2013 Team Needs: Minnesota Vikings

Stephen Walker suggests the Vikings could build on their surprising 2012 playoff appearance by returning to a familiar theme - signing long-time Green Bay players.

| 4 years ago

Stephen Walker suggests the Vikings could build on their surprising 2012 playoff appearance by returning to a familiar theme - signing long-time Green Bay players.

2013 Team Needs: Minnesota Vikings


The 2012 season for the Minnesota Vikings surpassed almost everyone’s expectations. After having a franchise worst 3-13 record in 2011, the Vikings opened 2012 going 4-1, which included an impressive defeat of the 49ers. The Vikings struggled in the middle of the season, but closed out December by winning their final four games against the league’s toughest remaining schedule, en route to a 10-6 record and the final wildcard spot in the NFC.

Adrian Peterson had one of the all-time great rushing seasons, made especially impressive since he was coming off major reconstructive knee surgery. This highlighted not only the amazing talents of AP himself, but also the improved run blocking he received from his offensive line and tight ends, as well as the contributions of newcomers Jerome Felton and Rhett Ellison.

The Vikings have shown over the past two years under GM Rick Spielman that they are mostly interested in building their team through the draft, using free agency to supplement the squad with mostly inexpensive players. Their only big ticket signing over this time period was TE John Carlson, who was a major disappointment in his first year with the team.

With that said, here are some free agents who may interest the team as they strive to get better.

Wide Receiver

This is by far the weakest unit on the team, and without Percy Harvin, possibly the weakest unit in the NFL regardless of position. The Vikings are committed to Christian Ponder at quarterback, at least for another year, and so must get him some receiving help in the offseason.

Once Harvin was lost to injury, the Vikings fielded Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton and Jarius Wright. Naturally it didn’t go well, with the unit combining for a PFF passing grade of -16.5. Harvin himself managed a +16.5 score.

To show how reliant Minnesota was on Harvin for yardage, consider that he managed 2.56 yards per route run, while Simpson (1.05) and Jenkins (1.03) barely broke the 1 yard mark. Furthermore, while the rookie, Wright, intrigued at times he did not show enough to let the Vikings gamble at this position.

Free Agent Fix: Greg Jennings

How much would that hurt the Packers? Seeing a guy who contributed to them for so long wearing the colors of a divisional rival… again (remember that Favre guy?). Jennings isn’t coming off his best year, with injury limiting him and then finding his role diminishing (his 1.28 yards per route run was 0.79 less than a year before), but his play toward the back end of the season (particularly in the Week 17 encounter against Minnesota) shows he can still get it done. Christian Ponder isn’t a guy who wants to overly stretch the field, so finding guys who can operate all over it, will make his life a lot easier.

Linebacker

In his first season starting Jasper Brinkley failed to impress. He missed too many tackles (21) and is a liability in pass coverage, which carries added importance in their Cover-2 defense. His 6.81% first down allowed percentage per snap in coverage was sixth-worst out of all linebackers, playing a big part in him not being able to maintain an every-down role.

His work in run defense wasn’t at a level that would allow you to look past this weakness and be happy with him in a two-down role, and with Erin Henderson poised for free agency the Vikings are left looking extremely thin at linebacker.

Free Agent Fix: Brad Jones

Stealing another Packer? Why not? Jones has emerged from being a failed 3-4 outside linebacker into something of a stud in the middle, someone who the Packers entrusted with an every-down role. With Henderson looking to move on, and Brinkley not cutting it, Jones could fit in at outside linebacker or in the middle, while becoming an every-down linebacker. He was our 10th-ranked inside linebacker last year with positives in the run game and in coverage.

Defensive Tackle

The Vikings still have a strong defensive line, but have sorely missed Pat Williams’ presence since his retirement a few years back. The onus fell on Letroy Guion to step up and replace him, but he just hasn’t been able to, earning every bit of his -11.1 grade this year. Sure, Minnesota got some excellent play from Fred Evans in relief, but with Kevin Williams not the player he once was, they can’t afford to carry a passenger next to him much longer.

Free Agent Fix: Vance Walker

While he’s not a player on the radar of a lot of fans, Vance Walker who took full advantage of an increased role for himself this year. The Falcon finished 17th overall in our defensive tackle rankings, grading positively in every area, and walking away with a 6.7 Run Stop Percentage that ranked 22nd in the league. That may not ‘wow’ you, but it’s a stark upgrade on the 5.4% from Guion.

 

  • Bhay1987

    Sounds about right. Jennings and Jones both will probably be pretty expensive. Likely only one could be brought in with our cap space.

    WR, NT and two LB spots are the only holes the Vikings have that requires immediate attention. If we could address two of the four in FA, and the other two in the first two rounds of the draft they could be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Or at least how far Christian Ponder could take a very good roster…

  • Tsalex

    I agree WR DT and LB but how about this

    WR         Greg
    Jennings                 Green Bay  

    WR         Brandon Gibson               St. Louis

    DT           Bryant Desomond
              Oakland

    LB           Maiava
    Kaluka                   Cleveland and
    move Henderson inside to MIKE

  • Bill Collins

    We need a RT more than a WR.   Yes I agree we have the worst group of WR in league, but Loadholt is a joke.  Our QB can’t trust him to block.  The guy is not a tackle.  We could have Moss in his prime and we still won’t be able to pass because of Loadholt’s play.

    • Daxquartermain

      Loadholt one of the top 10 right tackles in the game. Excellent run blocker. Vikes may not tag him but will offer a better deal than Sully got last year.