Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Blog Page 187

Hello, everyone.  Sorry for the absence, right after my latest comments/arguments in the previous thread karma came a knocking and a little something called influenza decided to have its way with me.

The plus side is that my Nyquil induced episode of Fear and Loathing provided ample thinking time about the upcoming free agency period and the Draft.  With the Draft still 100 days away (exactly) I decided I would spend the next few days taking a look at some of the names we can ready ourselves to see on the free agent market.

Up first are the quarterbacks and the rankings, while specific towards the Vikings, are my own and are certainly up for debate.  With both Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman singing Christian Ponder’s praises following this season, it seems unlikely that we can expect any huge moves towards a new starter, but the Wild Card round certainly proved we could use some competition at the backup spots.

TOP TIER

The top tier of the quarterback free agency class includes only one name, and is sure to include zero by the time free agency actually rolls around.  Joe Flacco gets the top spot here, but his stock has never been higher after an improbable Divisional Round victory, and he will surely warrant the franchise tag at the very least.

All of the NFC North teams are now tied for first place within the division.

The San Francisco 49ers decisive Saturday Night whooping of the Packers ended any hope (or fear) of a team from the North winning the Super Bowl.

While Vikings fans have to be elated to see their most hated enemy’s Super Bowl hopes dashed, it is somewhat painful to notice exactly how the 49ers took away a Victory.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was selected with the fourth pick of the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.  This was nearly a full round later than where the Vikings decided to place the future of the quarterback position on the shoulders of Christian Ponder.

I’m not going to launch into a hate fest of Ponder, but it is hard to deny that Kaepernick is clearly the better quarterback right now and that he has progressed faster than Ponder.  He is just plain and simply getting it done both through the air and on the ground.

What hurts even more is that Kaepernick led an option style offense that posted a ridiculous 579 yards against Green Bay’s defense.  The Vikings employed a similar scheme in the Wild Card round’s opening drive, with Joe Webb making the surprise start, but inexplicably abandoned the option after finding success on that drive.

Why Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier “adjusted” their offensive scheme after that first drive will be a question that, for most fans, will never be adequately answered.

Soon, why the Vikings opted for Ponder over Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft may be a question that Rick Spielman finds equally difficult to answer.

There will be plenty of discussion starting very soon about how the Vikings can attract, afford, and accumulate more talent throughout their roster.  First, let us take a look at how well armed the Vikings are in their quest to improve upon 2012.

First, Tom Pelissero writes that the Vikings should begin this offseason with about $12.3 million in cap space, a number that is above average for NFL teams.  These projections include deductions for earned incentives for players such as Antoine Winfield, as well as a bump stemming from cap violation penalties placed on the Redskins and Cowboys.

The team will probably want to start spending that cap space by retaining some of their 14 free agents, each of which are discussed here, before considering just who they might target when free agency opens up.

They may also increase their cap space depending on how they decide to proceed with veterans such as defensive tackle Kevin Williams, defensive end Jared Allen, cornerback Antoine Winfield, tight end John Carlson, and wide receiver Percy Harvin.

The Vikings are also armed with eight picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.  They have no picks in the sixth round, but two in both the fourth and seventh rounds.  Each of the other rounds, they have one pick in each.  While the official Draft order has yet to be released, the Vikings appear to be solidified as having the 23rd pick in the first round.  That is, of course, a full 20 spots lower than where they sat when Draft Day rolled around in 2012.

With plenty of cap space and Draft picks, this should be an exciting offseason to pay attention to, as Rick Spielman has plenty of fire power to keep building this team into one that can win a championship.

While the Vikings made an unexpected run at the playoffs I embarked on a quest to provide grades to each of Rick Spielman’s offseason moves to help us understand what happened, how it worked out, and what we might have to look forward to this coming offseason.

The part about free agency can be found by clicking here.  Meanwhile, you can click here to see my grades for the first picks of the 2012 Draft.  Now, we move into the lower half of the 2012 Draft to see exactly how things played out.

4.39 Greg Childs, WR:  The Vikings wanted to pair up Childs with fellow Arkansas teammate Jarius Wright, hoping to jump start their passing game by infusing some youthful talent.  Unfortunately, that strategy got derailed when Childs suffered a freak injury during the preseason.  He tore both of his patellar tendons in one shot and his rookie season was over before it began.

Injuries caused Childs to fall to the fourth round which has some critics pointing out that you cannot expect much more when you take a guy with red flags about his health.  No NFL player has ever returned from this injury, but Childs remains devoted to his rehabilitation and sounds very confident that he will.

The Vikings got no production out of this selection in 2012 after an impressive training camp, but there may still be some hope for the future.

GRADE:  C

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5

The Vikings now have five players headed for Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl.

We have already mentioned that Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Blair Walsh and Jared Allen are already making their Pro Bowl plans and now we can add linebacker Chad Greenway to that list.

Greenway was originally voted as an alternate player for the annual honor, and will be replacing the injured Cowboy linebacker DeMarcus Ware.  This is the second time Greenway has attended the Pro Bowl, and it is his fifth straight season of leading the Vikings in tackles.

He has been credited with 148 total tackles this season in addition to three sacks, an interception, and two fumble recoveries.

We may need two hands to count the number of Viking Pro Bowlers this way as more could still be added to the roster.  Center John Sullivan and left tackle Matt Kalil are both reported to be alternates and Blair Walsh is campaigning to get Cullen Loeffler in as the NFC’s long snapper.

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