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Updated: July 19th, 2012 10:52pm
Scouting the Vikings: Jerome Simpson 'an upgrade,' but does have flaws

Scouting the Vikings: Jerome Simpson 'an upgrade,' but does have flaws

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

Each day until players report to training camp on July 26, Tom Pelissero is breaking down the Minnesota Vikings' roster by position, based on observations of games and practices, tape studies and interviews with NFL coaches and scouts.

Day 2

Receivers.

On the roster (12)

Emmanuel Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Greg Childs, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Kamar Jorden, A.J. Love, Jerome Simpson, Kerry Taylor, Bryan Walters, Jarius Wright.

Departures

Greg Camarillo (unsigned).

The skinny

Harvin (5-11, 184 pounds) is the player who strikes fear into defensive coordinators because of his speed and ability to make plays in space, even if his production must be manufactured to a degree. He's technically the "Z" (flanker) in Bill Musgrave's offense but moves all over the formation, at time forcing defenses to tip their hands. Simpson (6-2, 190) will be the "X" (split end) once he's served his three-game suspension. He has the speed to bring a downfield presence the Vikings sorely lacked last season and has drawn rave reviews for his athleticism. But he sometimes struggles to create vertical separation when combated with jams and safety help, and he isn't known as a versatile route-runner. Childs (6-3, 217) is the logical replacement early in the season if he stays healthy, which he wasn't most of the offseason. The Vikings cleared him medically, but it remains to be seen if he's the same player he was before patella tendon surgery. Wright (5-10, 180) is awfully quick and figures to make his initial impact in the return game. Like Childs, he's a fourth-round pick out of Arkansas and a virtual lock to make the roster barring injury or a total collapse in camp.

Best battles

Burton (6-1, 221) came on strong in Harvin's absence during offseason practices -- perhaps hastening the exit of declining Jenkins (6-4, 214) if Childs comes along. It'd be difficult to justify keeping a 30-year-old possession receiver who doesn't play special teams in a backup role for $2.5 million. Aromashodu (6-2, 201) didn't receive a bonus on his one-year deal and has an uphill battle ahead. Arceneaux (6-2, 211) worked ahead of him at split end in the offseason and is headed the right direction if he can become more consistent.

Sleeper alert

Walters (6-0, 190) is the only other receiver on the roster who has appeared in an NFL game and will need to earn his spot on special teams. Taylor (6-0, 197) is a speedy practice-squad holdover. Jorden (6-1, 203) and Love (6-2, 205) are undrafted rookies.

One scout's take on ... Jerome Simpson

"He's a talented guy. He's gotten a lot better each year. He's explosive and he can run. He's probably better in the straight-line routes than the stuff he has to break down and cut. He's an upgrade for them."
-- NFC personnel man

Outlook

Opposing coordinators won't have to be concerned with the multiplicity of matchup concerns. But Harvin commands 11 players to the ball each time he touches it, Simpson appears to be ascending and there are enough potential contributors among the younger set for the Vikings to be excited about the group's upside. They'll have to be prudent about dividing the reps in camp and the preseason to prepare for Simpson's absence without leaving him behind.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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