I think the next move for Minnesota should be to trade for Saints RB DARREN SPROLES, who came into the league with San Diego when our OC NORV TURNER was his coach. I cannot see it costing more than a sixth-round pick because (a) Sproles is coming off a bit of a down year, (b) he's nearing the end of his career and (c) WR ANQUAN BOLDIN went for a sixth-rounder last year.
Boldin is a WR and Sproles is a RB, but a full-time slot WR is more important these days than a third-down RB. It seems to me a sixth-rounder would be fair but a fifth-round selection in the May Draft would not cause a tear to drop my eye.
I -- like many -- would like the team to add a CB, and it very well may during free agency and/or with the draft. But as I argued with BOSSBERG this morning I think CB JOSH ROBINSON belongs in the league as an outside CB and enjoyed most of his rookie season. Last year he played inside a bunch and because of it had a fair amount of tackles and TFLs but never seemed comfortable in coverage.
Josh is strong enough and fast enough to play more reps outside and as a third-round pick seems to be getting lost in the conversational equation. I'd like to see what new HC MIKE ZIMMER and DBs coach JERRY GRAY can do with Josh and CHRIS COOK. I am fine if they retain Cook on a one-year "prove-it" deal, and with his size and speed would like to see what Zimmer can get out of him.
Biggest problem with Chris has been staying healthy, and the ball skills clearly need some work. But as a non-starter here I'd be okay if he returned. Not sure I trust Cook, however, to stay injury-free while probably playing more special teams but it's a depth-related thought.
Back to Sproles -- why I think this is important hits home on many levels. A pass-catching third-down RB takes reps and hits off ADRIAN PETERSON. In having the best running back in the game and close to one of the best all-time there does come a point where maximizing his potential and longevity could mean he plays a bunch but not as much as two years ago.
Plus, if the team does not re-sign JEROME SIMPSON and instead fills that WR spot with a rookie from an extremely deep WR draft we could use the experience. CORDARRELLE PATTERSON will be called on to play much more than he played last year but still is in just his second year. Darren gives you passing and check-down options we really don't have now.
Adrian may catch more passes on Norv's offense but I never have felt he is completely comfortable in that role. That's what Sproles does and with MATT CASSEL or ROOKIE DU JOUR we may need a little help catching out of the backfield.
IAN RAPOPORT of NFL Network has reported Bears DT HENRY MELTON is making a free-agent visit tomorrow to Winter Park. If he vets out and the price is right I absolutely am in on that, and with LINVAL JOSEPH, SHARRIF FLOYD and FRED EVANS would have no need to draft a DT.
Melton plays the same position as Floyd and last year messed up his ACL in the third game of the season against Pittsburgh. Before that he had 13 sacks over two seasons and earned a Pro Bowl berth. Henry Melton is very good at what he does when healthy but has had a couple of intoxication-related infractions hit him the last seven years.
Remember, though, Zimmer worked in Cincy with VONTAZE BURFICT (undrafted due to off-field issues at ASU), ADAM "PAC MAN" JONES (make-it-rain fame) and FROSTEE RUCKER (alleged off-field problems) and with the first two received terrific play.
When discussing the direction of the Minnesota Vikings and, specifically, the defense I think it's fair to realize Zimmer has made things happen with problem players and/or non-descript guys all of his career. I'd like to see what Mike can get out of guys like Robinson, Cook, GERALD HODGES etc. before panicking about our defense because we failed to splash through two days of free agency.
Zimmer was hired to bring a more frontal approach to the players, the hope being they play better with somebody always on them. He is one of the most well respected defensive minds in the game over the last decade and did things with no-names in Cincy that led that defense to the most sacks in the game the last four years and 10 guys last year with at least one interception. I am excited to see what he gets out of certain players on whom we have not been able to count to this stage.