(NFC North Review: Part III) Vikings pondering ways to help star running back

Michael Klein, News Editor

Minnesota was possibly the most overachieving as team of the NFC last season. They defied experts and most fans’ expectations as they squeaked their way into the playoffs before running out of steam against the Pack in the Wild Card round.

The Vikings will enter their last season at the rundown Metrodome with reigning MVP Adrian  Peterson entering another offseason in infirmary. Luckily for Minnesota, Peterson’s hernia surgery last month will require infinitely less rehab than his ACL tear did. There are few reasons to believe that the 2,000+ yard rusher will not be primed for another dominate season. However, there are some huge concerns for the team to address before that happens: like the rest of the offense.

Quarterback Christian Ponder appeared to turn the corner as the year wound down, but it is fair to question how much credit he deserves considering he led the second worst pass offense in all of football. In his defense, according to ESPN’s barometer for quarterback efficiency, the QBR, he nearly ranked in the top half of NFL starting signal callers. Will the addition of Greg Jennings be enough to strengthen a receiving corp that lost disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin? Anyone watching the AD or bust offense in 2012 knows the team needs a bigger target to grab the random Ponder wobbler.

Before the team can look at available free agents, they would be wise to take care of their own. So far, the team has already re-signed offensive tackle Phil Loadhoalt, an outstanding run blocker on the right side. They’ve also came to agreements with linebacker Erin Henderson, fullback Jerome Felton, safety Jamarca Sanford and offensive lineman Joe Berger.

Fortunately for Minnesota fans, the team has a healthy cap number with the ability to shake things up. Already adding Jennings helps. Another possibility would be adding another solid tight end. Not only would this add another big body for Ponder to throw to, but it gives Minnesota more reason to run heavy sets to give Peterson more room to maneuver.

As for April’s draft, Minnesota is at 23 in the draft. The Vikings need to address one of two needs. Either they find a suitable compliment for Harvin at receiver, or they give rush-man Jared Allen some help on the defensive line. Utah’s defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is the biggest force coming out at his position. Once believed to be a top pick, a heart condition has him falling in most experts mock drafts. If he somehow makes it to Minnesota, the pick is a no-brainer. His presence in the middle would remind Vikings fans of the Williams’ wall brothers. If he’s taken beforehand, wide receiver Keenan Allen should be available.

Minnesota may be a few pieces away from being a perennial playoff team or even a few bad breaks away from the Lions of years past. Only time will tell how management pieces the 2013 squad together, but all that is certain is if Peterson is upright and running healthy, they will be no pushovers.