Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mo < Moore

Sad as I am about Mewelde Moore leaving the Vikings for Pittsburgh, the team shed no tears, immediately replacing Moore with former 49er Maurice Hicks. To which at least one fan (this one) has to say: Why bother?

Hicks will fill in as the #3 running back and occasional kick returner (if the team can tear themselves away from using Bobby Wade and Adrian Peterson on returns), the same role Moore filled with the team. Make a quick comparison of Hicks' and Moore's statistics, though, and it's clear the Steelers wound up with the better player:

Each player entered the league in 2004.

Moore: 25
Hicks: 29

Career Rushing Yards
Moore: 1,285
Hicks: 869

Career Yards per Carry
Moore: 4.9
Hicks: 4.2

Career Receiving Yards
Moore: 1,093
Hicks: 424

Career Receptions
Moore: 116
Hicks: 55

Career Yards per Reception
Moore: 9.4
Hicks: 7.7

Career Punt Return Average
Moore: 10.4 (2 touchdowns)
Hicks: Never returned a punt

Career Kick Return Average
Hicks: 22.7
Moore: 19.3

I've no idea of their respective pass-blocking capabilities, but if the rate at which 49er quarterbacks get sacked is any indication, I'd give Moore the edge in that category, too.

So, for 3.4 yards extra per kick return -- and the team has Aundrae Allison, at least, to take over those primary duties -- the Vikings yield ground in virtually every other category while also signing a player who's four years older. And unless Hicks suddenly decides to field punts, this probably means another year of watching Bobby Wade rack up his impressive 7 yards per punt return. Thrilling.

I'm still waiting to hear why the team was always so unwilling to utilize Moore and instead fill his role with subpar players. Not knowing any better -- and my apologies to Mewelde if this is untrue -- one has to surmise that he was a tremendous a-hole, team cancer, bad influence, or some other negative locker-room presence that the team disassociated itself from him whenever possible.

* Two former Vikings found homes this week. Tony Richardson, who, at 36, still says he has "some gas in the wheel," inked a one-year deal with the Jets, while Tank Williams, who never could escape the injury bug with the team, signed a one-year deal with the Patriots. Both men lost their jobs (or in the case of Williams, the chance to compete for a job) to recently signed free agents Thomas Tapeh and Madieu Williams, respectively.

They join Dwight Smith (Lions) and Spencer Johnson (Bills) in the ranks of ex-Vikings. This page also says Dontarrious Thomas has joined the 49ers, which is news to me -- I didn't even know Thomas was with the team in '07.

* The Vikings continue to look for a free-agent defensive end, but it seems that as soon as they target a player, he's snapped up with another team. Justin Smith (49ers), Jevon Kearse (Titans), and Antwan Odom (Bengals) all were rumored at one time to be in discussion with the Vikings before signing with their new teams (or, in the case of Kearse, his new old team).

Looking over this list, there doesn't appear to be too many attractive prospects for employment, at least not in the long term. Veterans like Mike Rucker and N.D. Kalu might sign one- or two-year deals on the cheap, but would they really be any better than the Brian Robison or Ray Edwards (assuming Kenichi Udeze and Erasmus James are out of the picture)?

A few weeks ago, I said the Vikings had greater needs than defensive end in the draft. Even now, I think the right side of the offensive line should be a priority, not to mention the quarterback situation (which probably won't be addressed in the first round, no matter what), but with two of the team's major needs (safety and wide receiver) accounted for in free agency, defensive end might not be a bad choice for the team's first pick.

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