Hi kids. Apologies for the partial non-intentional hiatus, but with the end of the season, I really haven't been too motivated to write anything. It's not that I was bummed out with the playoff loss and went into some kind of deep, dark depression or anything like that.
On the contrary, I was actually pretty happy with the way the season played out. It was one of the more entertaining seasons in team history, and one I'll look back fondly on as the weeks turn into months, which will turn into years.
But as satisfying as 2012 was, the Vikings still have some hurdles to leap to get back to perpetual contender status, and the 2013 draft will be an important part of that process. We saw a lot of growth in young players, and some great years from veterans, but there's going to be some more roster turnover, and how that will be managed will be vitally important.
I thought it would be good to take a look at the current roster, who's coming back, who I think won't be back, and what the priority will be for addressing that position in the draft and in free agency.
On the roster: Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Macleod Bethel-Thompson
If this guy come back I'll impale myself with a gjallahorn: Not sure
Off season priority: Low
So help me people, if this thread turns into another Ponder v. Webb epoch, I'm burning down the Internet and taking all of you with me. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. It's pretty obvious the Vikings will go with Ponder long term (AND THEY SHOULD, FERGODSAKES), whether you like it or not, but to say that there isn't a need to be addressed would be wrong, too. Joe Webb proved incapable of running the offense the Vikings want to run, and MBT wasn't ready for primetime, so the Vikings will need to do one of two things: hope that Webb improves to the point that he can complete what analysts in the industry like to call ‘the forward pass' and become an NFL quality backup, or bring on said quality backup and release or trade Webb or MBT.
I actually believe GM Rick Spielman when he says he likes Webb, so I think they try and improve his passing skills in the off-season and keep him on the roster.
On the roster: The Terminator, The Hulk (TOBYSMASHTOBYCRUSH), Jerome Felton (who we must create a good nickname for)
If this this guy comes back I'll impale myself with a gjallahorn: They're all coming back
Off Season Priority: Low. Like, really low. Like lower than Betty White needing birth control.
Do we need to even discuss the running back position? Adrian Peterson pretty much re-wrote the narrative for running backs returning from a hideous knee injury, Toby Gerhart is a solid backup, and Felton made the Pro Bowl as a fullback, thanks to his ability to destroy linebackers and defensive linemen at the point of attack. Depending on the situation and the other players that might be involved, you could talk me into trading Gerhart, because I think he's starting on maybe 10-15 teams in the NFL. But it would have to be for the right player or the right amount of picks that could address other needs right away. If not, I'm content to have what I consider one of the top backups in the league.
On the roster: Joe Berger, John Sullivan, Charlie Johnson, Brandon Fusco, Matt Kalil, Troy Kropog, Phil Loadholt, Geoff Schwartz, DeMarcus Love
If these guys come back I'll impale myself with a gjallahorn: No one, really
Off Season Priority: Medium Low
The transformation of the offensive line began with the drafting of Matt Kalil, but John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt also had very good seasons. If there was a weak spot, it was with Brandon Fusco, which was pointed out by Fearless Leader which was pointed out by Pro Football Focus earlier this week. Charlie Johnson was a serviceable guy at LG, and Geoff Schwartz was the main backup, and played well in relief...and better than Fusco, for the most part. Schwartz was signed to a one year deal, and the Vikings seem to favor Fusco, so if Schwartz gets an offer to start somewhere else, I don't see him returning. One guy that still intrigues me is DeMarcus Love, who was on the practice squad his rookie year and IR last year. I'd like to see what he can do, as he was a productive tackle in college.
But right now, today, the weak spot on the o-line is at the right guard position. The Vikings seem to have an answer, at least for a 2 or 3 year stretch, in Schwartz. But his veteran status seems to fly in the face of the philosophy of GM Rick Spielman, who wants to get younger and build through the draft. So I think we'll see Fusco in and Schwartz playing elsewhere.
On the roster: Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Greg Childs, Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Jarius Wright
If these guys come back I'll impale myself with a gjallahorn: Aromashodu, Burton, Simpson, maybe Jenkins
Priority: High. Real high. Like Cheech and Chong high.
I don't see the Vikings trading Percy Harvin this off-season, for a couple reasons. One, I think his off the field troubles between him and the team are fairly overblown, and two, look at who the Vikings have after him on the depth chart. You can make a strong case for him being the only returning receiver when training camp opens next year, other than Jarius Wright.
Michael Jenkins had good individual moments and big catches, but it's clear that he's not a consistent third down guy anymore, and his veteran experience doesn't overcome his lack of speed, and he can't consistently get open. Jerome Simpson made me long for Bernard Berrian, Devin Aromashodu made Troy Williamson look like an upgrade, and no one else besides Wright stood out. As promising as Wright was late in the year, I still don't know if he can be a consistent outside or deep presence, so the Vikings still need to get somebody.
I would prefer a veteran guy like Greg Jennings in free agency, but this is a position that will also need to be addressed in the draft. It would be great if Greg Childs could come back and be a significant contributor, but even if he can, they still need bring in two or three guys via the draft and free agency.
On the roster: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison
If this guy comes back I'll impale myself with a gjallahorn: Carlson, but he has too much guaranteed money coming to cut him. Gjallahorns at ten paces...
Priority: Medium, but there won't be any outside help coming in.
I write medium not because of Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, but because of John Carlson. When you look at the cost to the Vikings versus the return on investment, I recommend we nickname him ‘Government Program'. Seriously, if he doesn't come back to the Vikings next year, each one of his catches was worth over $1 million, and he's not that great of a blocker. The Vikings are going to need a lot more production out of that position, or pay a lot less money to it in out years.
Since the latter isn't an option right now, much like most government programs, Carlson will be forced on us, and said government (Spielman and Frazier) will extoll his virtues. Oh wait, he's already doing that. At least for one year.