Friday, February 16, 2007

2007 Vikings (Defense)...

At this point this is what the 2007 Vikings look like. There are some holes to fill but lets take a closer look starting with the Defense...

D Ends
Starters - Udeze, James
Key Reserves - Ray Edwards (R), Darrien Scott
Analysis - this was a serious weakness in 2006. No pressure from the outside made things very difficult on our pass defense. The preseason this looked like a strength but then James went down for the year and the rush was put on hold. Scott filled in adequatly but he's not the answer. Edwards is a promising rookie but he may just be a speedy 3rd down rusher. This would be a spot to upgrade but probably 3rd on my list of needs (that list will come at a later post).

Starters - P. Williams, K. Williams
Key Reserves
- Spencer Johnson
Analysis - This was THE strength of a defense that was historically good against the rush. Both are Pro-Bowl material and should be very good in 2007 as well. Pat's age is a concern and a replacement should be groomed but not with a big free agent pay day or with a 1st/2nd rnd draft pick.

Starters - Leber (OLB), Harris (MLB), Henderson (OLB) Key Reserves - D. Thomas, Farwell, Greenway (R)
Analysis - The LBs were a massive question mark coming into 2006, and they answered most of those questions. Harris had his most productive season, Henderson took steps to becoming a LB that offenses have to account for and Leber was the SOFA (steal of Free Agency). Now it looks like the Vikes are planning on a little catch-n-release with Napo and we're counting on Greenway returning from injury to anchor that position. The only problem is that reports are that Greenway has become a much bigger anchor during his inactivity (40 lbs bigger). He's got to get it together or this group will take a step back.

Corner Backs
Starters - Winfield, Smoot
Key Reserves - Griffin (R), Whitaker (R), Ken Irvin
Analysis - By all accounts Smoot is going to be released. This is probably OK as he was kind of a free agent bust and Griffin looks like a real CB that we can count on. I am very scared by Whitaker, but I'll give him another year before I totally give up on him. Winfield is one of the best and Griffin is going to be very good in the opinion of PKA. Depth is a concern but starters are solid.

Starters - Sharper, D. Smith
Key Reserves - um, something called Blue?
Analysis - I think this was the weak link in a pass defense that was one of the worst in the League. Sharper is a playmaker but isn't exactly solid or someone you can count on to always be in the correct position. Smith was usually invisible. You never heard his name mentioned for big plays (for the good or the bad). These guys were instrumental in stopping the run but they did little to slow down the opponent's passing game.

All in all this was a solid group that should remain relatively intact. Hopefully bringing back healthy bodies in Erasmus James and Chad Greenway should give us a little boost. And I'm equally as hopeful that releasing Smoot will be addition by subtraction.

The real X-factor here will be the new Def Coordinator. How much greater will the loss of Tomlin be than the addition of Frazier? This team's MO is to have a new DCoord every season so hopefully Frazier will have enough success to move on from here.

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