“Fixing a hole where the rain gets in…”
If only it were that simple for the Minnesota Vikings; if only there was just one hole to fix.
As it is, there are cracks up and down the Vikings’ roster.
Minnesota went all-in and lost. Now aging veterans, expiring contracts and retirements have caught up with them, and they’ve fallen apart overnight. Outside of running back, every unit on the team is in need of more ability and skill.
Start in the secondary, like every opposing quarterback does.
As a whole, Minnesota defensive backs had only nine interceptions last season. Antoine Winfield can’t defy Father Time forever. Madieu Williams’ production has never matched his contract. Tyrell Johnson and Asher Allen do nothing right. Chris Cook didn’t do much in his rookie season besides get hurt. In the past year, Cedric Griffin has torn the ACL in his left and right knee.
No problems there, right?
If Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara slips to the twelfth pick the Vikings need to give him serious thought or trade up for LSU cornerback/safety/returner/demigod Patrick Peterson. Or draft a diamond in the rough later on, sign an undrafted free-agent like the Packers did with Sam Shields last year, etc. Never mind—teams can’t sign undrafted players because of the lockout debacle.
Good to remember that the Packers signed an undrafted rookie cornerback who played better than the Vikings second-round rookie cornerback, though.
And that the Packers won the Super Bowl.
Another unit that needs reinforcements is the offensive line. Viking quarterbacks didn’t have much of a pocket on pass plays and Adrian Peterson’s running lanes were few and far between. Steve Hutchinson’s body might be failing him. The gargantuan tackles Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt simply can’t handle certain quick, speed rushers. John Sullivan gets man-handled by seemingly everyone. Anthony Herrera would be a good backup.
A healthy Hutchinson would make a difference, but is Sullivan a starter? Herrera? Just as with the secondary, the Vikings might not take an offensive lineman in the first round, but by the end of the draft they should draft a lineman.
They could use their third-round pick on—Randy Moss. Right.
Speaking of wide receivers, wave goodbye to Sidney Rice. With most of their wide receiver budget currently spent on Bernard Berrian, Minnesota can’t offer what Rice can get on the open market and he will almost assuredly and justifiably leave.
That would mean the Vikings’ receivers would be Percy Harvin, Berrian, and Greg Lewis? Hank Baskett? It wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Minnesota to look at Alabama receiver Julio Jones or Georgia receiver A.J. Green with their first pick.
Cutting Berrian and giving his money to Rice would solve this conundrum, but the point stands that wide receiver will be/is a weak unit. Tight end is no great shakes, either.
At linebacker, E.J. Henderson’s valiant and admirable effort last season belied the fact he was atrocious in pass coverage, but still better than Jasper Brinkley. Ben Leber might re-sign with Minnesota, but is that a good thing?
A playmaker of some form could be used here. There’s no 4-3 linebacker who should be picked in the first round, but this is yet another level that needs an upgrade.
How about the defensive line, the vaunted Vikings defensive line?
No problems there, right?
Pat Williams is unfortunately done, Kevin Williams’ past season suggests he’s on the downside of his career now, Jared Allen was missing in action for most of last year, Ray Edwards is understandably looking to get his big contract (which, like with Rice, the Vikings can’t afford) and Everson Griffin has been a clown this offseason.
But backup Brian Robison was signed to a three-year, $14 million contract.
This isn’t the same line that led the league in sacks a couple seasons ago. They are older and slower.
North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn could make a difference. Minnesota will probably rely on Letroy Guion to fill Fat Pat’s position, but they could also look to find a replacement in the draft.
Point is, even Minnesota’s strongest unit has question marks.
Which reminds me: Who is the quarterback?
Good times. Good times.
It stands to reason that a couple of the prospects in this draft will end up being good starting quarterbacks in the league; have fun figuring out which ones, though.
Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert seem to be outside the Minnesota’s grasp, which could be a good thing. The Vikings appear to like Jake Locker, which could be a bad thing.
The team will be meeting with Ryan Mallett’s big arm and cement feet sometime this week. But possible second and third-round quarterbacks like Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Ricky Stanzi and Colin Kaepernick might end up being better than any of the big-name guys.
Hell, why not tank the season for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck?
Quarterback is obviously the biggest need, but I don’t know who the Vikings should draft at quarterback or when the Vikings should draft a quarterback.
But whoever Minnesota decides is their guy (and toss Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb into the mix, too), they better get it right; the franchise can’t afford another Tarvaris Jackson situation.
Secondary, offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive line and quarterback—you name it, the Vikings need it.
They are a rebuilding cellar-dweller jealous of the Detroit Lions.
What a difference a year makes.