And I am back with the third installment of my offseason plan for the Vikings. This time, I am looking at the things the Vikings can do with their roster on Defense. I will go through each position and give you my analysis on who will stay and who will go with the assumption that the personnel staying will continue to play in a 4-3 Defense. I am also going to leave special teams out of my equation, as I have already covered Patterson, will soon cover Sherels, and Locke/Walsh aren't going anywhere. *Edit Note-Don't use BSPN's Depth Chart to fill this out; doesn't include IR players
Analysis-B-Rob is a young 30, and he probably will play out the rest of his current contract with the Vikings. Ever since he earned the starting role, he has been good for eight or more sacks, and has been an under-rated player for the Vikings. Griffen has been up and down in his four seasons, but over the last three years has racked up at least four sacks a season. His down numbers after his breakout season last year probably means the Vikings can use that in contract negotiations with him and get a fairer price for him than they might have gotten after last season. Trattou hasn't done anything so far in his career, and I am not sure how much he can contribute. Allen has been one of the best 4-3 DE's in football over the last six seasons, and never ended with fewer than eleven sacks. However, he is likely asking for more money than the Vikings will be willing to pay for his declining services, and they can certainly find someone who is better in run defense, is younger, and is cheaper.
Analysis-Like Jared Allen, Williams is likely on his way out of Minnesota after an illustrious career as one of the best 3-techniques ever to play in the NFL. if the Vikings can find a position for him, like nose tackle where he was most effective this season, then maybe he could stay around. Floyd is the 1st of the Vikings three draft picks, and has been the slowest developing of the three, which is understandable considering the position he is playing and how little time he has had to develop. I have the same opinion of the Guion/Evans tandem that Arif does-Guion is well below-average, and Evans is right around average. If they can find a 1-technique this off-season or Draft, it should improve their nose tackle position incredibly. Chase Baker was a rookie this season, and is a bit of an unknown to me. He seems like he could be worth keeping around, though if the Vikings find someone to replace him, oh well. Ballard is gone, and if the Vikings could him without putting any dead money onto their cap, I think they probably would.
Keep-Floyd, Evans, Baker
Lose-Williams(?), Guion, Ballard
Analysis-Mitchell really should have no business ever starting another game in the NFL. Hopefully, Gerald Hodges improves enough this offseason to steal the spot from him. Erin Henderson's release is likely coming, especially after his second arrest in just six weeks, which will likely mean that either Mike Mauti or the Legend currently known as Cole will have a shot at starting next season at the Mike. Greenway had a down season, but who knows how much of that was due to his injured wrist. I am willing to keep him around as a veteran presence, but Greenway was bad enough this season that cutting him might not be the worst thing for our Defense either. Larry Dean hasn't played much at all on the Defense, but he is a useful special teams ace, and those are always good to have. Totally forgot about Desmond Bishop the first time around. He was just about to take over Mitchell's spot at WLB, but then got injured again, likely ending his time with the Vikings (if not in the NFL).
Keep-Hodges, Mauti, Cole, Dean, Greenway(?)
Lose-Henderson, Mitchell, Bishop
Analysis-I hate Chris Cook. Please get rid of him. He has as many career interceptions, fumbles forced, fumble recoveries, and defensive touchdowns as I do. Yuck. For the love of crap, Shaun Prater, a castoff from the Eagles, has more interceptions with the Vikings than Cook does! I like Prater, and i think that he would be worth keeping around to see what we have there. Rhodes has the look and potential to be our very own Revis Island. Sherels is a worthy guy to keep around for punt returns and is serviceable as an emergency nickel corner. Steeples has not done anything so far, and is probably on the roster for the Vikings to keep around for next preseason/season to take a look at. Robinson was absolutely terrible for the first half of the season, then got injured and was put onto IR. I hope that the Vikings take a look at whatever happened with Robinson and can fix it, because he showed a few flashes in his freshman year in the NFL, and I think he can be a part of the D if we can just figure out where to play him to max his talent out.
Keep-Prater, Rhodes, Sherels, Steeples
Analysis-Harrison Smith is a stud. He's not going anywhere. Jamarca Sanford is a fair player at Strong Safety, but he definitely took a step back this season. His value comes mostly from stuffing the run and forcing fumbles, and he didn't do much in the forcing fumbles deal this season. Raymond hasn't done much since losing the starting job to Sanford last season. It seems as though his time in Minnesota might be through. Sendejo has mostly been a special teamer the last couple days, though he has interesting potential and if developed right, could become an interesting prospect at strong safety. Blanton had a tough time this season, but switching between cornerback and safety can't have helped him out. He is another guy who has potential, but it is getting less and less until he gets a better DB coach.
Keep-Smith, Sanford, Sendejo, Blanton
And here's what the adjusted depth chart looks like (nickel D):
Starting Linemen-Robison, Floyd, Evans, and Griffen
Starting LB's-Hodges/Mauti, Mauti/Cole, Greenway
Starting CB's-Rhodes, Sherels, Robinson (backups Prater, Steeples)
Starting Safeties-Sanford, Smith (backups Sendejo, Blanton)
After all these moves, both offensive and defensive, the Vikings have a total of 39 players on their roster for next season, which should leave plenty of room (and money!) for new players, both in FA and the Draft, to come in and compete for a spot next season.
Pt. 1- Coaching Decision
Pt. 3-Free Agent Targets
Pt. 4-Draft Projections