|NFL DRAFT: Vikings need playmakers, and lots of 'em|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2007 22:19|
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound receiver from Georgia Tech is everything the Vikings need, and everything they once had: a blazing touchdown-making machine with hands of Velcro that demands a double team on every snap.
But for the Vikings to land the player dubbed the only can't-miss prospect in this draft they would have to trade up from their spot at No. 7, and they might not have the ammunition to do it.
Minnesota used to be the home for big-play receivers, with the Vikings enjoying an impressive run of topflight wideouts from Sammy White to Anthony Carter to Cris Carter and Jake Reed and finally to Randy Moss.
Ever since old No. 84 was shipped to Oakland, though, the Vikings have been in search of their next great receiver. So far, things don't look promising.
Free agent signee Bobby Wade, with 101 career catches, has the most receptions on the current receiving corps. Troy Williamson, the No. 7 pick two years ago, struggled so much with drops last season that the Vikings sent him to get his eyes examined.
The rest of the corps consists of unknowns Cortez Hankton, Randy Hymes, Jason Carter and Martin Nance, underwhelming veteran Billy McMullen, and Todd Lowber, a former Division-III high-jump champion who has never played organized football.
It's a long way from the vaunted ``Three Deep'' trio of Cris Carter, Reed and Moss that lit up the Metrodome in the late 1990s.
Even with veterans Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor on the team last season, the Vikings struggled mightily to gain separation from cornerbacks and move the chains. Williamson was one of the league leaders in dropped passes and the offense continually frustrated fans with its conservative approach under first-year coach Brad Childress.
If the Vikings cannot move up into the top two or three picks to grab Johnson on Saturday, they will look to add some juice elsewhere. They also need playmakers at defensive end and tight end, but would be hard-pressed to pass up Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson if he fell to them at No. 7.
In his first season as a starting running back, Chester Taylor became the Vikings' only reliable producer on offense. He rushed for 1,214 yards, but started to wear down at the end of the season after carrying the ball 304 times.
The electrifying Peterson would be the perfect change of pace to the workhorse Taylor.
``Adrian Peterson's a special guy,'' Childress said. ``He's got superlatives in terms of speed and size and those kind of things, but there's going to be a lot of good players there coming out at seven.''
Childress, for one, didn't seem scared of Peterson's inability to stay healthy at Oklahoma. He had knee, collarbone and ankle injuries in his three seasons there.
``Well, those are a couple of the issues,'' Childress said. ``His other issues are the fact that he's an explosive athlete and has great measurables and has played the game at a high level for a long period of time.''
As tantalizing as Peterson may be for the Vikings, they also need to bolster a woeful pass rush. When second-year end Erasmus James went down with a knee injury last season, he took the pass rush with him.
Kenechi Udeze didn't register a sack despite starting all 16 games, and Darrion Scott was more suited to stopping the run. That allowed quarterbacks to sit back in the pocket and pick apart the Vikings' defense and was the biggest reason the team ranked 31st in pass defense.
Clemson's Gaines Adams or Arkansas' Jamaal Anderson could fit in well.
Whomever the pick is, and whatever position he plays, the Vikings cannot afford to miss with this one.
They have done little in the offseason to change the roster following a 6-10 season. Fans are growing impatient and, even more troubling, losing interest in a team that was just plain boring last season.
The Vikings were 23rd in total offense and 26th in scoring offense and lost 10 of their last 14 games to miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
``There's just so many different scenarios that can happen,'' Childress said. ``You're looking at all the trade possibilities. I think you just have to familiarize yourself with all those guys and know about all those guys.''