AnalysisNFL Draft 2012OpinionSpeculation

Sunday Coin Toss: Top Draft Need

Apparently everyone here at Vikings Territory loves it when Adam and I disagree on something. Our post a week ago where we went back and forth about whether or not the Vikings should trade down in the draft started quite the discussion between readers. Luckily for you all, Adam and I have different opinions quite frequently. And as such, we’ve decided to make this a recurring column where we duke it out over various topics.

As most of you probably know, Adam and I have been participating in a series of online, community mock drafts where groups of people act as the war room for NFL teams. Obviously, we’ve represented our beloved Vikings. Throughout the process, Adam and I have differed over the primary need of this franchise. A week ago, Adam ranked the Vikings needs from most desperate to not an issue. According to him, the position of safety is the #1 need of this team. In my opinion, left tackle is our most pressing demand, which is at #3 on Adam’s list. With the most important Vikings draft in recent memory literally right around the corner, what ever will Vikings management do if Adam and I can not agree on what should be the team’s priority?! Luckily for the franchise, I am blessed with the ability to persuade and argue. So, getting Adam to see the light should take no time at all.

Continue reading to see this epic battle go down.

Brett says: Alright, it’s really quite simple: 2012 is all about Christian Ponder. This team has invested a lot in the development of our first-round pick quarterback. His success is crucial to the progression of this franchise. While there were moments of brilliance from Ponder last year that suggested he could be an elite quarterback in the NFL, there were also moments that left you unsure. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Ponder), a lot of his struggles can be attributed to deficiencies elsewhere on the team. One of those shortcomings is obviously our lack of a real threat at the wide receiver position. The other, and more significant, defect is lack of protection for Ponder. Specifically from the left side.

It’s not hard to understand. Without protection, even if there were was a deep threat for Ponder to go to, if Ponder doesn’t have the time to set up and get the ball downfield, he will not succeed. And if Ponder doesn’t succeed, this team doesn’t succeed and heads straight back to square one.

I’ll take it a step further: I know our secondary sucks. I know that our “safety situation” is an absolute nightmare. (I’m giving you good stuff here, Adam. Jot this down.) But we could have the best safeties in the entire league. Safeties so great, the defense only spends 20% of the time on the field due to interceptions in the secondary. Even then, without substantial protection, Ponder will not be able to do anything on offense the other 80% of the time the offense has the ball.

Again, this season is about determining if Ponder can be the quarterback of the future. If he’s not, it’s back to square one trying to find a franchise quarterback. The only way we’ll be able to tell though is if he has the protection and the weapons to succeed. Safety needs to be addressed, but it is not nearly as crucial this year than left tackle.

Adam Says: First, let me say that safety is the easiest position to upgrade. Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond are currently penciled in as the starters which should scare the purple pants off of just about anybody. Finding upgrades to this position has to be the top priority, especially with the passing attacks we currently face within our division.

Now I am not going to say left tackle is not a position of need or importance. It absolutely is. Plus, it is a position that should be addressed far earlier in this Draft than safety.

However, we only need one left tackle, and it can be argued that we should be seeking two or three upgrades at safety. So I beat you from a quantity standpoint. Ha!

Getting safety help will help Ponder’s development, too. The Vikings can’t afford to have him throwing 50 passes a game because they are constantly playing from behind. They need a defense capable of keeping them in games, so that the offense can run a playbook that includes more than just bombs. The defense is just as responsible for protecting Ponder as any left tackle, just not in such a direct way.

Lastly, the safeties will be able to contribute on special teams, where we have struggled in the recent past.

Brett Says: Look, it’s not their fault that offensive tackles are underutilized on special teams. Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt would be beasts running down the field at opposing players on kickoffs!

This isn’t a debate about what position will be addressed first in the draft. Of course, it is 99% likely that the Vikings will draft Matt Kalil come April 26th. And I will agree that afterwards, the Vikings should probably think about addressing our dire safety situation. What we are discussing though is the team’s needs ranked by order of importance. And I don’t know about you, but I think the protection of our [hopefully] future franchise quarterback should be the priority of this team. I think we can both agree that quarterback is the single, most important position on the field. Yes? One single slip up by the left tackle could result in Ponder lying in ruins on the turf! (You didn’t think I was going to bust out scare tactics to win the favor of our readers in this debate, did you?) But seriously, the left tackle is in charge of making sure the guy we’ve invested a lot of time in (Ponder) stays upright.

How about we take a different route and take a little peek into the average salaries of players by position across the NFL? I think it’s pretty safe to say that how important a particular player is to a team determines how much he earns. Obviously, quarterbacks are at the top of list earning significantly more than other positions. Next though, are defensive ends and offensive tackles – the people in the trenches on the ends. Makes sense that the second highest paid positions are the people in charge of either protecting or hurting the highest paid position, don’t you think?

Adam Says: Yes, and quarterbacks get paid more than soldiers and firefighters… doesn’t mean they are more valuable.

I’m not going to argue that left tackle isn’t a more important position than safety. The fact of the matter, however, is that the Vikings have not taken a step backwards at that position this offseason. All of the same candidates for the job still remain on the roster and, at the very least, the talent at the position has not regressed.

As much as we dogged on the safety play last season, the truth is that they have actually gotten worse (and lost depth) this offseason by not retaining Tyrell Johnson and (possibly) Husain Abdullah. Think about that for a second, we have taken a step backwards from where we were a year ago at the position. The upside to that, however, is that we now have a great opportunity to majorly upgrade the position via the 2012 NFL Draft by replacing them with one, two, or maybe even three young talents. Mistral Raymond and Jamarca Sanford simply will not cut it against our divisional competition, no doubt about it. Now, imagine that one of them gets hurt… who is going to step in? Frampton?

Uh oh.

The Vikings must upgrade both of their starting spots in this Draft as well as their depth. No position on this roster is in such dire need of a face lift as safety.

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Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson (Founder) is a passionate Viking fan hailing from Sin City, Las Vegas. He can remember, as a child, scraping his knee on the playground and his friends being completely shocked by the purple blood trickling from the wound. When Brett isn't scouring the Internet for some semblance of Vikings news, he enjoys blindly putting money on them to beat whoever their opponent may be, and daydreams about being their next Tight End. Brett graduated from UNLV with a degree in Architecture and specializes in web/graphic design; he hopes to provide this site’s visitors with the best Vikings experience on the net.

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  1. Would have to give this one to Adam.. I think our safeties are simple as bad as they come. Many times last year, it was problems between CB and Safeties. Not only was there miscommunication the safeties were taking bad angles, missing tackles or was completely out of position.
    You can’t allow Tim Tebow to throw the one deep ball after the other..

    I also know Left tackle is a big need, and I think we should address it early with a blue chip player: Matt Kalil. – No upgrade at all at Left Tackle would be horrible, but I think we would be in a worse situation if there is no upgrade made to our safeties..

    1. ExaCctly, Malte… our safeties made Tim Tebow (a backup to Mark Sanchez, mind you) look like Tom brady.

      Meanwhile, matched up against Charlie Johnson, Julius Peppers looked like Julius Peppers.

  2. First off I voted Adam as safety is our biggest weakness. Kalil should be our first pick tho even if there was an equally rated safety. While I agree safety is a weaker position and higher need LT is much more important and we should worry about that first because it’s harder to upgrade. Brandon Taylor and Harrison Smith are my 2 favorite safeties in this draft and they’re projected in rounds 2-4. Safety is a bigger weakness but LT is a harder position to upgrade so we must do that first.

  3. As far as which position is in the worst state right now …Agree with Adam
    As far as addressing both needs, This draft class, OT needs to be addressed 1st ! I can’t say there is a Clear cut winner;;;
    Again I didn’t vote you fellas for Idiots ha ha
    Are you sure you two aren’t voting against each other on this Idiot poll??? hmmm.

    1. Thanks Charlie! Yeah, I don’t know why Adam kept that idiot option in there… He either didn’t learn from last time or doesn’t care, haha. I don’t really mind either.

      Sorry I’ve been a little MIA everyone. I’m at Coachella (music festival) in California. I’ll be back sometime late Monday/early Tuesday roaring and reading to go for the draft.

  4. ID say we need to devote the first pick to lt….but yea our secondary really sucks….they couldnt cover a crappy hs football team much less the packers….I for one was hoping wed bring in some veteran safety help…but i guess we didnt do that..much less bring in anybody of significances which is dissapointing..but look on the bright side we have enough fbs on this team to make another roster.

    1. well you gotta have fullbacks.. I vote for moar fullbacks always.. actually I would like us to run some 5 FB sets.. I’ve heard these sets are pretty hard to stop

  5. Ha I didnt vote cause you’re both right and I’m on the bandwagon of LT in the 1st and safety in the second. And there’s another arguement for CB and WR also. Oh my how far this team has fallen to get to this point.

  6. Gonna have to go with Brett. If next year mattered, safety may be atop my list.. But if we trade down and take Barron, then trade back up and also grab Harrison Smith, our safety problem would be fixed, but there’s a good chance we’d be looking for a new QB after about week 4. We need Ponder to make strides next year, and he can only do that if he’s kept upright

  7. I think that they are both big needs. But I have to give left tackle the edge. I think Ponder needs to be given the best chance to succeed possible. It would be good to get alot of the key offensive pieces in place so that they can get continuity and grow as an offense together. I also think that with the rule changes and the way that the game is changing there are alot of teams already disappointed with their safeties and that will continue to be disappointed with their safeties. I think we are going to start seeing more and more college corners converted to safeties. This is a pretty deep corner class. I hope they don’t reach for a safety based on need. I think that pro football focus had Hussain Abdullah graded as one of the better safeties. I hope that he comes back and is able to overcome the concussions.