Saturday, April 25, 2015

Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Cornerbacks Marcus Sherels (25) and A.J. Jefferson (24) were both retained by the Vikings on Monday.

Sherels was an exclusive rights free agent and received a tender in the amount of $555,000.  While he was exposed at times in the secondary during 2012, when injuries forced him into action, the Percy Harvin trade makes him a candidate to be the primary return man in 2013.  The Vikings may end up adding a high quality return man that takes the job away from him, but right now that is his best chance of being on the opening day roster.

Jefferson also had his struggles in 2012, but he wasn’t the worst acquisition in the world and has shown at least some flashes here and there.  Jefferson was restricted and received a tender in the amount of $1.33 million, giving the Vikings the right to match any other offer he might receive, but no compensation if another team signs him away.

Free agency is just a day away, and as we all know, the Vikings will be looking to sign a wide receiver or two. As Adam mentioned a few days ago, The Vikings are believed to have contacted the agents of both free agent receivers Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings, but the buzz of either player coming to Minnesota has seemed to have died down. It looks like Mike Wallace will be heading to Miami, and Jennings wants to play on a team with a “good quarterback” (hard to imagine Ponder comes to his mind). Let’s face it, the Vikings probably aren’t going to make a blockbuster move in free agency, but there are still some legitimate free agent wide receivers who the Vikings will consider.

One guy I think the Vikings will look at is Danario Alexander of the San Diego Chargers. He is a restricted free agent, but only received a low tender from the Chargers despite coming off of a good season. Alexander only caught 37 passes in 2012, but he averaged 17.8 yards a catch going for 658 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s a big receiver (6’5, 217) who can be a playmaker in our offense. Alexander has a lot of upside, and is the typical young receiver (24) with a lot of potential that I see Rick Spielman having an interest in.

The Vikings may have some competition for Alexander, but he is definitely worth pursuing.

According to “an NFL source”, Percy Harvin is being traded to the Seattle Seahawks.

The compensation for Harvin is believed to be at least a 2013 first round pick. Foxsports.com is reporting that the Seahawks gave up this year’s first and seventh round picks as well as a mid-round pick in 2014. When the final details of the deal are known we will pass them along.

It is believed that Harvin is currently on his way to Seattle for a physical to complete the deal.

“Sources” say the two organizations have been trying to work something out for “some time.” Ultimately, this move makes sense for the Seahawks organization as it reunites Harvin with Vikings former offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell and Sidney Rice.

Whether or not it makes sense for the Vikings is something we will hash out quite a bit here at VT. Check back soon for more details and analysis for this huge trade.

I think we here at VT have done a pretty good job of beating this roster to death from an analysis standpoint since the season ended, and if we missed something we are sure to club it over the head prior to April’s Draft.  So, instead of being incredibly redundant and boring with some sort of Pre-Free Agency guide, I wanted to just run through each position and give you a quick thought.  A little something to chew on while you wait for the bell to toll midnight on Tuesday, if you will.

QB:  I am one of the remaining few that thinks Joe Webb still has value to this team as a scout team quarterback since they have struggled with mobile quarterbacks recently and have a bunch of them on the 2013 schedule.  Still, the Vikings need to find someone with a little more poise to be the primary backup to Christian Ponder (and maybe give him a little competition) and early indications are that the best option available via free agency might be Drew Stanton.  Stanton being the best available is not saying much, though.

RB:  If the Vikings are going to deal Percy Harvin away then why not chase a guy like Reggie Bush to be a backup to Adrian Peterson, step in on key passing downs, contribute on special teams, and occasionally run routes out of the slot?  He might have been a little disappointing after being so heralded in college, but he is still a heck of a player and seems to be holding up pretty well.  Oh, and if we don’t get him, the Lions just might.

FB:  The Vikings are trying to be conservative (i.e. cheap) by letting all of their free agents talk to other interested teams instead of just getting deals done.  This might save them some cap space here and there, but I think it will also bite them in the ass at least once.  I hope the risk doesn’t end up with Jerome Felton cashing in on his big year with any other team.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

The Vikings are less than two days away from free agency and they have yet to resign any of their own pending free agents.  On offense, they stand to take a big step backwards if they lose Phil Loadholt, Jerome Felton, and maybe even Percy Harvin all at once.  Those are roles that would be tough to fill all at once, let alone upgrade.

On defense, however, the Vikings have three guys that have started games for them that are set to be free agents and it is hard to picture replacements being any major step back.  In fact, when it comes to Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, and Jamarca Sanford I think the Vikings could conceivably upgrade each spot without too much trouble and without over-investing.  It may not come to that, as each player still seems possible to return, but the Vikings have to look for new linebacker talent regardless.

There are a number of linebackers at the top of the draft class that generate a significant amount of buzz, but each comes with red flags that can’t ignored, such as Manti Te’o’s bizarre girlfriend saga and Alec Ogletree’s DUI.  Arthur Brown seems to be quite popular with some fans, but I don’t know that I would want to spend a first round pick on a guy that might not be a three down player for the Vikings, and I do worry that it is the case with him.

Later on in the Draft, however, it is more excusable to select a linebacker that might have some question marks or maybe isn’t going to be a full time player.  Especially at weakside linebacker, manned by Erin Henderson these last few years, when two downs is possibly all that will be expected anyways.

When it comes to a guy that I think could prove to be a clear upgrade over Henderson, especially in coverage, that can be found a little later in the Draft I have to say that I have a crush on Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore.

For a while I thought I would end up writing this post as a “sleeper” feature that brought attention to a damn fine football player that was largely being ignored.  Then Moore had himself a dandy week during the East-West Shrine Game and lit it up at the NFL Scouting Combine, so the cat is out of the bag, and most are projecting him as a solid second or third round pick.

At 6′ 1″ and 245 pounds, Moore isn’t the biggest linebacker you’ll find, but he brings a rare combination of speed and strength to his game that Vikings could certainly use.  If their primary objective with their linebackers is to improve in coverage, which it should be, then Moore could be the perfect fit as evidenced by his 11 pass breakups in 2012.

At the Combine he was among the top performers in a number of categories including the forty yard dash (4.65 seconds), the bench press (29 reps), the vertical jump (38″), and the broad jump (127″).  His smaller frame is going to worry some personnel decision makers, but that bench press total was good for second place in Indianapolis, and indicates that he is actually as strong as he looks on tape.

Moore shows that he knows how to use his strength to shed blocks and rush the passer.  While he is already a good coverage linebacker, that strength also gives him an advantage here, as he is fairly proficient at jamming and rerouting bigger receivers and tight ends at the line of scrimmage, which makes everyone’s job easier on defense including his.

As a senior (he redshirted as a freshman) Moore actually saw his lowest tackle totals of his career (72) but was clearly better in all phases of the game, as evidenced by the increase of production in all other major statistical categories.  His 7.5 sacks and 11 passes defended were career highs, while his 15.5 tackles for a loss were only 0.5 away from his 2011 total.  Moore uses sound fundamentals while tackling and is usually going to make the stop, but does sometimes struggle with an agile ball carrier one-on-one in the open field.

The Liberian-born Moore is known as a disciplined and instinctive football player that works hard and is quick to diagnose a play.  He will benefit from being coached up at the NFL level, as he could increase his arsenal of moves and learn to use his hands better, but he is certainly a well-rounded prospect that should succeed on special teams from the get-go and move up the ranks fairly quickly.

Moore’s small frame is going to be his most worrisome trait, as many feel it limits his upside, but we have seen plenty of players defy these odds in the past.  We have seen talented linebackers fall in the Draft before because they are thought to be best suited for the 4-3, so the Vikings could be making a solid addition if they grab Moore in the second round, but get an absolute steal if he is available in third or fourth.

Below is some game tape (not highlights) of Moore at work.  For fun though, I suggest you go to YouTube and search his name.  He has a number of entertaining videos posted that display his strength in interesting ways.  If you like Joe Webb’s jump-over-the-mats video, then you are sure to like some of Moore’s videos, as well.

 

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