UPDATE: Changes in draft and free agency. Additional changes to 53 man roster as well as positional overview.
Time to talk offseason. From February to August, the Vikings’ priorities include paying Percy, signing our own free agents, like Loadholt and Felton, as well as bringing in some cheap, younger, new guys. The Vikings will continue to build through the draft and will stick with Christian Ponder. To help him out, the Vikings most glaring need is at the receiver position. Obviously Percy is a priority, but look for the Vikings to bring in young talent through the draft or free agency as well. On defense, work still must be done in the secondary, but in the front seven, the Vikings have some upgrading to do at defensive tackle and middle linebacker.
Key Veteran Priorities- AKA: Pay Percy
Sign Percy Harvin to long term deal, reconstruct contracts for Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, and John Carlson; retain all of them.
In house free agents
FB Jerome Felton -Sign
WR Devin Aromashodu -Walk
WR Jerome Simpson -Sign
OT Phil Loadholt -Sign
OL Joe Berger -Sign
OG Geoff Schwartz -Walk
LB Jasper Brinkley -Walk
LB Erin Henderson -Sign
LB Marvin Mitchell -Walk
S Jamarca Sanford -Sign
OL Troy Kropog -Walk
CB AJ Jefferson -Sign
CB Marcus Sherels -Walk
S Andrew Sendejo -Walk
Release from roster
Michael Jenkins, Charlie Johnson, Chris Kluwe, Letroy Guion
Outside Free Agents
Sign Johnathan Casillas OLB, New Orleans
Sign Brian Hoyer QB, Arizona
NFL Draft Day 1 -WR? DT? OR ILB?
1. Johnathan Hankins DT, OhioState
Hankins had a very impressive year for Ohio State. Totaling 55 tackles, four for a loss, and a sack. Double teams won’t stop him. Hankins is able to stuff the run and dismantle the passing game. Being a disruptive pass rusher is important, but the Vikings surprisingly struggled against the run at times this season and by drafting Hankins, the Vikings will have yet another excellent run defender for years to come.
Draft Day 2- Patching Up Receiving Corps
2. Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
The Vikings add Hunter, a tall deep threat. A receiver every Vikings fan wish they had this season. Hunter was criticized this year but dealt with injury and was still productive picking up over 1,000 yards. He’s an impressive prospect and expected to start.
3. Larry Warford G, Kansas State
Warford is a talented guard and had a superb year on the offensive line for a struggling Kentucky team. He’s shown the ability to protect in the passing game and create holes for the running game. Kalil solidified the Viking’s offensive line in 2012, but adding Warford would eliminate the weakest link at left guard. If Warford starts and plays like he did in Kentucky, Minnesota will have among the best young offensive lines in the league.
Draft Day 3
4. Kiko Alonso ILB, Oregon
4. Johnathan Cyprien S, Florida International
5. Micah Hyde CB, Iowa
6. Joe Kruger DE, Utah
7. Quinn Sharp P, Oklahoma State
7. Michael Clay OLB, Oregon
Summer 2013, Preseason, and Final 53
So, with free agency and the draft over, the main part of the offseason is concluded. Heading into Summer 2013. Along with final cuts, your Minnesota Vikings 53-man preseason and regular season roster is. . .
Final Cuts: Bethel-Thompson, Williams, Raymond, Larry Deen
Ponder, Hoyer, Webb
Do I think Christian Ponder is the future? Yes. Could I change my mind after next season? Yes. As of now, Christian Ponder is our starting quarterback and is planned to be our franchise quarterback. It takes a few years for some franchise quarterbacks to get going. Not all quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck or RG3 get going early. Drew Brees is a great example of that. Christian Ponder is officially the starting quarterback (no matter what) and will not compete with Hoyer and Webb, but they will push him and Hoyer is a much needed veteran quarterback that can mentor Ponder. Hoyer also played as a backup in the Patriots system for years and had success as a backup to some extent. Against Green Bay, Webb had an off game after not throwing a pass all season and he has trade value, but ultimately the Vikings will retain him, but will most likely lose his backup spot to Hoyer. And people claiming that "I hate Webb" just because I thought he had trade value need to think that I've supported Webb every minute he's been on the team. I love Joe Webb.
Peterson, Gerhart, Asiata
MVPeterson and Gerhart are one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. I think Gerhart is underrated, but then again, when you have Adrian Peterson for a starter, what can you expect? The Gerhart trade rumors were started by Vikings fans on Bleacher Report. It won't happen. Gerhart is a great football player. If you watch every snap he's had in 2012, you'd see he comes through for the offense and makes plays. Nothing is wrong with a backup that can make plays.
Harvin, Burton, Wright, Hunter, Simpson, Childs
This unit was perhaps the weakest on the roster last year. Percy Harvin must be signed to a long term deal or the Vikings will have their hands full this offseason. Wright, rookie from Arkansas, was a good backup to Harvin and looks like a similar player. He made plays here and there and looks to be a contributor. Childs, also from Arkansas, didn't see any playing time, due to injury. The medical staff for the Vikings is the best in the league and I'm positive Childs will come back and make an impact. He is a big, young, and talented receiver with a ton of upside and also considered a steal in the draft. Don't count him out. Another receiver new to the Vikings was Jerome Simpson. Simpson deserves another year. Although he didn't live up to expectations, he battled a back injury all season from the game vs.Tennessee, yet he still made plays. He's a dynamic player, and we had seen that in the preseason, so I'd hate to see him succeed elsewhere because of an injury.
Felton had a breakout season for the Vikings. Ellison also played solid at fullback, but Felton is the starter hands down. Adrian Peterson never liked running behind a fullback, but this season, things changed and Felton stepped up and paved the way for Peterson's incredible MVP season.
Rudolph, Carlson, Ellison, Reisner
Kyle Rudolph is a phenomenal player. John Carlson is overlooked and underrated. Carlson didn't have a great season. That is true. However, he was only targeted 13-14 times. You cannot judge a player after 14 targets. Its like judging a quarterback after 14 throws. The reason for being targeted so little is because the Vikings originally thought they would be running two tight end sets in the beginning, but as the offense evolved over the course of the season to Adrian Peterson all day, the passing game became less relevant and the two tight end sets were seen much less. Carlson is a tall, young player and still has room for improvement, but deserves another chance. In addition, if Carlson was cut, the Vikings would lose money. Giving up on a player like Carlson now is not a rational decision.
RG: Fusco, Foltz
C: Sullivan, Berger
LG: Warford, Asper
Kalil played excellent this year, only allowing one sack up until week 17. It looks like that pick was a good one. He has solidified the offensive line. At right tackle, Phil Loadholt dominated in the running game, but struggled in pass blocking. Overall Loadholt is a good football player and a huge body on the line, so he is a must sign this offseason. John Sullivan was definitely a pro bowl snub after having a great breakout season. It seems as though Johnson and Fusco were the weakest links at both guard spots. I think Speilman's will upgrade Johnson with Warford in the draft after a few horrendous seasons, but will keep Fusco for continuity, which seems to be his philosophy on developing a quality offensive line.
And the Defense would look like this. . .
DE: Allen, Griffen
DE: Robison, Kruger
DT: Williams, Ballard
DT: Hankins, Evans
The defensive line didn’t look as dominant as they once were and that is why Hankins would be the first round pick. Allen is one of the best ends in the league, while Robison has definitely proved to be a good starter. Griffen made many great plays and appeared to be breaking out and looks like he has a great future. Despite age and a decline in his play, Speilman says Williams is here to stay, which is fine because he’s still capable of playing the position well.
OLB: Henderson, Clay
ILB: Alonso, Cole, Mckenzie
OLB: Greenway, Cassilas
Chad Greenway had a great season this year. While Brinkley and Henderson had less than stellar seasons, they didn’t play poorly by any means. Brinkley will most likely be let go and upgraded in the draft. Henderson, an average starter, will probably be retained, but Michael Clay from Oregon will challenge him and possibly play over him on specific plays, due to Henderson’s struggle in pass coverage. Because Brinkley is out, Kiko Alonso, also from Oregon, will be put into a starting role, despite being a mid round pick. Although its a fourth round pick, it is a very early pick (from Detroit) in the fourth round. Alonso is considered by many to be third round talent but could very easily drop to Minnesota in the early fourth round. Alonso has what it takes to be a quality starter, but I’m still not too keen on a rookie fourth round pick starting at ILB.
Winfield, Robinson, Burton, Cook, Hyde, AJ Jefferson
The cornerback play improved this past year mainly due to Winfield and Cook being back on the field, although Cook was put on injured reserve, he was an excellent starter while he did play, especially against Calvin Johnson. The secondary really impressed me early on when Cook was here. Winfield is a veteran. He’s older, but the defense could use some veteran leadership and Winfield showed he can still play. For Cook, its a matter of staying on the field and staying healthy. Robinson has extreme speed and played well early on the season. Jefferson and Burton weren’t good, but not terrible. They are reliable backups and Hyde should be too. Depth is an issue at CB this offseason and bringing in Hyde would fill the much needed depth.
FS: Smith, Sanford
SS: Cyprien, Blanton
Speilman’s brilliant pick for Harrison Smith has improved the secondary and Smith is on the right track to be a pro bowl level FS. Strong safety needs to be addressed and name thats gaining more attention since the Senior Bowl is Johnathan Cyprien. Cyprien had four interceptions this year and impressed scouts at the senior bowl with his passing coverage and hard-hitting ability to stop the run game.
And Special Teams. . .
Quinn Sharp is one of the better college football punters in the draft this year after averaging a little over 46 yards a punt. If his game translates to the NFL and Mike Prefier works his "Blair Walsh Project" magic on him, Sharp would make Vikings fans forget about Kluwe, who is 31 and struggled at times this year. Harvin will still return kicks and Robinson, with his speed, will replace Sherels returning punts.