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The Final 53 and Player Prediction Thread
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jshowers


Joined: 03 May 2013
Posts: 13501
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:25 am    Post subject: The Final 53 and Player Prediction Thread Reply with quote

I'll start. I will color code the roster by projected 2014 performance level as well. Below it I will list notable predictions. It's "way too early" and things will change, but we can just use this thread to discuss roster predictions going forward as well.

Purple = Elite starter.
Green = Good starter.
Blue = Average, replacement level starter.
Orange = Below average starter, liability.
Red = fringe roster caliber player.

Arrow * = flashes of more and potential to reach higher performance level(s).

Vikings 2014 Roster

QB: Teddy Bridgewater* // Matt Cassel // Christian Ponder
RB: Adrian Peterson // Matt Asiata // Jerick McKinnon*
FB: Jerome Felton
WR: Jerome Simpson // Rodney Smith
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson* // Jarius Wright
WR: Greg Jennings
TE: Kyle Rudolph // Rhett Ellison // A.C. Leonard

LT: Matt Kalil // Antonio Richardson
LG: Charlie Johnson // David Yankey*
C: John Sullivan // Joe Berger
RG: Brandon Fusco // Vlad Ducasse
RT: Phil Loadholt

LDE: Brian Robison // Scott Crichton*
NT: Linval Joseph // Fred Evans // Shamar Stephen*
UT: Shariff Floyd // Tom Johnson
RDE: Everson Griffen // Corey Wootton

SLB:Anthony Barr*
MLB: Jasper Brinkley // Audie Cole // Mike Mauti
WLB: Chad Greenway // Gerald Hodges // Larry Dean

LCB: Xavier Rhodes* // Josh Robinson // Marcus Sherels
FS: Harrison Smith // Robert Blanton
SS: Jamarca Sanford // Antone Exum*
RCB: Captain Munnerlyn // Derek Cox // Shaun Prater

K: Blair Walsh
P: Jeff Locke*
LS: Cullen Loeffler
KR: Cordarrelle Patterson
PR: Marcus Sherels

Player Predictions

- Teddy beats out Cassel in camp, starts 16 games, and goes for 2,925 yards w/ 20 TDs to 11 INTs on 62% passing. Wins OROY.

- McKinnon doesn't see an offensive snap until after Week 6, but by the end of the season has 2 or more games with 10 touches.

- Jennings is Teddy's favorite target operating from the slot, and he catches 75+ passes for 1,000+ yards and 6+ TDs.

- Our offensive line is good. Both tackles play to their ability, and Sully has an elite season. Fusco levels off, but remains solid. Johnson is just okay, and Yankey sees at least 1 start at LG in which he has his ups and downs but the staff likes him for the future.

- Griffen and Robison both play solid all-around football, finish w/ 8-10 sacks each and defend the run well. Crichton impresses in limited action as a DE and nickel DT and looks like Robison's successor.

- Linval Joseph plays like an elite NT, but Floyd doesn't take the step we are hoping for and UT is on our "wish list" next off season. He posts only 4 sacks. Floyd's play is serviceable, but lacks the ability to finish plays behind the LOS and is decidedly more of a solid backup or rotational player.

- Barr plays very well as our starting SLB, but doesn't produce the sack or tackle stats to earn him DROY looks. He posts 65 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 INTs, and 1 defensive TD.

- Cole and Brinkley rotate at MLB w/ Cole as primary back up SLB. By the end of the year Cole is starting MLB.

- Greenway bounces back with a good year, returns to form in new defensive scheme.

- Xavier has a season that puts him in the conversations as a top 15 CB in the league. Only 2 INTs, but PFF scores and burn rate are top tier. Munnerlyn does a good job as our #2 CB, but a great job as NCB where he is recognized as one of the best slot corners of 2014 and finishes with 3 INTs and 5 sacks. Our depth behind them is okay, and perimeter CB is on our "wish list" so Captain can stay in the slot. Robinson doesn't mesh with the scheme well and is a definite backup who probably won't see another contract from MN. Cox is better than he was in SD and serviceable, but not great. Prater and Sherels are not starters, but can play okay football in a pinch.

- Harrison has a season that puts him in the conversation as a top 15 FS in the league. He opens the season playing next to Sanford, but by week 12 Exum has been playing quite a bit at SS w/ 1 INT under his belt already and gets the start. From Week 12-16, he records 3 more INTs to lead the team with 4. He makes some rookie mistakes giving up plays and taking poor angles, but is more positive than negative and he is penciled in at SS going forward.



... Okay, now it's your turn! Very Happy
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Krauser


Joined: 20 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice idea for a thread.

Your projections are pretty rosy and the grades seem generous. If the worst part of the Vikings starting lineup is ~6 average starters, with no liabilities, plus 3 elite and 14 good starters, they'll be 11-5.

I'll just write comments so I don't have to do the whole roster on my ipad.

You're projecting OROY for Bridgewater from 16 games, 2925 yards, 62%, 20/11. Those are almost exactly Ponder's stats from 2012 (62.1%, 2935, 18/12). That would be an OK rookie season if they can follow the Seahawks/Niners route, and hardly ever throw 30 times a game because they're always holding a big lead, but it wouldn't feel like much of an achievement if they need more from the passing game to win games. Doubt that would win him OROY.

I'd be stunned if McKinnon gets 10 touches in a game this year unless Peterson's hurt. He'll have quite a learning curve. Think it's more likely this season that AP plays a more balanced role as a RB/receiver and plays most of the 3rd downs, so his stats look more like McCoy or Charles. I'd guess McKinnon is a year away from being a significant part of the offense.

Agree that Jennings is in line for a big year. Think he'll still play outside in 2-WR sets with Patterson though, not just in the slot.

You didn't mention what you think Patterson will do. I think he'll still struggle to beat coverage but his athleticism and improving ball skills will allow him to be a downfield weapon regardless. He may still be better on crossing routes, slants and screens than go routes and sideline routes. I hope Turner will be smart enough to let him run the ball and do other creative offensive weapon stuff.

Agree that the OL will be good, but I think Johnson will be a liability if he has to start all year. Would be mildly surprised if either Yankey (more likely) or Baca (less) don't beat him out by week 1. Davidson previously showed a willingness to let Fusco learn on the job even though Schwartz was better for most of that year, and I think we might see a similar investment in one of the young guys at OG this season.

Agree that the DEs will be good. I think Robison's effectiveness will drop off if he's asked not to rush as wide as often, and so either Wootton or Crichton will play more often in the base defense with Robison coming in fresh on passing downs as an edge rusher. I think Griffen will be excellent.

Agree that Joseph will be the best player on the DL, and (sadly) that Floyd will continue to struggle to finish plays.

Hope you're right about Barr, that would be a solid rookie campaign especially if he's also contributing in coverage.

Doubt Greenway will ever be above average again.

Really hope we don't end up with Cole as MLB, he's a liability against the run. Would rather see Brinkley or Mauti, or even Greenway (with Hodges or Cole as WLB).

Doubt they'll cut both rookie CBs in favor of keeping all 4 of Robinson, Cox, Sherels and Prater. Really doubt Robinson improves to the point of being replacement level, think there's a better chance he gets cut than that he'll play at the level of an average starting CB.

Agree that Smith and Rhodes will excel, and that Exum has a good chance of winning the job at SS.
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jshowers


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krauser wrote:

You didn't You're projecting OROY for Bridgewater from 16 games, 2925 yards, 62%, 20/11. Those are almost exactly Ponder's stats from 2012 (62.1%, 2935, 18/12). That would be an OK rookie season if they can follow the Seahawks/Niners route, and hardly ever throw 30 times a game because they're always holding a big lead, but it wouldn't feel like much of an achievement if they need more from the passing game to win games. Doubt that would win him OROY. mention what you think Patterson will do. I think he'll still struggle to beat coverage but his athleticism and improving ball skills will allow him to be a downfield weapon regardless. He may still be better on crossing routes, slants and screens than go routes and sideline routes. I hope Turner will be smart enough to let him run the ball and do other creative offensive weapon stuff.


Your right, I did forget CP.

I agree with you pretty much 100%.

I think he becomes our clear-cut top receiving "weapon", but doesn't emerge as a go-to #1. His game doesn't really fit the Coryell system or Teddy's quarterbacking style all that well. I still think he will get a fair amount of manufactured touches and easy receptions off the route concepts you mentioned. I see his downfield skills improving but still being inconsistent.

Stat line somewhere around 55-60 catches, ~600 yards, and 4-5 TDs receiving. Throw in 100-125 yards rushing on ~15 carries and 1-2 TDs, as well as 2-3 kickoff return TDs.

Krauser wrote:

You're projecting OROY for Bridgewater from 16 games, 2925 yards, 62%, 20/11. Those are almost exactly Ponder's stats from 2012 (62.1%, 2935, 18/12). That would be an OK rookie season if they can follow the Seahawks/Niners route, and hardly ever throw 30 times a game because they're always holding a big lead, but it wouldn't feel like much of an achievement if they need more from the passing game to win games. Doubt that would win him OROY.


Yep, I see them being fairly conservative and letting Teddy work a lot of high completion routes in the short/intermediate game and go deep off play action mainly.

OROY is a QB dominated award when one is semi-deserving. Unless one of the WRs (Evans or Watkins... sleeper is Jordan Matthews) really goes off, I think that Teddy has the best chance out of the Rookie QBs.
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Krauser


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jshowers wrote:
Stat line somewhere around 55-60 catches, ~600 yards, and 4-5 TDs receiving. Throw in 100-125 yards rushing on ~15 carries and 1-2 TDs, as well as 2-3 kickoff return TDs.


That would be a hugely disappointing year for Patterson, even with the limitations as a downfield receiver we both expect he'll continue to have.

He only played >20 snaps a game for half the year last year and still had 45 catches for 469 yards and 4 TDs, plus 158 yards rushing and 3 TDs. So you're forecasting he'll barely improve on his rookie campaign in terms of all-purpose yards and TDs from scrimmage.

He's a good weapon in the red zone, the only WR on the team capable of winning a fade route or back shoulder with his size/position, so 4-5 receiving TDs would be a particularly bad year. He had 3 in his last 4 games in 2013.

70 catches for 800 yards and 8-10 TDs as a receiver would be my guess, assuming he plays the whole year. Add in rushing and he should go over 1000 all-purpose yards and have ~12 TDs.
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VikeManDan


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Location: Minnesota
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krauser wrote:
jshowers wrote:
Stat line somewhere around 55-60 catches, ~600 yards, and 4-5 TDs receiving. Throw in 100-125 yards rushing on ~15 carries and 1-2 TDs, as well as 2-3 kickoff return TDs.


That would be a hugely disappointing year for Patterson, even with the limitations as a downfield receiver we both expect he'll continue to have.

He only played >20 snaps a game for half the year last year and still had 45 catches for 469 yards and 4 TDs, plus 158 yards rushing and 3 TDs. So you're forecasting he'll barely improve on his rookie campaign in terms of all-purpose yards and TDs from scrimmage.

He's a good weapon in the red zone, the only WR on the team capable of winning a fade route or back shoulder with his size/position, so 4-5 receiving TDs would be a particularly bad year. He had 3 in his last 4 games in 2013.

70 catches for 800 yards and 8-10 TDs as a receiver would be my guess, assuming he plays the whole year. Add in rushing and he should go over 1000 all-purpose yards and have ~12 TDs.


Agreed, that would be a huge disappointment for #84. I think Krauser's prediction is much more realistic. No disrespect intended jshow.
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VikeManDan


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is also a thread about this on page 2 already, not sure if you looked there or not.
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jshowers


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VikeManDan wrote:
Krauser wrote:
jshowers wrote:
Stat line somewhere around 55-60 catches, ~600 yards, and 4-5 TDs receiving. Throw in 100-125 yards rushing on ~15 carries and 1-2 TDs, as well as 2-3 kickoff return TDs.


That would be a hugely disappointing year for Patterson, even with the limitations as a downfield receiver we both expect he'll continue to have.

He only played >20 snaps a game for half the year last year and still had 45 catches for 469 yards and 4 TDs, plus 158 yards rushing and 3 TDs. So you're forecasting he'll barely improve on his rookie campaign in terms of all-purpose yards and TDs from scrimmage.

He's a good weapon in the red zone, the only WR on the team capable of winning a fade route or back shoulder with his size/position, so 4-5 receiving TDs would be a particularly bad year. He had 3 in his last 4 games in 2013.

70 catches for 800 yards and 8-10 TDs as a receiver would be my guess, assuming he plays the whole year. Add in rushing and he should go over 1000 all-purpose yards and have ~12 TDs.


Agreed, that would be a huge disappointment for #84. I think Krauser's prediction is much more realistic. No disrespect intended jshow.


I'm feeling as positive as anyone about the team right now, but I don't want to expect too much from CP.

I think we may have to wait until year 3 for his true breakout.
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VikeManDan


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really? I agree to disagree. If we have to wait until year 3 for him to explode so be it. He is just extremely dynamic and explosive with the ball I'm excited for him to play in all 16 games this year.
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Lil Uno


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using PFF's grading scale:

Elite
High Quality
Good Starter
Average Starter
Below Average Starter
Poor Starter
Not Enough Information
Rookie

QB: Matt Cassel//Teddy Bridgewater
HB: Adrian Peterson//Jerrick McKinnon//Matt Asiata
FB: Jerome Felton//Rhett Ellison
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson
WR: Jerome Simpson//Rodney Smith
SLT: Greg Jennings//Jarius Wright
TE: Kyle Rudolph//Chase Ford//AC Leonard
LT: Matt Kalil
LG: Charlie Johnson//David Yankey
C: John Sullivan//Jeff Baca
RG: Brandon Fusco
RT: Phil Loadholt//Antonio Richardson

LE: Brian Robison//Corey Wootton
UT: Sharrif Floyd//Fred Evans//Tom Johnson
NT: Linval Joseph//Shamar Stephen
RE: Everson Griffen//Scott Crichton
LOLB: Anthony Barr//Audie Cole
MLB: Jasper Brinkley//Michael Mauti
ROLB: Chad Greenway//Gerald Hodges//Brandon Watts
CB: Xavier Rhodes//Josh Robinson//Shaun Prater
FS: Harrison Smith//Kurt Coleman
SS: Antone Exum//Jamarca Sanford
NCB: Captain Munnerlyn//Robert Blanton
CB: Derek Cox//Kendall James

Couple of notes:

* Bridgewater easily has the talent to start day one, but in a perfect world, you'd like to see a QB sit for awhile. That's what I ultimately believe will happen. Cassel isn't so terrible that Teddy will be forced to play in week one. That said, I think Bridgewater will takeover at some point in the season and never look back.

* Depending on how consistent the run game is and how well the defense comes together, I expect big things from Patterson this season. I see him being used in the same manor as Josh Gordon under Norv Turner. Coming out of that Baylor offense, Gordon is a more polished vertical receiver than Patterson. However, Gordon's route tree under Turner largely consisted of WC route principles. A lot of slants, shallow crossing routes, 9 routes off of play-action and even the occasional end around. All designed to get a receiver in space, the biggest strength in Patterson's game. Patterson still has ways to go as a route runner but the routes he will be asked to run are fairly simple. Unlike the Browns, the Vikings will have a run game to rely on so I don't think Patterson comes close to Gordon's numbers but I'm expecting a 60-1100-8 receiving stat line from Patterson this season. A fairly explosive player.

* I also expect a significant leap in stats for Kyle Rudolph as well. Rudolph isn't quite as athletic as an Antonio Gates or a Jordan Cameron but they are similar in the way the attack the ball in the air. Rudolph says he lost weight this offseason to become faster. I expect to see a lot of Jennings/Patterson with Rudolph detached as the #3 WR this season, especially inside the 20. A raise in stats is expected in any Norv Turner TE, but Rudolph has the potential to become an elite TE under Turner. a 55-800-10 statline is what I would guess.

* Hard to tell if Matt Kalil will return to an elite level but it's a safe bet that he will be a good starter. I do expect Johnson to start the season at LG but he won't finish ithere. I expect Yankey to takeover relatively early but missing OTA's won't help him take the job in week one. The right side of the line is arguably the best in football and combine with Adrian, should remain the strength of the offense.

* If Leslie Frazier were leading this front 7, I'd be pretty terrified. There are lot of questions marks for us there, but I have faith in Mike Zimmer. Brian Robison is a good bet for 7-10 sacks. Everson is just as good, if not better. Joseph is going to be a stalwart in the middle of defense and remain cautiously optimistic on Sharrif Floyd. Greenway was terrible the last two seasons but I think he can play at a mediocre level in a gap disciplined scheme. Not the sexy pick, but I expect Brinkley to win the MLB job. Zimmer stuck with Rey Maualuga for some time, who is just one trick thumper like Brinkley. Brinkley/Joseph will be sound in their gaps and prevent anything from coming up the middle, that's all Zimmer really asks of his ILB from what I can tell. Anthony Barr is the biggest question mark on the defense. Many were skeptical when the pick was made because of Zimmer's track record with 34 prospects. Using Barr in a Von Miller edge rusher role sounds promising, but Zimmer has never had success using this type of player. It's definitely something to keep an eye on throughout training camp.

* Let us pray Xavier Rhodes never gets injured. There is a huge hole at the #2 CB spot. Munneryln should occupy the spot in the base defense but the team will likely spend a large part of the game in nickel situations. I think Derek Cox and Josh Robinson are the two realistically battling for spot. Both are operating on pure potential, things could easily go downhill for us if neither take a step forward this season. Statiscially, Rhodes was an elite corner last season. He got his hands on a lot of balls and had one of the lowest TD completion rates in the game. If I remember correctly, he didn't allow a TD until Week 15. This season I expect him to come away with some of those defended passes and become more of a household name. Harrison Smith has been one of the better safeties in the game since his rookie year. Safeties aren't a huge part of Zimmer's defense but I expect Smith to continue to develop as an elite all-round defensive back. I was in love with Exum during the 2012 campaign and am excited to see him transition to Safety. I think he too possesses a terrific all-around game, in terms of coverage, ball skills, and physicality. Should be able to run away with the job in camp.

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swiss_vike


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:27 am    Post subject: Re: The Final 53 and Player Prediction Thread Reply with quote

jshowers wrote:
- Cole and Brinkley rotate at MLB w/ Cole as primary back up SLB. By the end of the year Cole is starting MLB.


I see Cole as borderline to make the roster...I'll carry any sig you want if he's the starter @MLB with Brinkley and Mauti both healthy.
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disaacs


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:40 am    Post subject: Re: The Final 53 and Player Prediction Thread Reply with quote

swiss_vike wrote:
jshowers wrote:
- Cole and Brinkley rotate at MLB w/ Cole as primary back up SLB. By the end of the year Cole is starting MLB.


I see Cole as borderline to make the roster...I'll carry any sig you want if he's the starter @MLB with Brinkley and Mauti both healthy.


I personally like Cole better than either of them. Not only is he not "borderline", I think he's a virtual lock, because of his work ethic and consistency. I think he's more of a lock than Brinkley is.
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jshowers


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:41 am    Post subject: Re: The Final 53 and Player Prediction Thread Reply with quote

swiss_vike wrote:
jshowers wrote:
- Cole and Brinkley rotate at MLB w/ Cole as primary back up SLB. By the end of the year Cole is starting MLB.


I see Cole as borderline to make the roster...I'll carry any sig you want if he's the starter @MLB with Brinkley and Mauti both healthy.


Interested as to why?

He's one of our better and perhaps the most versatile LB on the roster at the moment.

Mauti has shown nothing, and if anyone's roster spot is in jeopardy out of those three, it's him.

Brinkley is a known commodity that isn't going to be great, or even good, but at least won't be brutal.

Cole has the most potential.
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swiss_vike


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mauti didn't show anything because he didn't play. He would have started at MLB after Henderson went out last season, ifmhe wouldn't have banged his knee the week prior.

Cole is versatile, I give you that. But I don't like his run support, was too often out of place (bad instincts) and his solo tackling is bad. He needs help. In coverage, he's adequate. In last years pre-season, he was on par with Mauti overall, despite Mauti coming off injury and Cole having a year on him.

Brinkley is the type of LB Zimmer seems to like in the middle.
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vikingsrule


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am going to concentrate on more of the flaws of this team with the following scale:

Poor Starter (proven player who is terrible)
Unknown Starter/Contributor (recent early draft pick and rookies)
Poor Backup (ineffective with little long-term upside)

We obviously know which starters the Vikings can rely on in 2014 but where will the team's weaknesses be? Who will need to be replaced going forward? What position group has little depth? For position groups that have an open competition (ie QB or MLB), I will include all players as potential starters and judge the players accordingly.


QB (2) - Teddy Bridgewater | Matt Cassel
RB (3) - Adrian Peterson | Jerick McKinnon | Matt Asiata
FB (1) - Rhett Ellison

WR (5) - Greg Jennings | Cordarrelle Patterson | Jerome Simpson | Jarius Wright | Rodney Smith
TE (3) - Kyle Rudolph | Chase Ford | A.C. Leonard

LT (1) - Matt Kalil | Charlie Johnson
LG (2) - David Yankey | Charlie Johnson
C (2) - John Sullivan | Joe Berger
RG (2) - Brandon Fusco | Jeff Baca
RT (2) - Phil Loadholt | Antonio Richardson

LE (2) - Brian Robison | Corey Wootton
NT (3) - Linval Joseph | Shamar Stephen | Kheeston Randall
UT (2) - Sharrif Floyd | Fred Evans
RE (2) - Everson Griffen | Scott Crichton

SLB (2) - Anthony Barr | Audie Cole
MLB (2) - Jasper Brinkley | Mike Mauti
WLB (3) - Chad Greenway | Gerald Hodges | Brandon Watts

CB (6) - Xavier Rhodes | Captain Munnerlyn | Derek Cox | Josh Robinson | Marcus Sherels | Kendall James
FS (2) - Harrison Smith | Antone Exum
SS (3) - Andrew Sendejo | Kurt Coleman | Robert Blanton

ST (3) - Blair Walsh | Jeff Locke | Cullen Loeffler


Backfield

My anticipation is that Bridgewater will be the day one starter. With the Vikings feeling comfortable with Bridgewater and Cassel as the top two, Ponder is traded for future consideration.

Not much has to be said about Peterson, but if he ever has to miss time, I don't trust any of the Vikings backup RBs to handle a full load of carries. Asiata does not impress at all as a runner and McKinnon is likely a third down back at best. Minnesota is taking a bit of a risk not having a truly effective ball carrier behind Peterson. The Felton vs. Ellison debate will heat up the closer we get to camp. Both have proven to be effective lead blockers. However, Ellison can also play TE and that will be valuable as Turner typically does not use much FB. Why keep a FB who can only play FB?

Receivers

Jennings and Patterson should be a nice starting duo. The Vikings will obviously be relying on Patterson to emerge as a good all around WR, not just a gimmick receiver. Simpson looks like a solid deep threat but he is on the low end of starting receivers. Simpson should be the team's third WR. Wright adds nice versatility in the slot and on the outside and is a good deep threat. I'm still on the fence with Rodney Smith, the odds are stacked against him ever becoming a viable receiver.

Rudolph needs to stay healthy and prove that he can be more than just a redzone receiver. Ellison should be the #2 TE, mainly in a blocking capacity. Ford flashed towards the end of last season and looks like a solid backup to Rudolph. Leonard might have too much physical upside to try and sneak onto the practice squad.

Offensive Line

Four of five starters form last year will return, I appreciate that stability and continuity up front. The one question mark will be at Left Guard. Johnson, Yankey and Baca will be viewed as the favorites. I am hoping that Yankey emerges if he is able to improve his strength this offseason. The Vikings have decent depth at Offensive Line. Johnson can play LT and LG. Baca and Berger can play C and OG. If Richardson can stay healthy, he looks like a solid backup to Loadholt.

Defensive Line

The DL looks like a strength for the Vikings defense this year. Robison and Joseph have proven to be top notch starters at their respective positions. Girffen has also been effective in limited opportunities. The real question mark has to be at UT. Will Floyd get in shape and develop into a disruptive player, or will he underwhelm and become another Peria Jerry? My guess is that Floyd develops into a Randy Starks type player. Sure we want to see him become Geno Atkins, but I feel that Starks is a more fitting comparison.The Vikings have good depth at DE in Wootton and Crichton. At DT, Evans, Stephen and Randall are a poor collective group of backups.

Linebackers

Greenway should have a bounce back year in Zimmer's downhill scheme. Greenway has been given looks at MLB, but I expect him to settle in at WLB. At SLB, Barr may not have a defined role. Barr will have to prove that he can be a viable edge run defender if he is to see the field. Barr should be used in a pass rush oriented role, whether that be at OLB, MLB and/or DE. MLB is a huge concern, Brinkley is terrible and Mauti may not be much better. Hodges, Cole and Watts fill in at the backup OLB spots and we may see one of these players emerge as a coverage specific LB for obvious passing downs.

Secondary

Rhodes has immense potential and I expect him to develop into a top tier LCB. Munnerlyn is a very good slot CB in nickel and RCB in base. Cox and Robinson will compete to be the nickel CB (playing RCB). If Cox can regain his pre-2012 form, the Vikings might just have a solid starter. My prediction: Cox proves to be a solid enough nickel to warrant a new three year contract. Cox will be Zimmer's first reclamation project in MN. Robinson was awful last year and I don't have much faith in him going forward. Sherels is a solid reserve and dynamic punt returner. James looks the part as a nickel CB but he may not get much of a chance being a 6th round pick.

The Safety spots are wide open. We don't even know if Smith will be playing FS or SS, which is a significant issue to resolve. Exum is a long-shot to do anything as a rookie, but he will get a look at FS. Sendejo and Coleman look best suited as box Safetys. Blanton might be able to backup both Safety spots. I am not overly concerned about the Safety position given Zimmer's success without good starting Safetys.

Ideal Nickel Defense

LE Brian Robison
DT Scott Crichton
DT Sharrif Floyd
RE Everson Griffen
LB Anthony Barr
LB Audie Cole (might be the best coverage LB on the team, pretty good pass rusher too; might fit in well with the double A gap blitz).
LCB Xavier Rhodes
FS Harrison Smith
SS Andrew Sendejo
RCB Derek Cox
SCB Captain Munnerlyn

Special Teams

Walsh, Patterson and Sherels are all among the league's best for their respective roles. Loeffler is automatic. Locke was very inconsistent last year, he needs to step up or he may be out of work soon.

Top Needs Going Forward

1. MLB - Neither Brinkley or Mauti emerge as a viable starter

2. TE - Frankly, I am not that confident in Rudolph being a reliable threat. Rudolph has always been a big time redzone threat but I question if he will ever be anything more than that. Factor in his injuries concerns, I wouldn't be surprised if MN is looking at big, athletic TEs early in next year's draft.

3. S - Smith will eventually settle into one spot but an upgrade will be needed opposite of him.

4. WR - Jennings isn't a typical Turner WR, I expect MN to look for viable vertical threats in 2015; Jennings will work well in the slot going forward

5. LE - This may not be a popular need given that Robison is still under contract and Crichton is a young rookie. However, I think that Zimmer will be one to value Defensive Line depth and I could see him going after one of those 6-6 275 run stuffers like he had in Cincinnati.

6. DT Depth - Need to improve at backup UT and NT. Maybe Stephen shows us something as a rookie.

7. RB - Peterson won't be around forever and as previously stated, I don't trust Asiata as a viable starting option if Peterson ever has to miss time.

8. CB - Assuming that Rhodes, Munnerlyn and Cox emerge as a solid enough trio, CB won't be a significant priority. Depth might be a concern though, especially if Robinson doesn't pan out. Its hard to say what James or Price have to offer at this point.

2015 Free Agents

OG Brandon Fusco signs a five year deal with the Vikings.

CB Derek Cox signs a three year deal with the Vikings.

WR Jerome Simpson and TE Kyle Rudolph walk.

Hopefully MN can make one impact signing from elsewhere. I haven't even begun to look at 2015 free agents but if there was a good MLB or S on the market, that would be the direction that I go.
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Freakout


Joined: 05 Mar 2007
Posts: 2976
PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swiss_vike wrote:
Mauti didn't show anything because he didn't play. He would have started at MLB after Henderson went out last season, ifmhe wouldn't have banged his knee the week prior.

Cole is versatile, I give you that. But I don't like his run support, was too often out of place (bad instincts) and his solo tackling is bad. He needs help. In coverage, he's adequate. In last years pre-season, he was on par with Mauti overall, despite Mauti coming off injury and Cole having a year on him.

Brinkley is the type of LB Zimmer seems to like in the middle.


In my opinion, Cole is actually a better fit as a weak side linebacker in Zimmer's scheme. I believe he is being used at the SAM position currently because we really have no other linebacker with the size that Zimmer likes for that position on the roster.
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