With the big news (rumor?) that the Vikings are looking to trade Percy Harvin, I thought I would update my off-season plan with this trade in place. It also just happens to coincide with a lot of free agency/draft research I’ve been doing lately as well. So, now is as good of a time as any for a new off-season plan. My thoughts on team needs have not really changed at all: WR and LB top the list, with WR as the team’s biggest and most pressing need with a potential trade of Harvin, but with DT and CB a close third and fourth. I would add OG, QB, S and TE to the list as positions to improve depth as well.
Obviously, we’ll have to address free agents before the draft and how successful or not we can be at attracting talent at the right price will surely impact what we do on draft day. I’ll start with our own free agents:
In-House Free Agents
T Phil Loadholt: Peterson wants him back, and that’s enough for me.
FB Jerome Felton: It may end up being too much money for a blocking FB, but I agree with Spielman, this is a no-brainer move. The guy helped clear the way for Peterson’s 2K season, and made the Pro Bowl as a result. I’d like to see him in Purple for a while longer.
OLB Erin Henderson: We’re kind of stuck at LB, and there aren’t a lot of better options in free agency. I think he sticks with the Vikings for a few more years out of necessity, but we’ll look to upgrade this position down the line.
Also Resign Cheap: Jerome Simpson, Jamarca Sanford, AJ Jefferson, Marvin Mitchell, and Troy Kropog. There is nothing flashy here, but they provide specific skills and depth for cheap, plus they know the team and the scheme.
Outside Free Agents
With us trading Harvin for draft picks, I now see us potentially signing a big-name free agent WR this off-season. My gut is telling me that a trade of Harvin makes Greg Jennings pretty much a lock to be a Viking, even though I personally would rather see us sign a guy like Dwayne Bowe. So, here are the outside free agent signings:
WR Greg Jennings: Yes he’s 30, but a 4-year $30 Million deal that is end-weighted could be enough to get the job done, and it’s slightly more than he got last year. Jennings is a versatile receiver, capable of lining up on the outside or in the slot and has several more years of production left. He’s a prototypical injury-plagued signing that Spielman seems to love, and he’s a Packer. Can we just assume that Jennings will be a Viking and move on?
RB Reggie Bush: Kyle put up an excellent piece about how Bush could fulfill a role as a 3rd down back and backup Peterson at the same time. And with us trading Harvin in this plan, we need another dynamic pass catcher out of the backfield. Bush could be that guy. And, spoiler alert, I’m trading Toby Gerhart in this plan too.
QB Matt Moore: He has a lot of experience both as a starter and as a backup, and could be a great insurance option for us should Ponder get injured again. He should come pretty cheap, and at age 29 will still have several productive years ahead of him.
Other Pre-Draft Moves
Cuts: Michael Jenkins
Trade #1: Percy Harvin to the New England Patriots for 2013 2nd rounder (#59 overall) and 2014 4th rounder. The Patriots don’t have many picks to trade away this year (only 5 total picks in this year’s draft!), so it will be a tough sell. But Belichek has publicly praised Harvin in the past, and they likely won’t offer a contract to free agent slot phenom Wes Welker. There could be many possible destinations for Harvin, but we’ll roll with this one for this mock.
Trade #2: Toby Gerhart to the Atlanta Falcons for their 3rd rounder (#94). The Falcons are likely moving on from Michael Turner in 2013 and beyond, and they are definitely in the market for a bruising RB that can shoulder the load. Gerhart would be a great fit for them.
Ok, and now, onto the draft. With the recent news that we in fact have 9 draft picks this year instead of 8, IMO that changes things dramatically, and now with the Harvin and Gerhart trades we’ll have 11 picks in this mock. We have a lot of room to move up and down the draft board should we need it.
Mock Draft v2.0
Round 1, Pick #23: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
I would anticipate that Alec Ogletree will go in the top 10, and then one of either Minter or Te’o should be there for us to grab. Either one would be a day 1 starter and huge upgrade over Jasper Brinkley, but I’m going with Minter here over character concerns with Te’o.
DRAFT DAY TRADE: We trade our #54 second round pick and our extra #94 3rd round pick (from Atlanta) to Arizona to move up to #39.
Round 2, Pick #39 (from Arizona): WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
I’m sold on this guy. He was productive with RGIII 2 years ago on a pass heavy offense, and he was even more productive last year with both RGIII and Kendall Wright gone. He lead the NCAA in receiving yards last year, and has the prototypical size and speed to be a dominant WR on the outside. There’s a chance he’s a 1st round pick, but in this mock, we move up to get him early in the 2nd round.
Round 2, Pick #59 (from New England): DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State
This guy is a HUGE DT that will command space and double-teams in the run defense. He should be a great run-plugger to shore up the middle of our defense and start for us immediately. Williams Wall 2.0?
Round 3, Pick #85: CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State
Slay is a tall and fast CB that produced for the Bulldogs as a playmaker in 2012 with 5 interceptions and 38 tackles in 12 games. At 6’1" and 199 lbs, he would make for a decent book-end option opposite Chris Cook.
Round 4, Pick #119: FS DJ Swearinger, South Carolina
I don’t know much about this prospect, but CBS Sports Rob Rang says this about him: "…he's a very physical defender who showed greater open-field tackling skills and dependability in coverage as the year wore on. At this point he looks like a mid-round selection. Considering his versatility and toughness, however, he could be on the verge of a strong jump up the board this season."
Round 5, Pick #150: WR Aaron Mellete, Elon
He’s been getting a lot of press after a great Senior Bowl, and if he has an even better combine, he might climb some draft boards. But this small school prospect is a prototypical mid-round selection with upside. His size and speed combination and good hands are attractive.
Round 6, Pick #181: OLB Eitienne Sabino, Ohio State
There’s a chance that this guy is drafted earlier than the 6th round, but I’m going with the CBS projection on this one as a "5th/6th" round pick. He’s got a connection to Rick Spielman, as Spielman’s late father "Sonny" helped coach him in high school. He also broke his fibula last year after playing in only 8 games, but up to that point was having a promising career notching 107 tackles and 4 sacks in 20 games.
Round 7, Pick #199 (from Arizona): TE Zach Sudfield, Nevada
He’s got almost identical size to Kyle Rudolph, and had a very good senior season catching 45 balls for 598 yards and 8 TDs. The downside is that he battled injuries during a 6-year college career that included 6 surgeries and a missed 2008 season. Perhaps the injuries are behind him, but a 7th round flier on a guy with incredible athleticism and size/strength combo would be too good to pass up.
Round 7, Pick #215: OG Blaize Foltz, TCU
Here is the prototypical late round pick: risk with high reward. Foltz torn his ACL back in 2010, and has been working to get back to form. He’s a weight room freak with incredible strength. He’s got prototypical size for an NFL guard at 6’3" and 329 lbs, and could be a great depth addition to our already strong O-Line.
So, taking all those off-season moves into consideration, here is the Projected Roster with all these moves:
Day 1 Roster
QB: Ponder – Moore – Webb/MBT
RB: Peterson – Bush – Asiata
WR: Jennings – Williams – Wright – Simpson – Childs/Mellette
TE: Rudolph – Carlson – Ellison – Sudfield
OL: Kalil – Johnson – Sullivan – Fusco – Loadholt – Kropog – Schwartz – Love – Foltz
DE: Allen – Robison – Griffen – Reed
DT: Williams – Williams – Ballard – Guion/Evans
LB: Greenway – Minter – Henderson – McKenzie – Cole – Mitchell – Dean/Sabino
CB: Cook – Winfield – Robinson – Slay – Jefferson – Burton
S: Smith – Sanford – Raymond – Blanton/Swearinger