After the announcement was made that the Vikings were hiring Bengals DC Mike Zimmer to be their head coach, I had one thought. Man, he's definitely gonna want to fix our defense. He has stated that his scheme will fit the players, and has shown that he can be scheme-versatile in the past. This offseason plan will work off that assumption, along with the assumption that the Vikings have some money to spend this offseason, and will be willing to spend it for their new coach. Also, Norv Turner has been brought in as the new OC, and he is known to run a power run, deep pass offense.
Re-sign: DE Everson Griffen
A 4-3 defense needs pressure from the DE spots, and I have a feeling that Zimmer will be able to get the most out of Griffen, who happens to possess quite a bit of talent
Re-sign: OT J'Marcus Webb
A solid backup lineman who provides insurance against injury and will come cheap
Re-sign: CB Chris Cook
I have a feeling that Chris Cook just needs to be healthy in order to showcase his skills, so this would be a low-risk high-reward 1 year contract
Re-Sign: QB Matt Cassell
He will either be an above-average backup, or a decent stopgap while our QBOTF develops
Sign: CB Robert McClain
Two years ago, Josh Robinson flashed some potential as a cornerback on the outside, but he struggled mightily this year as a nickel corner. McClain can fill his role at nickel corner, while Zimmer can move Robinson back outside
SIgn: NT BJ Raji
For all the sacks the Vikings D-line has generated over the past few years, they haven't really had a run-stuffing nose tackle since Pat Williams retired. BJ Raji can fill the void
Sign: MLB Vinny Rey
Zimmer brings in one of his own guys to fill the black hole known as the middle linebacker spot. And the good part is that this guy can actually *gasp* be a solid pass defender
1st Round, 8th Pick: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Zimmer has said that he will be scheme-flexible, and he has coached 4-3 defenses as well as 3-4. Barr is an extremely versatile defender who can play with his hand on the ground, or as a stand-up 'backer. I hope that he would fill a Von Miller-like role for the Vikings, and his insane athleticism means that he has that kind of potential. I predict an early run on QBs and OTs, meaning that none of the top four qbs will be left by the time our pick rolls around, but Barr will be.
2nd Round, 8th Pick (40th overall): Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The game is won and lost in the trenches, and while the Vikings already have one of the better o-lines in football, Richardson could catapult them all the way to the top. He is big enough (340 pounds) to be a mauler who can open up holes for AD, and quick enough (he also played left tackle in college) to be a dominant pass-protector. In addition, he plays with a nasty side that is necessary in an elite offensive lineman
3rd Round, 8th Pick: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Here's your qb, people. I think that if Mettenberger falls this far because of concerns about his torn ACL, he'll be a major steal. But, I would trade back into the second round using our extra third to get him if necessary. This guy has an absolute CANNON for an arm. Norv Turner likes the power run and deep pass, and Mettenberger will most definitely provide the latter. He wasn't the most flashy guy at LSU, but he can make all the throws. He's a prototypical pocket passer who will step up in the pocket and has great size and a quick release. He isn't very athletic, but he's tough and the Vikings have a top offensive line.
3rd Round: 31st Pick (Pending outcome of Super Bowl): Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
He will drop right into our laps at this pick solely because of the fact that he played in the MAC, against inferior competition. He is by no means a perfect safety, but he doesn't need to be, given that he will be playing with Harrison Smith, who was poised to make The Leap before getting hurt. Strong enough to stop the run, and athletic/smart enough to play in coverage, Ward will immediately step in and start next to Smith to form a great safety duo for years to come. Lastly, Ward is a very versatile player who can play in the box, as an effective blitzer, or drop deep in coverage.
4th Round, 8th Pick: De'Anthony Thomas, Playmaker, Oregon
I was surprised to find that various draft rankings had him as a 5-6th round prospect, but I would still be happy to take him at this spot. He is probably too small to be a prototypical NFL player, but the Vikings do not need to confine him to one role. And boy oh boy, he is FAST. He can line up all over the field and cause havoc. Just imagine an offense with AD, Patterson, and Thomas. That's scary.
5th Round, 8th Pick: James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
Gayle is not ready to come out of college and start day one, but he is a good developmental prospect who could eventually be a standout player. He is a good athlete with good quickness, and he is a disciplined run defender. In addition, he is (again) scheme versatile. He doesn't really have many refined pass-rush moves, so he will start out as more of a speed rusher who must win with his first step. he has the potential, however, to develop some moves and become a solid end.
6th Round, 8th pick: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
At 5"9, Ricardo Allen is not going to outmuscle or tower over opposing receivers. What he will do, however, is outwork them with solid footwork and good speed. He needs to work on not getting fooled on play action and other fakes.
7th Round, 8th pick: Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
He is a fairly athletic 'backer with decent size and strength, who excels as stuffing the run. He is a liability in pass coverage, but has flashed some potential. This pick would provide the Vikings more lb depth, as Jackson can play inside or out.
So there you have it. I think this plan would create a nasty defense, and improve an offense that wasn't all that bad to begin with, as it just lacked a reliable qb.
Tell me what you think, and be honest. I can take it.
Positional Rankings, Availability, and Scouting Reports taken from NflDraftScout.com or CBSSports.com