Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All Viking Blizzard

Why I cannot get myself up for the 2008 Draft

Looking at the draft ahead of time, I feel like this will be a relatively insignificant draft for the Vikings. The team's biggest need is a pass rusher, and I fear they'll draft a mediocre defensive end in the first round; they could get a decent defensive lineman, but I'm doubtful they'll get an all-star pass rusher. They might draft a good offensive lineman which would be good long-term, but offensive line isn't one of the team's biggest needs right now (the team's two RBs averaged 5.6 and 5.4 yards per attempt, and Tarvaris Jackson had an OK sack rate). They might get another young defensive back somewhere in the draft, but I'm not sure that defensive back will be better than Cedric Griffin or Marcus McCauley (who have been occasionally awful, but have also occasionally shown signs of competence--I think they were better in the second half of the season, but then, they were playing some awful passing teams in the second half, too).

So I'm a bit cool on the draft. Of course it would be a significant (for better or worse) draft for the franchise if they draft a quarterback in the first two rounds, or if they draft a wide receiver in the first round. But I'm skeptical that any defensive lineman, offensive lineman, or defensive back the team drafts in the first round is going to have a big immediate impact in making the Vikings a better team. Obviously, in any draft a team can acquire important starters and stars throughout the entire draft: we might see the Vikes draft eventual replacements for players like Pat Williams, Matt Birk, or Darren Sharper. But I can't work myself up over "eventual replacements," either.

Anybody else having this problem?

Viking Schedule

What was that bang? already went through the schedule with some detail below, but here are a few of my thoughts:

The lack of cold weather games would have excited me back when Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss were the stars. Now that the team is built on running the ball and stopping the run, I'm not sure what the impact the weather has on this particular team. Indeed, the domes and good weather could just keep conditions easy for opponents to slice up the Viking pass defense. But I'm being a bit pessimistic: of course it's always better for a Dome team if it can avoid bad weather.

The Vikes play only two teams that I'm confident will be very good in 2008: Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Obviously other teams on the schedule will be good (I don't know how much Green Bay will decline), but I can't reasonably guess which teams will be good, mediocre, and bad. I'm with Kevin Seifert in dismissing strength of schedule rankings based on last year's winning percentages. The Vikes might have an easy schedule and they might have a hard schedule, just like everybody else.

Viking Links

Cold, Hard Football Facts on the all-time greatest pass defenses:

"If any team has frustrated its fans more than the Vikings, we don’t know about it. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, the Vikings fielded many of the most dominant teams in history. And nobody fielded a more consistently dominant pass defense than the Vikings of 1969 to 1972, the famed Purple People Eaters. [...] Offenses during this period averaged about 7.0 yards per pass attempt (roughly the same as today). Yet over this four-year stretch, the Vikings allowed opposing offenses just 5.21 yards per attempt (just 4.95 YPA from 69-71)."

TNABACG on the Viking schedule:

"there's some great news for Purple players who hate the cold: Minnesota will be spending the final months of the season in comfort this year. Their November and December games, nine in all, stack up thusly:

"Dome, dome, Florida, Florida, dome, dome, Arizona, dome, dome."

Kevin Seifert at the Star Tribune on the Viking schedule:

"The Vikings haven't started better than 2-2 in coach Brad Childress' first two seasons. But that record might be a best-case scenario in the most difficult opening-month schedule he has faced here. The Vikings will hope to capitalize on some unsettled quarterback situations: The Packers (new starter Aaron Rodgers), Panthers (a rehabilitating Jake Delhomme) and Titans (Vince Young under a new offensive coordinator) are all in some kind of transition."


  1. Yeah, I'm not too excited about the draft either. Harvey would be a good DE pickup in round 1, but that's not that exciting.

    Brian Brohm would be a sexy pick, but even that doesn't excite me because he likely wouldn't play well (if at all) this season.

    I hear rumblings of Denver and Minnesota swapping picks, or of the Dolphins sending Taylor this way for McKinnie and a pick swap. That last scenario is the one that gets me a little excited, but still. Meh.

  2. PV, I have to respectfully disagree. I think that the offensive line -- and particularly, tackle -- is the Vikings' biggest need. Mount McKinnie may soon get the Dwight-Smith-treatment; he's been arrested a bunch as a Viking, and I believe he is the only remaining boat-partier to have been convicted. (Please correct me on that if need be!) Ryan Cook shouldn't even be playing tackle, where he struggles. He was a center in college, and he may be again soon if Matt Birk retires or moves on. We're woefully thin after that: Marcus Johnson is a bust of a second-round pick. The top of this draft class is deep at tackle. Chris Williams and Ryan Clady promise to be great left tackles in the NFL; Jeff Otah, Brandon Albert, and Gosder Cherilus will likely play the strongside. All might fall to us. (Jake Long won't.) Frankly, we could use two of them.

    The wide-receiver class this year is apparently pretty stout through the middle, but the top two prospects -- Malcolm Kelly and Limas Sweed -- have seemed less appealing recently. So why bother with wasting a first-rounder on one of them? I'm of the opinion that we have a young corps on the rise, and don't need to draft another wide-out anyhow. Tight-end is a much bigger need.

    I'm not as excited about this draft as last year's -- last year, there was the distinct possibility of a play-making safety in LaRon Landry, or some guy named Adrian Peterson at the seventh pick. Picking seventeenth is less sexy, and picking a tackle is less sexy than that; but I'm at least anxious about this one, if not excited.

  3. Here's why OL doesn't excite me: while OL might be a need because of McKinnie's situation, drafting an OL will not significantly improve the team between 2007 and 2008. The line produced very well last season. Certainly it can always use improvement (and if they draft a stud for the right side, yippee), but it's not an area in which the team will make giant strides (though if McKinnie is gone, it might become a simple necessity just to maintain quality play).

    Other areas do need serious improvement: the pass rush, the pass defense as a whole, wide receivers (I like Berrian, but I'm not convinced that's all the team needs to do to upgrade the position), and quarterback. The team could take major strides if some of those areas are improved. Offensive line is obviously important, but I don't see it as the area at which the Vikes can make a major immediate improvement.

  4. Oh, and yes, TE is another big need: I sort of lump the need for "pass catchers" together.