Former Minnesota Vikings training camp knowledge dropper, CapitaJsCorner, has graced you nerds with his presence once again as he has agreed to step back into the ring like an aging Sylvester Stallone and spar a little bit when it comes to the Vikings draft for 2013. He'll be offering his takes on the state of the team – both offensive and defensive sides of the ball – while also helping us lead up to the 2013 draft by looking at potential prospects that have REAL girlfriends. So give him a warm welcome, or tell him he's wrong, and let's get back to talking football.
Today, Capita J takes a look at the current roster make-up of the offense post the major activity from free agency …
On the Roster: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Joe Webb, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
Locks: Ponder, Cassel
Capital Js Take: To the chagrin of many Vikings fans, Christian Ponder will be the starting QB at least for one more season, or at least will enter the season as the starter. It remains a mystery why the Vikings chose to roll with 3 young QB’s last season instead of keeping a savvy veteran like Sage Rosenfels around in a back-up role. The Vikings won’t make that mistake this season as Matt Cassel was signed to provide a more viable back-up option than Joe Webb or MBT after Webb made Ponder look like Joe Montana in the playoff loss at Green Bay. Cassel is good enough to be a back-up, but bad enough that Vikings fans likely won’t be calling for the back-up anytime soon. There is a lot of discussion amongst fans about Webb switching to WR, but realistically he’s out of options. He’s either the 3rd QB or he’s off the roster jumping over tall boxes and stuff in the circus.
PJDs Take: Pretty spot on with what my muffin brain is able to comprehend. Despite many lingering questions with Noodle Arm Ponder, there's no way the Vikings don't give him a third full year to prove his worth. I'd wager he'd even get half of his fourth year without any eyes blinked. But at the very least Cassel should be capable of throwing the ball downfield instead of making the team look like Knute Rockne was leading it.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Low
The Vikings seem to like MBT or they wouldn’t have let Rosenfels leave last season. It’s unlikely we address QB at any point in the draft. We usually take 4 QB’s to camp and that’s where we stand right now.
On the Roster: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard
Locks: Peterson, Gerhart
Capital Js Take: Adrian Peterson, fresh off a 2K season with one knee and a slew of other dings, is firmly entrenched into his 20-25 carries per game load as the starter and despite Roger Goodell’s effort to minimize his ferociousness by enforcing penalties for RB’s who lower their helmets, he will continue to be the best RB in the league. Toby Gerhart doesn’t really fit the mold of a traditional 3rd down back, but he’s proven to be a good back-up option and is good enough to keep on the roster. Matt Asiata flashed enough last pre-season to remain on the roster as a back-up FB and 3rd RB. His versatility helps his chances of sticking around again. The Vikings liked Jordan Todman last year, but he wasn’t healthy enough to showcase his skills until it was too late. The Jaguars scooped him off of our practice squad last season, which led to the signing of Joe Banyard, who at this point is just camp competition.
PJDs Take: It's been irking me ever since we lost Mewelde Moore, probably, that we don't have a type of "scat back" on the roster. Maybe that's what Percy Harvin's role was supposed to be more often, but he was out there every down. I'd love to see a small guy with crazy speed added to the team this offseason, but there are way bigger issues to address. That, and our team is now clearly built for as a crotch-pounding running team.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Low
The Vikings don’t have an immediate need at the position, but could look to the late rounds to get a speed back that also has the ability to return kicks and punts.
On the Roster: Jerome Felton, Rhett Ellison
Locks: Felton, Ellison
Capital Js Take: Last year, Jerome Felton was a bubble player that picked up a DUI shortly after being signed. A lot of people, myself included, wrote him off and figured he may be cut in favor of a younger player in Ryan D’Imperio (now with the Chiefs) or Matt Asiata. Adrian Peterson himself said he preferred running out of a single back set. Then of course Jerome Felton went on to have a career season and helped pave the way for Peterson’s franchise record-setting season and he’ll be back in the fold again this season. Before he was re-signed, there was talk about Rhett Ellison assuming that position if Felton chose a different route on the open market, which is why I have Ellison listed at FB, although he will likely see most of his time at TE, barring an injury.
PJDs Take: With fewer and fewer teams even carrying a traditional FB on the roster, the fact that the Vikings have one in Jerome Felton, who only has one job (to blow shit up), makes me think the team hardly even sniffs at another option at any point this offseason.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Low
An UDFA may be signed to add another body to the camp rotation, but even that seems unlikely.
On the Roster: Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton, Greg Childs, Chris Summers
Locks: Jennings, Wright
Capital Js Take: The sky looked to be falling after the Vikings traded Percy Harvin (their only respectable WR on the roster at the time) to the Seahawks, but after luring Greg “I put the team on my back doe” Jennings over from the land of cheese and ugly women, things are looking up. Jarius Wright came on strong when actually given an opportunity 9 weeks into the season last year and gives the Vikings a versatile WR that can play in the slot or outside and keep the defense a little honest. He had the Vikings two longest receptions last year, a 54 yarder against DET in his season debut, and a 65 yard snag in the regular season finale against Green Bay. Jerome Simpson got a raise to come back (teach me that trick!) and figures to be the starter opposite Jennings, IF (capitalized for a reason) healthy. Stephen Burton proved to be little more than a decent run blocker last season and had trouble with drops when he was given an opportunity (sans a fluke TD against the Colts). Greg Childs is still recovering from a freak patella tendon injury to both of his knees and the Vikings won’t be counting on him to be healthy for this season. Chris Summers is the only WR on the roster with great size at 6’5” but is a longshot to make the team.
PJDs Take: Who the hell is Chris Summers? Is he real? I'd agree with pretty much all of this, with two caveats. First, I'm excited for Greg Jennings but admit that there's that little piece of "Minnesota sports" in the back of my head telling me to be concerned about his injury history. Second, I think Jerome Simpson is a lock for this roster. He's the only receiver coming back with extensive experience in the system and with Ponder. Him and Ponder have shown some rapport as well, even though Simpson missed time with injury. Also, if he wasn't around and with Percy gone, who would be our Vikings player we all assumed smoked a bunch of dope? Chris Cook? Yeah, probably.
Capital Js Draft Priority: High
Even with the signing of Jennings, the Vikings lack a prototypical #1 WR and have depth issues. It goes without saying that they need to address the WR position no later than the 2nd round and hope they land a true SE. The WR class is fairly deep this year, so there will be options. They could also target a return specialist later in the draft as Marcus Sherels is really the only viable option at this point and he doesn’t contribute on defense.
On the Roster: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Lamark Brown, Chase Ford
Capital Js Take: Kyle Rudolph emerged as Christian Ponder’s favorite target last season and put up gaudy TD numbers (by Vikings standards). He’ll be back as the starter as he should be. John Carlson agreed to take a pay cut due to the fact that he was a complete non-factor in the receiving game last season and looked no better than rookie Rhett Ellison at any point. Spielman acknowledged his blocking skills, but that wasn’t why he was signed. Even though Carlson struggled last season, the Vikings seem to be willing to give it another go round this year. Practice squad holdovers Lamark Brown (Minnesota State) and Chase Ford would need amazing camps to be able to stick. Given Ellison’s versatility to play FB and TE, they don’t stand a realistic chance of making the team, but given John Carlson’s fondness to getting hurt and being good at catching passes for negative yardage, you never know. If Carlson doesn’t step up, he could be given the axe to save some additional cap space.
PJDs Take: It's still frustrating that Rudolph isn't used to his utmost ability, either through Ponder's inefficiencies or Musgraves stupid play calling. We all saw what he did in the Pro Bowl last year, and we're still pretty pissed about it. For some reason though, the Vikings always keep a butt load of tight ends on their roster (for the ladies?) so I wouldn't be surprised if they took a flyer on one in the draft or signed some low-cost option late in free agency.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Low
The Vikings have their pass catcher in Rudolph and their blocker in Ellison, along with a wild card in John Carlson and don’t appear to be looking to upgrade at the position.
On the Roster: Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Demarcus Love, Joe Berger, Tyler Holmes, Kevin Murphy, Seth Olsen
Locks: Kalil, Sullivan, Fusco, Loadholt
Capital Js Take: Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt are the bookends of the OL and figure to be for the foreseeable future, with John Sullivan holding down the fort in the middle. Charlie Johnson made the switch to LG last year and had an up and down season, as did Brandon Fusco at RG. Fusco split reps at the position last year with Geoff Schwartz (now with the Chiefs), but there is nobody on the roster right now to push him. It remains to be seen what Demarcus Love brings to the table as he’s been injured the last 2 seasons. Joe Berger provides good depth at C and G and his flexibility helps his chances of sticking around. Seth Olsen was cut from the Vikings 2 years ago and ended up serving time as a back-up for the Colts last season.
PJDs Take: With Loadholt locked in, the Vikings are starting to build a great looking offensive line for the future. We truly do need a stud at either of the guard positions though. I think they'd put the priority at right guard, as – surprisingly – Peterson ran best to the right of the line last year behind Godzilla Loadholt. Even a good LG who could pull that way would make this running game un-god-damn-believable.
Capital Js Draft Priority: Medium
The Vikings are in need of a swing tackle that they lost when Schwartz left in FA for an opportunity to start. They are also in the mix for a G as neither Fusco or Johnson did much to establish themselves as reliable starters last season. If a highly ranked G falls in their laps in the mid-rounds, it could push Charlie Johnson (salary) off the roster or Fusco out of his starting role.
So, what do you think? Will Charlie Johnson finally be off the roster? Is Jerome Simpson not a lock to make the team? Let us know what you think in the comments, make sure to follow CapitalJsCorner on twitter, and return later as we tackle the defensive side of the ball.