Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do the Vikings need a functional or franchise left tackle?

It was probably pre-draft smoke Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was blowing, but much has been written about his quote that the Vikings could thrive by finding a "functional left tackle" to protect Christian Ponder's blindside rather than an elite one – like USC's Matt Kalil is projected to be.

The Star-Tribune's Dan Wiederer examined this a bit in a recent post, and seems to lean towards the Vikings auctioning off the number three overall pick in April's draft, getting a king's ransom in return and going the functional left tackle route.

That may not be an option anymore, with the St. Louis Rams putting the "For Sale" sign on their number two overall draft pick.

I will say this though about the Vikings need for offensive line help. Diamonds in the rough are nice. Functional left tackles is a novel concept. But the Vikings went last year with an O-line that included a sixth-rounder (left tackle Charlie Johnson), a fifth rounder (center John Sullivan), an undrafted free agent (right guard Anthony Herrera) and a fading first-rounder they signed away from another team (left guard Steve Hutchinson). Right tackle Phil Loadholt (second round, 2009) was the only starter that was a high draft pick that the Vikings selected, and he's no stud (although he's not nearly as bad as some Viking fans would have you believe).

In short, the Vikings have neglected the offensive line for far too long. It's time to invest in it. Yes, you can succeed with a "functional" left tackle in the NFL, just like you can succeed with a "functional" quarterback (see Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens). But if an elite player at one of those positions is available, and the Vikes haven't had an elite left tackle since Todd Steussie left town in 2000, you probably should snap him up.

Kalil, by all accounts, looks like an elite left tackle. If he's still available when the Vikings are on the clock in April, Spielman better get his socks blown off with a trade offer if he decides to grab some extra draft picks and pass on Kalil.

The housecleaning begins

Pioneer Press writer Jeremy Fowler says the Vikings have told wide receiver Greg Camarillo he won't be back for a third season with the team.

Camarillo is the first of many Vikings from the 3-13 squad who will be shown the door between now and March 13. By that date, Camarillo will likely be joined by E.J. Henderson, Cedric Griffin, Anthony Herrera, Visanthe Shiancoe and more.

Camarillo will go down as one of my least favorite Viking players of all time. It's not because he was a bad guy or even a terrible player. It has more to do with the fact his arrival coincided with the Vikings going from an NFC Championship team to a 6-10 and then a 3-13 team. Somehow I blame him for that.


Anonymous said...

The Vikings had a " functional left tackle" the last couple of years. It clearly wasn't working. If Spielman is serious about his comment, then he's an idiot. Instead of trying to be clever by blowing smoke, why doesn't Spielman just say, "we're evaluating several players at different positions", and leave it at that.

Darren Campbell said...

Anon 8:21 AM:

Spielman has a history of trading during drafts - although he didn't last year, so I'm wondering what he is up to. The recent history of drafting left tackles in the first round is mixed (Joe Thomas - good; Jason Smith - not so much), but Kalil looks like he's as much as sure thing as you can get. I admit I'm worried.