One of the best Vikings blogs, with a unique voice you can’t find anywhere else, is Grant’s Tomb headed up by Darren Campbell. Those of you that have been hanging out here for a while will recognize Darren as a mainstay in my “Links of the Week” feature because he is always putting out some great content.
Darren was recently kind enough to answer ten questions with me, with each of us providing our own unique take on each, and I think we produced some interesting stuff.
Five of those questions (and answers) can be found in this post. For the other five, give this link a click to read them over at Grant’s Tomb as soon as Darren has them posted.
1. Is Joe Webb a better quarterback prospect than Christian Ponder?
ADAM: Listen, neither of these guys has had a full offseason of OTA’s and Training Camp to focus on the quarterback position. Webb has been twisting in the wind between receiver, return specialist, wild cat quarterback, and actual quarterback. I think Webb improved a lot in as a passer in 2011, but Ponder is just as much of an unknown as Webb at this point. Ponder had some very solid moments in 2011, but he also had some disastrous ones, and I ended the 2011 season simply questioning whether or not he is tough enough to play in this league. Ponder will be the starter, but if he exits with injury again then Webb once again might just give this coaching staff something to think about. Put a gun to my head, though, and I take Ponder.
DARREN: No. Webb is an amazing athlete. Big. Fast. Strong Arm. He can jump through the roof, too. But he’s lost in the pocket – even more than Ponder was in his rookie year. That’s a problem. Ponder’s the more polished product. Give Webb time to develop and I think he turns into a faster David Garrard. Give Ponder time to develop and I think he turns into a faster Eli Manning. Who would you rather have?
2. Should the Vikings bring back E.J. Henderson and Steve Hutchinson?
ADAM: As sad as it is for me to say, E.J. Henderson being my favorite Vikings defender and all, it is time for him to depart. Henderson is on the wrong side of thirty and his leg seems like it will always be a problem. At this point I’m not sure Jasper Brinkley isn’t the better choice anyways, and E.J. has very little special teams value. I’ll miss watching him leap over the defensive line, dreadlocks flailing around, in an effort to get to the quarterback, but maybe #56 will catch on with a team that has a legitimate shot at the ring. Hutchinson should, however, be allowed to play out the final year of his contract. He might be old, but he is relatively healthy and still better than any potential replacements currently on the roster. Maybe they’ll ask him to take a pay cut, maybe not, all I know is I don’t buy the idea of Charlie Johnson being a replacement for Steve Hutchinson. To me, that is like replacing top shelf scotch with a warm can of Keystone.
DARREN: No and maybe. Henderson can still play as a two-down run stuffer. But he’ll be 32 next season, will be looking for one last big payday, and the Vikings need to get younger. It’s time to give Jasper Brinkley a shot or sign Detroit’s Stephen Tulloch. As for Hutchinson, I’m tempted to argue he shouldn’t return either, but I’m less confident the Vikes can find a suitable replacement for him than for Henderson. So if Hutch will take a pay cut, he’d be a handy guy to have around.
3. Was Alan Williams a good hire?
ADAM: No. He was what, their fifth choice? Sixth? The guy is a warm body that agrees with Leslie Frazier’s philosophy. I’m sure he’ll bring something to the table, but 2012 will be a Leslie Frazier defense, not an Alan Williams defense.
DARREN: If you are happy with the Vikings running the same Tampa 2 scheme they’ve employed since 2006, then yes. But if you were looking for the squad to run a different, more aggressive, 4-3 system (and I was), then no. However, high profile coordinators (re: Steve Spagnuolo) weren’t really beating down the door to take the job, so Williams will have to do. Sigh.
4. Kalil, Blackmon or Claiborne at #3?
ADAM: Of those three, I take Kalil. Receiver and corner are both positions that will be easier to fill in free agency or later rounds of the Draft. Left tackle, and the offensive line in general, is a huge need for a team that needs to protect the investments they’ve made at quarterback and running back. Having a guy Kalil as mainstay on the left side will open up options to move guys around at guard, and help ease the loss of Jim Kleinsasser. If the Vikings stay at #3, and he is still available, then Kalil should be the pick. Watch for Luke Kuechly (MLB, Boston College) and Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa) to join this conversation as we get closer to Draft Day, however.
DARREN: Kalil. I’m in total agreement with Adam here. Elite left tackles only come around every so often and Kalil is the best left tackle available in the draft. This shouldn’t be a hard decision for Minnesota – assuming he’s still around by the third pick (it’s possible St. Louis might take him.) Actually, my dream draft scenario is Kalil is available when the Vikes get on the clock, they trade spots with Washington, who want Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III badly, get an extra first rounder in 2013, plus second and third round picks in this draft, and still pick up Kalil with the sixth overall pick.
5. Do you really expect Peterson to come back better than before?
ADAM: No, unfortunately I do not. Peterson was already not the same player he was three seasons ago, so to expect him to come back looking not only healthy, but younger and better, well that is just being unrealistic. I do think he’ll come back and be productive, however. He has gradually become less of a razzle dazzle runner over time, becoming more and more of a power back, and I expect he will continue to be a exactly that with his big play potential continuing to decrease over time. That is just the nature of the running back position. His drive and his will to win will only help him as he progresses through this injury, and hopefully he’ll be back to running over Packers in no time.
DARREN: Sadly, no. I’m not really sure what to expect from Peterson when/if he makes it back from his severe left knee injury. He’s a guy who has always depended on his speed and ability to make ridiculous cuts to be the special player he is. He’s never been utilized much as a pass receiver and his pass blocking skills are less than top notch. So if he’s been robbed of some of his superhuman explosiveness because of his knee injury, what are you left with? Joseph Addai?
FOR THE OTHER FIVE QUESTIONS (and answers) GO AHEAD AND CLICK HERE.