Monday, July 22, 2013
Vikes Training Camp Questions – Defense
Vikes Training Camp opens up later this week and almost all positions have some questions that will need answers by the time camp ends. Here are some of those questions (by defensive position) that the Vikes need to figure out before the season starts.
Defensive Tackle – Kevin Williams is another year older, but still a force at defensive tackle. Fred Evans and Letroy Guion will battle it out to see who starts next to KWill. I give the edge on that battle to Evans. It will be interesting to see how the Vikes use their top pick in the draft, Sharrif Floyd. Floyd will likely sub in for Williams to keep him fresh. I’m excited to see if Floyd can be a difference maker right off the bat.
Defensive End – This season could possibly be Jared Allen’s last as a Viking. His contract is up at the end of the year, but maybe that is a little extra incentive for JA to return to his dominant form. Allen is still one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. Opposite Allen will be Brian Robison. Robison continues to grow and become a solid end. The Vikes also have Everson Griffen who always seem to provide a spark when he is on the field. Allen, Robison and Griffen all will become Free Agents after the 2013 season, so it will be interesting to see what direction the Vikes go in this season and the future with these three.
Linebacker – Thankfully Jasper Brinkley is gone (signed with Arizona), so the biggest linebacker question mark is who will be the Vikings MLB. Erin Henderson wanted to move from weak-side linebacker to the middle, but the Vikes signed Desmond Bishop last month presumably to fill that role. Bishop missed all of the 2012 season with a hamstring issue, but had two solid seasons with the Packers before that in the middle. Likely Bishop will be the Mike and Erin the Will. Chad Greenway will continue to be solid on the strong-side for the Vikes. Another question is who will Penn St. rookies Gerald Hodges (OLB) and Mike Mauti (MLB) fit in.
Cornerback – Chris Cook has had a quiet off-season, which is good. When he is healthy and playing, Cook shows potential to be a solid corner in the NFL. Opposite Cook, it seems likely that rookie Xavier Rhodes will start. Cook and Rhodes are both tall, physical corners. Longtime Viking leader, Antoine Winfield is now a Seahawk which opens the door for Josh Robinson to hold down then slot. Robinson is still young, but needs to show improvement this season. Winfield’s leadership and tackling skills will be missed, but not his coverage. Another question at corner is who will be the dime back? Several options are there, but someone needs to rise to the top amongst the group of Brandon Burton, Bobby Felder, AJ Jefferson, Jacob Lacey and Rod Williams.
Safety - Harrison Smith had a fantastic rookie season and quickly brought some stability to the safety position for the Vikes. Smith is a stud. It is unclear who will start at the other safety position opposite Smith. Jamarca Sanford has shown flashes, as has Mistral Raymond. However, both have had some serious lapse in judgment on the field and neither has been consistent. I expect Sanford to win the battle, but another possibility is for the Vikes to field an all Irish safety duo if Robert Blanton can push Sanford and Raymond. Blanton and Smith played together at Notre Dame.
Next: Vikes Training Camp Questions – Special Teams