Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Difference One Pick Makes

Entering the 2007 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings had the makings of a team poised to challenge for last place in the four-team NFC North. Having lost its defensive coordinator of last year, without a bona fide starting quarterback, and absent any talent at wide-receiver, the Vikings appeared destined for a repeat of their miserable 2006 season, or worse.

One Pick

Then came the draft. Most draft experts thought they knew at least two things about this year's draft. One was that every team in the NFC North would at least keep pace with the Vikings on draft day. The other was that the Vikings would wait until round two to address their offensive needs. They were wrong on both accounts.

That Minnesota selected Adrian Peterson with the number seven pick in the draft was as much a function of which players were selected before Peterson as it was a function of the Vikings' infatuation with the Oklahoma back. By most accounts, the Vikings had Peterson ranked third or fourth overall in the draft, with Calvin Johnson, LaRon Landry, and, possibly, Gaines Adams, ranked higher on the team's big board. When Peterson fell to seven, the Vikings followed through with their pledge to take the player that they most highly ranked.

The selection of Peterson, if healthy, improves the Vikings' offense in a manner that adding a player like Brady Quinn probably could not have done in the short term. While Quinn would have taken time to grow into his role, if ever that happened, Peterson should be counted on to contribute immediately and significantly.

With Peterson in the backfield, teams will be less prone to blitzing which should mean fewer defenders in the box and less pressure on the weak right side of the offensive line. And that should, more often, give the Vikings time to find the receiver, albeit one yard shy of the sticks.

The Vikings likely will continue to struggle in key areas this season, but having a player the caliber of Adrian Peterson touching the ball 25-30 times a game should greatly reduce the pressure up front. And in two-point ball games, the type of which the Vikings are likely to endure against all but the top teams in the league in 2007, that could make the difference between a Childress-like season of 2006 and a Tice-like season of 2005.

Up Next: Who Failed to Keep Pace in the NFC North. Plus, some reasonably objective views of the Vikings' draft.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I might be wrong, but I'm sensing a whiff of optimism from VG. Could Peterson actually get 25 to 30 touches a game? I hope your right. I suspect Childress will start him out slow and hopefully Chester Taylor may turn into our third down or change of pace back by mid season.

The schedule still looks tough to me. I was figuring an 8-8 record at best. If Peterson starts rolling and our qb play picks up, who knows? We are certainly look better than Green Bay and Detroit.

pa viking

Anonymous said...

http://www.startribune.com/507/story/1159637.html

It would appear you are mistaken or Sid hartman is a filthy liar.

The way I see it, our season really comes down to the play of our quarterback. If either of them are decent, we shouldn't have too much trouble hitting .500.

shimrod said...

In my opinion, Taylor got most of the available yards last year. The problem was lack of holes. Peterson is no solution, nor much more of a threat than taylor. Either the line improves (and I don't know how that happens with the same personnel)or the passsing game improves to the point opposing defenses can't load up against the run. Anyone see that happening this year, with two inexperienced QB's and a pack of rejects and rookies at WR? Me either. We'll have two high-priced backs running into a wall at the line of scrimmage instead of one, while Hutchinson and his line mates attempt to implement Egghead's intricately choreagraphed blocking schemes. Maybe we'll be the first NFL team to implement the dual punter scheme, just to prevent exhaustion.

Vikes Geek said...

PA,

8-8 looks like a long-shot right now. My optimism is that they can keep me awake in going 6-10, or worse. I don't see the quarterback play improving enough this year, but it helps to be able to dump the ball to Peterson.

VG

Vikes Geek said...

Anny,

I stand by what I said--though it really doesn't matter how many players the Vikings rated more highly on their board, does it? As for Sid's recollection, have you checked which way the wind is blowing today?

VG

Vikes Geek said...

Shim,

Chester did run for 1200 yards and a 4.0 avergage against some decent defensive teams last year, in spite of running behind an offensive line that failed to pull its weight on either side. Add to that the fact that Taylor missed a game against Detroit's porous defense--a game in which Pinner destroyed the Lions--and the fact that Taylor had only 55 carries in his last four games, and his season looked very good. Put a bigger, stronger, quicker Peterson in the backfield and give him some of Taylor's carries, all of Pinner's carries, and everything else and the Vikings have a very good backfield, regardless of the team's deficiencies deficiencies. Good runners have made hay behind some bad offensive lines for at least stretches of their careers--Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, immediately come to mind--and Peterson ought to be able to do so with Minnesota, especially if Taylor could produce here. Besides, we're still talking about a line that has some ability, particularly on the left side. If the Vikings can find someone who does not look awful on the right side, they might really be able to talk about a caretaker QB (though that caretaker will not and cannot be Jackson).

VG

Anonymous said...

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jens847 said...

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