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  1. #1
    Ddawg84's Avatar
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    Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    Youth Movement

    Author: Mike Wobschall, vikings.com

    As a score of teams across the league continue to raid the free agent market and liberally spend to acquire more veteran talent, the Minnesota Vikings remain on somewhat of a different path this offseason. As it stands right now, their draft and less expensive free agent binge in 2006, along with a couple contract extensions during the regular season, has set the table for the 2007 season, and beyond.

    Teams have always differed from one another, sometimes vastly and sometimes marginally, in how they build their rosters. That has never been more evident than this offseason, when about 30 percent of the league is diving head first into the expensive free agent market and the other 70 percent of the league is reluctant to even dip their toe into the pool.

    It was only weeks ago that many football observers and fans grumbled that this year's free agent class was low on talent and didn't contain players that could contribute significantly to their new team. Now, teams who have yet to jump in and splurge are facing criticism from some for not trying to improve.

    The San Francisco 49ers fall into the 30 percent group of teams who are off to the races in free agency, having already inked cornerback Nate Clements to an eight-year, $80 million deal and safety Michael Lewis to a six-year deal with a reported ten million dollars guaranteed. Those players have 12 combined seasons in the league. The New England Patriots have uncharacteristically joined the foray of free agency as well, throwing (approximately) a combined $48 million worth of contracts to linebacker Adalius Thomas, tight end Kyle Brady and running back Sammy Morris. The three players have 27 combined years of NFL experience.

    The Vikings, meanwhile, are in a position to look towards a youth movement as they steam ahead in the offseason. All six of last year's draft picks are currently on the roster and should see substantial playing time next season. Cornerback Cedric Griffin is poised to resume the starting role he took from the recently departed Fred Smoot and last year's first-round pick, linebacker Chad Greenway, will compete for a starting spot at linebacker. Defensive lineman Ray Edwards and safety Greg Blue, who both saw some action in their rookie seasons, will continue to develop under the guidance of veterans like Pat Williams and Darren Sharper, while offensive lineman Ryan Cook looks set to battle for a starting spot along the right side of the offensive line. All five of last season's rookies that were active started at least one game in the 2006 season.

    Most notable among the Vikings second-year players, however, is quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who will compete with Brooks Bollinger (and maybe others) for the starting job in 2007. As you can see, youth is on the Vikings side as they move forward - and that is not a bad thing.

    The Vikings took action during the season to avoid losing two starters once the season ended. Both left tackle Bryant McKinnie and linebacker E.J. Henderson were signed to contract extensions during 2006, which showed the Vikings were committed to maintaining a core of players to supplement a talented class of rookies.

    As the young talent on the roster continues to mature, the Vikings have parted ways with some veterans to make room. Tight end Jermaine Wiggins, who was the team's most productive receiver in 2004 and 2005, has left as a free agent. Linebacker Napoleon Harris, Smoot and potentially receivers Bethel Johnson and Travis Taylor, among others, are either currently testing the market or have signed deals with a new team. Minnesota will look to April's draft to fill in some needs left in the wake of departed veterans, and they will also address some of those priorities via the free agent market.

    Other youngsters such as Troy Williamson, Marcus Johnson and Erasmus James only add to the crew of young talent the Vikings have accumulated recently. The much-maligned Williamson will have an opportunity next season to prove his critics wrong and finally produce as a seventh-overall selection should. Johnson is still looking to find his niche, but with his size and potential, it shouldn't be long until he becomes a regular in the starting lineup. The speedy James is coming off a season lost due to injury, but he will be set to run down quarterbacks in 2007.

    The 2007 NFL Draft will be another place the Vikings can turn to add difference-makers to the roster. The team currently holds the seventh-overall selection and will be in a position to grab a game-breaker. This year's draft class is loaded at wide receiver and along the defensive line, both positions the Vikings may address at some point. There has also been speculation that Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn will be available when the Vikings are on the clock, allowing coach Childress and the Vikings personnel department to explore any and all options regarding the blue chip prospect.

    The underlying strength in the Vikings youth movement has been, and will remain, the draft class of 2006. As stated above, all six of the drafted players remain on the roster and will contribute substantially to the team in 2007. Here is a brief look at those second-year players.

    Chad Greenway - Unfortunately he was lost for the season before it even began, injuring his knee in the preseason. The versatile linebacker looked solid in camp, however, and was constantly at the facility learning in the classroom during last season. He will battle hard for playing time in 2007 and will likely add great contributions to the defense and possibly special teams.

    Cedric Griffin - He earned a starting spot last season and continued to impress coaches with his play. The former Texas Longhorn hits like a ton of bricks and showed his ball skills last season, recording two interceptions and eight passes defensed. As a rookie, he played in 14 games, with seven starts.

    Ryan Cook - At 6-6, 328 pounds, Cook is solid and versatile, with the ability to play multiple positions along the line. With the left side of Minnesota's line under control, the former New Mexico Lobo will find his spot at either right guard or tackle. He played in six games last season, starting three of those contests.

    Tarvaris Jackson - He has a live arm and brings mobility to the position. Jackson played in four games last season, starting two, and produced mixed results. He has a great upside, with the ability to make any throw on the field and escape pass rushers with his legs.

    Ray Edwards - He played in all but one game last season and started two contests late in the season. Against the Redskins in Week 1, he batted down a Mark Brunell pass that would have resulted in a big play. At 6-4, 268 pounds, Edwards is lanky and very athletic, while also strong enough to play in the trenches.

    Greg Blue - The hard-hitting safety also logged a lot of time last season, playing in 14 games, including a start in the season opener. Blue impressed coaches the most with his ability to tackle well and hit hard. He also contributed well on special teams in 2006.

    * This article really did make me feel better, I think the Vikings organization is doing the right thing with this football team.
    And if we have contributions from the 07 draft class, like there were from the 06 rookies, I am pretty optimistic about the future!

  2. #2
    Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    ....and the magical link:

    http://www.vikings.com/news_detail_objectname_youthmove3607.html
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  3. #3
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    Well hopefully prophet we can get some good rookies this year too...apparently.

  4. #4
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    Are these the Choices that I am hearing?

    A or B

    A.) Actually rebuild (build) through the draft (youth) and when ready to make a move, then grab FA to fill voids.

    B.) Draft high priced FAs to give the appearance of rebuilding to appease the fan base.

  5. #5
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    "Nephilim" wrote:
    Well hopefully prophet we can get some good rookies this year too...apparently.
    Personally, I like to rely on the opinions of teenagers for all FA and draft decisions.
    They are obviously much wiser than people that have coached professionally longer than they have been alive.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  6. #6
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    The great thing is that by now they have successfully changed the mindset from that of last year where it just needing to be tweaked to convincing us that the talent here is so bad that we need to overhaul the whole thing to win. that is the mark of a great salesman. congrats.

  7. #7
    nephilimstorm's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    "Prophet" wrote:
    "Nephilim" wrote:
    Well hopefully prophet we can get some good rookies this year too...apparently.
    Personally, I like to rely on the opinions of teenagers for all FA and draft decisions.
    They are obviously much wiser than people that have coached professionally longer than they have been alive.

    I absolutely love that post Prophet...I am laughing my arse off....lol

  8. #8
    Zeus's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    "Prophet" wrote:
    "Nephilim" wrote:
    Well hopefully prophet we can get some good rookies this year too...apparently.
    Personally, I like to rely on the opinions of teenagers for all FA and draft decisions.
    They are obviously much wiser than people that have coached professionally longer than they have been alive.
    That's ageism!
    There are plenty of older-than-teen Vikings fans who haven't got a fucking clue.
    They need to be allowed to make decisions, too!

    =Z=

    Thanks to Josdin for the awesome sig!

  9. #9
    nephilimstorm's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    Here we go Zeus...ageism on the rise...lol

  10. #10
    Billy Boy is offline Hall of Famer
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    Re: Vikings look to youth, Draft to bulid!

    "Ddawg84" wrote:


    * This article really did make me feel better, I think the Vikings organization is doing the right thing with this football team.
    And if we have contributions from the 07 draft class, like there were from the 06 rookies, I am pretty optimistic about the future!
    Would you expect anything other then a feel good story to come out of Vikings.com?
    I do think the organization is playing it smart by laying low this FA season and purging the team of remnants of bad regimes.
    I don't understand how people can attack last years draft when it seemed to turn out so good even though many of the players were "reaches".
    But to make it sound like these players played last year because of their skill when it might be more likely because of weaknesses on the team is propaganda.


    All the kids my age pee their pants, it's the coolest.

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