One of things football fans tend to do during the offseason is complain about their favourite (Canadian spelling alert!) team not being active enough during free agency. This is something I've certainly been hearing about the Vikings.
Which is why I think Joe Fischer is right to point out that we shouldn't go out and kick the dog just because the Vikings haven't done much to improve themselves – other than sign their own free agents.
After all, while the Vikings offseason has been "quiet" as far as signing players from outside the organization, it's not like management has sat back and done nothing. It has tried to do some significant things.
But unlike last year, when the Vikings got every player they targeted (Bernard Berrian, Madieu Williams, Jared Allen, even Thomas Tapeh), this year they haven't been as fortunate.
Some players the Vikings were thought to be interested in, like offensive tackles Jordan Gross and Vernon Carey, were re-signed by their own teams before hitting the market.
Management also pushed hard to sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh and made a run at fullback Leonard Weaver. And if we're to believe shadowy anonymous sources, the Vikings were part of a three-way trade that included the Patriots and the Broncos and would have netted them Jay Cutler until some members of the coaching staff inexplicably (or maybe it's not all that inexplicable) had second thoughts about acquiring Cutler.
Quarterback remains a concern and there are some other problem areas, like right tackle. But this is a team that went 10-6 last year. Its defence is emerging into a fearsome unit. It's got Adrian Peterson and if Sage Rosenfels can somehow avoid the interception bug, he should beat out Tarvaris Jackson for the starting QB job and the passing game will be much improved.
If the Vikings can pick up an impact player or two in April's draft, this team should be better than it was in 2008 – even though it couldn't land Houshmandzadeh and Weaver.
It's dangerous to drink too much purple koolaid. But there are plenty of reasons to feel good about this team heading into 2009.
Judd Zulgad of the Access Vikings blog runs down the number of college players the Vikings will bring in for workouts prior to the draft. He also points out that inviting these guys for workouts means nothing. It could all be misdirection by the Vikings in an effort to hide who they really want to draft.
I watch about as much chess as college football these days. But that's not stopping me from providing some impressions about the invitees. Here are those impressions.
Percy Harvin (WR): Fast and dynamic, but can he play all the time? You don't draft guys in the first round to be part-timers.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR): Fast but suspect hands. Sounds suspiciously like Troy Williamson. Stay away.
Kenny Britt (WR): Big and fast. Don't know much else about him.
Eben Britton (OT): Has short arms, which I hear is a no-no for an offensive tackle.
Phil Loadholt (OT): Huge guy who struggles with speed rushers.
Darius Butler (CB): Very fast and a great athlete. Might be the best cornerback in the draft.
Alphonso Smith (CB): The mock drafts I've read say he's projected to be an immediate starter.
Greg Toler (CB): This guy's name is ringing absolutely no bells. Help!
We should hear more and more about the draft now. It's a month away and excitement is going to build over whom the Vikings should draft.
The man in charge of preparing the Vikings for this important exercise is director of college scouting Scott Studwell.
I loved Studwell as a player. But the Vikings have not drafted well over the years and I've started to wonder whether the Vikings could do better than Studwell. Either his advice is not being listened to by the people making the decisions on draft day, which has resulted in a lot of bad picks. Or those people are listening to Studwell's advice, which has resulted in a lot of bad picks.