With free agency mere hours away, and reports that the Vikings are going after Mike Wallace (and also attempted to trade a 7th round pick to Baltimore for Anquan Boldin, but were outbid by the 49ers), I think we’re in for quite a ride in our attempt to re-stock the roster with wide receivers. I went back and reviewed my 2.0 Off-season plan where I tried to trade Percy Harvin to the Patriots, and there are still a lot of things I like about that initial plan. So, I’ve done a last-minute update to that plan along with a new mock draft utilizing the most recent restructures, and tenders available.
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: The Bears may be targeting him too, which will drive up his price tag. I still wouldn’t pay him more than about $6-7 Million/year, but if the Bears want to pony up $8 Million/year or more, then more power to them. There are lots of tackles available via free agency or the draft. In this plan, we pay Loadholt $6.5 Million/year.
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. In this plan we pay him $2 Million/year.
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. We sign him for $4 Million/year.
CB AJ Jefferson: The Vikings have already tendered him, so he stays.
CB Marcus Sherels: The Vikings have already tendered him, so he stays as the primary return man.
Outside Free Agents
With us trading Harvin for draft picks, I now see us potentially signing a big-name free agent Wide Receiver. My gut is still telling me that a trade of Harvin makes Greg Jennings pretty much a lock to be a Viking. 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?
(alternate options: Donny Avery, Brandon Gibson)
QB Tyler Thigpen: A once upon a time Viking draft pick, he’s become a good veteran backup option. Even though the Vikings have toyed with him for years, this could finally be the year he signs with the Vikings for a while. He should be an upgrade over Webb/MBT, and brings with him starting experience and backup experience in a variety of systems.
Other Pre-Draft Moves
Trade #1: Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for 2013 1st rounder (#25 overall) and 7th rounder and a 2014 3rd rounder.
Ok, and now, onto the draft. With the Harvin trade, we now have 11 draft picks…including 2 first rounders. I’m using NFL.com’s prospect rankings and grades for this mock. This should be fun!
Round 1, Pick #23: WR Keenan Allen, California
Assuming that Allen has a good Pro Day and can dispel any doubts about his knee injury, he would make for one of the best selections for the Vikings in this spot. He has the makings of an NFL star, and has the size/speed combination that teams look for in an outside guy.
Round 1, Pick #25: DT Kawaan Short, Purdue
Short is a big dude, 6’3" and 315 pounds and has versatility. He played both the 3-tech and 1-tech spot on the D-Line at Purdue and had a strong combine. He would upgrade the interior of the D-line immediately.
Round 2, Pick #53: LB Kevin Minter, LSU
I think Arthur Brown will be the 1st ILB taken in the draft, but Manti Te’o and Alec Olgetree will also likely be taken ahead of Minter, despite their red flags. That could allow Minter to fall in our laps in the 2nd round. My fingers are crossed that we can land one of these four linebackers in this draft, and I hope Spielman is willing to move up in the 2nd round to ensure that we get one of these four backers if necessary.
Round 3, Pick #85: WR Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
Even though we’ve signed Jennings and drafted Allen in this plan, I agree with Cris Carter when he said the Vikings will need to draft three wide receivers since we traded away Harvin. This pick is about insurance, and he has an attractive size/speed combination. And hey, we’ve already got two other Arkansas receivers on the roster, why not a third?
Round 4, Pick #119: CB David Amerson, NC State
Amerson has an intriguing size/speed combination, and possesses the strength necessary to jam receivers at the line. He still needs work on his run support and agility, but as a mid-round developmental selection, we could do a lot worse.
Round 5, Pick #150: FS TJ McDonald, USC
He has prototypical NFL size/speed and comes from NFL bloodlines. He’s a big hitter and would pair very well with Harrison Smith as an imposing duo in the back-end of our defense. He still has some work to develop his coverage skills however, but should compete with Mistral Raymond and Robert Blanton and push for a starting role in training camp should the Vikings not resign Jamarca Sanford.
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): WR Keenan Davis, Iowa
Call it a homer pick, but the Vikings do like to draft a few Mid-Western guys to keep the local markets interested. Davis has NFL size, and solid production. He makes for a good late-round flier.
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.
Round 7, Pick ?? (from Seattle): TRADED FOR FUTURE 6th
Since we don’t know exactly what pick this is going to be, I’m going to just trade it away for a 2014 6th rounder. Spielman did something similar last year, and we know he likes to have about 10 draft picks each year. Doing this would retain 10 picks this year and give us 9 next year with potentially more.
So, taking all those off-season moves into consideration, here is the Projected Roster with all these moves:
Day 1 Roster
QB: Ponder – Thigpen – Webb/MBT
RB: Peterson – Gerhart – Asiata
WR: Jennings – Allen – Wright – Simpson – Hamilton/Burton/Childs/Davis
TE: Rudolph – Carlson – Ellison
OL: Kalil – Johnson – Sullivan – Fusco – Loadholt – Kropog – Love – Foltz
DE: Allen – Robison – Griffen – Reed
DT: Williams – Short – Ballard – Evans
LB: Greenway – Minter – Henderson – McKenzie – Cole – Mitchell – Dean/Sabino
CB: Cook – Winfield – Robinson – Amerson – Jefferson – Burton – Sherels
S: Smith – Raymond – Blanton/McDonald