Mar 22, 2012

Minnesota Vikings’ 2012 Draft Predictions based on Free Agency

The Minnesota Vikings have been unusually quiet this year in free agency. Considering the big moves the Vikings have made in the past three years, it has come as bit of a surprise for many fans, who were expecting the Vikings to pursue at least one or two big name players on the free agent market. However, this approach could turn out to be a rather master move for new GM Rick Spielman in his quest to make the Vikings winners in the near-future.

Minnesota Vikings Free Agent Signings (Mid-March 2012)

To date the Vikings have signed seven free agents who were not with the team last season. They are as follows:

TE John Carlson: Carlson’s signing came as a surprise, but upon further review made an awful lot of sense. With Visanthe Shiancoe having been shown the door, the Vikings needed a young veteran tight end to help along the development of Kyle Rudolph, Mickey Shuler Jr. and Allen Reisner. Carlson’s youth and experience makes him an ideal fit for that need and he gives QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb another massive target in the passing game.

FB/HB Lex Hilliard: This was an odd signing. If there was one position the Vikings had no need for depth or replacements, it was runningback. True Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are rehabbing from serious injuries suffered last season, but Caleb King flashed big time in the pre-season last year and the team thought so highly of the Chargers’ Jordan Todman that they stole him off that team’s practice squad. As for fullback, the Vikings already have two on the roster in Ryan D’Imperio and Matt Asiata. Asiata struggled with injuries and D’Imperio with learning pains last season, but they both also showed flashes of big-time potential. Apparently the Vikings front office either isn’t sold on them, or Jim Kleinsasser’s retirement has scared them more than anyone originally thought.

FB Jerome Felton: Again, a very odd signing. The Vikings tried to acquire Felton early last season and were outbid by Carolina and Indianapolis, respectively. They finally got him, and they now have FOUR fullbacks on the roster… One gets the feeling that Jim Kleinsasser’s retirement has really bothered the Vikings front office.

OL Geoff Schwartz: This signing, in contrast, made a lot of sense. Schwartz is acquainted with Vikings’ offensive line coach Jeff Davidson and has been a solid fill-in player during the years he spent with Davidson in Carolina. With the Vikings’ offensive line in need of new depth due to the departure of Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera, Schwartz adds a piece to either provide that depth or to compete with someone (possibly guard Joe Berger) for a starting spot.

CB Nicholas Taylor: This signing puzzled many when it was announced. Why would the Vikings sign a former college basketball star to their roster? If one analyzes other basketball players who have turned to an NFL career however, this move does not look as crazy any longer. The chances of making a successful find for the NFL among college basketball players are actually rather high. Some great NFL stars have started out as basketball players: Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham to name a couple; even Julius Peppers and Terrell Owens did very well at basketball in college. No one has yet seen a basketball player become a truly successful cornerback, but the Vikings are hoping Taylor begins that trend. If Taylor can turn the leaping abilities every basketball player has into a key skill set in his duties as a cornerback, he might have a chance to do some damage for the Vikings this coming season.

LB Solomon Elimimian: The former CFL star may actually have a chance to crack the starting lineup for the Vikings this year. The Vikings found a good project in another CFL star, WR Emmanuel Arceneaux, last season and are hoping they landed another good project in Elimimian. If Erin Henderson’s current frustration with the Vikings results in his departure for another team, Elimimian’s chances of landing a starting spot alongside Chad Greenway in the Vikings’ linebacker corps skyrockets. Good move? Bad move? That is anybody’s guess at this point. The Vikings did not see Arceneaux finally start producing until late last year so it may be a while before this move’s wisdom or failure becomes known.

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson: Not a flashy move, but it provides Sage Rosenfels with competition for the third string spot. Bethel-Thompson has a real big arm and has flashed a lot of potential, but injuries are primarily what have killed his opportunities to date. Don’t expect him to make it on the final roster, but if Rosenfels completely implodes or lands on injured reserve in the pre-season, Bethel-Thompson could stick around and watch as Ponder and Webb show what it takes to run a pro-offense.

Minnesota Vikings 2012 Draft – First Round Opportunities (Mid-March 2012)

The seven free agent signings so far should be telling the fans this very important clue. The major part of the Vikings rebuilding process this season is going to be done through the draft. This knowledge and the fact that the Vikings have the No. 3 overall pick in the draft means the Vikings are in a very enviable position for any rebuilding team.

With this in mind, there are two scenarios for the Vikings’ first round options in the upcoming draft. One if the Vikings remain at the No. 3 overall spot and the other if they trade down in the first round.

Remaining at No. 3 Overall: This move is more likely then a lot of fans probably want to admit. With the Redskins already assured of getting Quarterback Robert Griffin III due to their trade with the Rams for the No. 2 overall pick, the Vikings are now left with a choice between the three players who are considered the top tier in the upcoming draft: OT Matt Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne and WR Justin Blackmon. The Vikings will need to evaluate which hole is most desperately in need of filling and that biggest hole is most likely going to turn out to be in the defensive secondary.

People might remember that Leslie Frazier was very impressed with the way CB Cedric Griffin began playing toward the end of the 2011 season. However, Griffin ended up being a salary cap casualty right before free agency started in early March. Knowing that Frazier had wanted a three cornerback tandem in the defensive secondary the last two years made up of Griffin and Chris Cook playing the outside with Antoine Winfield covering the slot, the move to release Griffin really made no sense. Upon evaluating the Vikings’ draft prospects, however, Griffin’s release begins to play out into the following scenario.

Frazier was probably convinced by Spielman that the team was better off getting a younger corner given Griffin’s injury history and age. Frazier was then promised that a first round pick would be spent on a cornerback to give him that three cornerback tandem he wants in order to more effectively run the Tampa-2 defense he and new defensive coordinator Alan Williams are re-implementing. With this having been promised, Frazier gave his nod of approval to Griffin’s departure and began to evaluate who the team should select for their first round cornerback.

Knowing this, a safe prediction can be made that the Vikings, if they remain at that third pick, will select cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Vikings are only one or two pieces away from a very solid 4-3 defense and Claiborne could be that missing piece the team so badly needs. If one thinks back to the great Tampa Bay defenses under Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Monte Kiffin, they might recall that the Buccaneers did not have a roster full of defensive stars. They had one star for each section of the defense: Warren Sapp and later Simeon Rice for the defensive line; Derrick Brooks for the linebackers; John Lynch and later Ronde Barber for the secondary. The rest were simply solid players who did their job and worked around the star players. Frazier is basing his defense on that Tampa Bay model and the Vikings have current stars who are ready to take the defense to that next level if they can obtain one star player for their secondary. On the defensive line their current star is Jared Allen with rising ones right behind him in Christian Ballard and Everson Griffen; Chad Greenway is a star for the linebacker corps; Antoine Winfield used to be the star in the secondary, but age has robbed him of the ability to be that any longer. The addition of Claiborne would make him the instant star in the secondary to replace Winfield and so help solidify the Vikings defense. Plus, if Chris Cook can return to playing at the level that he was last season, where he was driving star receivers like Calvin Johnson crazy, the Vikings’ secondary could actually begin to be a feared force. With Claiborne now handling players like Johnson, Cook would be free to take out opponents’ second receivers and that could go a long way towards shutting down opposing offenses and giving the Vikings’ offense more scoring opportunities. The fact that the Chicago Bears acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall to team with his former quarterback Jay Cutler, thrown in with the additional fact that the Lions and Packers already have scary receiving corps, only reinforces the idea that the Vikings will be picking Claiborne if they remain at the third overall pick. If the Vikings hope to even survive in the NFC North, they will need a solid secondary.

Trading down for two 1st round picks: There is only one scenario which makes any sense for the Vikings do this. Trading the third overall pick for Cleveland’s two first round picks. Why would Cleveland give up that much just to move up one pick? The answer is simple. The Browns are in desperate need of secondary help, just like the Vikings, and they too have set their eyes on cornerback Morris Claiborne.

The way this would likely play out is as follows: The Browns trade their two first round picks at No. 4 and No. 22 to the Vikings for the Vikings’ No. 3 overall pick. The Browns then select Claiborne. The Vikings then adjust. They improve their offensive line by drafting Matt Kalil at No. 4 and then they pick up another good cornerback, most likely Dre Kirkpatrick, at No. 22. Kirkpatrick is considered to be the same kind of talent as Claiborne, but his stock has slipped dramatically after an incident involving possession of marijuana by a guest in Kirkpatrick’s car. However, the Vikings have gambled on players like this before and have had it work out very well (Percy Harvin reportedly tested positive for marijuana in 2009 and has turned out to be a fantastic and responsible player).

This would be the best possible scenario for the Vikings. Kalil would fill a hole on the offensive line that needs to be filled at some point and the Vikings would still fill their gaping hole in the secondary either with Kirkpatrick or one of the other highly-rated cornerbacks in this year’s draft. This would give the Vikings an opportunity to more thoroughly address other holes at wide receiver, nose tackle and safety in the later rounds of the draft. Kirkpatrick can also play safety and if the Vikings do get him at No. 22, then this move makes even more sense. Kirkpatrick would give the Vikings a very flexible defense while Kalil would provide protection for Christian Ponder and Joe Webb at a critical position on the offensive line.

In Closing: There is a long way to go still until the NFL Draft in late April. Many things could change during that time. However, based on the moves the Vikings have made to date, one thing is certain. The Vikings’ roster will be much younger on opening weekend in 2012. General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Leslie Frazier have decided to move past the Brad Childress era and build their own legacy and team. 2012 may not be a winning year for the Vikings, but one thing is for certain. They will be much better then they were in 2011 and will inspire their fans with more hope for the future.

© 2012 New Agora and The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

Mar 14, 2012

Signing TE John Carlson makes sense for the Vikings

Today the Minnesota Vikings announced they had signed former Seattle Seahawks tight end John Carlson to a five year $25 million contract. He effectively replaces Visanthe Shiancoe who is expected to sign elsewhere and end his career with another team. Carlson, 27, had previously been the Seahawks starting tight end, but was effectively replaced by Zach Miller in Seattle last season after Carlson suffered a season-ending injury early in the year.

Carlson’s signing makes a lot of sense for the Vikings. Shiancoe’s departure was going to leave a large hole in the Vikings’ receiver options for quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Joe Webb and was going to put an unreasonable amount of pressure on the Vikings’ three remaining tight ends: Kyle Rudolph, Mickey Shuler Jr., and Allen Reisner. With Carlson’s arrival, however, the Vikings now have a very experienced, but still very young tight end who can assist in the development of the three young tight ends already with the Vikings. He is huge at 6-5 and when teamed with the 6-6 Rudolph in the two tight end set, the two can pose a lot of problems for opposing defenses. He and Rudolph can be targets to whom Ponder and Webb just need to throw the ball up over the smaller defenders in order to reach. Carlson also has the experience of having played in some big games for Seattle in his career, the biggest being the Seahawks’ stunning 2010 playoff victory over the Saints, a game in which Carlson played a huge role. In the victory, he had three catches for seventeen yards and two touchdowns and recovered the onside kick at the end of the game to seal it. His experience in these situations will be valuable as he assists in Rudolph, Shuler and Reisner’s development.

The signing of Carlson continues the interesting Vikings-Seahawks free agent history which has evolved over the past several years. Back in 2006, in the infamous “poison pill contract” case, the Vikings signed away the Seahawks all-pro guard Steve Hutchinson, breaking up one of the Seahawks’ greatest team strengths at that time. The Seahawks then retaliated by signing Vikings receiver Nate Burleson to a similar poison pill contract, decimating a Vikings receiving corps already very thin on talent. In 2010, after the lockout ended, Seattle signed away three former Vikings: quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, receiver Sidney Rice and special teams ace linebacker Heath Farwell. Carlson’s signing now leaves the Seahawks with only one proven tight end in Zach Miller and an uncertain backup in Cameron Morrah along with some other fringe players at the tight end position.

© 2012 The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

Mar 13, 2012

The Rick Santorum - DC Establishment Conspiracy

In his best-selling novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the novelist John Le Carré lays forth one of the most classic of all misdirection ploys. In the story, a low level British agent stumbles upon information about a traitor amongst the leaders of British intelligence and seeks to inform someone of this find. The traitor finds out he has been partially discovered and informs his real masters in Moscow, who in turn give him fictitious information about the agent to spread amongst his companions in British intelligence. The information says that the agent has defected and is trying to sell false information to British intelligence about a traitor in their midst. The remainder of the story is then about the agent and his allies trying to overcome this false information and expose the truth about the traitor in British intelligence.

The powerful political establishment in the United States of America is attempting to pull off something very similar today. They see, with alarm, that the people are turning against them and becoming angry at the continually deteriorating state of life in the country. With the elections due to come up this November 6th of 2012, they are attempting to pass a number of laws through Congress which would bestow unheard-of powers upon the President. If these proposed laws (like NDAA) all pass, they could potentially nullify the effect of a populist-controlled Congress and state governments. The Establishment is truly desperate to retain power and see an imperial presidency as the only way of doing so.

Their plot does not end there however. The Establishment is clever enough to know that they cannot win a race where their candidate can be clearly shown as an Establishment candidate. For this reason, they have chosen to back two candidates. One is their “sacrificial lamb” who is clearly labeled as the Establishment candidate. The other is proclaimed to the nation as the true limited government candidate, but is, in reality, the true Establishment candidate; a classic use of the misdirection ploy.

The first candidate is easy. Mitt Romney is the sacrificial lamb candidate of the Establishment. He is being offered to the nation as the candidate who must be defeated along with President Barack Obama in order to save America. The Establishment then settled on who their true candidate would be as the Iowa primary approached. They had spent the past year evaluating all of the debate performances and statements made by the Republican presidential aspirants and eventually settled on one of them. That was likely one of the reasons for the rise and fall of so many of the Republican aspirants in the polls last year.

The man the Establishment chose to be their true candidate was a man who had shown himself competent enough to handle an imperial presidency through his past record and current statements. He had been prone to a lot of tough talk and bomb-dropping rhetoric in the realm of foreign policy, he had been one of the biggest supporters of the War on Terror during George W. Bush’s presidency and he had a personal crusade agenda which, in the eyes of many Americans, is inseparably linked to certain aspects of limited government philosophies, namely that of being pro-life. The Establishment had found their man, and he was Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania.

Where is the proof that Santorum is a member of the Establishment? Look at these facts and it should become obvious. Santorum’s record on limited government issues should speak for itself. He supported Federal Government measures such as No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D and many other bills and laws of those types. A true limited government man would never have done that. Santorum also seems to get very confused when he tries to clarify what he believes the Constitution says about powers given to the Federal Government and the State Governments. A true limited government man would know exactly what the Constitution says about the separation of powers. Santorum is pro-life yes (though his record on the pro-life issues occasionally leaves something to be desired), but just because one is pro-life does not mean they are for limited government. Just look at who defeated Santorum in the United States Senate race in Pennsylvania in 2006: A self-identified pro-life Democrat, Bob Casey Jr. Casey is by no means a limited government man and yet he proudly announces his pro-life positions (though, like Santorum, his record on the pro-life issues leaves much to be desired in some cases). Just because one is pro-life does not mean he is for limited government. One may just as easily push for pro-life resolutions through big government solutions.

So Santorum’s record is clear. He is not a true limited government man, but how can one be sure he is the GOP Establishment’s true candidate? Santorum provided that answer for the world to see just the other day. When confronted by an independent journalist about his abysmal record on limited government issues, Santorum lost his temper (as he has been doing a lot of lately) and just snapped at the person to go vote for Ron Paul. That was a major mistake.

If Santorum had been truly repentant about his past actions as a big government man and was seeking to truly turn things around, he would not have spoken that way. He would have explained to the journalist that it was a mistake and then would have laid out how he had learned from that mistake and what he would do to correct it. The answer he gave showed that Santorum only has one thing on his mind now in his campaign: Defeat Ron Paul and continue the Establishment’s big government ideas. It is the same mindset of the members of the Establishment who are linked to the Republican Party. That means that Santorum too is part of the Establishment. He is not the limited government man he claims to be.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. Santorum and Romney are both part of the Establishment (and let us not forget Newt Gingrich and his record) and the Establishment is attempting to portray in people’s minds the image of Romney as the candidate of the Establishment with Santorum as the true limited government candidate. Santorum’s angry answer to the independent journalist, however, has blown the Establishment’s conspiracy wide open. People can connect the dots and now it should be obvious. A fake fight between two Establishment candidates has been set up and a process of manipulation is taking place which is trying to trick the people of America in continuing the status-quo just long enough for an imperial presidency to take charge.

The American people need to wake up now. Santorum is being portrayed to the American people as the man to save limited government by the Establishment. However, all he will do if elected, is strive to save the Establishment and their status-quo policies. Continuation of the status-quo policies, as former presidential candidate and political commentator Pat Buchanan has warned in his recent book Suicide of a Superpower, can only lead to America’s destruction in the not-too-distant future.

© 2012 The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

Mar 12, 2012

Who the Minnesota Vikings should pursue in Free Agency in 2012

The Minnesota Vikings purged their roster of some players no longer needed this past Saturday and the way now appears to be clear for them to begin putting new pieces in place on their roster. They have some major starting and depth holes to fill at wide receiver, on the offensive line, on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. The free agency crop, though not as deep as it could be, still has plenty of options for the Vikings to consider. What shall now be presented are options the Vikings should pursue as their first choices in free agency, which will help them turn the team around much more quickly and hopefully land Coach Leslie Frazier his first playoff berth as a head coach.

G Carl Nicks – New Orleans Saints

Nicks has been part of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL down in New Orleans and should be pursued for that very reason. With Steve Hutchinson no longer a Viking, a large hole has been left on the offensive line and Nicks would be a perfect replacement on the line for a player of such quality as Hutchinson was. Furthermore the addition of Nicks, if teamed with drafting top rookie offensive tackle prospect Matt Kalil, would allow the Vikings to move Charlie Johnson, last year’s left tackle, to the other guard position. Those three at the two guard spots and left tackle, when teamed with center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt, could actually turn one of the Vikings’ weaknesses a season ago, into a great strength. It would also allow some of the young lineman, tackle DeMarcus Love, center Brandon Fusco and guard Chris DeGeare, to learn from watching and occasionally filling in instead of having to adapt in pressure situations. Also they, along with last year’s top backup veteran Joe Berger, would provide some much-needed depth for the Vikings offensive line.

Overall, the signing of Nicks (along with the drafting of Kalil) would solve two major problems for the Vikings. It would give quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Joe Webb a solid offensive line to work behind and would allow the team to utilize the young learning players as badly-needed depth.

Next Option if First is unavailable: G Ben Grubbs (Baltimore Ravens)

WR Mario Mannigham – New York Giants

Percy Harvin needs help. That is all there is to it. Harvin is a spectacular playmaker, but he does much better in certain positions then others and the Vikings need to find ways to get him in those positions while at the same time forcing defensive secondaries to stop double-covering him like they were doing at the end of the year. Mario Manningham had a spectacular 2011 post-season for the New York Giants and an even more spectacular Super Bowl. The problem for him is that the Giants are already deep at receiver and owe big paychecks to their superb defensive players. This makes him very hard for the Giants to re-sign and the conventional wisdom is that he will take his talents elsewhere.

Manningham would fit the Vikings very well. He would fill the huge void left by Sidney Rice’s departure to Seattle last season and in so doing force defenses to stop focusing all of their attention on Harvin. He would present the deep acrobatic threat Ponder and Webb so desperately needed last season and so assist in the development of both quarterbacks. Furthermore, if Michael Jenkins can return to form after his injury, if last year’s rookies Stephen Burton and Emmanuel Arceneaux continue to improve their play and another rookie or street free agent steps up for the Vikings, then that could allow Manningham to have a breakout Pro-Bowl type year and become a truly unstoppable threat.

Overall, however, Mannigham’s addition, whether complemented or not by players other than Harvin, would certainly help the Vikings break out of the rut they seemed to fall into on offense last season and would allow offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave more options when it came to calling passing plays in 2012.

Next Option if First is unavailable: WR Pierre Garcon (Indianapolis Colts), WR Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints)

CB Terrell Thomas – New York Giants

Cedric Griffin’s release leaves a huge hole in a secondary already full of holes. Granted, Griffin was not playing like his old self after two straight ACL tears, but he still knew what he was doing and releasing him might not have been the wisest move at this stage in the 2012 season.

To replace Griffin, the Vikings would be wise to sign an experienced veteran cornerback. A lot of the speculation has centered around Tennessee’s Cortland Finnegan or Kansas City’s Brandon Carr. If the Vikings sign Nicks and Manningham however, then they probably will not be able to put up the money to sign either Finnegan or Carr. The next tier of free agent cornerbacks consist of several possibilities, but the best prospect appears to be Terrell Thomas of the New York Giants.

Thomas is a solid cover corner and someone who the Giants really want to re-sign. However, Thomas might be tempted by the prospect of potentially being the top man in the cornerback lineup in Minnesota in contrast to his situation in New York where he would be the third man behind Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster. If the Vikings can appeal and negotiate with him from that perspective then he might very well be willing to walk away from the lineup of the defending Super Bowl champs and into a spot on a defense which desperately needs cover men.

The addition of Thomas would be a dramatic upgrade for the Vikings under any situation, but if Chris Cook returns and stays out of trouble, Antoine Winfield stays healthy, the Vikings draft a good cornerback or two in the later rounds of the 2012 draft and Marcus Sherels and Brandon Burton step up and improve their play, then the Vikings could actually have a pretty good cornerback collection next year.

Next Option if First is unavailable: CB Tracy Porter (New Orleans Saints), CB Richard Marshall (Arizona Cardinals)

S Haruki Nakamura / S Tom Zbikowski – Baltimore Ravens

Since releasing Darren Sharper a few years ago, the Vikings’ safety play has been hideous. Tyrell Johnson was a bust, who never should have been drafted by the team in the first place. Jamarca Sanford tried to step up last year, but was unable to break out of the “role player” mold (though he did show flashes of ball hawking ability, most notably last year against Arizona and the second game versus Chicago). Husain Abdullah has played competently at both safety positions, but has struggled with concussions and his career is still somewhat in doubt, despite being cleared by doctors to play next season. Mistral Raymond showed a lot of promise when forced into a starting role last year, but needs some more time to learn the position and so become a consistently effective player.

Attempting to move Cedric Griffin to safety was an experiment the Vikings would have done well to at least try but they did not, so the Vikings now end up needing to bring in at least two new safeties this off-season. The general consensus is that the Vikings should spend a second or third round draft pick on a rookie safety, but the other acquisition at safety should come through free agency.

LaRon Landry is regarded as the prize star safety of the free agent crop this year, but like Finnegan and Carr, will probably be out of the Vikings price range. However, two safeties from Baltimore’s vaunted defense might be promising prospects for the Vikings to look at. Haruki Nakamura was showing signs of a breakout year for Baltimore last season before suffering an injury and Tom Zbikowski has always been a solid backup for the Ravens with the ability to make plays. One thing is for certain. Either player would be a dramatic upgrade over what the Vikings have now and would provide a promising partner for the rookie whom the Vikings end up drafting.

If either Nakamura or Zbikowski or both were to end up signing with the Vikings, then Frazier and new defensive coordinator Alan Williams would certainly feel much better about the defensive coverages they call. It would take a lot of pressure off the Vikings’ young stable of cornerbacks and would help give the defensive line and linebackers more time to pressure the passer. If both were to end up signing, then the Vikings could feel better about releasing several of the subpar players they have had at the safety position and allowing the two veterans to help bring along the rookie they will end up drafting and the second-year player Mistral Raymond. It could potentially begin a turnaround for a much-neglected section of the Vikings defense.

Next Option if First is unavailable: S Craig Steltz (Chicago Bears)

MLB Curtis Lofton – Atlanta Falcons

E.J. Henderson’s age began to show last year and Jasper Brinkley, though competent, has too many weaknesses to remain a constant force at middle linebacker. The Vikings do have a promising young player at the position in second year player Larry Dean, but he will need time to learn before being ready to take over the position. In an ideal world, Henderson would return with a reduced salary to play a situational role and to tutor the young players, but that may not happen.

Regardless of what happens to Henderson, the Vikings definitely need an upgrade at middle linebacker. The Atlanta Falcons’ Curtis Lofton would seem to fit the bill of what the team needs. He is very good in coverage and a solid tackler who provided stability to a slowly growing Atlanta defense last season. If he were to sign with and start for the Vikings at middle linebacker, then Chad Greenway would probably be able to focus more on his side of the field then he did last season. It would also provide stability to whoever steps up at the other linebacker position, whether it is E.J.’s brother Erin Henderson, or CFL star linebacker Solomon Elimimian or a draft choice.

Next Option if First is unavailable: MLB Dan Connor (Carolina Panthers)

TE Visanthe Shiancoe – Minnesota Vikings

Shiancoe is getting old and is definitely on the downside of his career. No one is disputing that. The problem for the Vikings is that the players who would be replacing him are still rather young and inexperienced and could use a stabilizing veteran like him around as they continue to grasp their trade. Kyle Rudolph is an emerging star who could have a breakout season next year while Mickey Shuler Jr. and Allen Reisner have both flashed big-time promise. If the three learn how to maximize their talents at the position, then they could become the NFC’s version of the Patriots’ tight end assortment. This all could hinge on one thing however: Visanthe Shianoce’s presence on or absence from the Vikings’ roster.

Shiancoe, in all fairness, should be willing to take a pay cut to stay around. He has enjoyed his time in Minnesota and he might have two or three years of service left in him, but he will definitely not be the starter next season. That job will likely go to Rudolph. Shiancoe could be valuable in the two tight end set, however and if he splits time with Shuler and Reisner in the two tight end set, then he might be able to still put up some good numbers and remain fresh for the team if they need him to step up in a playoff run.

Next Option if First is unavailable: TE Dallas Clark (Indianapolis Colts)

Positions to Address in the Draft: Left Tackle, Cornerback, Safety, Nose Tackle, Fullback, Linebacker, Wide Receiver

Positions not in need of addressing: Quarterback, Runningback, Defensive End

© 2012 New Agora and The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.