How good will Minnesota rookie wide receiver Greg Childs be?
That is a question that many Vikings fans will be watching closely over the next few weeks, during both training camp and preseason games.
The answer to that same question could determine if veteran wide receiver Michael Jenkins is still on the Vikings' roster after August 31, when the team must trim the roster to 53 active players.
What we know for sure is that on paper, the 2012 Minnesota Vikings have added more potential weapons.
With the promotion of Rick Spielman to general manager, there has been a clear direction for the franchise, and that is to build through youth on the offense, defense and special teams.
Spielman will be heavily graded on his 2012 NFL draft class, and one of the picks that could make him look like a genius is the former Arkansas Razorback standout receiver, Greg Childs.
In my opinion, since we drafted Childs in the fourth round, he has the intangibles to be a difference-maker in the passing game right away if he can prove he is finally healthy.
Along with the intangibles, he also has great size (6’3", 220 lbs), and he is known for his body control and soft hands. If Childs can regain his explosiveness after being hampered by a torn patella tendon the past two years, he could be a steal for the Vikings. Childs did post a quick 4.55 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine, showing team glimpses of a the player that was once projected to be a first-round pick.
Should the Vikings cut Michael Jenkins in favor of younger talent?
Childs does have a lot of catching up to do after he missed almost all of OTAs and minicamp due to a calf strain. This after only registering 21 catches for 240 yards as a senior after collecting at least 46 catches and 659 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons at Arkansas.
Here is a recent quote from Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave on Childs via the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Dan Wiederer.
He’s got the speed to get down the field. But he also has the size to muscle little DBs at the same time…We’re counting on the human body healing up. With the significant injury he had, it’s usually a 15- to 18-month recovery process. And he’s just getting to that threshold. So we’re betting on the come with him.
I see Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson and rookies Greg Childs and Jarius Wright as the only locks at receiver, but the options are plenty. With young players like Stephen Burton and Emmanuel Arceneaux budding, veterans like Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu could be released. The Minnesota Vikings currently have 12 receivers on the 90-man roster competing for five or six spots.
So why would the Vikings cut a veteran receiver like Jenkins who was the second-best option at receiver in 2011 before being injured?
Well, I seem to be of the same opinion as Vikings beat writer Tom Pelissero, who believes that Jenkins (6'4", 214 lbs), a 30-year-old possession receiver who will earn the highest receiver salary on the team ($2.5 million), and is returning from a torn meniscus, can't play special teams.
After being almost immediately signed after being released by the Atlanta Falcons, Jenkins was of course familiar with the Vikings' offense, a team that new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had been a part of the past few seasons as the quarterbacks coach.
Jenkins likely benefited greatly in 2011 from the fact that he already knew the scheme/terminology in a lockout-shortened season, where most competing players didn't have the opportunity to dive into the playbook or get the extra reps they would normally get to learn with a new offense.
With Simpson being the favorite to play the "X" receiver upon his return from a three-game suspension, both Childs and Burton offer more game-breaking abilities to be the temporary starter over Jenkins with solid training camps. They both are also likely to contribute on special teams as well.
With a full offseason to prepare, the Vikings have younger and more talented options at receiver for a team that is rebuilding to get back to being a perennial NFC North contender.