Saturday, March 28, 2015

Monthly Archives: March 2012

With the first wave of free agency nearly in the rearview mirror, and the Vikings obviously planning to focus more on the NFL Draft, we will start to keep tabs on which college prospects the Vikings express interest in.

We start by pointing out that the team has a private workout scheduled with safety D.J. Campbell out of Cal.

Campbell (6’ 0” – 202 pounds) did not receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but showed off some good athleticism at Cal’s pro day.  He ran about a 4.54 in the forty yard dash, had a 38” vertical, and a 10’ 7” broad jump.  Those numbers compare quite nicely with the top ones posted at the Combine.

In 2011, Campbell started 13 games and posted 72 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and two interceptions.

This is another name to keep an eye on as the later rounds of the Draft roll around.  The Cowboys and the Chargers have also scheduled workouts with Campbell.

As if Letroy Guion’s three year contract, worth $9 million, wasn’t a big enough hint that Vikings plan to expand his role, we now have confirmation that he will be competing for the starting nose tackle gig with Remi Ayodele.

Guion had previously occupied the three technique position, mostly as a backup to Kevin Williams, and pulled spot duty as a nose tackle but the move sounds like it will be putting him somewhere that he is more comfortable.

“I don’t like it. I love it,” said Guion on Wednesday. “I love the close-quarter combat. Less space than a three technique. I can see the ball better. Read the offensive line better. And I feel more comfortable at nose than at a three-technique.”

Guion, age 24, was drafted in the sixth round in 2008 out of Florida State.  At the time, he was regarded as extremely gifted but also extremely raw, and it appears that the Vikings still have faith he can develop under new defensive line coach Brendan Daly.

“He’s an extremely talented athlete,” Rick Spielman said following the agreement. “I know when we had meetings on all of our personnel, we still think there’s a huge, huge upside to Letroy.”

In his four seasons with the Vikings, Guion has three starts, all of which came last season.  He has flashed at moments, but has yet to be a consistent contributor on the defense.

It has become clear that your average Vikings fan is frustrated with how Rick Spielman has conducted himself in the first 30 hours of so in free agency this offseason, which is his first as General Manager of the Vikings.

Wednesday, however, Spielman explained the team’s approach and strategy while urging the fan base to be patient.

“We’re going to be patient with this,” Spielman said. “We’re going to strike when we feel there’s a player out there that can help us win ballgames. The ownership has always given us the financial backing we need to go get players if we need to get them. But we’re also going to be very patient and prudent as we go through this.”

“I know plenty of our needs are going to be filled through the draft, but we are not done yet,” he continued.  “We are still looking at (unrestricted free agents) as we go along in this process, and we’ll continue to monitor that. There may be a couple guys coming in (for visits) over the next couple of weeks. We’ll continue to add players as we see fit.”

The media pressed Spielman on his conservative approach to free agency.

“I don’t think we’re a player or two away to go out and say you’re going to spend the money that’s being spent on all those players that have gotten contracts early,” he said.  “I think what we’re trying to do, again, is find some players that we think are going to be able to help us win ballgames that are going to contribute and then continually to build this through the draft and keep our draft picks and potentially add more draft picks and keep our roster competitive year in and year out that way.”

Spielman called tight end John Carlson a playmaker while revealing plans to move Letroy Guion to nose tackle, which gives you an idea as to what the thinking was behind those two signings.

Additionally, the Vikings are monitoring the status of Erin and E.J. Henderson, but there is very little urgency surrounding the linebacker position at this point.  As of this posting, not a single 4-3 outside linebacker has signed with a new team, and only a couple low-level middle linebackers are off the market.  Options are still there in this regard, and Spielman may have been wise in waiting for the big money to fly around and get some reasonable contract offers to these guys.

Overall, “patience” seems to be the word of the day.

Once upon a time, I would get ridiculed on an annual basis for drafting Seahawks tight end John Carlson about four rounds too early in my fantasy league.  I would get laughed out of the room, in fact.

“Quit it, you guys,” I would whine.  “He’s got the potential and skill set to be the best tight end in the NFL, mark my words.”

Umm, yeah… he was usually on the waiver wires by week six.

Now, Rick Spielman finds himself on the defensive as a result of a very similar move, except the stakes are much higher.

News is spreading the Vikings have signed Carlson to a five year deal worth $25 million, with $11 million of that being guaranteed.  The move will put former Notre Dame stars Carlson and Kyle Rudolph atop the tight end depth chart in Minnesota for years to come.

A Minnesota native, Carlson was selected 38th overall by the Seahawks in 2008.  He got off to a good start, playing in all 16 games of his rookie season and catching 55 passes for 627 yards and five scores.

In his second season, he started all 16 games and caught 51 passes for 574 yards and seven touchdowns.  In 2010, the poor condition of Seattle’s offensive line meant Carlson spent a lot more time being a blocker in the offense, and his production dipped down to 31 catches, 318 yards, and only one score.

In 2011, Carlson missed the entire season due to a torn labrum.

Now, as you can tell from the opening paragraphs of this article, I think Carlson has the potential to be a star and I went so far as to single him out in my Offseason Preview of the tight ends.  However, I concluded that segment with the following warning:

“I think patience will have to be key here.  The Vikings cannot panic and overpay or reach on a Draft choice to fill their needs at tight end.

Building around Rudolph should involve nabbing a few players that present the team with low cost.  They cannot panic and offer a ton of money to Shiancoe.  They cannot panic and overpay a free agent.  They cannot panic and reach on a guy in the Draft.”

Some might view this signing as Rick Spielman panicking and overpaying, while others might view this signing as Spielman targeting the guy he coveted and making sure he got his guy, but I don’t think anyone envisioned this type of deal for Carlson.  In fact, the rumor mill suggests that Carlson was so blown away by the offer that he cancelled a trip to Kansas City and rerouted himself to Winter Park.

The Vikings obviously have placed an emphasis on finding the players that will best fit Bill Musgrave’s offensive vision, which includes a lot of two tight end sets, as they have invested one high draft pick and plenty of money into the position in the last two offseasons.  So, while the Vikings are very high on second year player Kyle Rudolph, don’t think of Carlson as a true backup player just yet, he will probably see a lot of action.

Carlson is often referred to as a poor blocker, but he was called upon to block quite a bit in Seattle and seemingly improved in this area, and his pass catching skills are fairly elite.  Christian Ponder should benefit from having one more solid pass catcher in his arsenal, and also a fairly dependable blocker when needed.  Also, Carlson is 27 years old, which is a full four years younger than Visanthe Shiancoe.

I don’t agree with those that think the Vikings didn’t have a need at the tight end position.  I don’t agree with those that think Carlson is a terrible player.

As far as whether or not they overpaid to obtain Carlson, however, I am on the fence.  A lot will depend on how the contract is structured and whether or not he can finally live up to the expectations that followed him from Notre Dame.

I will put it this way though:  I’m still not drafting him in my fantasy league this year.

ADAM’S GRADE:  C+

BRETT’S GRADE:  C

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14

Well, that happened pretty quickly.

According to Adam Schefter, an agreement has been reached with John Carlson for a 5 year, 25 million dollar deal.

We’re on the board, folks! Tonight we will try and get you some more information on Carlson and what he brings to the team as well as some analysis of the pickup.

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