Vikings Roundtable: 12 Free Agency and Offseason Questions
Because free agency is just around the corner and, in general, there is quite a bit happening with our Vikings right now, Vikings Territory and a few other great Vikings blogs around the web got together for a roundtable discussion, so-to-speak. Randy Perrin, of Vikings Gab, posed various questions and we all did our best to provide our own insight and opinion. There were a total of 12 questions with numbers 4-6 below. To see questions 1-3, head on over to Vikings Gab. For questions 7-9, check out a new Vikings blog that’s already put out some great stuff, The Vikings Den. Finally, for questions 10-12, head on over to TC Huddle.
Continue reading to see how we answered questions regarding the draft, veteran players and how we feel Christian Ponder did in 2011.
VikingsGab (Questions 1-3)
Vikings Territory (Questions 4-6)
The Viking Den (Questions 7-9)
-Gil Alcaraz IV
TC Huddle (Questions 10-12)
4. Any players you want the Vikings to consider with their 2nd round pick?
Adam Warwas – Say it with me: Best Player Available. The Vikings need to stay true to their board. They are sure to get a player that their scouts gave a first round grade to at that spot, so they should take that player regardless of position.
Branden Lemke – If we don’t get our DB in free agency, I definitely think we should take a shot at a guy here. A guy like Janoris Jenkins, or maybe Stephon Gilmore.
Brett Anderson – Yes. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia. Fortunately for Hill, he had an incredible performance at the combine and really stood out in the wide receiver group. Unfortunately for the Vikings, that means Hill may not be available anymore at the beginning of the second round. Originally considered a third/fourth round wide receiver, Hill bolted his way up draft boards after the combine and is now a late first round/early second round pick. At 6’4”, 214 pounds, Hill has all the physical tools to be a legitimate deep threat in the NFL. His 4.36 fourty yard dash at the combine showed he has the speed to blow past defenders and go deep. He has a huge catch radius, averaged almost 30 yards a catch at Georgia and is an experienced run blocker. There are some question marks though… At Georgia, Hill was part of an offense that didn’t require him to run a lot of different routes and primarily ran the ball. With a little work though, I see Stephen Hill being really successful in the NFL. He’s already drawing comparisons to our beloved Randy Moss as well as Calvin Johnson.
Dan Buri – Assuming the Vikings get Kalil with the 3rd pick and focus on WR in free agency, the 35th pick is prime position for a corner back. If Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama is still available in the second round, he would be a pro-ready CB and a no-brainer selection. If not, Stephon Gilmore’s size and speed out of South Carolina could fit nicely across from Chris Cook. (Do they let you play football with ankle monitors on?)
Gil Alcaraz IV – There will be a number of enticing options for the Vikings to explore in the early second round. One of the most intriguing, however, is Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill. After blowing scouts away at the 2012 Scouting Combine, Hill is quickly working his way up draft boards and has asserted himself as a fringe first-round talent. With the Vikings, he would provide the offense with a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver who can lure coverage away from Percy Harvin and open up the middle of the field. Plus, he’s a terrific run blocker. The only problem with that scenario is whether or not he’s available in the second round. We won’t know for sure until draft day, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.
Joe Buri – Chances are slim that he’ll still be around at No. 35. But I’d love to see them go with Josh Robinson (cornerback and kick returner) out of Central Florida.
Randy Perrin – Once were out of the first round I’m ok with going with the best player available. We have plenty of needs and honestly can’t really go wrong whatever direction we go. I’m sure we will have a player with a 1st round grade still available early in the 2nd round.
5. Which veterans take the field for the Vikings in 2012 and which ones get released?
Adam Warwas – I will assume that we are limiting this question to the veterans that speculation has centered around this offseason. I’m going to say I am 51% certain that Steve Hutchinson and Cedric Griffin will be back, while Anthony Herrera will almost certainly be gone. I think the Vikings will re-sign Sage Rosenfels while letting E.J. Henderson walk. Keep an eye on Ryan Longwell, that could become an interesting situation if the Vikings get the opportunity to find a younger leg to sign.
Branden Lemke – I think we’ll see Husain Abdullah back, and possibly Erin Henderson. I think we need to get younger and let some of the older guys go who are past their prime, like EJ Henderson and Steve Hutchinson. I don’t think we’ll see Cedric Griffin out there next year either, due to a lack of performance in the 2011 season.
Brett Anderson – Not quite sure how we’re defining ‘veteran’ here but I would say that the Vikings will probably work out a contract with Erin Henderson, Husain Abdullah, Devin Aromashodu, Letroy Guion and maybe Sage Rosenfels. As far as the veterans that will be released? The big ones I think will be Steve Hutchinson, Visanthe Shiancoe (not necessarily ‘released’ just not re-signed), Anthony Herrera, E.J. Henderson and any other free agent that wasn’t mentioned above. There are a couple caveats, though. With the retirement of Jimmy Kleinsasser, the Vikings will suddenly find themselves incredibly thin at tight end if Shiancoe is not re-signed. I could see the team working to negotiate a contract with him or attempting to add more depth at tight end through the draft. It’s obvious that the goal is for Rudolph to be our #1 TE moving forward. But I think the Vikings want to try and use the two tight end set that has gotten so popular in the NFL and there really isn’t anyone to bookend the other side if Shiancoe leaves. The other exception I think may be Hutchinson. Depending on what the team does in free agency (i.e. If Carl Nicks is picked up), I could see the team trying to renegotiate a cheaper contract with Hutchinson to keep him on the team another year. It is largely believed that the Vikings will add Matt Kalil at left tackle in the draft and who would be better than Hutchinson to shape the raw rookie and show him the ropes? My gut feeling though is that both Shiancoe and Hutchinson are not with the team next year and the team instead pursues younger, cheaper alternatives.
Dan Buri – Although whether or not the Vikings resign Sage Rosenfels is the most important issue of the 2012 offseason, we’ll leave that for another time. Anybody that’s a sucker for familial connections on the football field should brace themselves for disappointment. Both E.J. and Erin Henderson have played their last games in Purple and Gold. So have veterans Cedric Griffin and Steve the “Poison Pill” Hutchinson. Minnesota will resign a number of veteran FA’s, but I’d like to see them resign zero.
Gil Alcaraz IV – I keep getting this overwhelming feeling that the majority of the Vikings’ veteran free agents will not be in Minnesota when 2012 kicks off. Most of them, including Steve Hutchinson, Visanthe Shiancoe and Cedric Griffin, will all cost more than the Vikings are willing to spend. In the midst of a youth movement, the last thing the Vikings want is to overpay for a declining veteran. The only veterans who I see returning in 2012 are the Henderson brothers and possibly Husain Abdullah as long as the Vikings don’t see him as an injury liability.
Joe Buri – Sadly, I expect the Vikings to part ways with Steve Hutchinson and EJ Henderson. The same is probably true for Visanthe Shiancoe. Erin Henderson WILL be back, as will Husain Abdullah (despite his affinity for concussions).
Randy Perrin – Steve Hutchinson will be gone unless he takes a huge pay cut and I expect Herrera to be cut this year even though I thought he should of been let go last year. Cedric Griffin doesn’t look like he will be back and I wouldn’t be surprised if they asked Kevin Williams to take a pay cut also. Vikings could very well be the youngest team next year. Hopefully the Vikings can re-sign Erin Henderson and I expect Husain Abdullah to be back on a one year contract. Sage Rosenfels could also be back to back up Ponder and Webb.
6. Your thoughts on Ponder after 1st year? Would you draft Luck or RG3 if available at pick 3?
Adam Warwas – I think Ponder was thrown into a tough situation following a tough (non-existent) offseason. Showing a decent amount of improvement between his first and second year will be crucial to his approval rating amongst fans. I would draft Luck, but not RGIII, with the third overall selection if I were the Vikings. If RGIII falls to number three, then I am holding an impromptu auction and selling to the highest bidder.
Branden Lemke – I need to see more from Ponder. It’s hard to judge a guy by his rookie season, especially with the lack of offensive talent we had in 2011, but I definitely think he has potential. I am against the Vikings taking Luck or Griffin because that shows Spielman and Frazier are not confident with their decisions. Part of taking a risk is sticking to it until you know for a fact you made the wrong decision.
Brett Anderson – Ponder was not given a fair chance to excel last season. He didn’t have the practice in the offseason due to the lockout. He didn’t have enough weapons at wide receiver. He didn’t have enough protection (kind of hard to throw when you’re always on your back). He didn’t always have Adrian Peterson in the backfield. He had to deal with hip injuries and concussions (see: He didn’t have enough protection). I could go on… The point is, people need to chill out and understand that elite passers are not created overnight. Go back in time and look at the rookie year of [most of] the hall of fame quarterbacks (Here I went back in time for you). You’ll notice that they’re not all that great. For example, Terry Bradshaw in his rookie year threw for 1,400 yards, had a 38.1 completion percentage with 6 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Ponder’s rookie stat line doesn’t look so bad now, huh? I firmly believe that, with the proper tools in place and a full offseason to learn the system, plays and develop, Ponder will make great strides in 2012. With all that being said, if Luck was available at #3 come draft day we would be crazy not to take him. If RGIII was available, I might have to pass on him. I guess I just haven’t gotten on the Robert Griffin train yet… I’d rather us take Kalil.
Dan Buri – I really like Ponder. He made a lot of dumb mistakes that are expected of a rookie QB. The success of Cam Newton and the Red Rifle left fans forgetting what is typical from a rookie QB. Ponder will continue to learn the speed of the game this season. That being said, if Luck or RG3 are available at 3, we either have another promising young QB on our roster or a king’s ransom of trade acquisitions.
Gil Alcaraz IV – 2011 was a tough year to really give Ponder a fair evaluation. When he wasn’t injured, he was running for his life due to the awful pass blocking. When he was first handed the reins, he looked confident and cool and was ready to lead the team to victory. That was until he made a couple mistakes and the Ponder-pummeling began. If he can regain the swagger that he had during his first go-around with the Green Bay Packers, there’s a great chance that he can be the franchise quarterback the Vikings were hoping for when they drafted him so high. As for Luck or Griffin, the Vikings would be smart to avoid drafting them if the opportunity arose. One of the worst locker room moves they could make is throwing in the towel a year after putting all of their eggs in the Ponder basket.
Joe Buri – Gosh golly gee whiz…this is a dilly of a pickle. You drafted Ponder in 2011 and saw mixed results. You also have Joe Webb as a back-up, who has shown flashes of decency. Does it make sense to go with RG3 if he falls to No. 3? I say yes…go with talent and figure out the rest later.
Randy Perrin – I think Ponder flashed his potential at times last year but he needs to improve in many areas which is expected. He looked solid on throws on the run, can make all the throws, throws a catchable ball but sometimes he does need to drive into his throws and put more zip on the ball. His pocket awareness scared me a little at times last year and unless he becomes more confident and steps up in the pocket he will never take that next step.
I’m a huge fan of RG3 and I would have to think hard about taking him at 3 but I would probably take the picks in a trade for him and roll with Ponder. We have a lot of needs and getting picks to move back would be ideal.
Sean Ryan – Why not just go after Manning? After 3 straight years of begging veteran QBs why switch it up now?
Just wanted to take a moment to say “thanks” to Randy Perrin from Vikings Gab for coordinating this roundtable and putting together the questions. Great work! Make sure to check out the other questions on the sites listed at the top of this post.