Strong off seasons don't always translate into immediate success, but in this case, I think Minnesota has had one of the best off seasons of any team in the NFL. Their improvement should be noticeable from day one of the season. It just doesn't get talked about. In my opinion, Minnesota made some very, very smart moves this year and perhaps, one of the best drafts of any team.
First of all, their Free Agency signings may have lacked media attention, but it was smart and should be effective. They knew they were going to probably lose Kevin Williams ( even though they made a late attempt to resign him), so what do they , they go out and sign maybe the best DT on the market in Linval Joesph to a 5 year contract. They also signed Corey Wooton from the Bears. Yes, he's more of a backup/ rotation type player, but I've always liked him in that roll. He definitely will help with their depth on the D line. Staying on defense, Minnesota resigned Everson Griffen, a quality DE, to a 5 year deal and signed CB Captain Munnerlyn, a starter, away from Carolina on a 3 year deal. Munnerlyn is a good CB that would be great if he was 2 inches taller and be a star if he was 4 inches taller. A solid addition. They also resigned backup NT, Fred Evans.
On offense, they took care of needed business in resigning starting guard Charlie Johnson and in my opinion, a very sharp move in resigning QB Matt Cassel. This set them up for the draft by putting in place an experienced, NFL savvy player that probably won't carry a team to victory like a Manning or Brady, but given the right support, won't hurt you on the field. Think Matt Hasselbeck, not in style but in NFL smarts.
At the draft table, they scored time and time again.First, they draft a high quality prospect in OLB David Barr. Two years at the position and was already a star in college! Great potential. Next, they moved up to get (in many people's opinion) the best QB available in the draft. Bridgewater was rated as the top prospect in the whole draft for most of the year. One bad workout and he dropped like a stone. Who cares about personal workouts, its what players do on the field that counts and Bridgewater did it on the field, game in and game out, the last two years. Now, thanks to the Cassel signing, he gets to develop at his own pace.
They followed that up by drafting DE Scott Crichton in the 3rd round. A solid prospect with a very good future if he gets the proper coaching. Can't argue with this pick or their bonus 3rd round pick from the Seahawks (Harvin trade), tough as nails RB Jerick McKinnon. Neither may turn into stars, but both are good value in round 3. Next, and I don't know how this happened, OG David Yankey fell in to their laps in the 5th round !!! He was rated as a top 3 guard most of year and many had him pegged as a late 1st rounder. May be the steal of the whole draft. Look out world, Adrian Peterson is alive and well.
The last two rounds saw Minnesota add a DT, another OLB and 3 CB's. How's that for competition at training camp on the defense.None struck me as poor picks, keep an eye on Exum, I like this kid long term.
Some how the Vikings had a very solid draft and yet no one seemed to take notice. If their D becomes as tough as I think it can, they may compete for a playoff spot in the NFC this year. In any case, they are headed in the right direction and as a team, aren't that far off to being a true contender... maybe a few more pieces.