of another NFL team said, "He's more of a speed guy than he is a short-area, quick, stop-and-start guy. He's more of a one cut-type route-runner. I think he kind of came on a little bit last year."

    He only caught two passes thrown 31 yards or more, but posted a 4.47 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine. That's not blazing speed, but it's fast enough to get down the field to make plays.

About to Enter His Prime

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    As mentioned on the previous slide, a personnel director not affiliated with the Minnesota Vikings said Jerome Simpson stepped up his game last season.

    With four years in the NFL (three years of game experience) and at the age of 26, this should be the time for Simpson to take his game to another level if it's ever going to happen for him.

    Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman said in this video, "He's going to be another Cris Carter." But he retracted his statement a moment later, "Maybe not quite as good as Cris Carter, but close."

    Simpson has the size (6'2", 190 pounds) and the speed to be an impact receiver in the NFL. After his 2011 campaign (50 catches, 725 yards, four touchdowns) 2012 could be the next step in his progression.

Young, Inexpensive Talent

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    Check out Minnesota's roster. There are five players on it who are 30 or older—of those five, only two are starters (Kevin Williams and Jared Allen).

    Minnesota didn't focus its offseason on acquiring older talent that would help the team win now. The focus was to acquire young talent at an affordable price.

    The Vikings gave Simpson a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $2 million.

    When all is said and done, the Vikings may regret not giving Simpson a longer contract.

Plays with an Edge

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    Type in "Jerome Simpson" into Google and the first option is "Jerome Simpson flip." What the "flip" refers to is Simpson's touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 of the 2011 season.

    If you haven't seen the play, then check out the above video.

    A player who didn't play with an edge and an aura of confidence wouldn't have the guts to attempt a play like this.

    Minnesota offensive players, minus Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson, demonstrate little if any edge or attitude about them. In order to be successful in the game of football, you have to play with an edge and a belief that you're the best.

    Simpson has demonstrated that. Minnesota needs others to do the same.

Receiver Corps Cupboard Is Bare

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    This goes without saying. In the introduction slide, I discussed my view on the talent at the wide receiver position. Minnesota needed to add multiple pieces to its corps if it hoped to give Christian Ponder a fighting chance in 2012.

    The signing of Jerome Simpson, along with Greg Childs and Jarius Wright, is a step in the right direction.

    Simpson is a versatile receiver who can take short passes and stretch the field. It's up to him not to fall too far behind with his three-game suspension; thankfully, he can still participate in training camp and preseason games.