Sick of hearing the same names everytime FA is discussed? "We need Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner!" Well that does sound awsome, but like always I want to pitch a different idea.
In order to mix it up heres my idea. I would pick up Brandon Spikes, Michael Johnson, and either Walter Thurmond or Corey Graham depending on price. Release Chad Greenway, Christian Ponder (The guy already sold his house in Minnesota, he knows he's either being traded or released no matter what Slick Rick says), Letroy Guion and Jamarca Sanford. Re-sign Matt Cassel, Fred Evans, Matt Asiata, J'Marcus Webb and Marcus Sherels.
Case for Brandon Spikes:
Brandon Spikes, 6'2 255lbs
2nd Round Pick in 2010
86 Tackles 1 INT 2 PD 8 STF
(PFF Grade: +9.8, PFF FA ILB Ranking: 2nd)
Brandon Spikes has been one of the best ILB against the run and an intimidating force for the Patriots for a while now. He's young, only 26 but most likely won't be resigned after annoying the always tempermental Belichick by "going to the beat of his own drum" much like Welker did. While he isn't the best LB in coverage, in Zimmers defense he won't be asked to very often. Zimmers defense is about stopping the run, getting in the QB's face and daring the offense to try and throw on them.
Signing Spikes would solidify the MLB position, help us against the run (he played just as well even without Wilfork and some of the teams top run stoppers this season) as well as bring a level of physicality the LB core in Minnesota desperately needs. Even if he can be a little on the dirty side, they need to intimidate.
*First and Second Round options depend on which FA turned out to have a cheaper price tag, Graham (Outside) or Thurmond (Slot)
1st. Darqueze Dennard, CB or Anthony Barr, OLB
Darqueze Dennard is by far the most physical CB in this class. He's well rounded (Can make plays on the ball and generate turnovers, lockdown top receivers, and play against the run), disciplined, deceptively fast, and a thumper. While other people constantly tell me Justin Gilbert is better, I like Mike Mayock and CBS sports don't agree. He might in general offer more as a prospect but I don't think he's as good of a fit. Gilbert is undisciplined, can be reliant on his physical abilities and is unphysical. Like NFL.com listed he's willing to sit back and wait for someone else when it comes to run support. When you have Xavier Rhodes, your going to want to play constant press man coverage and Justin Gilbert just doesn't have the physicality to press Brandon Marshall or Jordy Nelson. We want playing the Vikings to be dreaded, knowing your going to leave beat up and in pain. Dennard does a better job offering that kind of play.
Anthony Barr is freak. Tall, long armed, fast, explosive. His tackles can knock you out of a game, and he's a top 10 pick when he is just learning his position. He's only been a LB for 2 years, before that he was an offensive player. So he hasn't even come close to reaching his potential, and thats a scary thought. I already posted a bit about him yesterday, so if you actually don't know much about him go check it out.
2nd. Ryan Shrazier, OLB or Jason Verrett, CB
Ryan Shrazier is a one man wrecking crew. By far the most productive LB in the Big 10. He flies around the field making plays everywhere. Drafting him justifies releasing Chad Greenway and freeing up big time bucks.
Jason Verrett is a nasty little CB. Excels in the slot, something Minnesota desperately needs. He's scrappy, loves to get physical and play bigger than his size. If he drops to the 2nd and theres a good chance he does, Minnesota needs to act.
3rd. Craig Loston, S
Thumper, phyisical, the guy can lay someone out. He's pretty much a less athletic Eric Reid, but since he's going to be asked to play the SS position across from Smith that doesn't matter as much.
3rd. A.J. McCarron, QB
Kurt Warner likes him, Mike Mayock likes him, from the looks of it Scott Turner likes him. Had the best day throwing at the combine out of all the QB's. Has the mental make up for the game, I think his pocket presence is a bit underrated and I believe him when he said his mechanics were causing his problems with the deep ball. After working on it this offseason he could clearly throw a nice 30 yard pass that looked as Kurt Warner said "very catchable". Zach Mettenberger would probably be a better fit but rumor is he has a lot more off-field issues than just what got him kicked out of Georgia.
4th. De'Anthony Thomas
Norv Turner loves his scat-backs and you can't get a much better one in this draft than Thomas. The guy is electricity in a bottle. I look at him like a mini-Patterson.
5th. Brandon Linder, G
A talented big strong Guard, what else needs to be said.
6th. Ryan Carrethers, NT
The guy has flashes of domination. Strong as hell, 330lbs but mostly from muscle. Experienced wrestler, 3rd best rated NT by Drafttek. Not sure if he'll really drop to the 6th but most draft sites have him going in the 5th-6th round.
7th. L'Damian Washington, WR
6'5 big body WR, great body control, saw him do some great things this season. Such a great WR class, that talent like Washington can be grabbed at the very bottom of the draft.