WHAT HAS VIKINGS MOVING IN RIGHT DIRECTION
1. Special Teams: Drafting kicker Blair Walsh killed more than two birds with one 6th round draft pick. He is a long term answer for reliable FG's and PATs with an offense that sometimes doesn't have the firepower through the air to get it in the end zone a lot of the time. (And as we all saw he boots it from 50+ no problem every time).
Field position: That was a huge stat that helped out the defense tremendously this past season. Walsh kicked more touchbacks last year than I have maybe ever seen in Minnesota. That also reduces not only chances of returns for TDs, but injuries as well.
2. Passing Defense: Getting A. Winfield and C. Cook back was a somewhat overlooked part of what improved Minnesota's defense. This coming year will likely be Winfield's last, but his mentoring this past year and the next to young, up and coming DBs is one of the most valuable contributions to he entire defense.
Acquiring young talented DBs: Harrison Smith, IMO is #1 on this list. I am a homer, but I don't know if I saw another safety I would rather have on the Vikings' roster than Smith. He should and IMO already is an All Pro. Josh Robinson did overall fairly well. Look for him to take big steps next year. Jefferson has got to do something with the talent he has; I expect him to be back next year and by years end, we will know what we have with him and Blanton.
3. Offensive Line: Plugging Kalil in with Sullivan doing great at center and Loadholt at least mauling in run blocking was a huge upgrade from 2011.
WHAT IMPROVEMENTS AND CHANGES WILL BE MADE
1. Coaching Staff: Minnesota's FO isn't exactly going to let out much information here. I know some of the assistant coaches will be switched out. I think DC Allen Williams will return and Singletary will be out. If our DL and LB coaches remain, I think it would be for the best. I hope we get to retain out ST coach too, but it doesn't look like it right now. The million dollar question is, "Will Musgrave remain as the OC in Minnesota?"
2. Free Agents: Definitely should focus on in house FAs and guys coming up on their last year of their contract(Harvin). I think the top priorities should be Harvin, Felton, Loadholt, Griffen as far as resigning or extensions. Guys like K Williams and J Allen, I think they will renegotiate for a cheaper price. Guys on the cheap that we need for depth are Sanford, Brinkley, Henderson, Simpson, Swartz and Jenkins. I don't expect all of them to be back, but most of them. I think Simpson and Jenkins will be there in training camp and one of them(Simpson) after the last round of cuts.
We need upgrades, but I don't think we should cut anyone until someone better is put in place. Ponder will need a couple WRs he already has chemistry with as well.
If we can get a decent guard and linebacker out of free agency i will be happy. As far as Carlson, we will probably just have to cut our losses unless there is some kind of miraculous turn around, but I don't see that happening.
TRADES AND THE DRAFT
Speilman might do a little wheeling and dealing with Gerhart, Webb, Robison and I expect a surprise name or two. I hope not Allen or Williams, but those two names keep coming up in different circles.
If any draft picks are acquired, I don't see any being higher than a fourth round pick. I don't see us just standing still on draft day though. I look for us to come out of the draft with at least one, but hopefully two WRs to add to the roster and one of them be plugged in immediately. I think depending on if or who we pick up in free agency, we will walk out with a solid DT, LB and a CB or two to go along with the added depth at the WR position to contribute to solidifying and bolstering an already good team.