Many thanks for the enthusiastic and intelligent participation earlier this afternoon on our Vikings live chat. A full transcript of that session is now available.
Still, 80 minutes wasn’t long enough to address all the valuable questions that were asked. So we’re going into overtime now with a half-dozen of the best questions that were left in the queue when the chat ended.
Here goes …
Gav asks: Why do people want V-Jax so bad? He's 29, by the time we're any good he will be over the hill. Do we really want to throw money at a 29-year-old?
Vincent Jackson is a Pro Bowl-caliber weapon at a position the Vikings need to upgrade in a hurry. Beggars can’t be choosers. Here’s the deal: the Vikings averaged only 5.8 yards per passing attempt in 2011. Their three quarterbacks posted a rating of 74.6. (That’s Colt McCoy, Matt Cassell, Rex Grossman territory, by the way.) Big plays were hard to come by. And if you take away Percy Harvin’s stellar production in 2011, the Vikings’ other top four wideouts combined for 80 catches for 1,146 yards and four touchdowns. Jackson? He’s averaged 17.5 yards per catch over his seven NFL seasons. Last season, he had three games with at least 140 yards. Jackson is a legitimate vertical threat. And the Vikings are a team in need of a legitimate vertical threat. As for Jackson’s age? As receivers go, 29 isn’t nearly as scary as it is for running backs.
Still,there is a valid question that needs to be asked about when the Vikings feel they’ll be able to legitimately contend again. If, hypothetically speaking, Rick Spielman determined the Vikings won’t realistically be able to make a playoff run before the 2015 season, then obviously it would make no sense to break the bank for Jackson on a deal for three years or less. This is exactly the kind of math and analysis Spielman was promoted to provide. He is now the man in charge of the long-term vision, charged with molding the wish list accordingly. So the question is valid in this sense: the Vikings not only need to make sure Jackson would fit their offense, they’ll need to determine if he can be part of their long-term plans. If so, he may be the best free agent receiver on the market in two weeks.
Fishdawg asks: Dan: You say that the Rams will trade the No. 2 pick no matter what. I am thinking that the Rams are wanting too much. Teams may shy away if the asking price is too much and the Vikings are more reasonable.
If only one team were interested in Robert Griffin III, your shy-away theory might have some validity. But at present? In a league where stellar quarterback play means more than anything else, the RG3 hype will undoubtedly give the Rams a ridiculous amount of leverage with the No. 2 pick. Say you’re Cleveland or Washington or Miami or Kansas City or Seattle and you really want to make a run at Griffin. Well, each of those quarterback-needy teams will have to put together a trade package that’s not only fair but one that will trump all the other suitors. So you can see why St. Louis is downright giddy these days.
If the Rams’ asking price seems to high for a team, it’d be Russian roulette to commence trade talks with the Vikings in the hope that all of the other RG3 shoppers get scared off too. That’s not going to happen. The Rams are holding that No. 2 pick for major ransom. And the only way that changes is if the free agent quarterback market goes absolutely bonkers with many of these quarterback-starved teams investing their futures heavily in guys like Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Chad Henne. As you can see, there are far fewer crown jewel signal callers available then there are teams searching for a crown jewel signal caller. So this week, the biggest NFL storyline can be summarized in three words: Congratulations St. Louis.
Noah asks: Any chance you see the Vikings selecting a DT? I think it was a bigger weakness last year than most people imagined and our DEs took some pressure off them. If so what round?
Obviously, we know receiver, corner and safety will be top priorities. But the Vikings would like to see improvement at defensive tackle as well. And, as luck has it, the defensive tackle class is loaded this year. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said this past weekend at the combine that he has upwards of seven defensive tackles holding first-round grades right now. Yet it’s unlikely we’ll see seven defensive tackles taken in the first 32 picks. So maybe the Vikings can steal a high-quality tackle at the top of Round 3 (perhaps a guy like UConn’s Kendall Reyes or Boise State’s Billy Winn or Southern Cal’s DaJohn Harris) or with one of their picks in Round 4, where targets might include Michigan’s Mike Martin, Texas’ Kheeston Randall or Alabama’s Josh Chapman.
Guest asks: If their draft stock falls and they are available in Round 3 do you see the Vikings picking up Alshon Jeffery (work ethic/weight issues), Vontaze Burfict (grandiose personality issues), or Janoris Jenkins (drugs/ethics issues) in the draft or do we keep it completely "clean" this draft?
Jenkins: absolutely not. With the Chris Cook fiasco still hanging out there, the Vikings can ill afford to go after a cornerback with so much baggage and risk attached – even if Jenkins is clearly a first-round talent. Three arrests and a dismissal from the University of Florida program last spring will be enough to repel the Vikings away.
Jeffery’s issues are far less serious and he came to the combine at a svelte 216 pounds, proof he can keep himself in good shape when the stakes are high for him personally. The Vikings, if they were to gamble on a guy like Jeffry, would have to decide for themselves whether they have the means to keep him motivated and on task. If they feel they can, the kid’s potential is intriguing.
Burfict? He may have looked impressive at the combine. But, as you mentioned, there are questions as to whether he can control his temper and fit into an NFL locker room without disruption. Other critics also wonder if he has enough instinct to be a consistent playmaker. I’d also wonder whether the Vikings would roll the dice on a linebacker in Round 3 when the draft pool has great depth at cornerback and receiver, two positions they need to address with greater urgency.
Drew asks: Do you think E.J. Henderson will be back at linebacker? Also, the Vikings are said to have up to 10 draft picks this year. Why is it “up to 10 picks” and not just 10 picks?
I don’t see E.J. back in 2012. He’ll turn 32 before the season starts, has nine NFL seasons and 125 regular-season games on his odometer and was hampered significantly last season by knee problems, ceding his role as the nickel linebacker to younger brother, Erin. With Jasper Brinkley returning to the mix and general manager Rick Spielman asserting his intention to make the roster younger, letting Henderson walk will be one of the tough business decisions the Vikings will likely make in the coming weeks.
As for the draft picks, the Vikings’ are expecting to get two additional compensatory picks, most likely in the fourth round, as a result of Atlanta signing Ray Edwards and Seattle signing Sidney Rice. But compensatory picks aren’t officially doled out and announced until late March, usually near the owners meetings, which will be held March 26-28 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Until those compensatory picks are officially announced, you’ll see that cautious verbage included.
To recap, the Vikings will have all of their own picks from this year’s draft, minus the sixth-rounder they sent to Washington last summer in the trade for Donovan McNabb. They have one extra sixth-round pick and an additional seventh-rounder from other trades. And they figure to get those other two compensatory picks from the Edwards and Rice transactions.
Tino asks: Other than Hutch, which other vets could be shown the door in the name of cap room/youth movement? Winfield?
It’s possible Antoine Winfield could be shown the door. But odds are the Vikings will bring him back with the hopes of drawing from his veteran leadership to energize their secondary. Winfield would likely assume a nickel corner role predominantly. Fellow corner Cedric Griffin is another candidate to be sent packing. Keep an eye on guard Anthony Herrera too, a feisty veteran whom coach Leslie Frazier admires for the energy he brings to the o-line. But Herrera’s price tag (a base salary in excess of $2.6 million in 2012) and age (he’ll turn 32 in June) put him in on the short list of players who might be on the way out of Winter Park.