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WINDS OF CHANGE SWIRL FOR THE VIKINGS AND THE NFL

Posted By Sean Eckhardt On Mar 3 2011 @ 9:15 pm In Minnesota Vikings | No Comments

     Stability is not a word I would use to describe anything going on in the world of the Minnesota Vikings today.  The NFL seems on the verge of a lockout, although the owners and players did agree to a 24 hour extension earlier today.  Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was not offered a tender, making him a free agent once the labor issues are resolved.  That is certainly not a shock.  Pat Williams, who has been a defensive standout since coming to Minnesota in 2005, announced today that he is parting ways with the Vikings.  The front office has plenty to grapple with as the NFL Combine has just ended, there are a few pro days coming up which they will attend, and then what appears to be a very important 2011 draft.  Oh, of course we can always throw the stadium issue in the mix too.  I am not going to tackle the NFL labor situation as that could take up 3-4 pages and be both boring as well as aggravating.  The Vikings have plenty of issues without even talking about the current labor situation.

     The change in personnel between the 2010 season and the 2011 campaign figures to be huge.  With both Tarvaris Jackson and Pat Williams seemingly ending their time in a purple uniform, that’s two more familiar faces that won’t be around Eden Prairie anymore.  T-Jack shouldn’t be a shock, but I do admit feeling like he never really got his real shot.  Brad Childress, who drafted him, turned out to be his worst enemy.  Chilly will take the blame for plenty of Vikings shortcomings, but the way he handled the QB position in general was his worst contribution to the franchise.  Minnesota will of course, also be without QB Brett Favre, who retired a few weeks ago(yes for good).  Williams, unlike Jackson, is just a little too old to contribute to the team.  At least that’s what the Vikings think.  He will be missed.  As half of the Williams-wall, he was anchor on that defense, especially against the run.

     It’s always more exciting to look to the future, especially if the team is coming off of a disappointing season.  Minnesota fans have plenty to talk about after the NFL Combine finished this week.  The Vikings certainly have needs to fill and the biggest one  is under center.  The national media has been focusing on Auburn’s Cam Newton and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, but there are some other intriguing options out there.  The two guys that peak my interest are Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick.  By all accounts, Mallet had the best arm at the combine, he has great size, and was able to win games in the always tough SEC.  In addition, the Arkansas QB is not a runner, so the transition to the NFL style of play should be relatively quick.  Nobody is really giving Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick much pub, but I had a chance to watch him play on more than one occasion and this guy can play.  He has a cannon for an arm, is extremely fast when he decides to run, and like Mallet, he won a lot of games at a school that is not considered a real powerhouse.  I feel like Mallet will be available for Minnesota at pick #12, while Kaepernick will slide to somewhere between the 2nd and 4th rounds of the draft.  Quarterback is not the only need for the Vikings.  The team can definitely use some help in the secondary, on the inside of the defensive line, and I would like to see a tight end drafted to complement Visanthe Shiancoe.  The offensive line could certainly benefit from an infusion of youth as well.

     The Minnesota Vikings are going through some pretty big changes right now, but the team is not in disarray.  They have a new head coach in Leslie Frazier, some returning superstars like Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice, and a new positive outlook since the departure of Childress.  Nobody knows for sure what’s in store for the NFL as a whole during the next few months, but there is one certainty; the NFL Draft starting on April 28th.  It should be fun to watch it all come together.

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