Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman committed to bolstering Minnesota's run game in 2017, and he has made a number of moves during the offseason – through free agency and the NFL Draft – to do just that.
The Vikings offense has gained a number of new faces over the past few months, but it isn't just on the offensive line or in the running back room. In addition to drafting two new receivers and a tight end, Minnesota on Wednesday announced the signing of receiver Michael Floyd, a native of Saint Paul.
John Holler of *Viking Update *assessed the way Minnesota's offense has received an overhaul over the past two weeks, in addition to the signing of offensive linemen Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers when free agency opened in March. Holler wrote:
Moving up in the second round of the draft to make a bold run at running back with Dalvin Cook transformed the look of the 2017 Vikings running game, and the signing of Floyd may have a similar impact on the passing game.
There is no such thing as having too many good players at one position, especially when the Vikings are replacing one first-round wide receiver (Cordarrelle Patterson) on the roster with another – Floyd was the 13th pick of the 2012 draft.
Holler said that Cook and Latavius Murray (also signed in free agency) "come to the Vikings with a legitimate chance to carve out their own role" early on and then posed the question of how Floyd will fit into the offense. He opined that Floyd will hold a different role than Patterson, who primarily was utilized as a kickoff returner. Holler pointed out that Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph were the top three receiving threats in 2016 but added that it doesn't crop Floyd out of the picture.
Floyd is a downfield threat. His mere addition to the roster will impact the big scheme of things in the Vikings passing game.
CBS Sports on Over/Under Vikings Wins in 2017
Now that teams have made a majority of their offseason moves in preparation for the 2017 season, Will Brinson of CBS Sports put out his annual column in which he looks at the win totals for each NFL team and decides "whether or not each team will win more or [fewer] games than Vegas predicts."
For the Vikings, the over/under prediction was: 8.5 Over (Even) / Under (-130).* *
Brinson said he expects Minnesota to be over the 8.5-game win total. He wrote:
The final undefeated team from 2016 comes in with lower expectations after falling apart down the stretch, but a hot start wouldn't be surprising for the Vikings this year either. They leave the comfort of Minnesota just three times before their bye in Week 9, playing in Pittsburgh (Week 2), Chicago (Week 5) and Cleveland (Week 8). The five teams they play at home (Saints, Bucs, Lions, Packers and Ravens) aren't easy matchups or guaranteed wins, but that's a pile of home games out of the stretch. They could go 6-2 before the break. Even if they just got to 5-3 or 4-4, they would have the Rams, Bears and Bengals at home after the break. It's not a stretch to find nine wins from a talented team.
*The question is this: Do you buy the Vikings as a talented team? I certainly do, considering the offseason they just had. *
The real coup is Dalvin Cook, who can contend for OROY (Offensive Rookie of the Year) honors if he's healthy. Sam Bradford should improve in his second season in this offense, especially with an actual offseason to prepare. Any [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer defense is going to be dangerous, but this unit remains absolutely loaded.
C.J. Ham sees opportunity at fullback
In his second offseason with the Vikings, Duluth native C.J. Ham is making the switch to fullback.
*Argus Leader *writer Matt Zimmer recently spoke with Ham about the position change and the opportunity he sees in transition. Zimmer wrote:
The start of the regular season is four months away, so Ham is still a long way from being assured of anything. But he knows this could be a big break for him.
"I think it's a great opportunity for me to possibly make the team," Ham told Matt Zimmer. "It just shows that the coaches want to find a way for me to stay around – that's how I look at it."
Ham spent most of his rookie season as a running back on Minnesota's practice squad, being promoted to the active roster for the final two games of the season.
If he can excel at the fullback role, Ham feels it could be the key to him fitting on the Vikings roster. One of Ham's head coaches at Augustana, Jerry Olszewski, said that Ham is a physical player who he believes will do well with the switch.
"He likes that part of the game – being able to hit people and do the job that fullback calls for, which is running downhill and blocking," Olszewski told Matt Zimmer. "I'm sure what the Vikings like about him is that he's got the toughness and work ethic you want out of a fullback, but he's also got such great ball skills. He catches the ball as well as anybody. You can line him up just about anywhere. Players like him are kind of a dying breed in college football, and that's probably a big reason why he's getting this opportunity."