Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Minnesota Vikings upgraded this offseason, but where does each team rank in the NFC North?
Over the weekend, SideLion Report will be releasing it’s NFC North Ranking’s for the 2014 season. Coming up first is our projected fourth place finisher, the Minnesota Vikings. Joining the debate will be Adam Carlson, editor at The Viking Age. Adam will also give us a closer look at the Vikings undrafted free agents class and tell us who he thinks can make an impact from day one.
Last Year’s SideLion Report Offseason Rank: 3rd place
Last Year’s Division Finish: 4th place
Anthony Barr, OLB, first round
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, first round
Scott Chrichton, DE, third round
David Yankey, OG, fifth round
Antone Exum, S, sixth round
Shamar Stephen, DT, seventh round
Brandon Watts, OLB, seventh round
Jabari Price, CB, seventh round
Key Additions: Linval Joseph, DT; Captain Munnerlyn, CB
Departures: Greg Childs, WR; Letroy Guion, DE; Jared Allen, DE.
Key Undrafted Free Agent signings via Adam Carlson at thevikingage.com:
"One UDFA that the Vikings picked up that I absolutely love is Antonio “Tiny” Richardson from Tennessee. Minnesota lost their swing/backup tackle in J’Marcus Webb but replaced him with a guy that they didn’t even have to draft. I fully expect Tiny to win that job and be on the Vikings final roster."
Minnesota Vikings Analysis:
The general consensus for the Vikings should be that they got better this offseason and filled some immediate needs. The Vikings weakest units last season were the defensive line, quarterback, and cornerback so what did the Vikings do? They found a day one starter in all three areas. First round pick Anthony Barr oozes with potential and found himself in the perfect situation under new head coach Mik Zimmer, who excels in getting the most from his defensive players.
Captain Munneryln is the perfect slot corner and should help younger cornerbacks like Xavier Rhodes develop. Linval Joesph should fill the void Pat Williams left, while Teddy Bridgewater finds himself in a friendly Norv Turner offense along with a solid offensive line and the best running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings have a good young nucleus to be competitive in the NFC North despite the departure of a key contributor on defense in Jared Allen. Unfortunately they are playing in a tough NFC North where experience takes precedent over youth. Teddy Bridgewater may be in the best situation to succeed as a rookie, but he’s still a rookie and it’s hard to see him having more success than Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Jay Cutler.
I also question whether or not the defensive line is improved enough to generate a consistent pass rush and hold the opposing run games week in and week out. Is there enough depth along the defensive line and in the secondary to stay effective? I have my doubts, but the Vikings are trending upwards.
Adam Carlson, The Viking Age
"As a Vikings fan, I’m glad that teams are thinking that Minnesota will struggle rushing the passer without Jared Allen. I actually believe that Minnesota will be better getting to quarterbacks for a couple reasons:Minnesota locked up the severely underutilized Everson Griffen, brought in Corey Wootton from the Chicago Bears, drafted Scott Crichton, and will use top draft pick Anthony Barr all over the field. The veteran of the group will be Brian Robison, a hard nosed player with a non-stop motor. With all the super talented additions, it’s easy to imagine a fresh rotation of pass rushers constantly switching in and out, as new head coach Mike Zimmer likes to do.My major concern is the team’s cornerbacks. While Munnerlyn could play opposite Rhodes, his size would make him a better option for a slot corner. That leaves Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, and Shaun Prater to compete with others for a major role in this defense.Overall though, I’m happy that this Vikings team has improved in many spots this offseason. They may not be ready to compete for the division quite yet, but they should improve upon last year’s disappointing performance."
A special thanks to Adam and for more from him and his staff you can visit The Viking Age.