2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings were a special story in 2012. Despite being limited by second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, the team rode a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson to the playoffs. In fact, the oddest part was that Ponder actually showed up in a big way in the season finale, as he powered the Vikes past the Packers and into the playoffs. Ironically, he was too hurt to play against Green bay in the playoffs, so we will never know what he would have done in that game.
That stellar player at the end of the year will get Ponder another shot in 2013, and with Peterson now 100% and then some, the Vikings could be looking at another playoff appearance if all goes well. However, before we get too crazy, there’s a lot the Vikings have to do. From the Percy Harvin trade rumors to shoring up the defense, Minnesota has quite a few off-season needs. Let’s break them down:
Offensive Needs: WR, RT, QB
Percy Harvin is either going to holdout, get traded or both and Jerome Simpson was a free agent bust. There’s nothing behind either of those guys, so it’s pretty obvious wide receiver is a major need in Minnesota. Don’t be shocked to see the Vikings chase down guys like Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace, as they’d like to get some speed on the outside – whether or not Harvin stays. They could also look to the first round of the draft for help, where they could find themselves looking at Keenan Allen. Justin Hunter would be another option to consider in round two, should Minnesota use their first rounder on another need.
Phil Loadhalt is a quality right tackle, but he’s hitting free agency. He’s a must-sign guy, and if Minny brings him back all they’ll really need to do is get some depth adds on the o-line. If not, they’ll have a serious issue. If he walks, they could fix this problem early by picking up Eric Fisher or D.J. Fluker.
I see something in Christian Ponder, but he really needs to step up in year three. Getting him weapons should help make that happen, but putting an actual competent passer behind him to push him a bit could work wonders, as well. The Vikings could trade for a guy like Alex Smith, Nick Foles or Matt Flynn should Percy Harvin demand his way out, and possibly even if he doesn’t. They’d be fine just grabbing a backup in the draft, though, where guys like Tyler Bray and possibly even Landry Jones would be nice finds in the middle rounds.
Defensive Needs: LB, DT, CB
Jasper Brinkley should be allowed to walk, while Erin Henderson could probably be upgraded upon. Minnesota could consider Alec Ogletree if he falls to them in round one, but eyeing a guy like Kevin Minter might make more sense. Arthur Brown could be had in the second or third, most likely.
Kevin Williams is still solid in the middle of the defensive line, but he’s getting older and the Vikings can certainly get better in the spot right next to him. It’s time to re-build the old “Williams Wall” so to speak, by adding a premiere defensive tackle inside. The position is deep, so the Vikings could chase down a space-eater like John Jenkins or Jesse Williams in the first (there’s that Williams Wall again), or wait until round two where Kawann Short and Sylvester Williams could potentially be hanging around.
Antoine Winfield won’t be around forever and the Vikings lack play-making from their other corners. Their secondary is much improved compared to past years and there is talent here, but they might want to think about the future a bit. Xavier Rhodes in round two could be worth a look.
Minnesota surprised everyone by making the playoffs last year, but they actually have some nice talent on both sides of the ball. If they fill some holes on defense and add some weapons in the passing game, they could easily pick up right where they left off in 2012.