I got the best of both worlds for the Super Bowl, with former Minnesota guys Laurence Maroney and Randy Moss each getting a touchdown in the big game while the Patriots still lost in the most exciting Super Bowl since the Titans came up a yard short against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
After a long off season, it’s football season again with the NFL Scouting Combine, which you can watch live at NFL.com.
Childress and the Vikings scouts are hard at work evaluating players these days. For all the criticism I’ve leveled at the current Vikings regime, I’ll give them this: They do their homework on player evaluation. That is evident in the past two drafts.
The Vikings biggest offseason need got bigger with the sad news that veteran defensive end Kenechi Udeze has been diagnosed with a form of Lukemia. The team cannot rely on Erasmus James remaining healthy and Darrion Scott will test free agency, so that leaves Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, and Jayme Mitchell as the top defensive ends.
The pickings are mighty slim for defensive ends in free agency this year, with the only notable name being the Bengals‘ Justin Smith. Fortunately, though, this year’s draft class appears to be thick with quality ends. The team should in position to take one of the top three or four defensive ends in the draft. Many mock drafts have the Vikings taking Florida speed rusher Derrick Harvey. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team took one or two more defensive ends this year, though.
The team is reportedly going to pursue a free agent wide receiver. Like last year, the 2008 free agent wide receiver class is fairly unimpressive. Topping the list are Chicago‘s Bernard Berrian and Oakland‘s Jerry Porter. Neither player excites me, but between the two, I’d take Porter over Berrian. While Berrian may be faster, at 6’1", 185 lbs, he seems rather slight for a number one receiver. Porter has more bulk and size (6’2", 220 lbs) and more experience.
On the other hand, Berrian fits the profile of the young, on-the-rise player coming off their first contract the Vikings like to target in free agency. In addition to stretching the field, Berrian caught 71 passes and scored 5 touchdowns on a Bears team with horrible quarterbacks, so he might be a good fit for a still-developing Tarvaris Jackson.
Arizona Cardinals‘ receiver Bryant Johnson also fits the young, on-the-rise profile the Vikings like. At 6’3", 213 lbs, he provides a big target who is consistent, reeling in at least 40 balls during the past four seasons. Having played in the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin his entire pro career, he’s never really had a chance to carry the load and show what he can do.
Troy Williamson‘s agent is shopping his client around with the blessings of the Vikings, who also say are happy to keep Williamson if they aren’t offered a deal they like. I can’t imagine the Vikes getting anything better than a 4th round pick, which they should consider a blessing and move on.
It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Vikings take a receiver in the draft even if they sign a veteran free agent and especially if they get an extra pick from moving Troy Williamson. At least one mock draft has the Vikings taking DeSean Jackson, a speedy wide receiver with superb return skills. Jackson would certainly help fill a special teams hole the Vikings have long tried to plug.
With the release of Dwight Smith and the pending departure of Mike Doss via free agency, the Vikings are suddenly thin at the safety position. They probably would’ve had to find a safety anyway because that position was getting grey, but the departure of Smith and Doss forces the team’s hand.
Tank Williams will likely be given the chance to start alongside Darren Sharper, but the only backup now is Eric Frampton. The team is reportedly interested in pursuing Bengals safety Madieu Williams or the Giants’ Girbril Wilson.