It appears the team is sticking with the 4-3 defense. This is not a bad thing but the results have not been too good the last couple of years. Hopefully, injuries are the main reason. I have my doubts. But the main players fit better in this defense so I understand the thinking. Hopefully, the team will add some more talent in order for the defense to really get better. If they are going to be successful in this division then they need to be able to stop the other teams more often than they did this past season. That is for dang sure.
So let is move on to the plan.
Here is an article with some very good information regarding the rules ... http://www.askthecommish.com/salarycap/faq.asp
Just remember that the salary floor is 89% of the cap which for 2011 was $120.375M per team. But this does not start until 2013.
Here is a good breakdown of the current cap situation done by DJSkillz http://www.dailynorseman.com/2012/1/5/2685018/a-look-at-the-2012-minnesota-vikings-cap-situation
Thus I do not need to replicate his fine efforts. I will just go with his numbers.
Here are the free agents in 2012 that have not been offered new contracts yet and are likely to test the market.
Jim Kleinsasser 34 * retired
E.J. Henderson 31
Visanthe Shiancoe 31
Benny Sapp 30
Greg Camarillo 29
Kenny Onatolu 29
Fred Evans 28
Eric Frampton 27
Devin Aromashodu 27
Xavier Adibi 27
Tyrell Johnson 26
Husain Abdullah 26
Letroy Guion 24
Erin Henderson 25
Matt Katula 29
Scott Kooistra 31
Jarrad Page 27
Sage Rosenfels 33
Lorenzo Booker 27
Patrick Brown 25
This is 20 players.
These are the players that the team could consider releasing for salary reasons. But possibly not.
Steve Hutchinson 34
Anthony Herrera 31
Cedric Griffin 29
That is another 3 players for a total of 23 players. I think that if the Vikings did decide to not sign any of the free agents and release the 3 veterans there could be about 35 mil available for free agents.
Looking at free agency there are plenty of players who would help the Vikings.
So the free agents I think the Vikings could take a shot are ...
SS - Tyvon Branch 25 6-0 205 4.31
Branch is a very good tackler. Hopefully his passes defended and interceptions will improve under the tutelage of Williams and Frazier.
CB – Tim Jennings 28 5-8 185 4.32
I think Jennings can play both inside and outside but is a better fit covering the slot WRs.
DT - Brodrick Bunkley 28 6-3 306 5.01
Bunkley plays the run very well which is a huge need for the Vikings.
OLB - Manny Lawson 27 6-5 241 4.41
I like Lawson because he is fast and he did well last year when given the opportunity. He is also good in coverage.
MLB - Dan Connor 26 6-2 231 4.67
I like Connor. I think he may be ready to come in to his own
WR – Laurent Robinson 26 6-2 199 4.38
I think Robinson is a deep threat and is coming into his own. It may take a little more to woo him.
TE - John Carlson 27 6-5 251 4.72
I think Carlson would be a nice replacement for Shiancoe. Since Musgrave likes the two TE set, Carlson would be another young TE that has proven he can perform in the NFL.
OT - Jared Gaither 25 6-9 340 5.06
I have been wanting to get Gaither for a couple of years now. Why the boneheads did not pick him up last year is a mystery. At worst he can be the bridge between a young tackle being groomed.
So now to the draft.
I think the first two picks are Indianapolis taking Andrew Luck QB obviously and St Louis taking Matt Kalil OT. I switched this pick from Blackmon because I think the Rams will sign a free agent WR (or two) and can select one at the top of the second round or third round if they wanted. I think Jeff Fisher will want to build that offensive line and he is a USC graduate (which probably means nothing). This draft could be cruel to the Vikings because the Rams could be selecting the very player Vikings fans want most in the first 3 rounds. I also think that they know if they pass on Kalil then the Vikings will take him thus making it doubtful they move down IMO.
So that leaves the Vikings in a pretty good position. They could have some offers from teams to trade up so that team can select Robert Griffin III. It is very hard for me to pass on RG3 right here because the Vikings are still unsettled at the QB position despite drafting Ponder last year in the first round. I am not sold on Ponder as are many Vikings fans. But just as many want to give him a chance and think he could be OK. Funny that not many say he is going to be elite. In the end, I think the Vikings will pass and trade down because they do not want to have egg on their face for the Ponder pick (just yet). Interesting that Cleveland is willing to move on from McCoy and is a favorite candidate to land RG3 in many mocks. So why could they move on already and not the Vikings? Is one season going to make much of a difference? And Carolina moved on from Clausen when they had the opportunity to select Newton. You just cannot pass on an elite QB. But sadly, the Vikings probably will.
I do not see Cleveland giving up too much to move up one spot. I do not think it is Holmgren's style. http://clevelandstrikesback.net/browns/statistical-approach-browns-2011-draft-part-one/
Of course Holmgren had some good QBs in place and never was faced with the decision of needing one. I still do not believe he will give up as much as another team.
Thus, I would trade the #3 pick to the Redskins for their #6, #38, and their 2012 2nd round pick.
So now the Vikings are sitting at #6 and I see the first 5 picks going like this ...
1. Indianapolis - Andrew Luck QB
2. St Louis - Matt Kalil OT
3. Washington - Robert Griffin III QB
4. Cleveland - Justin Blackmon WR
5. Tampa Bay - Morris Claiborne CB
Now I think Cincinnati is going to be calling to move up to #6 in order to select Trent Richardson RB. They are not going to resign Cedric Benson most likely and can afford to give up the picks to move up and get the best RB in the draft by far. Since they got that extra first round pick for Carson Palmer they can put it to good use. Having Dalton, Richardson, AJ Green, & Gresham is not a bad core. If they keep Jerome Simpson they will have a nice #2 WR. Plus they get back Jordan Shipley who did well in the slot his first year. I think this would be a fantastic move for the Bengals. They could wait and try and get a different back later but while that seems to be the trend, special backs do not come around too often.
Thus the Vikings trade the #6 pick to the Bengals for the #17 and #21 picks. This is a little steep for Cincy but if they want Richardson then they are going to have to pay a price. He is worth it too. Plus they are asking the Vikings to drop down pretty far.
So now the Vikings have picks 17,21,35,38,67,comp,98,130,193,194,219,222,comp
With the picks here is what I would do …
17. Michael Brockers DT LSU 6-5 306 4.95
The Vikings begin to retool their defensive tackle position which needs immediate help with KWill turning 32 and Ayodele a disappointment. Plus Evans and Guion are free agents and will hit the open market.
21. Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina 6-1 193 4.53
Gilmore is a nice sized prospect that can only help the awful secondary. I think that they need to get him before #35 because other teams like Green Bay or the Rams could snag him.
35. Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina 6-4 229 4.54
I think Jeffery could drop and the Vikings will only be too happy to take him and develop him into the WR he was in 2010. Many scouts are doubting him and some do not like his conditioning. He will go to one of those pre draft places and get in great shape and probably be taken in the first round by a team like New England. The Vikings may need to trade up a few spots to get him if he does will at the combine. I hope he does not do too well and falls to the Vikings. He falls in this mock.
I went back and forth with Dwight Jones on this pick and if Jeffery is gone I would take Jones most likely.
Now the Vikings make a trade with the Eagles who want to move up. The Vikings trade pick #38 for picks #51, 99, & 145.
51. Kevin Zeitler OG Wisconsin 6-4 315 5.26
The Vikings need a guard in case Charlie Johnson disappoints once he moves inside. Plus in a couple of years Johnson will be gone anyway. Also, if they keep Hutchinson for his last year then Zeitler can step in starting in 2013.
67. Nate Potter OT Boise State 6-6 298 5.18
I think Potter is underrated because of his size. But he already is a pretty good pass blocker. With the signing of Gaither the Vikings have time to allow Potter to gain some weight and strength.
I would probably go with Mike Adams at #21 if the Vikings do not sign Jared Gaither.
comp. Keenan Robinson LB Texas 6-3 240 4.68
I am hoping that Robinson is still here at this point. I like his game and aggressiveness.
98. Jeff Fuller WR Texas A&M 6-3 220 4.52
I like adding another big WR who is more of a possession type guy like Michael Jenkins. I think that these are the types of WRs that Ponder needs because he does not throw the deep ball very well. He can throw it deep but it is not his specialty.
99. Audie Cole LB North Carolina State 6-4 248 4.72
The Vikings add another young LB to groom to take over in a couple of years hopefully. I know that signing Dan Connor and having Brinkley makes this pick a curious one but Brinkley is a free agent in 2013 and Connor has been banged up quite often. Thus Cole makes some sense to be in place to take over in a year or two. At least to me it does.
I wavered on selecting Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, or T.J. Graham here. But the LBs were not looking too good later.
130. Brandon Taylor SS LSU 5-11 195 4.57
The Vikings need new depth for the safety position. The Vikings need players that have the potential to be a starter as the backups. Not special teams "aces" or players who have probably reached their ceilings.
145. Janzen Jackson FS McNeese State 6-0 190 4.49
Another safety with talent who I am hoping is still here in the 5th round.
193. Evan Rodriguez FB/HB Temple 6-2 250 4.67
I like Rodriguez a lot and compare him to Aaron Hernandez. I think he can be that HB the Vikings need. D'Imperio will have some tough competition.
194. Dominique Hamilton DT Missouri 6-5 320 5.02
A big DT that should be able to contribute a few snaps here and there during his first year.
206. Devon Wylie WR/PR Fresno State 5-9 186 4.39
Wylie was one of the best punt returners in the country. Plus he can catch out of the slot.
219. Adonis Thomas RB Toledo 5-10 185 4.45
The Vikings need another back to go with Gerhart, Todman, and King. I think AP should start the season on the PUP list and I would not play him until November at the earliest. That would give him 10 full months of recovery. He can possibly practice once he comes off the PUP list. If the team is not doing well I would strongly consider putting him on IR for the year. Thomas will probably go to the pracice squad (hopefully).
comp. Demario Davis LB Arkansas State 6-2 232 4.60
Another linebacker prospect that I like to see get a shot.
I like these UDFAs ...
Darren Thomas QB Oregon 6-3 215 4.58
Chigbo Anunoby DT Morehouse 6-4 324 5.?? http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/anunoby%20chigbod8f62289e6/1.html
Desmond Marrow CB Toledo 6-2 210 4.52 http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/marrow%20desmond64cdd74488/1.html
Tony Dye SS UCLA 5-11 216 4.52 http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/dye%20tony8385d5df1f/1.html
Broderick Binns DE/OLB Iowa 6-1 261 4.79 http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/binns%20brodericke5d250d773/1.html
John Potter K Western Michigan 6-2 209
Brad Smelley FB/HB Alabama 6-3 229 4.75 http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/smelley%20brad6bfe19f4a8/1.html
James Carmon OT/DT Mississippi State 6-7 330 5.43 http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/carmon%20jamesc6ba9620d9/1.html
Adrien Hamilton DE/ILB Prairie View A&M 6-2 255 4.84 http://www.fanaticalfootballfiend.com/3/category/hamilton%20adrianca1796c365/1.html
Here is what the roster would look like
QB – Ponder, Webb, Rosenfels, Thomas*
RB – Peterson, Gerhart, Todman, King, Thomas*
FB – D’Imperio, Rodriguez, Smelley*
TE – Rudolph, Carlson, Schuler*, Reisner*
WR – Harvin, Jenkins, Robinson, Jeffery, Fuller, Burton, Wylie, Arceneaux*
C – Sullivan, Fusco
G – Johnson, Berger, Zeitler, DeGeare*
T – Gaither, Loadholt, Love, Brown, Potter, Carmon*
P – Kluwe
LS – Loeffler
K – Longwell, Potter*
DE – Allen, Robison, Griffen, Ballard, Hamilton*
DT – Williams, Bunkley, Brockers, Ayodele, Hamilton, Anunoby*
OLB - Greenway, Lawson, Robinson, Davis*
MLB – Connor, Brinkley, Dean, Cole
CB – Cook, Winfield, Gilmore, Allen, Sherels, Burton, Marrow*
FS – Raymond, Taylor, Jackson
SS – Branch, Sanford, Dye*
I still have not quit my day job. :)