2011 NFL Draft | Minnesota Vikings Team Needs
Year two of the Brett Favre experiment went up in flames in 2010, sending Brad Childress to unemployment early, and Brett Favre out at the end of the season with a concussion. Needless to say, Favre won’t be back in 2011, and the Vikings are starting over.
New head coach Leslie Frazier is making big changes. He revamped his coaching staff, changed the offense, and will be cutting dead weight across the board. Several useful players will be free agent casualites, while Minnesota tries to hang onto the few marquee free agents to help keep their team competitive.
Most importantly, however, is what Minnesota does at the quarterback position. Once they get their new “face of the franchise”, they can start making positive moves in other areas to ensure 2010 doesn’t happen again.
Biggest Needs: QB, OT, WR
Tarvaris Jackson should be gone, Favre is done, and the Vikings have already openly admitted that Joe Webb isn’t likely to be the answers. To keep it short and sweet, the right thing for Minnesota to do is start from scratch and grab a young, gifted passer with their first selection at the 12 spot. Cam Newton is the name that keeps coming to mind, as he has a lively arm and excellent athleticism. If Newton isn’t available or the Vikings aren’t quite sold on him, both Jake Locker and Ryan Mallet should be of interest.
Once the quarterback situation is somewhat resolved, Minnesota needs to make sure the right side of their offensive line matches their left side. They have arguably one of the best left sides of any line in the league, but the right side was weak for the past few seasons. Anthony Herrara (guard) and Phil Loadholt (tackle) have been merely average at best, so upgrades are necessary. There are a slew of guards and tackles that can be had as upgrades in the second and third round. Minnesota could simply shift Loadholt to right guard, where he’s better suited, and grab the best available right tackle to take over his old spot in 2011. Gabe Camiri can be had in the second round, while Ben Ijalana is a more versatile lineman that could possibly slip to the third.
The Vikings have a lot of talent on offense, but with Sidney Rice possibly entering free agency and Bernard Berrian being incompetent, they may need to address wide receiver in the draft. With tight end Visanthe Shiancoe having a miserable 2010, tight end could also be an area they add some talent and youth. For the moment, wide receiver is a bit more pressing, which could have the Vikings add a solid talent to work opposite of Rice (if they retain him), or even possibly replace him, altogether. Jonathan Baldwin could be an excellent addition in the second or third round, while Vincent Brown is another talented receiver who could have an immediate impact.
Biggest Needs: CB, S, DT
Minnesota’s defense was disappointing in 2010, but its not beyond repair. They still have a good cover corner in Antonie Winfield, and two excellent defensive linemen in Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. Their top concern in free agency is holding onto Chad Greenway (and/or Sidney Rice), which will keep their line-backing corps among the top half of the league.
Some experts will point to the lack of a consistent pass rush and a sudden inability to stop the run, but much of Minnesota’s issues on defense stem from their awful secondary. Antonie Winfield still has lapses in coverage, but he was by no means the problem. Minnesota has been able to solve the spot opposite of Winfield since he came onto the team, while both safety spots have been huge holes on this defense since the departure of Darren Sharper.
DeAndre McDaniel (pictured) pops up as a great add and upgrade at one of the safety spots, as he can be had somewhere in the second round. If Minnesota chooses to take another early crack at corner, they can shore up their secondary by adding Aaron Williams at corner out of Texas, as well. There is still hope that last year’s second round pick Chris Cook and veteran Cedric Griffin can improve and form a solid secondary, which could push Minnesota into grabbing McDaniel, dramatically improving their overall pass defense.
Once the secondary is touched on, the Vikings will want to make up for the loss of veteran Pat Williams, as they have no real answer for his departure in the middle of the defensive line. Another area to think about (to a lesser degree) is their line-backing corps, as Ben Leber and Chad Greenway will be free agents, and its unlikely both can be brought back. If Minnesota has trouble retaining Greenway, they could opt for a linebacker in the first two rounds.