Hi gang, how has your weekend been? Here in the Gateway of the West, daughter the eldest is getting ready to move overseas, but her and her mom are out right now doing mom and daughter stuff, so I have a little down time. There's a lot of stuff going on with our Vikes, so we'll use this as kind of a Sunday Brunch roundup, and we'll keep it as our open thread for the two playoff games today. Let's get the real live football stuff out of the way: At noon CST, Atlanta heads to the Meadowlands to play the Giants, and the afternoon game has Pittsburgh going to Denver to play the Broncos. Give me the Falcons and Steelers. What say you, commentariat?
Now, on to the Vikes stuff:
Yesterday Chris told us about the Hall of Fame finalists, two of which are Vikings, Chris Doleman and Cris Carter. I doubt both of them will get in, but the fact that Cris Carter isn't in already is criminal. When you look at the list of finalists, you have to like CC's chances, as well as Doleman's. That said, I'll be pleasantly stunned if they both get in. I'll be doubly stunned if nether of them make it.
Fearless Leader also had a little ditty about the Colts taking Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, turning up the value of the second and third pick even more in supposed trade jockeying for Robert Griffin III. And while I agree with that, I want you to keep an eye on Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon and how much his stock will rise as draft day approaches. Blackmon is a junior who has declared for the draft, and has been described by Hall of Fame and former Viking QB Warren Moon as 'Dez Bryant with all his brain cells'. He had a great Fiesta Bowl, and people are already talking him up big. As an idea what a guy like Blackmon could draw in a trade, let's look at last year's draft. Julio Jones was the most sought after WR, and in exchange for moving up to the number four spot, Atlanta gave the Cleveland Browns five draft picks: their 1st- (27th overall), second- (59th) and fourth-round (124th) picks this year and their first- and fourth-round picks in 2012. So add a year and move up a spot, you would think that's the floor for what the Vikings could command at #3.
Should the Vikings draft Blackmon? I know a lot of people will advocate that, and normally, I think you could talk me into it. This year, though, I think the Vikings can find a good, proven WR in free agency, and they need to focus on the offensive and defensive lines in the draft, at least early on. The chances of finding a great tackle in free agency are almost nil, as teams lock those guys up early and often.
Folks, the Vikings have a golden opportunity here. Assuming Luck goes 1, two of the following three will be on the board when the Vikes are on the clock: Matt Kalil, Robert Griffin III, and Justin Blackmon. With the new rookie wage scale, teams are no longer reluctant to trade into the top 5 to get a guy they think they need. If the Rams pass on Kalil, I think the Vikes need to grab him and not look back. If the Rams take him, I say trade down to the highest bidder for a longboatload of picks, take a guy like OSU's OT Mike Adams later in the first round, and reap the bounty that somebody like Atlanta will give us.
After the jump, we'll talk stadium, Pat Reusse, and what exactly a futures contract is.
The Strib is reporting that the Arden Hills site isn't going to work, and that the Vikes need to focus on Minneapolis. Personally, I think the Minneapolis Mafia will win this. And by 'mafia', I mean 'various political figures who probably didn't kill 5 hookers at SMU like Craig James might have done'. They have too much political clout to not get their way, truth be told. When Wilf announced the Arden Hills plan, the St. Paul mayor didn't get on board and they threw their collective hissy fit, I figured one of two things would happen: Either the Vikes would move, or would end up in Minneapolis. I still think Arden Hills is better, but if a Minneapolis deal is the only thing that keeps them in Minnesota, I'll take it.
Is Rick Spielman trying to justify his promotion to GM after 9 wins in two seasons as the defacto personnel roster guy? The cynic would say yes. The optimist would say that we have a good one in Christian Ponder. According to The Godfather, Spielman told him Ponder was the 'best QB in the NFL' in red zone efficiency. I like Ponder and think he'll be the long term answer. Hey, I like Joe Webb, too. But the fact of the matter is stats don't mean beans for either of these guys unless they get some weapons and protection.
Hey, it's the least the NFL could do, right? The Vikings will be one of two coaching staffs that will coach the Senior Bowl, a game where college seniors are invited to play in what amounts to an All Star game and showcase their wares for NFL teams. Mike Shanahan and the Redskins staff will be the opposing coaches. The Vikes really got hurt last year with no off season program, so this will give them a little bit of an advanced scouting advantage. Let's hope they can make the most of this opportunity and find some gems in the draft.
The Old Curmudgeon, Patrick Reusse, thinks the Vikes (and Twins) are delusional. Reusse is right to an extent, at least in the Vikings case. I get that the Wilfs are being purposely optimistic--to promote season ticket sales, get the stadium across the finish line and so forth; they have to publicly be upbeat. But when he also reports that GM Rick Spielman feels the need to overhaul the roster to the tune of 30-35 new players next year (which I agree with, by the way) maybe the Wilfs need to temper the unabashed enthusiasm.
A lot of agents have been busy Tweeting about their clients signing “futures contracts.” They are called futures contracts because they technically are premised on future performance, as the NFL season does not officially begin until March. The only players who are eligible to sign this type of contract are those who were not on their teams’ active rosters at the conclusion of this past season.
Asiata, if you'll recall, was signed by the Vikes as an undrafted free agent and made it until the final cutdown. He spent a week or two on the practice squad before he was released.
That's all for now. Feel free to comment on any of these stories, the playoff games, or anything else.