The Minnesota Vikings essentially swapped one Pro-Bowl receiver for another this off season in trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks and proceeding to sign Greg Jennings off the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Will it work out in the Vikings’ favor? Of course, that remains to be seen.
Harvin is a rare breed. He can effortlessly make defenders miss, explode with speed most wide receivers would kill to have and for the most part, was a very sure-handed target while in Minnesota. But, Harvin did have a glaring weakness.
The one thing Harvin lacked is exactly what Jennings brings to the table for the Vikings: posing a vertical, downfield threat to defenses. Jennings had the privilege of playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers. He also played alongside another vertical threat, Jordy Nelson. How will Jennings fair as being the sole number 1 threat to go down the field?
One thing Jennings has to be thankful for is that he gets to play with the best running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson. The fact that defenses will stack up the line in order to stop him will give Jennings a lot of favorable matchups in coverage, many times even drawing one-on-one.
A lot of Jennings’ future will be dependent upon who is throwing him the ball. Will Christian Ponder last the entire year as the starting quarterback? Or will newly signed Matt Cassell replace him at some point during the season? Ponder struggled mightily at times in 2012 and some fans even clamored for backup quarterback Joe Webb to get some time.
The big question in Minnesota is how Jennings will influence the play of Ponder. If Jennings winds up helping the development of Ponder, the Vikings have won with this chance they’ve taken during the offseason. If Ponder struggles and forces Cassell into the starting spot, there’s no telling what may happen. Cassell definitely has the upper hand in experience, but with the Kansas City Chiefs struggled to get their offense going.
With Peterson in the backfield, but the quarterback position somewhat up in the air, it will be difficult to project what Jennings will do in 2013 wearing the purple and gold. Because of the defensive focus on Peterson, it shouldn’t matter most of the time who is throwing the ball as long as that guy can make a halfway decent pass down field for Jennings to go get.
When all is said and done, though, I would bet Jennings winds up over the 1,000-yard mark while hauling in between 8-10 touchdowns. This may not be exactly what he is used to coming from Green Bay, but it is surely an upgrade from the inconsistency the Vikings have gotten in recent years.