Winner: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings made a huge splash this offseason. They’re transformation began with the trade of up and coming wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, receiving a first round pick in return. After the shocking trade, Minnesota then released long time Viking Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield, signaling a new era. Then the Vikings started to become aggressive players in the free agent field. Just hours after the Chiefs dropped QB Matt Cassel, Vikings GM Rick Spielman snapped him up as insurance for bright young QB Christian Ponder. The next day, Spielman made a move that changed the entire landscape of the NFC North when he signed WR Greg Jennings away from the Packers on a 5 years $45 million dollar contract. This signing not only gives the Vikings developing quarterback one of the best and most intelligent receivers in the game, but also weakens their division foe’s biggest strength. With his favorite target gone, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers production is sure to slip, and their offense will have to take a whole new approach.
Minnesota’s free agency signings alone would be enough to declare them winners of the offseason, yet they improved their already playoff worthy squad with a phenomenal draft. Due to the Percy Harvin trade, the Vikings came in to the draft with two first rounders, already a huge advantage. With their first pick, number 23 overall, Minnesota selected projected top 10 pick Shariff Floyd out of Florida to add to their interior defensive line, who is sure to be a steal this late in the first round. Later that same round, they elected to pick CB Xavier Rhodes out of Florida State, a talented young defensive back who can step in to replace Antoine Winfield in Week 1. After already having two first rounders, the Vikings traded up into the first round once more, shedding a 3rd, 4th, and 7th rounder. With their third first round pick, Minnesota added to it’s arsenal of receivers by adding WR Cordarelle Patterson out of Tennessee. The Vikings weakened the competition within their division, while also gaining three immediate starters all with ceilings as high as Pro Bowlers. Minnesota improved their squad in all facets of the game, through free agency and the draft, and look to improve on their already impressive 10-6 record team last season.
I predict the Vikings to have an 11-5 record, and steal the NFC North crown from the Packers in an upset season.