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Self-Evaluating My Offseason

Okay, if the post below wasn’t an indication, I am in the mood to boast.

This article will somewhat serve that purpose, although it will also give me a healthy dose of crow to eat.

Each year, when the roster is starting to shape up, I like to go back through my “Offseason Preview” features and see how my predictions held up over the course of time.  I wrote each of these starting back in March, prior to the Draft, and you can see a complete list of them all by clicking here.

Okay, let’s see how I did, and if my report card means you shouldn’t even bother coming to this site anymore, or… if I am actually the second coming of Nostradamus.  Chances are, I’m somewhere in between.

QUARTERBACK

What I said then:  My guess?  The Vikings will come out of this offseason having acquired one new rookie quarterback and one new veteran quarterback. 

As I said, the rookie will likely come from the first half of the draft.

How I expect them to get their veteran, on the other hand, is another story.  I really don’t like what I see in the free agency class, so don’t be surprised if the Vikes deal for a guy currently on another team’s roster.  If free agency (including all player trades) cannot happen until after the draft due to a lockout, then the pick they would be trading would be for 2012 or beyond.  Picks are easier to cough up when the draft is such a long ways off.

The Verdict:  The Vikings drafted Christian Ponder with the #12 overall pick and traded a 2012 pick (and conditional 2013 pick) to the Redskins for Donovan McNabb.  It would be tough to say that prediction didn’t end up being pretty darn accurate.

RUNNING BACK

What I Said Then:  At this point, I suspect that both Tahi and Young are on their way out of Minnesota.  Tahi never lived up to expectations and Young’s connection to Brett Favre’s sexting scandal as outlined by Deadspin won’t help make up for his poor performances on the field.

The Vikings need an upgrade at fullback and if they are going to target a tailback it should be a scat back type of guy that adds a new dimension to the offense.

I would not be surprised to see the Vikings use one of their later round picks (think fifth round or later) on either a fullback or pass catching running back.  If a fullback isn’t found in the draft, then I would expect them to pursue a proven guy in free agency.

The Verdict:  I was right about Tahi and Young not coming back (so far), but was wrong about the Vikings being aggressive in finding a scat back or a fullback.  Both positions only received action from undrafted free agents, and it is unlikely any of them make an impact.

TIGHT ENDS

What I Said Then:  I really wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vikings try to replace Jimmy Kleinsasser this offseason, but expect them to wait until the value is there.  Expect a tight end to be targeted sometime after round four of the Draft. 

I would expect Shiancoe and Dugan to stick to the roster for 2011. 

If free agency comes after the draft (which at this point it looks like it will) and the Vikings didn’t get a tight end prospect they coveted, then I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them make a run at someone like Zach Miller or Kevin Boss.

One way or another, I fully expect them to get younger at the position and lean more towards pass catching tight ends versus the blocking variety.

The Verdict:  I got lucky with that last sentence, because otherwise very little of this ended up being accurate.  I did write a more recent article for another site, just prior to the Draft, however, where I pretty much predicted the Vikings were going to get Kyle Rudolph in the second round.

Wide Receivers

What I Said Then:  I honestly can’t even attempt to make an educated guess as to whether or not Sidney Rice will be back.  That means it is incredibly hard to predict how the Vikings will approach the receiver position this offseason… heck, they may not even know.

I do think that, like I said, they won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a receiver in the Draft if the value is there.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if they signed a veteran or two in free agency.

Overall, I think training camp will consist of nine receivers:  Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo, Juaquin Iglesias, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jaymar Johnson, Freddie Brown, a rookie receiver or free agent signing, and Sidney Rice or a free agent signing.

The Verdict:  Rice is gone.  Freddie Brown is gone.  The Vikings did draft Stephen Burton and sign Michael Jenkins.  They have a few other undrafted guys in the fold right now, but for the most part this ended up being a semi-accurate non-prediction.

Offensive Line

What I Said Then:  I really do expect the Vikings to draft one offensive lineman at some point.  I would, however, be surprised if they drafted more than one this year.

Keep an eye on the mid-to-late round guys that maybe slip and present value picks.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go after guys like Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock), Darius Morris (Temple), and Jah Reid (Central Florida).

Then, expect the Vikings to show interest in some semi-big name linemen once free agency rolls around.  I really wouldn’t be surprised to see them quietly and gradually upgrade the personnel as the offseason wears on, but don’t expect any big, bold moves.

The Verdict:  The Vikings did end up making some bold moves out of necessity because of Bryant McKinnie’s lack of conditioning.  They signed Charlie Johnson, and drafted Brandon Fusco and DeMarcus Love to the team.  Not a perfect prediction by any means, but I was on the right track.

Defensive Tackle

What I Said Then:  I think that both Pat Williams and Fred Evans are goners, while Jimmy Kennedy will only be retained out of pure necessity.  The Vikings are going to pay some serious attention to this position in both free agency and the draft, as Guion gives us hope but hasn’t shown us enough to deserve the starting job on a silver platter.

I expect three new defensive tackles are added to the roster between now and training camp.  At least one of those will be draft picks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if two of them come from the draft, with one being an early pick.

The Verdict:  Could I have been any more wrong?

Maybe, but probably not.

Defensive End

What I Said Then:  This is simple to me.

Ray Edwards is gone.  Jared Allen will start at right end.  Brian Robison is penciled in as a starter at left end.  Everson Griffen will be given more responsibility on defense as the Vikings coaches cross their fingers and hope for the best.

In addition to those guys, I think the Vikings will draft one defensive end, and it could be at any point… depending on when the value is just too good to pass up.  Also, they will eventually sign at least two low-to-mid level guys to compete for roster spots.

The key ingredients in any additions at the defensive end position:  youth and upside.

The Verdict:  This one went pretty well for me.  Allen is the guy, and it looks like Robison is, too.  Edwards is in Atlanta, and the Vikings drafted two young guys with upside in Christian Ballard and D’Aundre Reeed.  I’ll count this one as correct.

Linebackers

What I Said Then:  I think Chad Greenway gets a contract extension by week eight of the 2011 season at the latest.  I also think that Ben Leber will be allowed to test the market but that the team would take him back at a discount if he was willing. 

E.J. Henderson gets another year as the starting middle linebacker.

The biggest question looks to be who will fill Leber’s shoes on the weakside.  I honestly think that Onatolu, Erin Henderson, and Brinkley will be competing for the job in training camp, possibly with another rookie thrown into the mix.  If the Vikings don’t draft a new outside backer, however, then they’ll be looking at the free agent market and they may just end up bringing in some serious competition like Lawson.

The Verdict:  Greenway doesn’t have his extension yet, but they are working on it.  Henderson appears to be in no danger of losing his spot.  The competition seems to be between Onatolu, Henderson, and Brinkley on the weakside with Russ Homan possibly in the mix.  The Vikes didn’t go after any free agents at the position, but the prediction still ends up being pretty solid.

Cornerback

What I Said Then:  I really think the Vikings would seriously consider drafting Amukamara if he’s there at #12, but I also really think he won’t be there.

After that, in the Draft, I would keep your eye on guys like Ras-I Dowling in rounds two or three, as he possesses many of the same attributes that made the Vikings fall in love with Chris Cook.

In the later rounds prospects like Kendric Burney, Richard Sherman, and Buster Skrine.

If I were a betting man, I would say there is about a 75% chance that the Vikings escape the Draft without having added a cornerback at all.  I really think this will upset some Vikings fans, but that their worries will disappear when the Vikings decide to get some help via free agency.

The depth chart will depend greatly on how healthy Cook and Griffin can get themselves by September.

The Verdict:  Ouch.

Safety

What I Said Then:  I know a lot of fans don’t want to hear this, but I really don’t expect to see a bunch of big changes at the safety position this offseason.  Frazier seems supportive of his current guys and seems eager to see each of them improve. 

He has already seemed to pit Williams and Johnson against each other in a training camp competition.  Abdullah is solid enough to remain, and Sanford has shown flashes that could put him in the mix.  Williams could be cut if he loses his starting job, as his salary doesn’t fit for a backup role, but even then I doubt the Vikings would bring in much more than mid-level backup to replace him.

I expect everyone to come back except for maybe Frampton.  I also expect the Vikings to only invest a late pick or lower-level free agent contract into the position.

The Verdict:  The Vikings did end up cutting Williams loose, bringing back Frampton, and investing a late pick into Mistral Raymond.  The prediction ended up being pretty in line with reality on this one.


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15 Responses to “Self-Evaluating My Offseason”

  1. starrc10 says:

    This is one of my favorite things about the site. You don’t get hyped up. You are able to look and say “Shiancoe is looking miserable… and going to be a free agent” without saying something like “Shiancoe is a proven veteran.” You seem to have a good finger on the pulse of this team.

    Good stuff.

    • Adam Warwas says:

      To be honest, most of our readers have a better feel for this team than any of the national media. I can promise that. ESPN’s Vikings coverage is just so innaccurate and wrong, it’s sad.

  2. Randy Perrin says:

    This is one of the reasons everyone should be getting their Viking fix here at Vikings Gab. Well done

  3. titan concrete says:

    I think the real question about your off season ,Adam, is not how you did predicting what would happen with the team, but if you were able to come into the season at a respectable weight. Are you pushing 4 bills, or did you keep that in check? Are you able to type without getting cramps in your fingers? Are you really on vacation when you say you are,or are you working on your next rap album? Without all of this info, we are unable to judge your ability to handle things in the regular season.

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Maybe, like me, McKinnie was just so disgusted at the greed expressed by the owners and NFLPA that he couldn’t stomach the idea of putting any effort it into it.

      Okay, he could stomach just about anything from the sounds of it.

      AS far as the weight issue goes, the more accurate criticism would be that Mugsy Bogues has 16 pounds on me 🙂

  4. CalVkg says:

    mcnabb got $5 mil. for one year. he’s gotta prove himself now

  5. B. Grant says:

    Perhaps the best part of your off season was not beating in our brains with posts about the lockout. As you said in various ways, it did not seem, for the most part, worthy of analysis. We got more of it than we needed from the national press, and you mostly left it alone.

    Good off season, Adam!

  6. Lost Viking says:

    Blaine Gabbert reportedly looks good thus far in camp.

    “What I saw on the Jacksonville Jaguar practice field Thursday night from Gabbert, the team’s top pick in the April draft, is like nothing I’ve witnessed on any of Jaguar practice fields in the 16 years they’ve been in existence,” Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com writes.

    He sees a rookie that he believes is ahead of the curve and has a better chance to start than people think. “He looked like a franchise quarterback. If he plays like one in the preseason, there is little doubt that Del Rio would hesitate to pull the trigger and make him the starter.”

  7. Lost Viking says:

    Conventional wisdom suggests (backup RB) will be Toby Gerhart…. But I wouldn’t rule out fourth-year pro Lorenzo Booker, a late addition last season who could also return kickoffs. During full-padded goal-line drills, Booker hit the holes quicker and more decisively than Gerhart, who seems to need time to gather a head of steam.

  8. CalVkg says:

    i don’t expect a title run this season, but having frazier now as HC gives me hope for our future

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/29592/camp-confidential-minnesota-vikings-2

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen smiles during a full-contact Vikings practice, and I was amazed at how downright happy people were — from the elite players on the roster to the lowest-level staffers.

    “I’ve been around enough successful teams,” said Frazier, who won a Super Bowl as a player [the 1985 Chicago Bears] and assistant coach [the 2006 Indianapolis Colts]. “I think I have an idea of what it takes to win in this league. That’s what I’ve tried to get across to the players over and over, and will continue to do that.”

  9. CSlinde says:

    “It’s really his system,” Musgrave said. “It’s Donovan’s system, so if something happens here in the month of August that he would like to tweak, maybe call something differently in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage, maybe want to teach differently, to definitely come and talk to us about it because we’re open-minded about it. We like to tailor make or customize our system to fit our players.”

    This sounds refreshing and has me excited!

  10. CSlinde says:

    Taylor Mays!

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