>\n\nWorst to First: 30. Minnesota Vikings \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 30. Minnesota Vikings

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/22/2010

Ok Minnesota Vikings fans, hands up who thinks referees cost you a shot at that elusive Superbowl? Well you don't have to be a Vikes fan, I think they did too. Not so much consciously maybe, but it was funny have every single 50/50 decision in overtime went the Saints way. Ah well, back to the 2010 season. The Vikings are a loaded team. They've got almost all the ingredients needed to win that Superbowl. The Hall of Fame QB, a great young WR corps the best Runningback in the game and probably the biggest damn Offensive Line ever assembled. And that's just on offense. Still there's a few needs that could do with filling, some for now and some for the future.

Let's take a walk through the roster and see what needs doing.

2010 Free Agent Losses 2010 Free Agent Additions
Artis Hicks G (Redskins,UFA), Karl Paymah CB (49ers,RFA), Chester Taylor RB (Bears,UFA)

Rhys Lloyd K (Panthers,UFA), Mike Montgomery DE (Packers,UFA-cut)

2010 Unsigned Free Agents 2011 Potential Free Agents
 Ray Edwards DE (RFA), Tarvaris Jackson QB (RFA), Greg Lewis WR (UFA)

Hussain Abdullah DB (XRFA), Ryan Cook OT (UFA), Fred Evans DL (UFA), Brett Favre QB (UFA), Eric Frampton DB (RFA), Chad Greenway LB (UFA), Erin Henderson LB (RFA), Tarvaris Jackson QB (UFA), Tyrell Johnson DB (RFA), Ben Leber LB (UFA), Ryan Longwell K (UFA), Jayme Mitchell DL (UFA), Michael Montgomery DL (UFA), Darius Reynaud RB (RFA), Sidney Rice WR (RFA), Brian Robison DL (RFA), Naufahu Tahi RB (RFA), Pat Williams DL (UFA), Albert Young RB (RFA)

Quarterbacks Major Need
Whether or not Brett Favre comes back this year (I figure he will... eventually) the Vikings should be in the market for a QB in this draft. Favre is on borrowed time and Tarvaris Jackson never had any time, borrowed or otherwise. I've read one rumour about Matt Hasselbeck coming in if Favre does retire but that still doesn't solve the problem long term. They need to find a successor to Favre and they need to do it soon. Now, it could be that if he gets past the 49ers, Jimmy Clausen might not find a suitor anywhere before the Vikings. It's still a pretty unlikely scenario but it can, and does happen. The next guy down the list figures to be Tim Tebow who's going to need development time and may, ultimately never amount to an NFL QB. But he's a great athlete and a born leader so he represents less risk than some QBs because you can find a role for him somewhere, even if, ultimately it's the Wildcat or gimmick plays. There's still Sage Rosenfels on the roster, probably the best #3 QB in the league, he's been highly accurate in relief play and it seems like if Favre returns Rosenfels will be traded.

Runningbacks Minor Need
I don't need to say much about Adrian Peterson. We all know how good he is. And most people know he's not a receiving threat. So losing Chester Taylor hurts a fair bit. It could be a pretty big need too. We liked Ian Johnson out of Boise State last year he's still on the roster, along with Albert Young who beat Johnson to a roster spot. They could go into the season with those guys and Darius Reynaud, a WR they're converting to a RB. Reynaud could well have a role catching out of the backfield on third downs if he converts well. But how well he can learn to pick up the blitz will have more to do with any role he wins there. Brian Westbrook could still find himself in a Vikes uniform this season but what the Vikings do in the draft could determine that. Montario Hardesty or Dexter McCluster could be that sort of back but so could a guy like Jahvid Best who may still be around at the end of Round 1.

Wide Receivers Minimal Need
Sidney Rice is Favre's new Donald Driver. And what a combination those 2 make. With talented and tough Percy Harvin moving into his second year and Bernard Berrian still posting solid, if unspectacular numbers the receiving corps look pretty good. Rice could be a free agent in 2011 but the biggest question that remains is who's going to be passing them the ball. There's not a huge amount of depth under the top 3 either. Greg Lewis is capable and still kicking around but he didn't find much work in the Vikes offense last year. Still, not much need for anything other than a mid to late round type guy.

Tight Ends Minimal Need
Visanthe Shiancoe seems to score in pretty much every game. He's not a TE like your Gates or Witten, he doesn't get that number of catches but there are few better Tight Ends in the redzone than Shiancoe. Dependable Jim Kleinsasser's really just in there as a blocker these days and he's pretty long in the tooth too. Garrett Mills is #3 and he doesn't offer an awful lot. They could do with finding a guy who can eventually replace Kleinsasser but you can usually have those types of guys late on.

Offensive Line Major Need
With 13'6" and 670lbs of Offensive Tackles in Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt (who also both happen to be rather good) the Vikes line is off to a good start. Throw in eternal Probowler Steve Hutchinson and it gets better. But not all was right with this line last year. Despite Adrian Peterson they still just squeaked over 4 yards per carry and they gave up 34 sacks. Neither mark is awful, we've just come to expect much better from the Vikings. I think it's fair to say the loss of Matt Birk hurt. He's a hard act to follow and the Vikings would, I'm sure, love for Maurkice Pouncey to fall to their pick at #30. And, with relatively few holes to fill the Vikes could easily try and swing a trade up to get Pouncey. That would be a move I'm sure A-Pete would love.

Defensive Tackles Minor Need
You can't argue with the Williams Wall. If you do, they have good lawyers, they're probably going to win. The only problem being Williams Sr. is 37 years old. How much longer can he continue and is this a good time to replace him? Or next year? He's a free agent after this year and you've got to figure he'd call it a career at that point. They also have Jimmy Kennedy in the rotation and it's possible he's the replacement anyway. But he's in his 30s himself. If they were in the market this season Terrence Cody could be around towards the end of round 1, I don't think he's necessarily the best fit but he's unlikely to diminish the run defense. Obviously if you want to continue the Williams Wall then they gotta have Dan Williams right? Heh, might be nice, but he'll be gone way before the Vikes pick. Looks like they're going to be in the market for a new nickname next year too. Still, it's a Minor Need right now.

Defensive Ends Minimal Need
There's no escaping Jared Allen is a great pass rusher. Hell if you're an NFL QB there's just no escaping Jared Allen period. But it's got to be worth mentioning that of his 14.5 sacks, over half of them were on Aaron Rodgers. As they still play Rodgers twice a year in 2010, that's not much of a concern. Ray Edwards on the other side had his best season as a pro too. He wants a contract to reflect that but there doesn't seem to be much movement from the Vikings. He'll be playing for them again this year, but possibly not next year. Brian Robison offers some pretty good stuff in a rotational role too so they're looking pretty good to go chase QBs again in 2010. Aaron Rodgers, you have been warned.

Linebackers Minimal Need
When E.J. Henderson got hurt, firstly, I'm glad they didn't show too many slow motion replays. Secondly the Vikings had a problem. And it's still an existing problem with Henderson not guaranteed to be ready for the start of the season (though thankfully talk of it being a career ending injury seems to have died down). The Vikings still have 2 and 2/3rds good Linebackers. Ben Leber and Chad Greenway and the 2. But Jasper Brinkley, Henderson's backup is really just a 2 down Linebacker. He's good against the run but not against the pass. All of which leaves the Vikings with a bit of a quandary. Do they trust Henderson will be ready? WHat about Ben Leber? He's 31 and a 2011 free agent. Could they, say, look at a guy like Navorro Bowman? Someone who covers well and could fill in as a rookie in pass coverage. Bowman then gives them someone to eventually replace Ben Leber on the weakside. Need here is totally going to depend on Henderson's recovery and I don't have the medical data the Vikes will have (funny that...). If Henderson's career is over it's basically a Major Need, what with Leber a potential 2011 loss as well. But currently they're looking for someone to cover passing downs for part of the season and perhaps replace Leber in 2011. So I'm calling it Minimal Need right now but they could definitely use the depth.

Cornerbacks Major Need
This situation's looking pretty dire right now. I've always been a huge fan of Antoine Winfield. You have to love tough corners who play the run that well. But WInfield is 33 and has been having injury troubles. Speaking of injury troubles, his partnet in crime, Cedric Griffin thinks he'll be ready for training camp. He may be able to show up 6 months on from ACL surgery but he's not going to be at the top of his game. Karl Paymah is also gone elsehwhere leaving last year's 3rd rounder Asher Allen and Benny Sapp. Expecting Allen to step up is a big ask. Sapp's not really a guy you want starting. Just the other day the Vikes did sign Lito Shepherd which based on his play for the Jets last year is a sign of just how desperate they are. But at least he has starting experience and he gives the Vikings enough insurance that they don't have to reach for a CB in the draft if the value isn't there. Having said that, they do need to start thinking about a long term replacement for Antoince Winfield . Kyle Wilson I'm sure they'd love at #30 but it seems like he'll go higher. Kareem Jackson has been climbing boards in the post season and he could be a good fit at 30, so could Devin McCourty or Patrick Robinson. My dark horse CB pick at#30? Chris Cook. And I wonder if he might have some Safety play about him too.

Safeties Minor Need
Madieu Williams is in the middle of a big contract and the Vikings have spent 2 picks in the last 2 years on Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Stanford. While it's true the Vikes pass defense was pretty ordinary they have a fair amount invested in the position already. Which is not to say they couldn't and wouldn't draft an Eric Berry or an Earl Thomas if they had the chance, but that would be hopelessly unrealistic and it seems the Vikings are busier looking at OL and CB. Safety may have to wait.

Specialists Minimal Need
Ryan Longwell's still got the job and having only missed 2 FGs last year it'll be his for a while yet. They've also added colossal legged kick off specialist Rhys Lloyd. Don't expect many kick offs to be returned. They've also made a big investment in Chris Kluwe at Punter so don't expect anything more than a token competition there either.

Return Game No Need
Percy Harvin quickly established himself as one of the best kick returners in the league and Darius Reynaud does a good job on punt returns too. No Need here

Dream Day One
 1.30 Kyle Wilson CB Boise State
2.62 J.D. Walton C Baylor
Player Visits
Maurkice Pouncey C Florida
Bruce Campbell OT Maryland
Vladimir Ducasse OT Massachusetts
Mike Iupati OG Idaho
Jason Pierre-Paul DE USF
Carlos Dunlap DE Florida
Torrell Troup DT UCF
Myron Lewis DB Vanderbilt
Patrick Robinson CB Florida State
Jerome Murphy CB USF
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB Indiana (PA)
R.J. Archer QB William & Mary


Last Edited: 04/14/2010

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