Welcome back all! The combine is coming up, so its time for the last pre-combine mock. Should be interesting to see how far opinions swing once the combine is over. I am going to keep this one fairly conservative, but I still think more offensive playmakers should be targeted in the early rounds than not because outside of a more steady QB, the Vikings need another playmaker or two. Added bonus: How all the NFC North teams are looking in the 1st round.
Resign U/RFA - Thanks to Capital J's Corner for the list of all U/RFA.
Heath Farwell - LB
Nap Harris - LB
Jimmy Kennedy - DT
Jim Kleinsasser - TE
Fred Evans- DT (Yes, resign both DTs. They need to protect themselves if the Williams Wall ends up getting suspended. Better to play safe and keep your talent then sorry)
Charles Gordon - CB
Jayme Mitchell - DE
FA Signings - With all the U/RFA to sign back to the team (I'd bet none of them get more than 3 years, majority of them on 1 year contracts) I don't see as many FA signings as last year. For now, I only see one.
Jeff Garcia QB - My favorite QB FA already signed with his old team (Carr) and while I would like the Vikings to get a younger vet, there isn't a lot out there (Chris Simms maybe, but don't really know what you are getting with him). Garcia doesn't seem to have much leverage after getting benched in Tampa, but I bet he would be happy to sign on with a playoff team that would let him compete to start (and he probably would win the starting job all things equal).
Now is the time on Sprockets when we show our Vikings draft picks...
1st - D.J. Moore CB 5'10'' 183 - Anyone know when the last time the Vikings used a first round pick on a CB or S? In 1994, the Vikings picked DB DeWayne Washington with a pick they got from Denver (the other 1st round pick that year was Todd Steussie). Its about time they used the first round to get some talent in the secondary. Moore is one of 3 first round talents at CB and whose skill set is considered perfect for the cover 2 scheme. He is very good playmaker that IMO compares favorably to Winfield. Could also help with the KR/PR duties. If Maclin/Harvin are still here, I will have my fingers crossed for one of them, but I would be just as happy with Moore.
2nd - Phil Loadholt OT 6'8'' 343 - While he doesn't have the upside that the other 2nd round OTs (Britton/Beatty) have, he does have the talent to be pluged into RT and play right away. Huge in the run game, but needs some work on his pass pro. You won't, however, see him get pushed around in pass pro like Cook.
3rd - Ramses Barden WR 6'6'' 227 - My favorite. I am a huge fan of this guy and think he would be a fantastic red zone/possesion WR. i liken him to a D2 version of Calvin Johnson. He isn't running a 4.3 40, but he isn't slow. Uses his body very well to shield the ball from defenders and uses his hands instead of his chest to catch the football. May not crack the starting line up right away, but will be great as a situational player and give him a chance to develop a little more.
4th - Bear Pascoe TE 6'5'' 260 - Big time blocker that would benifit learning from Jimmy. Has a decent recieving game, but isn't as fast as Shanko. Another good red zone/possesion reciever to help move chains and in the run game.
5th - Sammie Lee Hill DT 6'4'' 330 - A developing prospect to replace Phat Pat when he retires. I know they took Guion around this spot last year, but i see Guion as a guy that would play in Kevin's spot and not Pat's.
7th - Quinn Johnson FB 6' 251LBS - A big body for short yardage/goal line situations. Is pretty good with the football in his hands too.
7th (2) - James Holt OLB 6'3'' 226 - Led the Big XII in TFL with 19.5. He finished the year with 105 tackles, 10 sacks and six forced fumbles. Sounds worth a look in the 7th.
Around the NFC North -
#1 - Lions - Andre Smith OT - Everyone and their mother might have them taking Stafford, but Stafford isn't the best overall player in the draft. When you get the 1st overall pick. You take the best overall player. Period. Think Houston wishes it took Bush over Mario Williams? I don't either.
#9 - packers - Brian Orakpo, 3-4 OLB - GB needs some players made for their new defensive scheme. I would think that means taking at least 2 OLB that can rush the QB at some point in the draft. He has the production in school and will put up big numbers at the combine
#18 - Bears - Michael Johnson DE - The Bears need a WR, but the WRs worth a 1st rounder are basically Hester clones and they have enough trouble getting him the ball. I think if the Bears want to get back to where they were a couple of years ago, they need to get their pash rush on track. It was pretty ineffective this past year.
#20 - Lions - Josh Freeman QB - See? They don't need to take a QB #1 overall. Freeman has upside and I think Lineahan will fall for this kids upside. Will remind him of the last QB he had success with. Would also be a good reason to keep 'Pepper on their roster. They can then pick up a DT like Ron Brace out of BC at the top of the first.