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The Minnesota Vikings have many options heading into the off-season. Remember, this team finished 8-8 without a real passing game and a running game that was held in check over the last four games. They have a lot of holes in their line-up, and also have some places that although are not holes, still could use some replacements.
QB: Tarvaris Jackson
I think that the best thing that the Vikings can do here is dump both Brooks Bollinger and Kelly Holcomb and start fresh with the back-ups. Possible candidates include Josh McCown (who I think would fit very nicely here) and Rex Grossman as free-agents and Kyle Boller and Chris Simms as trade bait. Chris Simms hasn’t played since 2006 after having his spleen removed, and with Tampa already having 3 suitable QBs, he may be the odd-man out. The Vikings could then round out their depth chart with a lower-round draft pick, much like Tyler Thigpen. I feel that any of the names above, along with a pick and an older T-Jack, would be an upgrade over the situation we have now.
RB: Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor
The Vikings need to keep Chester and Adrian together again, and maybe start utilizing them both in the backfield. It would be dangerous. Thunder and Lightning at the same time. I don’t think the Vikings will keep Mewelde Moore, even though he may have been their best PR, because he will be looking for an opportunity elsewhere. Maybe a rookie would be a good fit here, like a Jacob Hester of LSU.
FB: Tony Richardson, Jeff Dugan
This is actually a position of strength. Richardson is a Pro-Bowl FB, and Dugan has been a suitable backup. As long as T-Rich wants to play, we should keep him and then when he retires Dugan will be here to back him up.
WR: Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade, Aundrae Allison, Robert Ferguson, Troy Williamson, Martin Nance, Joel Filani
The Vikings need to use 2 of their top 3 choices in WRs. Either as rookie picks or trading those picks. I think that trading for a receiver like Chad Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald are worth losing a first round pick or a second round pick. Those receivers are something we haven’t seen here since Moss, and could be the key to the playoffs. Sidney Rice is a nice receiver to the outside, Bobby Wade is a good slot guy, and I see Allison as a Matthew Hatchette/Speed Guy receiver. If we do go the draft route, I think someone like James Hardy of Indiana in the 3rd round or Limas Sweed of Texas earlier on would be good fits. Their height (6’5”, 6’4” respectively) along with Sidney Rice’s 6’3” build would give the Vikings some good “Jump-Ball” options. Look for the Vikings to resign Chandler Williams (last years 7th Round Pick) and give him a chance to make the team as a low-level receiver.
TE: Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser, Garrett Mills
There are 3 names listed above and I think that one of them will be the best TE on the Vikings roster next year. Yeah, I know it seems like a safe bet, because one of them has to be the best, but I think it will be Garrett Mills. He is a hands-guy, something that Shiancoe is not, and Mills also showed us in the Denver game that he has the speed to break away from a LB. Moving him to the top of the depth chart and sliding Shiancoe down, would not only help the team, but prove that the Shiacoe signing was a disaster. But…everyone makes mistakes.
This line is set for some time. McKinnie, Hutchinson and Herrera are signed for at least the next 4 seasons and Birk will probably end his career here. The only question mark is Cook, but with Chase Johnson to push him, he will need to improve. I think that the way Cook played last year (he actually graded out pretty well) shows that you can afford to trade a 2nd-Round Pick for a star. He will never measure up to a top-tier WR. The right-side needs to get better at blocking, and I think they will.
The Vikings may look to the draft to improve their DL. Doesn’t that sound familiar? They did that with Ray Edwards, Kevin Williams, Kenechi Udeze, Erasmus James and Brian Robison (along with Duane Clemons, Derrick Alexander, Fernando Smith, Stalin Colinet, Tony Williams and Chris Hovan). Derrick Harvey of Florida is the “new” big name around #17 in the draft. But, this is not as important of a need as WR. Edwards showed skills before he was suspended, the Williams-Wall is tough and Robison improved in the season’s end. Spencer Johnson might be key as Pat Williams ages every year.
Lance Briggs and Terrell Suggs are big name LBs out on the market (although Suggs would probably help the DL too). Even with a ton of money to spend, don’t look for the Vikings to use it in the LB department. They have 3 solid LBs of their own, and at least two good back-ups in Farwell and Thomas. Thomas has improved since his rookie season and once injury to a starter could give him his chance.
Griffin stunk up the field in the early part of season, but made some real-key plays near the end of it. Winfield is always a good CB, and both McCauley and Gordon made strides as young CBs last season. The Vikings will most likely look to add someone through the draft at this position.
Darren Sharper will be back and Eric Frampton will be back. Tank Williams and Dwight Smith might be back and Mike Doss will not be back. Frampton has the most upside, and was a key special teams player in 2007. Sharper is a pro-bowl safety and I think that through either FA or the draft the Vikings will upgrade the other safety spot.
No upgrades needed. Longwell and Kluwe are both top-flight Kickers.
KR/PR: Aundrae Allison
If he works on his hands, he should handle both duties, giving the Vikings Josh Cribbs type explosiveness.