Daniel House highlights the Vikings "team speed" and how this will provide headaches for opposing defenses. Read this and more in his latest post.
Vikings training camp provided the opportunity to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, and areas that surprised those of us who follow the team closely. I've sat down and analyzed these areas and one keeps flowing through my mind.
The team speed provided from this group of players is rather remarkable and has been discussed frequently amongst coaches I have talked with. Roster cuts are going to be very difficult because of the athleticism within this group of 90 players.
To provide you with a clear picture of what I'm talking about, I have complied a list of the college 40-yard dash times among "speed" players. You will notice the amount of players that have speed on this roster.
Bradley Randle- 4.38
Adrian Peterson- 4.4
Greg Childs- 4.41
Cordarrelle Patterson- 4.42
Jarius Wright- 4.42
Jerome Simpson- 4.47
Greg Jennings- 4.48
Josh Robinson- 4.33
Marcus Sherels- 4.37
Xavier Rhodes- 4.41
Everson Griffen- 4.46
Very rarely can a team offer as much team speed as the Vikings provide, especially on the offensive side of the ball. With the plethora of skill players on this roster, the Vikings offense can be structured around the playing styles of these players.
As you can see, running back Bradley Randle and wide receiver Stephen Burton top the offensive list. Both of these players displayed excellent training camps and are proving they deserve a spot on this roster. In addition, the Vikings have a great amount of speed at the wide receiver position, with three players around 4.4 speed and two others between 4.4 and 4.5 speed. When I analyzed these 40-yard dash times, I enjoyed looking at the frames of players like Cordarrelle Patterson, who ran a 4.42 with a 6'3" 205 pound stature. His elusiveness, along with his size, have been displayed through the first two preseason games and during training camp.
With players like this, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has the luxury to design packages that cause headaches for opposing defenses. I look for multiple wide receiver sets that require defensive backs to be quick and honest during coverage. If the Vikings use four wide receiver sets, they can mix Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, and Cordarrelle Patterson in one formation. With this group of speed players, one player will be open, especially when Jennings or even Patterson will need to be "double-teamed." It poses a really favorable matchup for the Vikings offense and provides Christian Ponder plenty of weapons and opportunities to make good decisions.
From a defensive standpoint, the Vikings have nice speed, combated with size in their frames. This is especially important for teams in this division who must matchup with players like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, and Jordy Nelson on two occasions each season. These players can be versatile in coverage and have proven to be much better in run support. The key to the Vikings success this season, lies among the secondary, which needs to prove they can mature quickly. They definitely have the "skill-set," but need to learn the speed and essence of NFL football.
Not only can team speed provide an advantage from skill position avenues, but it helps provide depth and clarity on special teams. Several of these players have been used in the return game, such as Marcus Sherels, Josh Robinson, Bobby Felder, Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer has frequently discussed the importance of team speed when it comes to special teams. He has stressed the need for players to be shifty in the return game and from the special teams coverage aspect, they need to move up the field quickly. The real key, is the Vikings versatility they have when they look at the "skill players" that are on the current roster. There are many potential special teams candidates, but ultimately, the Vikings need to decide their reliance on these players when it comes to the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. For example, Bobby Felder has decent coverage skills, along with excellent skills as a punt returner, compared to Marcus Sherels who is a reliable returner, but is consistently shredded in coverage. Ultimately, the coaching staff needs to decide whether they value special teams reliability or depth on the main sides of the ball. The difficult aspect will be when the Vikings cut the roster to from 90 to 75 on August 27th and later from 75 to 53 players on the 31st of August. The coaches need to look forward into the future, along with the current state of the team, en route to producing the perfect championship roster.
The speed that I have highlighted really excites the coaching staff and should provide an exciting storyline heading into the 2013 season.
We will keep you posted with the latest developments leading up to the Vikings third preseason game in San Francisco!