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Updated: May 29th, 2012 12:11am
Zulgad's Roundup: Projection doesn't see good days ahead for Vikings

Zulgad's Roundup: Projection doesn't see good days ahead for Vikings

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

The moves made by Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman this offseason have left little doubt this organization is in the midst of a rebuilding project.

In the NFL, of course, the expectation is that retooling doesn't have to take many years.

The San Francisco 49ers, for instance, went from 6-10 in 2010 (same record as the Vikings that season) to 13-3 and NFC West champions in 2011.

But with the Vikings coming off a 3-13 finish in 2011, at least one national publication doesn't seem to see things getting better anytime soon.

ESPN's future power rankings for the NFL, which were recently released and attempt to evaluate every franchise in certain categories looking to the 2015 season, rank the Vikings 31st out of 32 teams.

The only team the Vikings are ahead of is the Cleveland Browns.

The Vikings, by the way, are expected to spend that season playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus while the team's new stadium is being completed on the site of the Metrodome.

ESPN's categories to project the future of each franchise include roster, quarterback, draft, front office and coaching. Each category is given a percentage with the roster making up 32.5 percent, the quarterback 17.5 percent, the draft 15 percent, the front office 15 percent and coaching 20 percent.

Former NFL general manager Bill Polian helped in the process and then stepped away as four of ESPN's other NFL experts evaluated every franchise in each category. The experts included Mel Kiper, Trent Dilfer, Gary Horton and Matt Williamson.

The Vikings scored a total of only 38.81 points out of 100, while the Browns had 38.69 points.

The Vikings roster and coaching got only 3.5 points apiece on a scale of one to 10, with the quarterback getting 3.75 points, the draft 4 points and front office 5.25 points.

The quarterback assessment for the Vikings and Christian Ponder was written by Dilfer, a former NFL quarterback who was very critical of Ponder after the Vikings' made him the 12th-overall pick in the 2011 draft.

"Chrisitian Ponder looked like a rookie last year," Dilfer wrote. "He has a good set of tools, but there are legit questions about his ceiling. He has some odd tendencies, such as a great ability to throw on the run, but pocket pressure really hampers him. He'll need to show development or Minny could be back to square one."

Meanwhile, ESPN sees much better things for some of the Vikings' NFC North rivals.

The Green Bay Packers rank atop the 2015 rankings with a score of 87.25 points., and the Detroit Lions have 74.44 points to place sixth. The Chicago Bears are 17th with 59.88 points.

The rest of the top 10 behind the Packers includes the New England Patriots (85.38 points), the New York Giants (81.13), the 49ers (78.43), the Pittsburgh Steelers (77.94), the Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles (74.00), the New Orleans Saints (72.88), the Houston Texans (71.88) and the Baltimore Ravens (70.44).

The bottom 10 teams are the Tennessee Titans (55.75), the St. Louis Rams (50.94), the Kansas City Chiefs (49.31), the Arizona Cardinals (48.88), the Indianapolis Colts (47.50), the Miami Dolphins (44.75), the Oakland Raiders (41.38), the Jacksonville Jaguars (39.56), and the Vikings and Browns.

Limited expectations

The Vikings' over-under total for victories in 2012 is six, according to Cantor Gaming.

That group is the first major sports book to release its NFL over/under for wins this coming season.

The Packers and Patriots are atop the list with an over-under of 12, which is two more than any other team.

The Lions, meanwhile, are at 9.5 and the Bears are at 8.5

New group to oversee stadium

Five appointed members will make up the new Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, according to the Associated Press.

The group, which will play an instrumental role in the construction of the Vikings' new stadium, will be named by mid-June and will be picked by Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Dayton will name the chairman and two members, according to the AP report, and Rybak will name the other two.

Among the authorities responsibilities will be keeping the construction process on budget - the project is targeted at $975 million - and completing the 30-year lease that will be signed by the Vikings.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which oversaw the Metrodome, will be absorbed by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

Getting to work

The Vikings will hold Organized Team Activities starting Tuesday at Winter Park.

The offseason program has been ongoing and includes the majority of players, but this will give the team a chance to get on the field and begin the type of installation work that wasn't possible last spring and summer because of the NFL lockout.

One of the newcomers who will be a popular target during media access on Wednesday will be kicker Blair Walsh, who was taken in the sixth round of the April draft.

Walsh was in attendance at the Vikings rookie minicamp, but the media talked to him before the club decided to cut ties with veteran Ryan Longwell.

Walsh went from being a guy who might have been expected to learn behind Longwell, and perhaps compete, to a guy who now is the clear-cut favorite to handle all the kicking duties on opening day.

That should be interesting considering Walsh has a big leg but missed 14 of 35 field-goal attempts as a senior, including 14 from 40 yards and beyond.

Signing draft picks is not expected to be an issue for the Vikings, who like other teams have a much easier system to work within when it comes to rookie contracts now that there is a new collective bargaining agreement in place.

So far the Vikings have signed seven of their 10 selections. Only first-round picks Matt Kalil, the left tackle from Southern Cal, and Harrison Smith, the safety from Notre Dame, and third-round cornerback Josh Robinson of Central Florida are unsigned. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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