With the up coming off season looming just around the corner a lot of Minnesota Viking fans a very interested and even more optimistic about Minnesota's future. With a once promising year for Minnesota that quickly slipped away, many have seem the promise of this team as it finally turned it on a cpl of weeks too late. Everyone has their own perspective of the state of the franchise's talent and potential, are some reasoning the shortcomings of a team that to many are much more talented than they have performed this season. Just how talented the core of this team is has yet to be determined, as the two most important leadership roles of the team for the past several years have been lacking in the coaching staff as well as the quarter back position. Though, in spite of the deficiencies of the leadership roles of the team; the core players of the team, largely assembled by Rick Spielman, has done rather well given their circumstances. But everyone wants more, much more and with the right additions to the franchise this off season Minnesota could be a play off team once again as soon as next season. To do that the Vikings will need the best off season they have had in a long time, and with their recent drafting track record there is the likelihood that they once again do very well, but they also must acquire one hell of an upgrade to the coaching staff, do very well in the free agency period and in doing so also resign the right players on their own team and let walk the individuals it is time to move on from.
Minnesota has their hands full with their own free agents, and it is likely many of the decision will not be made until the coaching situation has been sorted out. Who the Wilfs and Spielman can acquire is anyone's guess right now, but most are really hoping that the organization doesn't just settle on another head coach. They must do their due diligence in finding the right guy and the best guy for the job and once deciding who that man will be, aggressively go after him and bring him to Minnesota. There are several names swirling around, names like Mike Zimmer, John or even Jay Gruden, Mr. O'Brian from Penn State. My preference would be something along the lines of a combination of Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner as offensive coordinator or even John Gruden with one hell of defensive coordinator. Though, all fans of the Vikings will have to just have faith in the franchise to pic up the best head coach for our favorite team
It has been nice to see several younger guys stepping up especially since there are likely going to be a few veterans leaving a significant void on the team. Many would like to see Jared Allen and Kevin Williams return, but on a reduce pay rate. That is something I seriously doubt they and more specifically Allen will not be willing to do and there will likely be more than one other team that will be offering more money than the Vikings will if they do at all. I still am holding out hope that Williams returns at a reduced price and also with reduced playing time to lend his expertise to the younger players. No one for the longest time wanted John Carlson back, but while Rudolph has been down he did step up his game significantly till he also went down with injuries. So, he is also a possibility for a return at a very reduced pay rate. Though with guys like Chase Ford, Rhett Elliot and Zack Line in waiting he and even Jerome Felton might not be back. Jerome Simpson is a guy I wouldn't mind seeing back, but wouldn't count on him or Joe Webb, who I have always rooted for. Another big name I would like to see back, but very likely isn't is Toby Gerhart. Charlie Johnson is guy that will not be back and the team is long overdue in upgrading his position. Minnesota has been unable to work out a deal with Everson Griffen, but seriously doubtthey let him test the market before finally wrapping him up in a long tern deal. Chris Cook has been a big disappointment again this year. Though, I don't see him getting a big contract from another team and Minnesota might be wise to sign him on the cheap even if he is relegated to back up duties as we've seen year after year; you can never have enough corners, and the Vikings never have enough and as much criticism as Cook gets; he is clearly better than most of the corners that have been on the team for the past several years. So, those who want him out should really think about that, as he can be signed cheap and the only corner that is clearly better than him is Rhodes. And if Robinson does much better next year under different coaches at his more natural position playing the nickle and Minnesota is fortunate enough find another talented corner in the draft to play opposite of Rhodes: Cook would be one hell of a back up and as there are injuries to our corners every year it is always good to have solid depth as they say you can never have enough corners
When the draft approaches Minnesota must be smart about drafting a quarter back. Matt Cassel will be signed to an extension and is a good mentor for a young quarterback to learn under. It is unclear whether Ponder will be back, but would keep him until he is beat out of the third string position, as the Vikings will likely draft a QB early as well as picking up an undrafted free agent or two as well. Minnesota is likely to end up picking around eighth, and I would like to see them trade back closer toward the middle of the first round while acquiring an additional second round pick. If so, there will likely be a defensive player that has slipped and to good not to draft. That player could very well be OLB Kalil Mack. With their next pick it wouldn't be completely unthinkable that Johnny Manziel drops because of not only maturity issues, but simply because of of his height, as he is very short to be an NFL QB. He does have the "it" factor, but drafting him might be the biggest crapshoot of the entire draft, and if he was there for the taking in the early part of the second; I think Minnesota would have to take him as the value would be too great and if he falters; it would have been a second rounder and not a first. Though, if Minnesota does a fantastic job in finding the right coach, while also having stability at the QB position with Matt Cassel who Manziel can learn a lot from whether it take a half a season, a whole season, or even two; Minnesota would be sitting in a very good situation. With their second 2nd round pick I would like to see them draft OG Zack Martin. Moving onto their two thrird round picks; I think Spielman and company will be again looking for prospects who have not been drafted as early as they were expected to. CB Kyle Fuller and DT DaQuon Jones both could still be around and at least one of them with Minnesota's first third rounder & if the othe is gone by late in the third; Minnesota might look to CB Victor Hampton or DE Josh Mauro. Other prospects that would be well worth a look as the draft goes on are LB AJ Johnson and DT Daniel McCullers, both from Tennesse and Yarwin Smallwood another LB out of Connecticut, as well as CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska. I think if the Vikings draft a RB; it will be in the last round or two of the draft if the value is there as they will likely be taking the best available remaining.
I don't think they spend much time in free agency outside of their own players they want back. Though, it would be more than welcomed by the fanbase to see acquisitions like Buffalo's safety Byrd to go alongside Minnesota's Smith. There is still hope for Greg Childs to make his eventual debut to an already strong receiver group, as many expect at least one addition to the WRs, but the Vikings will probably sit tight with what they have unless someone falls in their lap. It's a little early, but with the Vikings likely to continue to finish the lost season strong, I think it is going to be one of the best off seasons Minnesota has ever had, and finally put this great franchise on its rightful path to a long overdue championship.