Friday, May 11, 2007


All Day Every Day.

Adrian Peterson (aka AD) will prove to be a force and a major threat in the offense this year. I am looking forward to watching him torch defenses. I wonder if Childress will split him out as a slot guy in some sets? After watching his Pro Day at Oklahoma, he was impressive catching the ball. Peterson is an all-around athlete who can make plays.

The free agent signing period was disappointing. However, the draft by Spielman, Studwell, and Childress was fantastic. Tip your hat to this trio right now. I love Allison and Alexander in the late rounds. We got our guys and picked up an additional 3rd rounder next year. From the outside, this draft looks like a winner. However, we will not know the true rating of this draft for a couple of years. All in all, a great 2007 draft that addressed major needs. This draft should be held in high esteem after what happened the last couple of years.

I think Childress was super conservative in his play calling duties last year. However, he had an old immobile quarterback who has watched the game pass him by. BJ needs to hang up the cleats. The play calling will improve this year. Namely because we added some offensive weapons. However, I think Tavaris will struggle this year. The schedule is incredibly difficult. I believe the Vikings will take major strides forward this season. We will probably be competitive in many games, but I can see us losing 4-6 games by 7 points or less. I wouldn't expect more than 6-8 wins. We will probably be drafting in the top 15 again next year. As much as I don't want to admit, I am OK with that. We are only 2-3 years from being at the top of NFC.

God Bless. Make your day great!

Positional Analysis: Defensive End, Part 4/7

Continuing our seven part look at the Minnesota Vikings preparedness at the defensive end position we focus in on Ray Edwards. For the first three articles in this series, follow the links below.

Part 1/7: Overview and Kenechi Udeze
Part 2/7: Erasmus James
Part 3/7: Darrion Scott

Ray Edwards: #91/6'4"/270/Perdue/127 overall pick of 2006 Draft

College: Considered to have been somewhat of a disappointment while attending Perdue as he never developed as well as people thought and never made the most of his physical talents. His 16 sacks were tied for the 7th most in Perdue history and he was a semi-finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of The Year Award as a sophomore. Had a disappointing junior season which saw him record only 5.5 sacks. Some thought his draft stock had slid so far that he'd go undrafted. Naturally the Vikings not only took him, but took him way too early.

Last Year: As a rookie last season the player who, "may not be drafted," according to his prospect profile, had perhaps the best per-snap production of any player on the Vikings. With the injury to Erasmus James last season leaving a glaring hole in the defense Edwards was able to step in and start two games for the Vikings but mostly played in the defensive end rotation. In doing so he registered 3 sacks, 10 tackles, and two passes defended.

Forecast: His production last season in a limited role clearly leaves hope that perhaps the Vikings coaching finally helped Edwards begin to utilize his natural physical gifts which are extensive (see scouting report). While it will be difficult for him to win a starting job or even significant playing time this season, if he continues to develop he could certainly be a player who sees playing time alongside Erasmus James in passing downs, however much of that may depend on the development of fifth round draft pick Brian Robision, though I think Edwards should be able to hold him off for the fourth spot in the rotation with ease, provided he continues to play at a high level. If so his talent will enable him to play as a rush line-backer in a 3-4 scheme or to get regular playing time on passing downs right now. Edwards is an interesting case as he'll more than likely not register many sacks and will probably have another statistically unimpressive season, but if he continues to develop his talent he could become a real contributor. However for my predictions I'll be sticking with the player he is now and the situation as is. In that case he's just a #4 guy who will register maybe 10-15 tackles with 3-4 sacks again. His upside is high though as his numbers last year reasonably project to around 35 tackles and 9-10 sacks over a full season.

ESPN Scouting:

"Possesses a very good frame and long arms. Shows room left on his frame to increase his bulk. Naturally athletic DE prospect who shows enough fluidity to possibly fit as a 3-4 OLB. Shows explosive pass rush potential and should only improve with more experience and coaching. He is smooth for his size. Shows very good COD skills. Possesses adequate initial quickness and good top end speed, especially for his size. He shows the ability to turn the corner with good balance as a pass rusher and he possesses above average closing burst to the QB. He is a fluid athlete for the position and has proven capable of dropping in coverage in certain situations. He is at his best in space versus the run. Is a decent open-field tackler. Shows the ability to chase down the run from behind when he's giving good effort. Possesses adequate-to-good upper body power, which gives him the potential to improve his array of pass rush moves and also to become more effective taking on blocks versus the run if he can improve his technique. ,Possesses a very good frame and long arms. Shows room left on his frame to increase his bulk. Naturally athletic DE prospect who shows enough fluidity to possibly fit as a 3-4 OLB. Shows explosive pass rush potential and should only improve with more experience and coaching. He is smooth for his size. Shows very good COD skills. Possesses adequate initial quickness and good top end speed, especially for his size. He shows the ability to turn the corner with good balance as a pass rusher and he possesses above average closing burst to the QB. He is a fluid athlete for the position and has proven capable of dropping in coverage in certain situations. He is at his best in space versus the run. Is a decent open-field tackler. Shows the ability to chase down the run from behind when he's giving good effort. Possesses adequate-to-good upper body power, which gives him the potential to improve his array of pass rush moves and also to become more effective taking on blocks versus the run if he can improve his technique."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Positional Analysis: Defensive End, Part 3/7

Today we continue our look at the Vikings defensive ends. Day one gave us an overview of the position and a look at Kenechi Udeze, day two we looked at the promising but oft injured Erasmus James. Today we'll be looking at Darrion Scott who may have been the best of the Vikings defensive ends last season.

Darrion Scott: #98/6'3"/289/Ohio State/88th overall pick of 2004 Draft

Pro Career: In 2004 he was the third pick of the Vikings draft behind Udeze and Dontarrios Thomas. He sat his first season but in 2005, with an injury to first round pick Kenechi Udeze, seized the opportunity and started fifteen games combined at both end positions. Known as a tackling machine and a run stopping clog on the line Darrion consistently racks up tackles, and for the most part far exceeds his defensive end teammates in that number. Over the last two seasons 104 tackles to only 9.5 sacks.

Last Year: After having his first season as a full-time starter in 2005, Darrion Scott had another opportunity to excel last year. However one would assume that Scott's opportunity arose less because of his talent and more because of the pressing need created by the injuries of Kenechi Udeze and Erasmus James in consecutive years. Last year in replacement of James he registered 5.5 sacks which pitifully led the team. A large defensive end he was one of the many reasons the Vikings were stout against the run last season and registered 46 tackles.

It'll be interesting to see how the Vikings utilize Scott this season. Clearly the team has already invested two first round picks into defensive ends and Udeze and James will be given every opportunity (and then some) to secure their positions as starters. However their inability to stay on the field due to injuries, and Scott's relative predictability may give them team a reason to make him a starter, using someone like James solely in passing downs. If not, Darrion is still likely to see the field almost every time the Vikings need a stop in a clear rushing situation. It's also possible, and maybe even likely that either Kenechi or Erasmus will perform so badly in camp that they could lose their positions outright to Scott.

Scouts Inc.'s take:

"Scott is strong, fairly quick and disciplined. He plays with good knee-bend and leverage. He can stack at the point of attack and uses his hands well to separate. He can be very successful against double teams. He stays home and won't run around blocks and open up holes in the defense. He plays with a good motor and is excellent in pursuit over short areas. He seems to have a very good feel for blocking angles and offensive concepts. He works hard to push offensive tackles into the pocket to slide off and try to make a play. He played some tackle in college. But Scott lacks great edge explosiveness and isn't big or powerful enough to move inside. He lacks perimeter speed and burst. He isn't very effective in space. He won't run down a lot of backside plays. He isn't big or physical enough to hold up against powerful guards working inside."

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New assistant hired

The Vikings hired Derek Mason as assistant defensive backs coach Tuesday raising their total of assistants coaches to 23. Mason most recently served as the receivers coach at Ohio University. He played defensive back for Northern Arizona when Vikings coach Brad Childress was an assistant there in 1989. Mason will assist defensive backs coach Joe Woods.

Positional Analysis: Defensive End, Part 2/7

Yesterday we began our look at the defensive end position for the Vikings with an overview and a look at Kenechi Udeze. Today we continue that analysis with the always tantalizing, and frequently injured, Erasmus James.

Erasmus James: #99/6'4"/266/Wisconsin/18th overall pick of 2005 Draft

College: At the University of Wisconsin James was a dominant defensive end when healthy. He was a three year starter, and would have been a four year starter had he not missed his entire junior campaign with a hip injury. While at Wisconsin he had 124 total tackles (25.5 for a loss) and 18 sacks. He was widely regarded as one of the premier defensive ends in the country and was a consensus All-American and was the Big-Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He left college with nothing to prove.

Pro Career: Since becoming a Viking James has always flashed the talent necessary to be a high-end pass rusher, the quick burst, good speed, and nice moves, they're all there. To that end ESPN's scouting says,

"James is tall, rangy and flashes good pass-rushing potential. He is very athletic, has excellent change-of-direction skills and lateral mobility. He plays with natural leverage and knee-bend. He has good instincts and snap anticipation. He seems to locate the ball well and has natural playmaking tools. He has good body control and plays with discipline, even when coming off the edge. He can adjust his angles and rarely gets fooled. He uses his hands extremely well and can regularly create separation."

The problem has been staying healthy. Besides his season ending hip injury with the Badgers, James suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee in 2006, and by now I'm beginning to wonder if his hip and knee can hold up to the pounding a starting position will demand. Furthermore, it's unknown whether or not he'll return with the same burst that he used to have or if he'll be able to execute the high torque movements defensive ends are routinely asked to make.

Last Year: Played in just two games and didn't register a tackle. Missed remained of season with injury

The Forecast: Its tough to say. Once upon a time he had dominant skills and was on track to be a great pass-rusher but those hopes have faded considerably. At this point Vikings fans should just be happy to see James on the field. While he says he expects to be ready by opening day, I'd hope the team uses the utmost caution with him and makes sure he is back to full strength before playing him. This year I'd guess I'd predict him for maybe 7-8 starts and maybe 4 sacks. But I think expecting him to come back from an ACL tear and become a dominant defensive end, which he's never been at this level, would be fool-hardy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Vikes of the Future

With last years season behind us, what can we hope for in the future? Well there are a few factors that can determine this most common question. I'm thinking that our future looks bright but remember it will take a few years until the rebuilding of this franchise is over.

But to start out, the coaching is probably one of the bigger factors for this teams future. Head coach Brad Childress must not use the same style of play calling again this year if he wants to achieve his goals of making this a winning team. I know it was his rookie year at head coach but now he has had a taste of what happened to our play calling, so he must devise a new plan. He has to take advantage of Tarvaris Jacksons' powerful and accurate cannon of an arm and start throwing deep balls. Childress didn't have this luxury with Brad Johnson behind center. But with additional weapons from this years excellent draft in Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison, and Chandler Williams, I believe our passing game will be effective and deadly. Also with the addition of Running Back Adrian Peterson, defenses will also be focusing on him while leaving a wide receiver open. One last note on Childress, he must take full of advantage of the Vikings depth at running back and a one-two punch with AP and Chester Taylor while Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason focus on kick returning duties while Artose Pinner (who was just recently resigned) keeps returning punts. The running game, it will be deadly.

On the the right side of the offensive line they must find away to get Artis Hicks to earn his money. Too many times last year he was he run over and Johnson was sacked. I'm not worried about Ryan Cook because it was his rookie year and mistakes are expected of him. Time will tell how this kid will pan out but I believe he will do just fine. We still need to go out and sign a few more linemen to add depth. Even though we just signed guard Brian Daniels and tackles Josh Day and Chase Johnson, we need another veteran who can do his job well.

On onto the defensive side. I'm not too worried about this side of the ball as much because with the addition of defensive end Brian Robison and linebacker Rufus Alexander, and returning linebacker Chad Greenway, I think we will be stronger then before. Also players like Greg Blue and Mike Doss can bring it and get their jobs done. We also have defensive ends coming back from injury to help the much needed pass rush. The safety and cornerback situation is not of concern because we have the hard-hitting vet in Darren Sharper and the best tackling cornerback in football, Antoine Winfield. The Vikings have 6 cornerbacks so I dont worry about depth especially with players like Ronyell Whitaker, Antoine Winfield, Macrus McCualey, Cedric Griffin in the line up.

Now all in all, expect mistakes and a few bad plays because you guys have to remember, this is a young team and with the schedule, the way it is looking, be ready for a record around 8-8 or 9-7. Just pay attention to see if everyone works together and gets there jobs done properly. It's not whether if they win or lose, it's whether if they can handle themselves and play in the NFL.

Positional Analysis: Defensive End, Part 1/7

Going into the draft this year the Vikings had a number of pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball, quarterback, and wide receiver being the main two. However last years defense was widely thought of as being quite stout, especially against the run. But as the year dragged on teams became aware that it was possible to abandon trying to run the ball against what was the NFL's top rated rush defense and instead throw the ball. This trend began in week _ when the Vikings faced the Patriots. Bill Belichek came into the game with the plan and Tom Brady executed it to perfection, picking apart the Vikings secondary time and again as the Vikings defensive front seemed incapable of applying pressure. The trend would continue on throughout the season and would cost the team many games.

So with this years NFL draft shaping up quite well for the team with good players at many areas of need including two possible franchise quarterbacks, (Russell and Quinn), a franchise wide receiver (Johnson), and two legitimate star prospects at defensive end (Gaines Adams, and Jamaal Anderson). We all know who the Vikings went with in that first pick, and few including myself are disappointed. However the Vikings then waited until the fourth round to address their defensive end situation. With that pick they took Brian Robison, a speed defensive end who I've heard many think could become a Lance Johnstone. And while that certainly isn't bad, its not the type of impact player the team really needs. Regretfully to say before this draft the Vikings have blown a couple of first round picks on would-be star defensive ends including Kenechi Udeze, and Erasmus James. While I qualify James as a bust, he certainly has the talent to emerge as a capable or even dominant end, but his numerous knee injuries make the likelihood of his being a bust far greater than his chances of becoming the player his talent had promised.

With all of that having been said, I'll be taking a look at one of the Vikings defensive ends every day for next week to help you get to know the guys and what I expect from them this season. Today we begin with Kenechi Udeze.

Kenechi Udeze: #95/6'3"/281/USC/20th overall pick of 2004 draft:

College: Three year starter on vaunted USC national championship teams. Started off as defensive tackle but made move to D-end as a redshirt freshman. Totaled 28 sacks in his collegiate career, including 16.5 in his final year as a Junior. His 28 sacks were also a USC record. All-Pac 10, made numerous All-American team.

Pro Career: In his first season Udeze showed some promise as he recorded 36 tackles and had five sacks while starting fifteen games. However his sack numbers were immediately disappointing and it was apparent that he lacked high-level NFL burst to go around offensive tackles which meant he usually had to bull through blockers to reach the ball carrier.

In the third game of the 2005 season Udeze suffered cartilage damage to his left knee and would miss the remainder of that season. He registered only one sack.

Last Year: Depending on how you look at it, Udeze either had a promising season or a very bad one. While he rebounded from his injury to start 15 games, its questionable whether he belongs as an NFL starter. The upside? He led the team in tackles for a loss with 13 and was second in quarterback hurries with 41. The downside? He had no sacks, and that is completely unacceptable for an NFL defensive end, where 8 should be the minimum number expected from a quality DE.

The forecast: I wouldn't expect Udeze to be held sackless once again given the number of times he hurried the quarterback as some of those numbers are sure to translate into sacks. But I also wouldn't expect him to break out as a solid pass-rusher. That said, he is probably one of the top 20 run-stopping defensive ends in football, but is that enough? I'll predict 30-25 tackles with 10 for a loss, but still only 3 sacks.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Rookie Preview: Marcus McCauley

While most in Viking nation are excited about the offensive prospects for the team with first round pick Adrian Peterson and second round pick Sidney Rice sure to add some explosiveness to what was one of the worst offenses in football last year, the Vikings also drafted a superbly physically gifted cornerback in the third round who I think is being seriously overlooked. That player is Marcus McCauley.

With the Vikings running the wildly popular Tampa Cover 2 defense McCauley is a perfect fit. He's has prototype size at, 6-1, 205, and he's very athletic, running a 4.39-40 in the combine. His physical talents have often been said to be first round quality but his senior year at Fresno State was terrible as he gave up numerous big plays and was eventually benched. He'll certainly be a project for the Vikings coaching staff but there is little doubt in the minds of anyone that he has the talent to be a #1 type corner. His size in particular could be of use in the central against the Lions with big receivers Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. I for one would love to see that matchup, especially if McCauley can pull it together. The other thing a larger corner such as McCauley does it enables the Vikings to slide smaller corner Antoine Winfield inside where he could be used to blitz the quarterback, an under-rated skill of his.

Despite his fantastic physical gifts scouts have consistently said that he seems to lack the ability to anticipate the play, and often seems lost on the field. says...

"Did not consistently play aggressive football as a senior. Bit on play action passes, pump fakes and showed minimal instincts last year. Slow getting his head back around then positioning himself against opponents to make a play on the ball."

Scott Wright's NFL Draft Countdown says;

"His technique and footwork can be inconsistent...Will gamble and take too many risks...Hands are questionable and he will drop some interceptions...Needs to get a little stronger...Was not really thrown at a lot in college...Has trouble locating the ball...Struggled mightily at times in 2006 and didn't have a great senior year."

Those are not small issues, and makes him sound eerily like a slightly taller version of Fred Smoot.


Overall though, I'm excited. If the Vikings can successfully coach him up, he could emerge as the the best cornerback from this draft and even one of the best of the NFL. To that end the Vikings have just signed highly regarded secondary coach Leslie Frazier. While McCauley is more likely to become a physically gifted playmaker who spends a career tantalizing people just enough with his talent to hold a starting role. That said, any time a team can draft a starter with huge upside in the third round, its a great pick.