Things are different this year at the NFL Combine when you come here with a 10-and-6 team that boasts the league's MVP and selects 23rd overall. This year is not about finding a savior, it's about finding some flavor. Last year off three wins and with the third overall pick the vibe was that of desperation. This year it's about finding some "flavor" up and down the draft, taking good and making it better and winning the division next season.
We have become quite good and are garnering a ton of respect from NFL people with whom I chat. Most of them, too, think the right thing to do is to be patient with CHRISTIAN PONDER and recognize his positives off his first full year as a starter. That's how I operate when analyzing Ponder and totally feel there's better to come next season.
We do need to continue to put quality skill guys around him, and that most likely means the team selects a WR at 23. I am fine with that, too, because there are some decent ones to be had in the first round. The real depth in this draft will come at safety and defensive tackle, and this does not seem to be a draft full of Pro Bowl quarterbacks and/or running backs.
When chatting with personnel guys for other teams the two things most of them hit on when I ask about the Vikings is (a) ADRIAN'S amazing season off the ACL and (b) what a wonderful pick HARRISON SMITH was. People with the Seahwaks and Rams both told me he could be a Pro Bowl safety for many years with some seasoning.
One thing is certain off our on- and off-air chats today - we need to get PHIL LOADHOLT back in the mix, and hopefully it doesn't mean we have to use the "franchise tag." That's a fat number for OTs and with KALIL and SULLIVAN we already have a bunch of cash tied to our offesive line. If somehow Phil hits free agency and we lose him I very much want us to persue ANDY LEVITRE, a G from the Buffalo Bills who is an UFA. He's nasty, is very good in the run game and would offset the Minnesota Moving Company's loss of Loadholt.
I cannot see the team letting Phil go because our OL is the best in the division and the starting point for everything we do offensively. Re-upping with Phil has to be the team's offseason A-topic, and I hope it gets done soon.
Still trying to feel my way through these rookie WRs, and La. Tech's QUINTON PATTON is a possibility at 23. DEANDRE HOPKINS from Clemson is another guy about whom I hear good things, but from 23 it's still too early to dive in on one guy.
I'd like the team to flirt with GB WR GREG JENNINGS in FA but feel that's a longshot given we still have some rebuilding to us. Greg will command a fair amount in FA and I feel would love to come here to get single coverage all game and to stick it to GB, which I believe will not re-sign him.
As of now we have nine picks in the draft and five through the first four rounds. There I believe we will tab some combo of WRs, DTs and DBs. They might draft a guard, too. I do not expect the GM to select a QB through the first three or maybe four rounds, instead bringing on a MATT MOORE or BRUCE GRADKOWSKI or DREW STANTON as a backup to CP.
Vikings' HC LESLIE FRAZIER joins the show tomorrow at 9:45 am, and I look forward to that chat. We'll get Leslie's opinion on the importance of re-signing Loadholt and also what he's looking for from the Combine. Too, taped an interview today with former MVP RICH GANNON, and he had some interesting commentary on Ponder. We'll play that back tomorrow.