Wednesday, March 14, 2012

John Carlson

Upgrading Pass Catchers
There wasn't a great chance to improve the WR position via free agency this year: the good WRs mostly stayed with their teams, or were older than the rebuilding Vikings would want, or wouldn't want to come to Minnesota anyway, or were overpriced. The Vikes are in dire need of a deep threat, but who could or should they have signed so far?

But there are other ways to upgrade pass catchers, and signing TE John Carlson is one way to do that.

In 2011 Christian Ponder showed at least one thing to be excited about: mobility. The Vikes can run some successful bootlegs with RBs, TEs, or glorified pass catching RB Percy Harvin* in the flat. The more options the Vikes have for the sorts of plays where the QB is rolling out and looking to receivers in the short and medium range, the better.

Kyle Rudolph showed some ability to go downfield and also to leap up and grab a ball in coverage. John Carlson can hardly be thought to be replacing him: the Vikes are and will likely be weak at WR, so multi-TE sets are likely.

It is a good signing, a small part of building a well-rounded roster.

*I stand by this. If your best wide receiver BY FAR catches 87 passes, he should manage more than 967 yards receiving. In his three seasons he's averaged 12.0 yards per reception for a team that needed somebody to get downfield and make plays (context: Visanthe Shiancoe has a career 11.0 average). Harvin is an excellent pass-catching RB, able to get open close to the line of scrimmage and superb at running after the catch. The Vikes seem to know how to utilize his skills (he did, after all, have 87 catches and 52 runs last season). He's a versatile player that does good things for an offense. But he's not a downfield receiving threat: if he were, the Vikes wouldn't be as desperate for a WR upgrade as they are.

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  1. I didn't figure the Vikings would pursue Carlson. I thought they'd roll with Rudolph, Alan Reisner and acquire a blocking tight end.

    He'll play a lot – if healthy. As Tom Pelissero wrote today, Musgrave uses a lot of two tight end sets. Overall, I'm not displeased.

  2. One guy I think they should have gone after is Laurent Robinson. Looking at contracts between him and Carlson, his is only 7M more (32.5M vs 25M) over the 5-year period and 3M more guaranteed (14M, Carlson got 11). He is 6'2, relatively low mileage, only been in the league since 07 anyway, and ran a 4.38 40 at the combine. He made some big plays for Dallas last year and I think he has a bright future, certainly would've upgraded our WRs as well.

    1. Rob:

      We should brace ourselves for the resigning of Devin Aromashodu.

  3. I like Carlson. I hope he returns to his early career form.

    I'd still like to see Doucet come to town - but even the less flashy names are worth looking into given the current WR corps.

    I don't disagree that Harvin isn't a deep threat receiver. He's amazing, but the team needs a legit WR - a tall fast guy that can make defenses adjust.