I generally don't take pieces written by sports columnists and pick them apart line by line, unless it's something so mentally challenged it has to be rebutted. This isn't one of those pieces; it's actually a very good review of the Vikings off season by Doug Farrar of SI.com. It's interesting to read what someone with no rooting interest has to say, and I thought his reasoning for his conclusions were pretty spot on. So, what's Mr. Farrar thinking about the Vikes for 2014?
He called Linval Joseph the Vikings best acquisition, and that's hard to argue--but I will in just a minute. The Vikings have needed a run stopper in the middle since Pat Williams left, and he will anchor a new look defensive line that will have three new starters in 2014. He's a run-stopping force, and how he performs, along with the rest of the line, will go a long way in determining how the Vikings do in 2014.
And as important as the Joseph signing was...I can't help but think the Captain Munnerlyn signing was just a little bit more crucial. The Vikings secondary was a combination dumpster fire/toxic waste dump/F5 tornado aftermath, and the fact that he's one of the best slot corners in the NFL makes both their base and nickel defenses instantly better. Now, I readily concede the fact that a good pass rush is more important than a good secondary, but I would argue that the Vikings would have been in better shape on the d-line if they hadn't signed Joseph than in the secondary if they hadn't signed Munnerlyn. Which is why I chose Munnerlyn as the biggest signing.
Farrar deemed Jared Allen the biggest loss of the off-season. I agree with him, but if the 32 year old Allen was the biggest loss, it's a net win for the Vikings. Allen has become a pretty one dimensional player, his focus of rushing the QB means he's become pretty poor in run support, and his upfield rush takes him out of a lot of plays, leaving swaths of yardage open on the Vikings right side. Finally, his salary demands for the Vikings were too high, so it seemed obvious he was moving on. Still love the guy, though. Always will.
Now we get to his most interesting part, his most under rated draft pick. He tabbed David Yankey, the fifth round guard from Stanford. Why? Here, it'll just be easier for him to explain himself:
Going into the 2014 draft, it was thought by many that Yankey was on the same basic level as UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo; we had Yankey 31st overall in our SI 64 pre-draft rankings. But he fell all the way to the fifth round, while the freakishly talented Su'a-Filo went 33rd overall to the Texans. That nine other guards were drafted between Su'a-Filo and Yankey was perhaps the draft's biggest surprise, and it could be a long-term epic win for the Vikings. Yankey is more a run-blocker than a pure pass-protector, which works nicely in an offense that will have Adrian Peterson as its epicenter as long as Peterson is there.
Hmmm, interesting. A guy with potential first round talent that dropped into the latter part of the draft. I don't know that I remember seeing Yankey projected as a first or second round guy (I admittedly didn't give two hoots about the mock drafts past the Vikings first round, for the most part), but he seems like a legitimate NFL talent. Darren Page at Vikings Territory has a good breakdown here, go read it when you're done reading this. And any time you see the phrase 'long term epic win', you sort of sit up and take notice. Yankey is probably going to compete for a starting job against the aging Charlie Johnson, who seems to be the one really weak link on the offensive line. If Yankey is as good as Farrar thinks he is, the Vikings will have one of the top five o-lines in the NFL.
Finally, his 'one question entering training camp' for the Vikings is whether or not they can cover anybody. It's a very valid question, as the 2013 secondary proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they couldn't, for the most part. Which is why I go back to the Munnerlyn signing as being the most important off-season free agent acquisition.
Entering camp, the Vikes have Xavier Rhodes and Munnerlyn in their base set, with Munnerlyn moving to the slot in the nickel. Whoever will be on the outside is TBD, but there's a good camp battle brewing to determine who wins that job. When you add in a solid safety duo of Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford, I would argue the initial answer to that question is yes, emphatically. Well, maybe not emphatically. But compared to last year? Heck, let's stay with emphatically.
When you add all this up, I'd have given the Vikings an A, especially since they ended up getting the QB they wanted in the draft. But with so many good things Farrar has to say overall, I'm not going to gripe about an arbitrary letter grade.