The Minnesota Vikings have already started the offseason very strong in not only cutting ties with the previous coaching staff that many thought were not getting the most out of the current talent on the roster, but also hitting a home run with the hire of Mike Zimmer as the new head coach and Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. Just the hire of Zimmer in itself is a move by the Vikings' brass that has been well received, but also Zimmer surrounding himself with a strong cast so far indicates a change that looks to bring forth more professionalism, accountability and consistency in building a winner. So, the very first plan of action is in place, and whether Spielman & Co. listened to the fans or not; he made what looks to be the best head coaching hire in a very long time.
When free agency begins; I think Rick Spielman will make more moves than he has in the previous two other years he has been GM, and think he has to. I'm just going to touch on a few of the players I think are most important to the team in free agency. Two of the players on the Vikings' roster I think should be secured are Matt Cassel and Everson Griffen. Both players have to be retained as the team knows what they have in both men, and how important the quarterback position and the pass rush are. There's no doubt other of Minnesota's free agents will be retained, but both of them are the most important for the 2014 season.
The Vikings will also need to make some solid new free agent acquisitions as well. The Vikings will have the cap room to make at least two splash moves, and in the top two free agent acquisitions; I think they must target the cornerback and safety position. Two very popular names are Jairus Byrd and Alterraun Verner. Many like both players including myself because they are not only very good players at their respected positions, but because they both look to be instant starters that can be plugged in immediately, instantly making other's jobs on defense easier and the overall defense better. I would also like to see the defensive and offensive lines both see attention as well. As free agency draws closer everyone will have a better idea of which free agents are a real possibility for the Vikings, and hope Spielman does his due diligence again and secures Byrd and Verner, as I think that duo would have the strongest impact of possible free agents.
As far as the draft; it is no secret Minnesota will draft a quarterback. The question is who will be available at the eighth overall pick. I do think the Vikings will be in a position to trade back to the middle of the first round to pick up an additional third round selection, while still drafting the guy they wanted all along. A move similar to the one the Vikings made in 2012, and I think that guy will be a quarterback even with as many very good defensive prospects, but this team needs a quarterback make no doubt about it no matter what Spielman says. I think we will be looking at Manziel or Carr, and even though most would like to see a defensive player selected here, and the Vikings trade back up into the end of the first for a QB; I think it will be too much of a gamble with Minnesota in such a dire need of a franchise quarterback, and this team will not wait until the 2015 draft. With the second pick; I think Minnesota selects their first defensive player in OLB Kyle Van Noy. If they were indeed able to acquire a total of 3 third round selections; I think we could see some kind of combination of DT DaQuan Jones, CB Pierre Desir, and OG Gabe Jackson. If they can't select an Gabe Jackson; I think they will go after Shayne Skov. I think in the rounds 4-7 we will see Spielman target more players that have slipped through the cracks than looking to solidify depth as he has utilized that strategy before.
So, here is an idea of what direction I would like to see the Vikings go in this offseason:
Major free agent acquisitions: Jairus Byrd, Alterruan Verner.
1st round of the draft: Trade back toward middle of 1st round, acquiring additional 3rd round pick, while selecting Johnny Manziel or Derek Carr.
2nd round: OLB Kyle Van Noy or CB Marcus Roberson
3rd round: DT DaQuan Jones, CB Pierre Desir, OG Gabe Jackson.
4th round: DT Daniel McCullers or FS Dion Bailey
5th round QB Brett Smith or OG Chris Watt
6th round: CB Antone Exum or CB Bennett Jackson
7th round: DT Deandre Coleman or OLB Tyler Star
This far out from the draft is nothing more than a shot in the dark, but with a legitimate coaching staff being put into place with an already stellar scouting crew; I think Minnesota should do outstanding bringing new talent into our favorite franchise.