Thursday, April 24, 2008

Did we give up too much for Allen?

If you look at the 2007 draft here is "who" we gave up for Jared Allen.

#17 - DE - Jarvis Moss (Den) - finished season with 12 tackles and 1.0 sack
#73 - WR - Jacoby Jones (Hou) - 15 receptions, 149 yds and 0 TDs
#82 - DT - DeMarcus Tyler (KC) - 11 tackles and 0.0 sacks

Grand total? 23 tackles, 1.0 sack, 15 receptions and 0 TDs. Still think we gave up too much for Jared Allen?

Lets look at the 2006 Draft just for fun...

#17 - LB - Chad Greenway (Min) - Greenway missed his rookie season with an injury but had a very productive second season as we all know. 105 tackles, 2 INTs and 1 TD
#73 - DT - Dusty Dvoracek (Chi) - two career tackles in one game played, missed basically all of 2007 with injury.
#82 - WR - Derek Hagan (Mia) - career stats of 50 receptions, 594 yds and 3 TDs.

Even if you take the 2006 draft group which includes a decent WR and a good LB, still think we gave up too much for Allen?

Draft Specuation

So we only get one pick in the first 116 selections this weekend. But as we are wont to do here, instead of focusing on our lack of selections (which were mortgaged for Jared Allen), we will choose to focus on that one pick.

Heading into the offseason here was our list of needs...

  1. Pass Rushing DE - we brought home the league's leader in sacks from 2008.
  2. Wide Receiver help - although Bernard Berrian isn't in that upper echelon of WRs around the league he is a significant upgrade and was the best available.
  3. Offensive Tackle - undone - Ryan Cook was not ideal at RT last year and there is a chance Bryant McKinnie will miss some games this year due to being an idiot. This needs to be addressed in the draft.
  4. Safety - Sharper is aging and Dwight Smith is now available to have sex wherever he wants. So we made two moves to give us depth at S. Madieu Williams should improve our pass coverage and is a nice upgrade. Michael Boulware was also added for depth.
  5. Tight End - undone - to date Shiancoe has been a bust. One would think that with a rookie QB in a west coast offense the TE would end up with more than 27 catches and 1 TD. Maybe in a Kick Ass Offense the TE isn't as productive as a true WC Off. This should be addressed in the draft.
  6. QB Depth - there is no question that Jackson will be the starter (for better or worse). Gus Ferrote was signed to back him up but that doesn't exactly help me sleep at night. I'd like to see another QB drafted.
This team isn't perfect by any stretch and there are other minor holes to fill but those are the top 6 my my count. I love that the organization actually proactively tried to answer their most glaring needs. Allen, Berrian and Williams may not be the answers but they are good faith efforts to fill their needs as best as they could.

How do we handle the rest? To start with I think we can make a good run at covering these hole with our second round pick. Of course every round gives you diminishing chance of return on your pick. But positions such as OL, TE and WR often still have valuable players left in the second round.

Here is my top 5 desired picks for Saturday...
  1. TE - Fred Davis - USC kid who is the second best TE in the draft. Davis is capable of playing right away and being a threat in the passing game.
  2. OT - Duane Brown - Virginia Tech underclassman who ESPN actually projects the Vikings will take. If McKinnie plays and Cook is capable, this would be a great pick as a future OT given a year or two to develop. He began his collegiate career as a TE and then grew to 315 lb. tackle.
  3. QB - Chad Henne, Joe Flacco or Brian Brohm - all three are projected to go in the second round but before Minnesota picks. If any of them fall I have no problem drafting any of them.
  4. WR - James Hardy, Early Doucet, Jordy Nelson or Andre Caldwell - if we take a second round WR these would be my top targets. I am not on the Mario Manningham bandwagon so I do not want him if he falls to us. All four guys above have their own issues but I'd take my chances here.
  5. TE - John Carlson - third best TE available. The kid from Litchfield who left us for Notre Dame had a good career capped with a disappointing senior season. Carlson is big and athletic. ESPN projects him to go to Green Bay with the 56th overall selection. It might be a reach at 47, but if all above players are gone I'd be comfortable with this one
There you have it folks. Our first round pick has been decided and now the only intrigue for this weekend is what we will do with pick #47.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jared Allen heading to Tampa Bay!

But he'll be wearing Purple as he leads the Vikings into the Super Bowl on 02-01-09!

Apparently the Vikes and Chefs have come to an agreement. And apparently the Vikes and Allen have come to an agreement. No terms have been disclosed but the two scenarios are...

The Chefs accepted our original 1st and 3rd offer.
We caved and chipped in next year's 2nd round.

If it is the former then I love the move. If it is the latter then I love the move as it will be the last pick of the second round!

Drink the Kool Aid folks.

We don't have our #17 pick so draft intrigue will be at a minimum, but this offeseason we addressed what were our three biggest areas of need.

Defensive End - we add the reigning sack leader
Wide Receiver - we add the best free agent available
Safety - we bring in a safety who should improve our coverage

What we still need to address...
Right Tackle - Ryan Cook is not the answer
Quarterback - a back up is needed

depth all around but nothing pressing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jared Allen + Draft week = head exploding!

I (like many ESPN watching freaks my age) love the NFL Draft. Mock drafts are like crack, I can't get enough of them. But THIS year we basically have the whole Jared Allen intrigue rolled into draft week. There are just so many thoughts on this week that my head is about to explode!

First of all lets not get caught up in whole 'keeping him in town until he signs' fascination. Obviously he has left town after touring the best steak houses in town. But this isn't a straight up free agent signing. Were is as simple as signing Allen to a fat contract I have no doubt it would be finished by now. BUT we have to compensate the Chefs as well. And there was no way they were going to let him sign and make a deal with Minnesota before they use Tampa as leverage to get a better deal. In order to get a deal done this past weekend would essentially would have had to pay Allen the money he so richly deserves wants, AND give Kansas City their asking price. To have him signed as of today we would have had no leverage and would have overpaid what we are already going to overpay.

We should still be in good shape though. Ever team in the League values draft picks (Mike Ditka being the lone exception but he's at ESPN now). Every team values draft picks and we are in a much better position to give up picks than Tampa Bay is. As you can see in the technical chart below our first round pick is 3 spots higher and then our 2nd and 3rd round selections are 10 spots higher. So by this I deduct that in order for Tampa to land Allen they will have to overpay what Minnesota is willing to pay. So let's say we are offering our 1st and 2nd round picks, both in this year's draft. Then Tampa will have to offer this year's 1st and next year's 1st, or this year's 1st & 2nd and another pick. But then they are giving up three of their five picks in this year's draft.

It is complicated but the facts are these...

  1. In every round we have the higher selection.
  2. They have five total picks we have nine.
  3. We have two in the third round.
The Tampa Tribune is awfully pessimistic about their chances.

20 1st Rnd 17
57 2nd Rnd 47
83 3rd Rnd 73
- 3rd Rnd 82
120 4th Rnd 117

Another facet of this whole Jared Allen thing that is getting blown way out of proportion is his DUI issues. I agree that if he were to get caught again it would be a year lost and would make this potential deal look really, really bad for the Vikings. I understand there is a risk involved but what bothers me is the notion that because Childress is instituting his "culture of accountability" we should just steer clear of Allen. The CofA doesn't mean we only bring in choir boys. If Allen has truly quit drinking and is a better citizen then there is no reason we shouldn't be able to sign him. Chris Carter was a drunk and a menace to Philadelphia. But he turned his life around and was a model citizen in Minnesota (although completely arrogant). The CofA means that if he screws up he has to be held accountable, it does not mean we judge and assume guilt.

With all of that said it is time to play the waiting game.

The closer we get to the Vikings being on the clock at #17 the better for us. Kansas City knows that they will not see Allen play another snap for the Chefs. They want picks, they want them this year and they want them badly. I see three waiting game scenarios and they are all best for Minnesota...
  1. Pick #17 comes around and Minnesota is set to make their selection. At this point Kansas City can make a deal with us or take a lesser deal with Tampa. If they continue to play hardball, we make our pick and go into next year with a good chance of making the playoffs with current roster. Not ideal for us but we save money, we save our picks and we are still an 8-8 team looking to improve in 2008.
  2. Nothing happens during the draft, we sign him to an offer sheet following the draft, Kansas City doesn't match and we sign him forfeiting our 1st round selections in 2009 and 2010. In this scenario we lose two 1st round picks, but we pick up a dominant DE, pick up nine rookies in this year's draft and head into 2008 as a favorite to win the division and push for the NFC.
  3. Nothing happens, Allen is still a Chef for 2008 as their franchise player. Under this scenario we keep all draft picks and have a great shot at signing Allen next offseason. This doesn't do much for us in 2008 but 2009 would be a very interesting season. I assume this scenario has very tiny legs as the likelihood of Allen staying a Chef are slim to none.
Considering there are few teams involved in discussions for Allen and we seem to have a sweeter deal to offer than Tampa, things are looking good for Minnesota. My best guess is that a deal is made Saturday. In fact Minnesota will sit tight and see how long Derrick Harvey falls in the draft. If he were to fall to #17 then our position only gets stronger. Once he gets selected I see us pulling the trigger.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jared Allen to the Vikings (?)

Rumors are heating up that Minnesota is in negotiations with Kansas City for the NFL's reigning sack leader, Jared Allen.

This seems like a perfect match. The Chiefs are in rebuilding mode, need draft picks to build the franchise and are not willing to hamper their future ability to sign players by paying Allen a monster contract now. The Vikings are in a very winable division, have a desperate need for sacks, have the pieces necessary to make this trade happen and have the cap room to pay Allen top dollar.

The Giants proved how important an effective pass rush is in the last third of the season. Minnesota has a solid group of quality players on defense but have trouble putting pressure on the QB without blitzhing. All of the names thrown out there as potential pass rushing specialists to debut in Purple next fall this is far and away a bigger marque name than Justin Smith, Antwan Odom, Jevon Kearse, Derrick Harvey or Phillip Merling.

The only move that would rival this would be moving up in the draft to take Chris Long or Vernon Gohlston. I think Allen would be more productive, but either of the rookie's would be a cheaper option with a ton of upside. While that move would rival this, it would not be as effective or give us the most bang for the 2008 season.

On his own Smith had more sacks than the entire Vikings starting defensive line last season (Williams, Williams, Udeze and Edwards).

It appears as though this trade would require a first round pick and then either a second or a third round pick (depending on what year KC gets our first round pick). If we give up next week's #17 pick then we would likely keep our 2nd, but if we give up next year's first rounder then we'd likely have to drop a second rounder as well. Something like that, the deal is far from complete but that is a general guideline.

I think if you can make this deal you do it! BUT, with all of that said, how much actual impact on the W/L columns would Allen have?

I know that addition of someone who potentially adds 10+ sacks and many more QB pressures, would allow this team to resemble a pass defense. But this defense was already a feared defense that kept the team in position to win nearly every game they played. It was last in the league against the pass but it dominated the league in rush defense and it was 6th in the NFC in points allowed (allowing 1 fewer point per game than 2006!).

What I'm getting at is, there is so much emphasis on the team adding a pass rushing defensive end for what? To reduce the passing yardage allowed? To give up fewer points? While both of those would be a good thing, the one and only position capable of taking this team from 8-8 to a 10-6 or even 11-5 team is the QB.

Let's take a look at the team's 8 losses from last year and asses how a DE would have had a greater impact on reversing the outcome than an improved passing game.

Week 2 - 17-20 loss @ Detroit
For my first example I am throwing out a game with mixed results. Jackson threw 4 interceptions, had he given a better effort or made better decisions we clearly would have won this game. BUT had the defense not given up 359 yds passing we likely would have won as well. Verdict: Well, we did knock Kitna out for much of the game and had 4 sacks so I still hold Jackson's INT's were more significant than the lack of a dominant pass rushing end.

Week 3 - 10-13 loss @ Kansas City
Anytime the defense holds a team to 13 points on the road you can't fault them for the loss. The Chiefs had 201 passing yards mostly on a quick hitting short passing game. Jared Allen can rush the QB but a quick hitting passing game negates that anyway. With that said, Allen did have 8 tackles and two sacks. His team won, coincidence?
Verdict: Put this one on a lack of offense. 4/15 third down conversion and inability to execute a game plan in the second half cost us this very winable game.

Week 4 - 16-23 loss vs. Green Bay
Favre's 344 yds and two TDs speak volumes. Getting a hand on Favre has been a serious problem for a few years against Green Bay. On the offensive side Holcomb had a solid game with 258 yds and a TD.
Verdict: Getting a pass rush potentially would have made a huge difference here. A late Vikings TD made this game look closer than it was. Jared Allen would not have made a 2 TD difference but it would have gone a long way to keeping us in the game and making Favre work for his yards.

Week 7 - 14-24 loss @ Dallas
Another tough one to call. Lets face it we were on the road facing the best of the regular season in the NFC. Jackson was terrible, Childress quit giving the ball to Purple Jesus and the defense allowed 277 passing yards.
Verdict: The defense had 3 sacks, I don't know how many they need to make a bigger difference. Jackson had 72 passing yards and the team was 2/12 on third down. Clearly an improved pass D would have helped but you won't beat a playoff team when your QB gives you 6/19 for 72 yards.

Week 8 - 16-23 loss vs. Philadelphia
On the season McNabb averaged 220 yards passing on the road but he managed to find 333 in the Metrodome. Bollinger and Holcomb combined for a very average but not crippling performance.
Verdict: Getting more than one sack from the defensive line may have helped here. This home game could have swung in our favor with some pressure on McNabb.

Week 10 - 0-34 loss @ Green Bay
Adding Reggie White and Chris Doleman to the Vikings line would not have helped here. Giving up 351 yards and 3 TDs to Favre is a problem. But not being able to put a single point on the board makes it awfully tough to win no matter what the defense does.
Verdict: Nobody gets credit for being able to swing this into the W column.

Week 16 - 21-32 loss vs. Washington
At this point they started letting Jackson play a little bit and he was OK. Todd Collins going 22/26 and racking up 254 yards is unacceptable. This was another case of a quick hitting passing gameplan so adding a Jared Allen may not have had much of an impact, accept we would not have been forced to blitz LBs leaving all three of them available to defend the short passing game.
Verdict: Jackson was good enough to win, passing D killed us. 2 sacks for the Vikes both by LBs.

Week 17 - 19-22 OT loss @ Denver
This one breaks down by halves. The first half was ugly offense, but Jackson showed why he is being given the reigns to Brad the Red Hot Childress Pepper's (BRHCP) Kick Ass Offense (KAO) in the fourth quarter.
Verdict: One sack by a LB shows that a sack or two from the DE may have done enough to force an earlier punt which leads to a FG which avoids overtime.

Here is how it breaks down with this expert analysis.

3 losses could have been avoided with better QB play
1 loss was unavoidable (shut out @ Green Bay)
4 losses could have been avoided with some DE pressure on the QB.

This is not to say that adding Joe Montana would have guarantee anything or adding Reggie White would have equated to a 12-4 season. But marked improvement at either position would have given us a better chance to win those games.

I don't know if Jared Allen alone will take us to the playoffs but adding Allen along with Madieu Williams' coverage skills from the safety position could really make a difference.

This team's ability to move up to the playoffs or even move into a team capable of winning the NFC rests more on the shoulders of Jackson and the passing game than the pass rush. But this is the ultimate team game and adding as many pieces to the puzzle as we can will always make a bid difference.

Lets get this deal done before Allen has a chance to get to Tampa Bay. Don't give up the farm, in fact do what you can to hang onto this year's #17 pick, but get this deal done and use the draft for other needs.

Star Tribune on the potential deal
Jay Glazer who broke the story for Fox Sports
Kansas City Star on Allen leaving KC
John Clayton weighs in
Daily Norseman is doing a dance already
Pioneer Press story today

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