Thursday, February 19, 2009

Killing Time: Hicks, Combine and Tackle Depth

Maurice Hicks:
The Vikings waived Maurice Hicks yesterday, ending what was a failed free agent pick up. Hicks was brought in to improve the Vikings special teams, specifically their return games, even though he hadn't shown the ability to be anything other than a mediocre returner (as I pointed out when he signed). His signing was an example of valuing experience over talent, and it came back to hurt the Vikings, as he had a key fumble on a kickoff return against Tampa Bay, had 9 returns of less than 20 yards and never once returned a kickoff more than 40 yards. For a team built on defense and the running game (i.e., field position), having a good kick returner is important, which is why Hicks' signing was so damaging to the Vikings last year.

The Combine:
The Combine started yesterday, and while it's nowhere important, it can be a useful tool in evaluating draft prospects for the teams that approach it properly. Based on this interview with Rick Speilman, I think the Vikings do it right (h/t ESPN NFC North Blog). They aren't going to give too much weight to the workouts, but they are going to use it as a way to get a handle on the people these draft prospects are. The Vikings have done a good job in the draft since the infamous 2005 draft, and their approach to the Combine has certainly contributed to that.

Tackle Depth:
One of the things that I (along with most Viking's fans) have forgotten about is the impending resolution of the Williams Wall's legal battle over their suspension. Depending on the outcome, the Vikings might be short both of their starting tackles for the first four games of the season. And, even if they aren't suspended, the Williams' backups, Fred Evans and Ellis Wyms, are both free agents this year (although Evans is only a restricted free agent). The Vikings took LaTroy Guion in the fifth round last year to help at tackle, but additional depth would be nice, especially if Guion isn't ready to contribute after spending last year adjusting to the NFL. The National Football Post has a breakdown of the available free agent defensive tackles, and someone like Ryan Boschetti or Grady Jackson would be a welcome addition to the defensive line.

1 comment:

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