With all the talk about the offseason, who the Vikings should draft, and who the Vikings should (or shouldn't) pick up in Free Agency among these fanposts, I felt it appropriate to write a column about what I feel is the most Likely scenario. Bear with this and think about for a second. I'm not doing a Mock Draft, and I'm not going to try to crunch numbers (too much) over the course of this. This is (in my humble opinion) the most LOGICAL course of action for the Vikings over this offseason.
The whole offseason plan is going to revolve around making Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense as successful as possible. The reasons why are pretty simple.
1. As the 12th Pick of the 2011 Draft, Christian Ponder was a reach. He was a 2nd round projected player (around the 12th pick of the second round at that) and many people wondered what the heck the Vikings Front Office was PONDERing ( i couldn't resist). With that in mind, I believe that Fraiser and Speilman's fate is directly tied to Ponder's success (or failure). Basically, if Ponder does end up riding the bench in the next couple seasons, Speilman and Fraiser may end up unemployed. This is all only speculation on my part, but it makes perfect sense.
2. I do know that a sub .500 performance from this team next season could spell trouble for those guys after all the high hopes and success of this past season. 7-9 may be acceptable, but if Ponder is riding the bench by the end of the season the Vikings record will surely be worse than that. Immediate success is now the name of the game for the Vikings. Remember, Childress led the team to a 12-4 record and a turnover away from a Super Bowl birth in 2009 and he couldn't even finish the 2010 season with a job. Major regression is not an option.
With all that said, it's time to get to the logical path. The Vikings will be focusing on getting the pieces the need to make the offense work the way they desire up front. The biggest need is going to be a couple WR's. The hot names out there are Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe. But theres also 2 guys I think the Vikings should be more interested in, Brian Hartline and Danny Amendola. Pending these guys making it to the open market (they very well may not), they provide some great players who are relatively obscure due to their time with 2 bad teams. They both are not true number 1 WR's but both are good, and both will come at a far lesser cost than a guy like Bowe. The Vikings could possibly nab both for less than any of the 3 hot FA WR's above. MN could also look to trade to get some guys, but I don't see that being as feasible, unless a team is willing to trade a proven veteran guy for Gerhart or Robison (the only 2 guys I see the vikings feasibly trading, they wont resign either of them after this season and may want to get some value for one or both). The Vikings could also draft some WR's, which they will, but not with the top picks (more on that later). They will be looking lower for guys who are going to be special teamers and number 4 and 5 WR's. I dont see them trying to pick a WR with the top 2 rounds or so. There is very little value at that position in this draft. The guys in this draft are generally considered so close together that you will find 1st round WR picks in fantasy draft, and see those same guys in the 2nd or 3rd round of another draft. There are good players out there but none come with as much value as some of the defensive players. The Vikings are better suited this year to get guys Via Free Agency than the draft for the Value involved
That brings us to the defense. There are not a lot of guys out there in Free Agency this year that would provide an upgrade on any part of our defensive unit, at least not any who are young enough to justify taking a big chunk of cap space to get. The Vikings Defense is young, but has some old guys in key positions. This defense needs to get younger. Fraiser is a defensive guy and his overall focus is going to be on this unit. Winfield may very well be Putting Purple (and probably pads) on for the last season ever. KWill is in the twilight years as well and both of our Defensive Ends are now over 30. In the next 5 years there will be a complete overhaul of the D-Line and this is the year to start it. We use the 23rd pick to acquire a D Tackle, and bring youth to the line where we need it most. It makes sense to even trade up into the teens to pick up a guy if they have their sights set on somebody who wont be there at 23. I also see some later picks to get a protege for Winfield.
It may or may not make a lot of sense at this point, but the more I have thought about it the more I think that The offensive value this offseason is in free agency and the defensive value is in the draft. This is a logical course of action for the Vikings but only speculation.