If there is any sort of brand that exists for me as an entity in Vikings media, it is one that I hope conveys that I am open and honest when I’ve been right or wrong. One thing you’ll discover if you cover a sports team for a living is that making projections about an upcoming season or career of a recently drafted player isn’t as easy as you’d think.
I say that now because I feel that I’ve been pretty spot on regarding the Vikings under Zimmer, which despite what I just said isn’t that difficult considering that the major weakness this team has had under Zim continues to be perpetuated by a head coach that can’t help himself when he sees a corner in the draft that is high up on his board.
Take Mike Hughes, who was drafted in the first round, despite the Vikings having two first round picks in their prime on the outside in Xavier Rhodes (who hadn’t begun to fall apart yet) and Trae Waynes. They also had a young second round pick in their nickel spot in Mackenzie Alexander.
The Vikings were in dire need of help on the interior of their line, and could’ve traded down and selected one of four interior lineman who were taken between Hughes and the Vikings second round pick in Brian O’Neill.
The Vikings now find themselves in the same position as they did after that draft. They waited until their last pick, of FIFTEEN, to select an offensive guard and are yet again looking at moving a tackle who has never played guard to guard (Ezra Cleveland). Five of those picks were defensive backs, and six of the first eight picks were defensive players.
That’s fine, as the defense had tremendous turnover. But, the O-line is still in the same position even with another new offensive coordinator saying the same “we have faith that the answer at guard is already on the roster!” we’ve heard from Norv Turner, Pat Shurmur, John DeFilippo, Kevin Stefanski, Tupac Shakur, and now Gary Kubiak.
The Vikings have gone through so many offensive coordinators that you probably didn’t notice that I added Tupac to the list. West Side Coast Offense?
But I am not here to bemoan the state of the team, or even to pat myself on the back about being right about the line despite other Vikings media members telling me I was overreacting or crazy every offseason after and before the line ruined the previous and next season.
I actually want to highlight the worst take I’ve made and that was that Moritz Boehringer should take Adam Thielen’s spot if it came down to that. I said as much on the now defunct Three Deep podcast.
At the time Thielen hadn’t emerged as what we know he is now. He was primarily a special teams and role player, and in my defense Boehringer had the best measurables of any receiver in MockDraftable.com (with the closest player being Calvin Johnson), since it launched in 1999 (at least that is how far back their database goes).
Each percentage is where his results compare to the other receivers in that years draft (so it isn’t always an apples to apples deal).
Here are some comparable receivers, as well:
I bring this up because the Bengals recently cut Boehringer, who they had converted to tight end. The Vikings are in desperate need of a playmaker on offense with the departure of Stefon Diggs and the traffic jam the team has in the slot (with Thielen, rookies Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn all doing their best work there).
If there is anyone that can help Boehringer learn the intricacies of the NFL, it’d be offensive mastermind Gary Kubiak and his team. The issues with Boehringer has been the double whammy of not playing anything near college ball in Germany (and thus having to learn the language that is the plays and playbooks in the NFL), as well as the language barrier that exists as a German in America.
Boehringer played 16 German Football League games on the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and had 59 catches for 1,232 yards and 13 TDs. He also had 14 kickoff returns for 415 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings need a returner, as well, and that could be the simplest way for Boehringer to make his mark. Just watch these highlights and tell me that this guy isn’t worth another shot.
Or maybe I’m just hoping that I’ll be right about this, as well.