Former Minnesota Vikings training camp knowledge dropper, CapitaJsCorner, has graced you nerds with his presence once again as he has agreed to step back into the ring like an aging Sylvester Stallone and spar a little bit when it comes to the Vikings draft for 2013. He'll be offering his takes on the state of the team - both offensive and defensive sides of the ball - while also helping us lead up to the 2013 draft by looking at potential prospects that have REAL girlfriends. So give him a warm welcome, or tell him he's wrong, and let's get back to talking football.
Today, Capita J takes a look at the current roster make-up of the defense, post the major activity from free agency ...
On the Roster: Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Christian Ballard, Chase Baker
Locks: Williams, Guion
Capital Js Take: Since Pat Williams retired, the Vikings search for his replacement has been a bit of a revolving door. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans were re-signed to battle for that spot, and although Guion got the majority of the work, both players seem to lack consistency and are a far cry from Fat Pat. Kevin Williams is still chewing up a decent amount of the salary cap and is a shadow of his former self. Not to mention, he is on year 6 of a 7 year extension and may need to restructure to stick around beyond this season. Christian Ballard, although not given many chances, hasn’t flourished in any chance he’s been given and at this point is just another body. Last year the Vikings brought in Chase Baker for a pre-draft visit and ended up signing him once he went undrafted. They obviously like his potential, but he has an uphill battle to be more than a practice squad player.
PJDs Take: The defensive front here looks more barren than a Rob Schneider movie attendance. Kevin Williams is still damn good, in my eyes, and I think the jury is still out on Christian Ballard, but we're nearing the point where the team is going to go from having had two awesome dudes in the middle in the Williams Bros to having no one, and that's REALLY going to screw with Leslie's defense.
Capital Js Draft Priority: High
The Vikings need help up the middle on the DL. The Williams Wall is long gone and soon there may be nothing left of it. The Vikings are likely to turn to an early draft pick for the starting position opposite Kevin Williams, and could look for his replacement a bit later.
On the Roster: Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, D’Aundre Reed, George Johnson
Locks: Allen, Robison, Griffen
Capital Js Take: The Vikings have 3 stellar DE’s in Allen, Robison, and Griffen, and look to be in pretty good shape here, but the problem is they’re all free agents after this season. It remains to be seen what will be done, but unless Jared Allen re-signs for significantly less than he’s currently being paid, he may walk in FA.. Griffen really came on last year as a situational rusher and filled in admirably when Brian Robison was injured. Robison’s 8.5 sacks were a career high and he’s a nice complimentary end. Robison and Griffen could both find starting jobs elsewhere as well, but the Vikings likely would like to retain both of them. Allen takes a lot of pressure off them since he demands so much attention. D’Aundre Reed and George Johnson really are just guys right now and neither one likely has a bright future here.
PJDs Take: I'd say the Vegas money is on the Vikings signing at least one of, if not both, Robison and Magical Griffen to stick around beyond this year. Allen may give a discount to get one more 3 to 4 year extension with the team, but he may ditch for a better situated contender. If the right player fell to the Vikings this year, I could see them taking someone in the 4th or 5th round, but you have to wonder how much of an impact that guy will be able to have in the next one to two years when we'd need him.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Medium
The 4th round seems to be the hot spot for the Vikings to find good DE prospects as Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen were all taken there. It’s likely we’ll address the DE position in the mid to late rounds as we’ve done in the past.
On the Roster: Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Audie Cole, Larry Dean, Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell
Locks: Greenway, Henderson
Capital Js Take: Chad Greenway is coming off his 2nd straight Pro-Bowl selection and some may argue he is the only LB on the roster deserving of a starting spot. Erin Henderson was re-signed for 2 more seasons to start opposite him and the Vikings are currently without a MLB after losing Jasper Brinkley to FA (Cardinals). Marvin Mitchell is a decent back-up option and fringe starter, but he plays the same position as Henderson. Beyond them, Larry Dean and Tryone McKenzie don’t have much of a ceiling besides ST. Audie Cole was a pre-season fan favorite, but was hardly active and didn’t record a tackle when he was last year. There has been some talk about signing Urlacher, but given the fact that we just cut Antoine Winfield, I have a hard time believing that was ever a real possibility. Spielman is still trying to build this thing through the draft and Urlacher doesn’t have much left in the tank. Not to mention, since Henderson is primarily a 2-down LB, we need a 3 down Mike, and Urlacher isn’t that anymore.
PJDs Take: Outside of Adrian Peterson, I think having a STUD middle linebacker would produce many boners. It seems like we haven't had "that guy" for many years, and EJ Henderson barely counts. It's pretty much a shoe-in that the Vikings draft their future starter within their first three picks, but I'd have to look closer at the depth of the MLB position this year, and see if the guy we get is really going to have a major impact or not. I'd give ******** for Alec Ogletree from Georgia, but he's a top 15 pick, and I'd give ******** NOT to get Manti T'eo, who is slow and super weird. That, of course, means we're going to end up with him and I already hate my life.
Capital Js Draft Priority: High
I’d be shocked if LB wasn’t our pick at either 23 or 25 in the first round. There are no legitimate candidates on the roster to start at MLB. The Vikings have proven with the selections of Kalil and Smith last year, that they will target their weak spots with blue chip prospects. I don’t think we’re going to let a mid-round LBer come in and be the center of our defense.
On the Roster: Harrison Smith, Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo
Locks: Smith, Raymond, Sanford
Capital Js Take: Harrison Smith’s rookie season far exceeded most people’s expectations, as he proved to be exactly what the Vikings were looking for when they drafted him. He quickly became a leader, who has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. The combination of Mistral Raymond and Jamarca Sanford seemed to work well last year, though I’m sure the Vikings would like one of them to take the full-time job. After Raymond went down with injury, Sanford came in and probably played the best football of his young career and led the Vikings in fumbles forced. Fresh off a new 2 year deal, he figures to get the nod to start opposite Smith. Though he wasn’t tested, the Vikings didn’t miss a beat when Robert Blanton replaced Harrison Smith (ejection) in the Titans game. He figures to get a longer look this off-season. Andrew Sendejo is strictly a ST guy.
PJDs Take: I was pleasantly surprised to see Smith do so well, as the Notre Dame pass defense was absolutely awful during his time at the school. I see him as being our hard hitting safety though, and feel like the Cover-2 base defense could still benefit greatly from a guy with more range, who would preferably be a ball hawk. Smith has shown a knack for the big hits and some fumbles, but I think he's still primarily a mouth puncher. Sanford is similar (remember, he destroyed EJ Henderson's leg!), but Mistral Raymond could have that range potential. My expectations for him are low, though, and another strong safety back there would be something I'd keep my eyes open to.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Low
On the Roster: Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, AJ Jefferson, Brandon Burton, Marcus Sherels, Bobby Felder, Greg McCoy, Roderick Williams
Locks: Cook, Robinson
Capital Js Take: The Vikings sent shockwaves through the fan base by releasing perhaps the best Vikings CB of all time, Antoine Winfield, just a day after trading Percy Harvin. While I understand that he probably wasn’t deserving of the high base salary for this season since his role was diminishing, I think we should’ve tried a little bit harder to get him to restructure his contract. Winfield would still be the best CB on the roster and provides much needed experience and leadership to a very young Vikings secondary. Coach Frazier and a few players are supposedly still in contact with him about a potential return, which seems unlikely at this point.
If the season started today, Chris Cook would be the top corner with Josh Robinson and AJ Jefferson battling for the other starting spot. Cook has never played more than 10 games in a season or recorded an INT. Josh Robinson showed flashes, but was picked on often last season, as was AJ Jefferson, who always seemed to be in the right place, but could never make a play on the ball. Marcus Sherels has no business doing anything but returning punts. Brandon Burton hasn’t shown why he was drafted and Greg McCoy is, well, just another name. The Vikings evidently liked what Bobby Felder showed on the practice squad last season and did sign dark horse Roderick Williams from the CFL. Still there are too many unknowns right now.
PJDs Take: I legitimately don't know who half the people are that he just named. I'm still upset about Winfield, want him back on the team, but also know that if I were in his shoes, I would most certainly NOT be returning to the Vikings. So we have a wife beater, Frank Walker 2.0, and a Notre Dame and Minnesota Gopher guy holding down the CB spot for the Vikings against the NFC North. COOL! Yeah, we're in trouble. Gotta draft or sign someone bad.
Capital Js Draft Priority: High
The Vikings are in desperate need of another starting CB and could stand to add additional depth as well. They are likely to take a corner in the 1st or 2nd round to start outside opposite Cook.
So what do you think? Do we need more first round draft picks to secure all these gaping holes? Why did we REALLY sign Marvin Mitchell back again? How awful will our CBs look next season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and make sure to thank CapitalJsCorner again for stopping by and providing some talking points.