Meetings are taking place at Winter Park this week with the Vikings planning a detailed player-by-player evaluation of their current roster. As they perform their in-house review, we’re following suit and delivering our own snapshot evaluation of each position group.
Get excited: Well, if you're excited about this group, congratulations. You are truly an optimist. Beyond Percy Harvin, there are only spare parts that generate general disinterest and a reminder that the Vikings can't go another season without a legitimate No. 1 receiver. If quarterback Christian Ponder is to develop into a franchise quarterback, the Vikings need to join the 21st century and give him a bonafide No. 1 receiver that can line up wide and create his own mismatches with size, strength and speed down the field. Harvin is a wonderful player, a great example of toughness, tenacity and rare talent. But he's a slot receiver who should feed off not only a strong running attack but a legitimate No. 1 receiver. The Vikings finished the season with six receivers either on the active roster or on injured reserve. Harvin and Michael Jenkins are the only ones the team really needs back next season. Jenkins, who showed flashes of being a nice complementary, No. 2-type receiver, had 38 catches for 466 yards (12.3) and three touchdowns in 11 games before going on injured reserve with a knee injury. He'll never live up to the first-round pick the Falcons used on him, but he's good enough to earn a spot on the 2012 Vikings. The others -- rookie Stephen Burton, former CFL star Emmanuel Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu and Greg Camarillo -- are decent fellas, but wouldn't be missed if they were cleared aside to make room for better players. Aromashodu and Camarillo are unrestricted free agents. Neither is a priority, although Aromashodu might be worth taking to camp for the right bargain price.
Keep an eye on: Other than Harvin, who turns only 24 in May, there isn't much to watch. However, it will be interesting to see what kind of market develops for Aromashodu. With so many holes throughout the roster, it will be difficult if not impossible for the Vikings to flush everybody but Harvin and Jenkins and start over at receiver. For the right price, Aromashodu might be a very good No. 4 receiver. He has some natural downfield skills and will be only 28 in May. He averaged 18.0 yards per catch, best on the team among receivers with more than two catches. Aromashodu is still a raw player that could develop in a situation where he's not counted on to start or be a No. 1- or No. 2-type target. If the league-wide interest in him is low and he can be brought back for the right price, the Vikings might be wise to bring him back as a fourth receiver who knows the offense.
Reason for worry: With so many needs throughout the roster -- cornerback, safety, left tackle, linebacker, depth in general -- the fear is the Vikings might think they can get by again without a legitimate No. 1 receiver. That would be a huge mistake and sure wouldn't help Ponder's progress from overwhelmed rookie to a legitimate NFC North QB. The question is where to shop for a No. 1 receiver. The Vikings pick No. 3 overall in this year's draft. That means they could be in line for the best receiver available, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, if the Rams don't take him No. 2 overall. As a rule of thumb, the third pick overall pick is considered too high for a receiver. Of course, that rule of thumb has noteable exceptions such as the Lions' Calvin Johnson, a former No. 2 pick who had one of the finest years ever by a receiver this season (96 catches, 1,681 yards, 17.5 average, 16 touchdowns). He's the type of player the Vikings need to put alongside Ponder, Harvin, tight end Kyle Rudolph and Adrian Peterson, once Peterson is healthy again. But if the Vikings opt instead for a left tackle -- another huge need that USC's Matt Kalil would fill -- where do the Vikings turn to find a bonafide No. 1 receiver? That's a question the team must answer because this offense won't be able to join the 21st century without a No. 1 receiver.