There was recent news of the probability of QB Joe Webb to be given an actual real shot at WR and likely KR. One can also assume if he does make the roster as the 4th or 5th WR, that he will be used on end arounds, reverses, other running back duties, option plays and possibly other trick plays or gadget plays. One could try to say that this has been tried with Webb before and it did not work. Though, ones who do say this are flat out wrong. Joe Webb has returned one kick off and it was for 30 yards and that's it. He has been lined up as a WR only a small handful of times and actually only thrown to a couple times and that's it.
Webb is 6' 4", runs about a 4.4 40, has great leaping ability and has the perfect size/speed/attributes teams look for in a deep threat WR. In fact, if you look at his numbers, including all measurables in regards to the WRs coming out in this year's draft; he would be very close and/or the top of the list, and would be there in all other drafts ever since his draft where he was one of the top graded prospects as well. Some would like to see him tried at CB, which he would have the perfect size/speed if he were 2 or 3 inches shorter, but maybe do just fine anyway. However, I believe he has the best opportunity to utilized his talents on the field as a WR, KR and RB. I would not have him return punts though. I would prefer a smaller guy like Robinson or Wright.
Whether one likes the idea of giving Webb a chance or not(he has not been given a real chance yet, no matter what some will try to say), the Viking' receiving core is not in good shape, even with the addition of Greg Jennings. He basically replaces Percy Harvin, and like him or not; Jennings is no where near the talent of Harvin. So, the Vikings' receiving core is actually in worse shape than it was last year, and last year, even with Harvin could be argued as the worst in the league. So let's look at who we have right now.
1. Greg Jennngs, reliable veteran with sure hands that can play inside or out. Brings with him, mentor-ship traits that should help out Ponder, the younger WRs and the TEs a little as well. He runs good routes and will draw some attention away from the line of scrimmage. However, his last two years of his career, which he will be 30 years old during the season, have dropped off significantly in production and are his worst two statistical years as a pro, which are very troubling signs considering his age and the fact that where he is at as far as his age, is where most WRs start to dramatically decline. Obviously, his injuries were the determining factor as to why, but were the injuries the only factor, and how will he respond to a less talented QB throwing him the ball? Add in that and possibility that he could get injured again and miss a few games, or more; what if it's most of the season? There must be equality receivers behind him; Minnesota cannot gamble on going with the receiving core they have now. They must bring in two more options and preferably through the draft.
2. Jarius Wright, proved he has more than just potential last year on the inside and outside. Has good speed and is fairly elusive as well. Does have potential as a return man for kick offs and punts. Has shown good ability to get open and already has developed chemistry with Christian Ponder. With Jennings helping to mentor this young man, look for him to be a viable threat to defenses this season and will improve. I would no be surprised if ended the season with the best wide receiving stats on the team.
3. Jerome Simpson, shows flashes of talent and impresses occasionally with play maker potential, but has trouble getting open and catching the ball. Has good speed, but runs predictable routes. Would love to see this guy play all the time, like the glimpses we see from time to time, unfortunately a long as he has been playing; he is who he is and it is very unlikely he will do much more. I want him to succeed more, but think his best year as a pro will always be his last year in Cincinnati. If the Vikings are going to roll the dice on a receiver based on athleticism and potential, Webb obviously has the higher ceiling and could ultimately be more productive on the field.
4. Stephen Burton, has been a good blocker, but unfortunately that's it. And the bad thing is, when Burton comes on the field, everyone knows it's a run play. I was hoping last off season he could take steps to improve; he has-but just not near enough. It's hard to imagine Burton making it all the way through training camp before getting released.
5. Greg Childs, we all have high hopes for his recovery, but aren't counting on it and shouldn't. If he can return, it i not likely he will ever be the player he was and if so, it would take a year or two to get back up to speed and honestly by then after being out of the game that long; that's one hell of a long shot. Prove us wrong kid, we're all rooting for you.
6. Joe Webb, has all the tangibles every team looks for in a receiver, but has been forced to essentially waste the first part of his career. Can he play catch up and showcase the skills he has that most WRs can only dream of? We should see and I think Spiderman will not go out w/o a fight. I think this guy can be the Viking' X factor whether out of the backfield, in the slot, on the outside and returning kicks. I see Webb catching a few teams off guard and if given the chance, having a better impact than Jerome Simpson. If he proves this early, Simpson may also find himself and his raise in pay off the team by the end of training camp.
7. Chris Summers, has the size for an outside receiver. Will be given his chance in training camp and hope he does well. Though, I think for him to make the roster, he will have to beat out likely two rookie WRs and if it's even close, Summers will not be the choice. I doubt he makes the roster and likely will not be retained on the practice squad again. If it all comes together for him though, he does have an outside chance. Do not see him in a Vikings' uniform though.
8. First WR taken in the Vikings' draft. This could very well be Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins or Justin Hunter. Any of these guys would be an immediate upgrade to the receiving corp and a very good long term option. Allen or Hopkins would likely develop earlier and be more productive on the short and intermediate routes. Hunter likely will be a good receiver, I don't see him being a bust. I think he is this draft class' true field stretcher and would add much need potency to Minnesota's offense, while allowing the playbook to be opened up much more. He also would draw attention away from the running game, the tight ends and Jennings and Wright for the underneath routes.
9. Possible second WR taken in the Viking' draft. This is harder to predict because it could be a number of guys, or none at all, or the first and only WR taken by the Vikings could be taken here, which would likely be somewhere between the 3rd and 5th round in the draft. Some of the possibilities are Aaron Dobson, Ryan Swope or DaRick Rogers, anyone of these guys would be good picks. Rogers would have an immediate impact before the other two and likely before almost every other WR in the draft. Other guys like Stedman Bailey, Cobi Hamilton and Aaron Mellette could pan out, but higher risks to me in where they would be drafted and likely would go in a different direction as far as position. If they opt to draft a wide out at the end of the the 2nd round or the 3rd, I see them going in the direction of Robert Woods if he were to drop, but more likely Quinton Patton or Terrance Williams; I don't see them going in the direction of Marcus Wheaton.
Another interesting prospect is Denard Robinson, he runs like a 4.34 40 and and may work out better as a RB or return guy, but could easily see this guy being a good corner if converted. Though, some would shy away for far of having another Joe Webb type of player and not knowing where to plug him in at.
10. TE Tyler Eifert could very well be on the board for both of Minnesota's first picks, and though it would still be a longshot; it is still a possibility and would not be a bad choice or addition to the offense. I doubt this happens, but could see a TE being drafted later in the draft. A guy like Micheal Williams from Alabama could be had very late and at 6' 6" 278 lbs certainly has the size Minnesota's offense would love to utilize. As low as he's rated, I could still see him having a better career than most of the TE prospects ranked higher than him and would definitely be pleased to see the team take a late round flyer on the kid.
So with slightly narrowing down what the Vikings receiving core could looks like, even subtracting Harvin from the mix; this core really could be better, maybe a lot better. Now, of course we will know a lot more after the draft is over, but lets have a look at what we know now and what could come to be:
WR 1. Greg Jennings
2. Jarius Wright
3. Robert Woods or Justin Hunter
4. Jerome Simpson
5. Joe Webb
6. Maybe Aaron Dobson or a late round pick, or Stephen Burton if only one WR is drafted. I think Minnesota will carry six wide receivers this year and if I am right, it is very difficult to guess who the number six WR will be.
Tight Ends-I wouldn't mind seeing Eifert being drafted, but don't see it happening and even ifthey did take a chance on Micheal Williams, I don't see him getting any significant playing time this year and so the TEs will likely look the same, but all should improve and play better; the only one I am worried about not improving much is Carlson. Rudolph will keep on track to becoming one of the best in the league and Ellison by year's end, wouldn't be surprised a bit if he took, not only Carlson's job, but Jerome Felton's as well.
Receiving Core I would like to see this year(and I do have a bad feeling Allen and Hopkins will be drafted before the 23rd pick, so that's why I don't include either of them):
1. Greg Jennings
2. Jarius Wright
3. Justin Hunter
4. Da'Rick Rogers
5. Joe Webb
6. Jerome Simpson
Would bring in Micheal Williams, but not give him much playing time till next year.
That's what I think, let me know what you think the Vikings' receiving core will look like going into week one of the regular season on the premise that they will carry six wide receivers, or what you would prefer and which would be the most likely candidates for success.