Sunday, April 29, 2012

Postmortem Discussion: What are the weakest roster spots today?

Postmortem 1 from Darren

I definitely second Darren's concern about the Vikings not drafting linebackers. The Vikes have done enough to try shore up their secondary this off-season (in addition to getting Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook back, they signed Zach Bowman and Chris Carr, and drafted Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, and Robert Blanton: that's five new defensive backs on the roster, plus two who were out for significant time last season). I don't know how much more the Vikings could do for the secondary between '11 and '12, and based on what they've done, I no longer consider the secondary the weakest unit on the roster.  As of today, the weakest spot might just be the linebacker corps.  

But if LB isn't the weakest current position, WR might still be, so let's ask some questions about the new WRs.

I like the Vikings' fourth round WR picks of Arkansas teammates Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. It seems to me if we could combine those two guys' attributes into one player, we'd a) be playing god b) be very rich and c) get to see a superb WR. The SI scouting report touts Wright's speed and downfield ability, but notes his size pushes him into the slot, and Childs has size but, evidently, the sort of speed and burst that makes for a possession receiver. They join Percy Harvin, whom we've established is a slot-backfield type WR who does his best work running after the catch, Jerome Simpson (who seems to have downfield ability) and a combo platter of inconsistency and mediocrity.  Can you expect slot receivers to do what they do without decent guys on the outside? I feel the Vikings are suddenly loaded at pass catchers from the slot and tight end spots, but who plays productively on the outside?  It seems there's going to be a heavy burden on Simpson to produce as a wideout, because everybody else seems to be an inside and/or underneath player.

Of course, maybe it doesn't matter. There are a lot of good short WRs that produce from the slot well, and changing NFL rules and concussion concerns have given small inside receivers a lot more room to work safely. The Patriots had a great downfield passing attack that consisted mainly of tight ends and legendary slot receiver Wes Welker, so maybe finding that big dynamic WR to split out wide isn't has important as it used to be.

Are you happy with what the Vikings have done at WR so far? Should they have made WR their focus with their 2nd or 3rd round picks?


  1. I'm torn.

    I thought it was a good draft overall. They picked good players at good spots and added depth to weak positions.

    LB remains a concern.

    Also, is shoring up a bad pass defense at the expense of getting better offensive weapons the best way to develop Ponder? I agree with those that say the rebuilding process will take a few years, but what order would be the smartest to rebuild? I think if you want to give confidence to and accelerate the development of a quarterback, you concentrate on pass protection and weapons. Shoot, a bad pass defense in the NFC North might give Ponder a great chance to amass a lot of yards and TDs in grrbage time, which doesn't hurt a player's confidence.

    On the other hand, an improved defense should keep games within reach more often, causing opponents' defenses to remain honest and giving more opportunity for play action passes.

    I dunno.

    Hard to tell where things will go, but if two of the three most exciting new WRs (Simpson and the two Arkansas rookies) contribute, I'll be pretty pleased with the progress.

    To me, the success of this season hinges on Ponder's growth and performance.

    1. Peter:

      That's a debate that I don't think has an answer. Spielman obviously liked Smith a lot. But if the Vikings had stayed where they were in the second round they could have gotten WRs Hill, Jeffrey or Randle and still landed Robinson in the third, plus a highly-rated safety like George Illoka later.

      If Smith's a stud, though. The Vikings are good.