Opinion: Rookie WR Couldn't Escape Moss Comparison

The Randy Moss deal is in the rear-view mirror, but, if the Vikings are looking to replace him with their seventh overall draft pick, that move might put unfair pressure on his rookie replacement. There are other needs that can be filled in the early rounds.

Now that the Randy Moss trade is official, the Vikings can go about the business of deciding what to do with the seventh pick in the NFL draft that they will acquire from the Raiders. One piece of advice: don't draft a receiver.

Drafting a receiver would mean spending their top pick to replace Moss. This would invite comparisons with Moss, and whoever they draft will lose those comparisons. Moss is incomparable as a big-play receiver. The Vikings need to use that pick to draft an impact player on defense. They've tried to rely on their offense to do too much over the years. They haven't had a good defense since 1993. Even when they scored the all-time record number of points in 1998, the Vikes defense kept them out of the Super Bowl by giving up 30 points in the NFC championship game.

The Moss trade is about more than just talent. It's also about becoming tougher, more disciplined, and more balanced as a team. The Vikings offense is still pretty good without Moss, and they recently signed Travis Taylor in free agency. They have more glaring needs on offense than receiver; the offensive line was damaged by injuries last year, but also seems to be down from previous years. If they spend a high pick on offense, it should be on a lineman. Truth be told, there are a lot of receivers who can churn out very good numbers in the Vikings offense lined up opposite Nate Burleson, who I predict will be a Pro Bowl player in the near future.

The most glaring need to me is at middle linebacker. The Vikings linebackers seem to be taking a step or two in the wrong direction on most plays; they need to get someone who reads plays and beats opponents to the spot. Look at what Brian Urlacher did to them in the game at Chicago last year; that's the kind of player they need. You can't measure in stats what a guy like that brings to your team.

Final thoughts on Moss: To me, the criticism of Moss over the years hasn't been harsh enough for his lackluster efforts on the field. In my opinion, Moss rivals Jeff George as one of the strangest and most cowardly guys to step on a football field. Looking for someplace to fall down in the middle of the field, one-handing balls in traffic to avoid hits, not bothering to run routes, these kinds of things are just not acceptable at the professional level. No matter how talented you are, you're cheating the game and the fans when you don't give it your best, and Moss hasn't even been close at times.

I'll miss his talent, but not his lack of professionalism. He says things like "I just want to win" but isn't willing to do what it really takes at times, like catching the ball underneath and making an actual effort to get yardage or run through a tackle. He is probably the greatest deep threat in NFL history, but he isn't a complete player.

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