Hartman: Pressure is on Vikings draft picks to produce

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 22, 2013 - 8:54 PM
hide

The Vikings hope this year’s draft class — led by their three first-round picks, defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, defensive back Xavier Rhodes and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson — can perform as well as last year’s group did. The team’s 2012 draft class included standouts such as Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith and Blair Walsh, among others.

Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Without a doubt, the Vikings’ excellent 2012 draft had a lot to do with the team finishing 10-6 and advancing to the NFC playoffs.

They grabbed left tackle Matt Kalil with the No. 4 overall pick, a move that enabled them to move Charlie Johnson back to his more natural position at left guard, then grabbed Kalil’s Southern California teammate, running back Rhett Ellison, in the fourth round.

Those two players effectively helped to counteract any major negative effects from the retirement of Jim Kleinsasser, who had been so instrumental in the blocking schemes for more than a decade.

Then the surprise pick came in the sixth round when they selected Georgia kicker Blair Walsh, which effectively ended Ryan Longwell’s tenure with the squad. Special teams coach Mike Priefer had looked extensively at Walsh’s technique and saw that a few minor changes could turn him into the All-Pro he was in his rookie season.

But last season saw just a few major pieces that needed to be replaced: Kleinsasser retired, and the team chose to release or not re-sign veterans such as Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, E.J. Henderson and Cedric Griffin, all of whom were not as effective as they were earlier in their careers.

When it comes to replacements this year, it will be a different story.

At the top of the list, the Vikings have to replace Percy Harvin, a great wide receiver, kick returner and running back who was traded to Seattle. Their top defensive back for years has been Antoine Winfield, who was released and also ended up with the Seahawks. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who started every game, signed with Arizona. And then eight-year punter Chris Kluwe was released and signed with Oakland.

The Vikings drafted punter Jeff Locke of UCLA to replace Kluwe, but he doesn’t have the NFL experience that Kluwe had, not only punting in crucial situations but also as an outstanding holder.

At this point they don’t have a middle linebacker to replace Brinkley, although Erin Henderson has a chance to do that job. But if that happens, they need to find somebody who can replace Henderson at outside linebacker.

The plan is for free agent Greg Jennings and first-round draft choice Cordarrelle Patterson to replace some of the offense Harvin produced and hope that Locke can match Kluwe in punting and as a holder.

And last but not least, the Vikings don’t have somebody with the experience and production that Winfield provided in his long career here.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, director of college scouting Scott Studwell and others in the team’s front office should be able to provide the replacements just as they have in the past. But the team needs this year’s draft class to perform as well as last year’s did.

Peterson praises Spielman

Adrian Peterson was on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday and talked about where he sees the team going, and also about the big departure of Harvin.

“You know, I feel like the pieces are coming,” Peterson said. “Our GM, Rick Spielman, has done a great job in the first two years of bringing in guys who have been productive and helped this offense flourish, and defensively as well.

“Greg Jennings is a guy I have played against and watched several times on the sidelines, I’m always asking myself, ‘How is he getting so open?’ Now being in OTAs and being around that guy, I see why.”

Regarding quarterback Christian Ponder, he said: “The biggest piece, he is definitely getting more comfortable and that confidence is showing through, that’s something I’ve been able to see the past month. We have the right pieces and we’re headed in the right direction.”

Peterson was also asked if he thought the departure of Harvin was necessary to move the team forward if the star receiver truly wasn’t happy here.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 5:30 PM
Seattle
Miami 27 2nd Qtr 9:06
Boston 23
LA Lakers 1:00 PM
New York
Arizona 0 1st Prd 2:29
Montreal 2
St. Louis 1 2nd Prd
Washington 1
Nashville 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Vancouver
Miami-Florida 40 2nd Half 15:09
Florida State 36
Oakland 60 2nd Half 15:38
Youngstown St 46
Cincinnati 23 2nd Half
East Carolina 18
Michigan 21 1st Half 2:37
Michigan State 20
Marist 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fordham 1:00 PM
Dayton
Manhattan 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Niagara
Utah 1:30 PM
USC
Connecticut 2:00 PM
Houston
California 2:00 PM
Washington
North Dakota St 2:00 PM
Western Ill
Penn State 48 2nd Half 8:41
(22) Rutgers 48
(14) Texas 21 1st Half 2:14
TCU 24
Coll of Charleston 18 1st Half 2:06
Towson 35
Cornell 29 1st Half 2:29
Yale 22
Xavier 26 1st Half 2:15
Providence 24
Drexel 36 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 30
Stony Brook 22 1st Half 0:47
New Hampshire 13
Maine 16 2nd Half
Albany 16
Miami-Florida 29 1st Half 1:55
Pittsburgh 31
(21) Georgia 18 1st Half 4:51
(10) Kentucky 30
Arizona 25 1st Half 1:31
Colorado 39
Wake Forest 30 1st Half 0:39
(4) Notre Dame 47
Loyola-Chicago 21 1st Half 4:26
Illinois State 30
(24) Oklahoma 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Butler 1:00 PM
Creighton
St Johns 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Delaware 1:00 PM
Hofstra
Binghamton 1:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Vermont 1:00 PM
Hartford
William & Mary 1:00 PM
Northeastern
Boston College 1:00 PM
(16) North Carolina
Virginia 1:00 PM
Clemson
(2) Connecticut 1:00 PM
Temple
Arkansas 1:00 PM
Alabama
Virginia Tech 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Kansas 1:00 PM
(3) Baylor
Canisius 1:00 PM
Rider
Monmouth 1:00 PM
Fairfield
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Wichita State 1:05 PM
Drake
Evansville 1:05 PM
Indiana State
(18) Miss State 2:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
Villanova 2:00 PM
DePaul
Georgetown 2:00 PM
Marquette
North Texas 2:00 PM
Rice
Auburn 2:00 PM
(12) Texas A&M
(11) Arizona State 2:00 PM
Utah
Missouri State 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Michigan 2:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Northwestern
Wisconsin 2:00 PM
Illinois
Bradley 2:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
(20) Iowa 3:00 PM
(5) Maryland
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
Ole Miss
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close