Monday, March 10, 2008

Minnesota Vikings Offseason

Let's take a good look at the Vikings offseason moves so far. The Vikings have added four players and lost five through free agency.
Key Additions:
Bernard Berrian, WR: Berrian will provide a deep threat to the impotent Vikings passing game. He is a definite upgrade over Troy "I dropped it again" Williamson.
Madieu Williams, FS: Madieu Williams will be plugged into the vacant spot left by Dwight Smith. At 26, he will provide some youth to the secondary as well as better pass coverage abilities than Smith who was often a couple steps late last season.
Thomas Tapeh, FB: Surprisingly the Vikings did not try to resign Tony Richardson, their veteran fullback who had cleared the way for Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson's outstanding season. Tapeh will come in and compete for the starting FB spot.
Maurice Hicks, RB: Hicks will be mainly used as a kick returner and as a plug-in behind Taylor and Peterson.

Key Losses:
- Spencer Johnson, DT: Johnson was the third Defensive Tackle on the depth chart. His departure leaves the Vikings with a gaping hole as Pat and Kevin Williams need to be rotated in and out of the game on a constant basis to remain effective. The Vikings could take a look at Anthony McFarland, who was released by the Colts, or any other veteran left in Free agency.
- Dontarrious Thomas, LB: Thomas, yearning for playing time, signed with the 49ers. Although he didn't see the field all that much, he provided the Vikings with some depth at LB. Now the Vikings are totally unproven behind the starter and the Vikings will need to address this position possibly in the draft. Don't forget about Rufus Alexander though, he was drafted in the 2nd day last year but got hurt in the preseason, and I still have hopes that he will be a solid NFL player.

Current Depth Chart:
QB- Tarvaris Jackson, Brooks Bollinger: The biggest question mark on the team. Will Jackson be able to lead this team deep into the playoff. Will the Vikings be able to rely more on the passing game?
RB- Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Thomas Tapeh: The outstanding combo is back, and anyone of those guys can carry the load if asked too. A new fullback in the house
WR- Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade: Upgraded crew but will it be enough. A lot of hopes rest on Rice's continued development. Bobby Wade is back to his more appropriate nickel slot.
OL- Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie, Anthony Herrera, Ryan Cook: The entire O-Line is back, Right Tackle could be upgraded but Childress probably will not admit his mistake to draft Cook in the 2nd round...
TE- Visanthe Shiancoe, Garrett Mills: A tiny ray of hope that Garrett Mills could take over as the starting tight end. Shiancoe was a disappointment in 2007.

DT- Kevin Williams, Pat Williams: The two beast up the middle should stay as stout as they were last year. A capable backup needs to be found to keep both fresh.
DE- Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, Erasmus James: Huge question mark here, the Vikings definitely need to find some players here or at least resign Darrion Scott.
MLB- EJ Henderson: After a rocky first couple years here, Henderson has been outstanding for the Vikings, and could possibly contend for a Probowl spot if he continues to progress this year.
OLB- Ben Leber, Chad Greenway: Ben Leber has been very solid for the Vikings, and a player with very good intangibles. I'm definitely expecting more from Chad Greenway, and I hope that being two years removed from his knee injury will propel him to be the playmaker the Vikings hoped he would be.
CB- Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Marcus McCauley, Charles Gordon: Solid group there, no complaint, the biggest thing will be for the young guys to keep developing and fast.
S- Madieu Williams, Darren Sharper: Should be a solid combo. Sharper is definitely losing a step or five and could be upgraded. An enforcer like Kenny Phillips would be a solid pick at #17.
K/P- Longwell and Kluwe are solid

NFL Draft Outlook:
The Vikings most pressing need is Defensive End, given the team inability to pressure opposing QBs on a regular basis, and Kenechi Udeze's fight against Leukemia. I expect them to go for a guy like Derrick Harvey if he is available at the seventeenth pick or even Quentin Groves. If WR Limas Sweed is available, expect the Vikings to pick the lanky receiver who reminds a lot of Roy Williams. Kenny Phillips is a small possibility to groom behind Sharper. The Vikings second most pressing need is Wide Receiver and the Vikings have expressed interest in WR Early Doucet (LSU) so it is a possibility that they move up a few spots in the second round to secure his rights. Else the Vikings need to take care of their depth at various position such as DL, LB, OL and S. In all, a very exciting opportunity for the Vikings to pick a few players who will figure prominently in the team's future.

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