Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Receiver/tight end snapshot: What’s next in life after Percy Harvin?

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Packers, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin, Vikings draft Updated: April 17, 2013 - 7:19 AM

As the NFL Draft approaches, the Access Vikings team is taking a position-by-position look at what will be available, offering insight and analysis on top draft prospects both through print and via daily “Access Vikings: The Show” videos. In addition, here on the blog, we’ll give you a brief review of how the Vikings are set up at each position heading into the draft.

Today’s snapshot: Wide receivers and tight ends

Current receiver starters: Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright

Reserves under contract: Stephen Burton, Greg Childs, Chris Summers

Current tight end starter: Kyle Rudolph

Reserves under contract: John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, LaMark Brown, Chase Ford

Level of draft need for receivers: High. Even with Jennings now on board, the Vikings owe it to themselves to surround quarterback Christian Ponder with as many weapons as possible if they are to complete his three-year evaluation fairly. Ponder and the offense badly need an outside speed threat. More reliable depth at the position is necessary, too. Nabbing at least two receivers in the draft seems likely.

Level of draft need for tight ends: None. Kyle Rudolph is still ascending, a dangerous red zone weapon who made great strides with his blocking a year ago. In Leslie Frazier’s words, Rhett Ellison still sets the standard as the team’s best blocking tight end, which has earns him a chance to be on the field more in 2013.

Biggest offseason move: The March 11 blockbuster trade that sent Percy Harvin to Seattle in exchange for three draft picks was without question a pivotal moment in Vikings’ history. Replacing Harvin won’t be easy. Despite missing the final seven games last season, Harvin still led the team with 62 catches for 677 yards and three touchdowns. He was also a major threat as a kick returner. And yet whatever unfolded behind the scenes after he suffered that severely sprained left ankle in a Week 9 loss in Seattle permanently fractured Harvin’s relationship with the franchise. Details of the divide have been kept under lock and key. And while various national outlets have taken bold stabs at trying to identify why the Harvin-Vikings divorce had to happen, members of the front office and coaching staff continue to assert  the true reasons for Harvin’s departure have not been revealed.

As Leslie Frazier said at last month’s league meetings in Phoenix: “There are a lot of layers to this situation. And one day, when I sit down and write this book, we'll divulge all the layers. But it's complicated.”

Loosely translated: Don’t put full stock in the notion that Harvin’s frustration with Ponder was the wick that made things explode. Said Frazier: “It didn't play the role that most think.”

Also, it should be made clear that contract negotiations weren’t the main cause of the strain either. Instead, it came down to the receiver’s desire to get out of town. For reasons still fully unknown.

As patient as Frazier had always been with Harvin, the mercurial receiver made it clear at the tail end of last season that he wanted out, that he desired to be moved. Rather than engaging in a potentially volatile staring contest, Vikings GM Rick Spielman sought out significant trade compensation for Harvin and came away thrilled when the Seahawks offered the No. 25 pick in this year’s draft plus a seventh-rounder this year and a third-rounder in 2014. At that point, Spielman excitedly pulled the trigger. And even with the wide hole that opened in the Vikings’ receiving corps, there was also a recognition internally that the team finished last season with five wins in the seven games Harvin missed. The Vikings were also a perfect 4-0 to close the regular season immediately after Harvin was put on Injured Reserve.

You should know: Of all the things the Vikings love about Greg Jennings – his versatility, his experience, his crisp route running – they’ve raved most about his positive energy. A few hours after signing the 29-year-old receiver away from Green Bay, Frazier noted the character and professionalism Jennings will infuse into the locker room.

Added Spielman: “You can see the leadership he brings on the field and the enthusiasm he plays with. It’s easy when you watch guys on tape, [you can see] which guys really love to play the game. And there is no question when you watch the tape on Greg Jennings, you know that he loves to play the game.”

The Vikings also feel encouraged about the hunger Jennings has brought with him. Remember that three-year stretch from 2008-10 when Jennings averaged 75 catches, 1,223 yards and eight TDs per season? The Vikings feel they can tap into that potential and get similar production going forward. Jennings wants to prove he's still that kind of player.

Jennings has missed 11 games the past two seasons due to injuries – a knee issue cost him three games in 2011 and a core muscle problem held him out for half of last year. And while he was out, the Packers’ offense didn’t miss a beat with Jordy Nelson and James Jones and Randall Cobb all excelling and becoming top-notch playmakers for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jennings began to feel overshadowed, lost in the shuffle, under-appreciated in that equation. And so as he dove into free agency last month, he was not only looking for an offense he felt he could fit into, he was also looking to feel wanted.

The Vikings, who finished 31st in the NFL in passing offense last season, certainly wanted Jennings. And yes, his production in the coming years should be a part of the subsequent evaluation of the success of the Harvin trade.
In trading Harvin, the Vikings not only received those three draft picks from the Seahawks, they were then able to take a chunk of the money they'd been budgeting for a potential contract extension to Harvin and deliver it to Jennings.

One more thing: While everyone in the Vikings’ organization is rooting for Greg Childs to return from the brutal knee injuries he suffered last August, the team is proceeding with the understanding that Childs may never play a meaningful down in the NFL. It’s not just that the 23-year-old receiver from Arkansas blew out both knees during a training camp scrimmage last summer, tearing his patellar tendons on both sides, it’s that that setback came 22 months after his junior season in college ended with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

Childs fought through that rehab and returned to play in eight games as a senior. But he was nowhere near top form, tallying only 21 catches for 240 yards. And while his perseverance and optimism through his more recent rehabilitation stretch has been laudable, it’s hard to look past the notion that he hasn’t had a full season at full strength since 2009.

Frazier was asked about Childs at last month’s league meetings and had this to offer: “It'd be a monumental surprise if Greg Childs somehow, some way came back and was a factor. With his size and his athleticism, that would be a big boon for our wide receiver position. … There's a concern because of the [injury] history, for sure. We just have to kind of wait and see. He'd be making history because nobody's ever come back from that injury. But the way he's working gives you hope.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Phoenix 106 FINAL
Indiana 83
Miami 99 FINAL
Orlando 92
Philadelphia 83 FINAL
New York 91
Toronto 110 FINAL
Cleveland 93
Dallas 92 FINAL
Houston 95
Sacramento 113 FINAL
Minnesota 101
Brooklyn 87 FINAL
San Antonio 99
Washington 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 100
New Orleans 106 FINAL
Utah 94
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Montreal 2 FINAL
Boston 0
Detroit 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Columbus 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 3
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Dallas 5
Carolina 3 FINAL
Colorado 4
New Jersey 4 FINAL(SO)
Calgary 5
Chicago 7 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Arizona 4 FINAL(SO)
San Jose 3
Incarnate Word 79 FINAL
Princeton 68
Robert Morris 66 FINAL
Georgetown 80
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
Massachusetts 68
Saint Peters 50 FINAL
La Salle 59
Ball State 69 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Utah State 63 FINAL
Miss State 71
High Point 56 FINAL
Richmond 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 63
Drake 75 FINAL
Western Mich 91
Samford 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 79
Colgate 54 FINAL
Campbell 48
North Carolina 90 FINAL
Davidson 72
North Florida 49 FINAL
Northern Iowa 66
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
NJIT 61
Nebraska Omaha 97 FINAL
Marquette 89
Clemson 59 FINAL
Nevada 50
Florida State 54 FINAL
Providence 80
South Alabama 53 FINAL
Detroit 66
Texas State 67 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 80
Trinity Christian 52 FINAL
Chicago State 75
Liberty 52 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Western State 60 FINAL
Air Force 90
Elon 67 FINAL
Northwestern 68
Canisius 53 FINAL
St Bonaventure 59
MD-Eastern Shore 53 FINAL
St Francis-PA 57
Cleveland State 83 FINAL
Savannah State 87
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Central Arkansas 68
UMKC 68 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 73
Southern U 48 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 66
Longwood 72 FINAL
Youngstown St 82
Towson 63 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Loyola-Maryland 39 FINAL
Butler 80
San Jose St 66 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 70
Texas Southern 66 FINAL
Norfolk State 76
Yale 53 FINAL
Southern Ill 46
LSU 72 FINAL
Weber State 58
South Dakota 68 FINAL
Wofford 72
Duquesne 102 FINAL
Abilene Christian 81
Wright State 86 FINAL
Char Southern 79
Miles 71 FINAL
Jacksonville St 88
Binghamton 63 FINAL
Manhattan 78
Alcorn State 80 FINAL
Kennesaw St 83
Bob Jones Univ 50 FINAL
Citadel 81
Piedmont International 33 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 76
Johnson University 41 FINAL
Ga Southern 97
Brown 66 FINAL
Indiana State 78
Colorado 33 FINAL
Wyoming 56
Quinnipiac 76 FINAL
Albany 73
Mount St Marys 73 FINAL
Bucknell 69
Master's College 45 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 91
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
East Tenn St 98
Clermont College 50 FINAL
Eastern Ky 115
UNC Greensboro 62 FINAL
Eastern Mich 70
American Univ 44 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 63
Army 76 FINAL
Marist 62
Hartford 65 FINAL
Niagara 62
Lafayette 83 FINAL
Penn 77
Nebraska 62 FINAL
Rhode Island 66
Vermont 60 FINAL
Saint Josephs 68
Eastern Wash 68 FINAL
SMU 77
UNLV 57 FINAL
Temple 50
Chattanooga 67 FINAL
Tenn Tech 69
UNC-Wilmington 110 FINAL
Va Military 93
Ohio Midwestern 48 FINAL
Northern Ky 98
Sam Houston St 74 FINAL
Fairfield 60
UC Davis 58 FINAL
Furman 55
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Kent State 78
Transylvania 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 74
Central Conn St 50 FINAL
Monmouth 65
Oakwood 61 FINAL
Alabama A&M 81
Morgan State 57 FINAL
Houston 72
Lamar 72 FINAL
Indiana 85
Northeastern 68 FINAL
Navy 44
William & Mary 69 FINAL
Rice 65
Missouri State 68 FINAL
Texas Tech 80
TX A&M-Kingsville 77 FINAL
TX-Pan American 82
Southern-New Orleans 45 FINAL
Tulane 89
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Western Ill 60
Belmont 64 FINAL
Western Ky 63
Hampton 66 FINAL
North Dakota St 74
UMBC 51 FINAL
Minnesota 69
Houston Baptist 69 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 87
St Thomas Aquinas 55 FINAL
Gonzaga 109
Utah Valley U 85 FINAL
Southern Utah 75
New Mexico St 76 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 77
Stanford 59 FINAL
Duke 70
Morehead State 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 49
SIU Edwardsville 53 FINAL
Portland 75
Boise State 54 FINAL
Wisconsin 78
Valparaiso 8:30 AM
Maine
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 13 FINAL
Rice 31
Air Force 14 FINAL
San Diego St 30
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Utah State 41
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(9) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
Minnesota 28 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(18) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(23) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(14) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(22) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(15) Arizona 42 FINAL
(20) Utah 10
FIU 14 FINAL
North Texas 17
(8) Ole Miss 0 FINAL
Arkansas 30
Louisville 31 FINAL
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 FINAL
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 34 FINAL
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 FINAL
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 FINAL
Clemson 28
Tulane 6 FINAL
East Carolina 34
Stanford 38 FINAL
California 17
Western Carolina 14 FINAL
(2) Alabama 48
ULM 30 FINAL
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 20 FINAL
Memphis 31
Colorado 10 FINAL
(3) Oregon 44
Fla Atlantic 34 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 35
Samford 7 FINAL
(16) Auburn 31
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Virginia 30
Vanderbilt 0 FINAL
(4) Miss State 51
(19) Missouri 29 FINAL
Tennessee 21
Oklahoma State 28 FINAL
(6) Baylor 49
(24) USC 20 FINAL
(11) UCLA 38
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
Connecticut 0
Boise State 63 FINAL
Wyoming 14
Oregon State 13 FINAL
Washington 37
Fresno State 40 FINAL
Nevada 20
UNLV 35 FINAL
Hawaii 37
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
(21) Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(18) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(19) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(15) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(11) UCLA
(22) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
BYU 11/29/14 2:00 AM
California
(20) Utah 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Colorado
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Oregon State
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(24) USC
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(17) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(8) Ole Miss
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(6) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(12) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(25) Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(16) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Montreal 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Grand Canyon 77 FINAL
Austin Peay 84
Bowling Green 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 50
St Bonaventure 68 FINAL
Detroit 56
Illinois-Chicago 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 69
Louisiana Tech 55 FINAL
Louisiana 58
MD-Eastern Shore 57 FINAL
Marshall 74
Butler 77 FINAL
Fairfield 81
Central Conn St 81 FINAL
UMass Lowell 58
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 60
St Marys-CA 57 FINAL
UC Davis 55
UNC-Asheville 53 FINAL
South Florida 97
Colgate 51 FINAL
Drexel 59
Niagara 64 FINAL
Buffalo 73
Vermont 61 FINAL
Boston U 66
Marist 51 FINAL
Northeastern 58
UNC-Wilmington 72 FINAL
Appalachian St 82
Duquesne 52 FINAL
Green Bay 84
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Liberty 76
Army 81 FINAL
Manhattan 49
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
TX-Pan American 81
Southern Ill 50 FINAL
Wright State 70
Youngstown St 70 FINAL
Radford 44
Stetson 62 FINAL
Indiana State 52
Rockhurst 65 FINAL
UMKC 60
Ark-Little Rock 55 FINAL
Rice 40
(23) Syracuse 77 FINAL
Jacksonville 61
NC Central 53 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 73
New Orleans 51 FINAL
Jacksonville St 65
(22) Rutgers 64 FINAL
LSU 57
Missouri State 36 FINAL
(21) Oklahoma St 77
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
SMU 69
Houston Baptist 61 FINAL
Texas State 56
TX-Arlington 61 FINAL
Wichita State 71
(9) Maryland 75 FINAL
George Washington 65
Presbyterian 51 FINAL
Western Carolina 44
St Francis-NY 71 FINAL
Rider 60
Central Arkansas 56 FINAL
Jackson State 45
Kennesaw St 72 FINAL
Georgia Southern 51
Loyola-Chicago 45 FINAL
Northern Ky 38
Howard 64 FINAL
La Salle 65
San Jose St 91 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 65
Tennessee St 73 FINAL
Lipscomb 55
San Francisco 53 FINAL
UC-Riverside 66
Temple 56 FINAL
Kansas 76
San Diego 58 FINAL
Idaho 52
Concordia (OR) 35 FINAL
(20) Oregon State 92
Corban 74 FINAL
Portland State 64
Charleston Southern 48 FINAL
Wofford 55
UT Martin 58 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Eastern Kentucky 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Weber State 40 FINAL
Utah Valley U 61
North Dakota 54 FINAL
Towson 52
Seton Hall 75 FINAL
Penn State 70
LSU-Shreveport 58 FINAL
Grambling 67
Brown 57 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Penn 60 FINAL
Navy 51
Xavier 89 FINAL
Binghamton 71
Georgetown 58 FINAL
Alabama 72
(13) Kentucky 71 FINAL
Central Michigan 68
Texas Southern 52 FINAL
TCU 69
South Dakota St 62 FINAL
(18) DePaul 84
Talladega 70 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Colorado 80
Alcorn State 43 FINAL
UAB 57
Tenn Tech 61 FINAL
Valparaiso 79
Dayton 83 FINAL
(19) Iowa 90
Nevada 60 FINAL
BYU 65

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday against the Packers?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT