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On the Clock: Minnesota Vikings

4/16/2007 - Minnesota Vikings

Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

The Vikings finished Brad Childress' first season as head coach with a disappointing 6-10 record. Childress was tough and demanding of his players, while building a foundation for the future. Unfortunately, his style might not be the right fit in Minnesota.

This season, Childress will call on second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to lead the offense. Can Jackson emerge as the franchise quarterback this organization so desperately needs? First, the front office must address the lack of explosive playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

New defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier inherits a unit that finished first in the NFL at stopping the run. However, its lack of a consistent pass rush resulted in the defense finishing 31st in the league against the pass. The Vikings have taken some steps backwards, and will need to make some major hits in the upcoming draft to gain ground in the NFC North division.

Key additions
The Vikings didn't sign any real impact players in the free-agent market. However, the addition of backup TE Visanthe Shiancoe (Giants) was somewhat intriguing based on his size and vertical speed. He should bring a unique dimension to Brad Childress' West Coast passing attack. WR Bobby Wade (Titans) is a good athlete who will bring some additional value as a return specialist. However, he lacks size and explosive playmaking skills, and is best suited as a backup player. Defensively, the Vikings added SS Mike Doss (Colts) to improve the depth on the backend, and also added backup OLB Vinny Ciurciu (Panthers). Ciurciu is a tough, competitive player who excels on special teams coverage units.

Key losses
Even though Brad Johnson's (Cowboys) skills have declined, his experience and leadership will be sorely missed. Backup TE Jermaine Wiggins (Jaguars) had been an effective receiver in the short, underneath passing game over the last few seasons.

The Vikings also lost some depth and experience along the offensive line with the departures of backup OG Jason Whittle (Bills) and backup RT Mike Rosenthal. The loss of MLB Napoleon Harris (Chiefs), who had a solid season in 2006, could hurt the defense against the run. The Vikings are counting on SLB Ben Leber, MLB EJ Henderson and WLB Chad Greenway to overcome the departure of Harris. Starting RC Fred Smoot (Redskins) was never a natural fit in the Vikings' Cover 2 system and was released prior to the start of free agency.

Remaining questions
The Vikings have been somewhat disappointing in the way they have tried to upgrade their team since the start of free agency. There is a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position, with the inexperience of Jackson. Also, the Vikings must improve the depth on their offensive line.

Defensively, RDE Erasmus James is coming off a season-ending knee injury and must be considered a question mark at this point. The Vikings need a strong pass rush to take pressure off the backend. Second-year corner Cedric Griffin showed flashes last season, but the Vikings are still in need of depth at a critical position.