With the Senior Bowl taking center stage this week, for 30 of the 32 NFL teams attention is really starting to focus on the draft and free agency, which are coming up in a few months. Also, before we go any further, if you want some seriously good Senior Bowl coverage, go check out SB Nations's Mocking The Draft coverage, headed up by Dan Kadar. Quality stuff, and everything you want to know about potential draft picks is over there.
For the Vikings, Mike Zimmer, who is down at Mobile, revealed the organization is looking at eight positions, but didn't elaborate at to which ones, or in what priority.
But that's what blogs are for, am I right? Of course I am!*
*Not even remotely close to accurate. We're here for fart jokes and other low brow comedy
For me personally, I was pounding the desk, insistent that the Vikings needed to draft a safety opposite Harrison Smith in the first round...until CCNorseman dropped a serious knowledge bomb about Robert Blanton, which made me re-think my position. Consequently, I am no longer pounding the desk for a safety in the first round, although I do believe the VIkings need to address safety depth, either in the draft or free agency.
So now that I have to completely re-think my draft strategy, I figured I might as well do it in a post, because there's several different directions the Vikings can go. I'm just going to run down some positions, but not necessarily rank order them, cool? Cool. Today we'll look at offense. Either this weekend or early next week, we'll finish off with defense. So, let's get to it:
Guard: Guard is a definite position of need, for a couple reasons. For one, Charlie Johnson seems to be a guy everyone loves to not like, and for good reason. He's been bad the last couple seasons, and the Vikings need to move on. They also have a problem with guard depth, as Vlad Ducasse, who filled in for an injured brandon Fusco, was pretty bad himself. And whither David Yankey? A lot of folks, myself included, thought he might be one of the bigger steals in last year's draft, but he never got untracked, and was deactivated for all but the last game of the season. I'd like to think that a full off season program, which he missed last year after he was drafted due to NCAA rules, might make him ready to take over. But if he isn't, the Vikings would find themselves in a quandary, so it seems to me they'll look to improve this position, probably both in free agency and the draft. Priority: Very High
Tackle: Look, Matt Kalil is going to be back, so for those of you wanting to throw him into the River Of Fire, it isn't happening. Can they look for depth? Sure, but Kalil and Phil Loadholt will return, and the thought of them trying to find a replacement seems remote. Priority: Low
Tight End: Whether or not the VIkings go after a tight end depends on how you feel about Kyle Rudolph and his health. If you think he's going to kick the injury bug, they don't need a tight end. If you think he won't, and guys like Chase Ford and Rhett Ellison can't pick up the slack, then yes, they do. I am of the belief the Vikings still have full faith in confidence in Rudolph and company. Priority: Low
Running Back: This all depends on one player, Adrian Peterson, and whether or not he's back. If he does return, I really, really like a backfield of Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, and Matt Asiata for a year or two. If he doesn't return, this becomes a big need. Fortunately for the Vikings, the running back class in this upcoming draft is as deep as I can remember it being in a long time. All the noise about Peterson aside, the VIkings went out and got a running back in the third round last year, well before any of the controversy surrounding AP surfaced, and Peterson is going to be 30, so I still view this as a position that needs to be addressed. Priority: High
Wide Receiver: This position group needs to be addressed, but I'm really flummoxed as to how high a priority an upgrade here is in relation to other needs. For one, how will Cordarrelle Patterson rebound next year? He has the ability to be a true #1 receiver in the NFL, but does he have the dedication? If he does, a lot of questions here are resolved. Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, and Charles Johnson make a very decent receiving group, with Adam Thielen a close 5th. But if Patterson doesn't dedicate himself to his craft, the Vikings are going to be looking for help. Jennings is getting up there, but is the perfect veteran receiver to help develop an up and coming quarterback, and that can't be overstated enough. He'll be back for at least one more year, and although Johnson came on strong at the end of the year, can he be an every down WR for a full 16 game schedule? Priority: Medium to high
Quarterback: We're good here. Teddy's developing well, Matt Cassel will be back and provide solid veteran mentorship and an ability to step in and play effectively for short periods of time. Will they grab someone to be the third string? Yeah, probably. I wouldn't be surprised to see them grab a late round developmental guy, but there are so many other needs, they might try and find an undrafted free agent gem, too.