The Minnesota Vikings discovered that they overachieved when they made the playoffs in 2012, as they quickly fell back down to earth with a losing season in 2013. They still have Adrian Peterson and some solid pieces on both sides of the ball, but clearly lack direction under center.
New defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer will likely look to put his stamp on the Vikes with an impact defender in round one, but will surely need to locate a passer at some point that can fit comfortably in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner‘s vertical scheme.
Quarterback tops the list in terms of biggest need, but it’s far from Minnesota’s only hole. Let’s break their draft needs down further as we inch closer to the 2014 NFL Draft:
Offensive needs: QB, RB, OL
Minnesota can’t win with Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder, and they know it. Cassel was brought back to be a bridge starter at best and a backup at worst. With whispers that the Vikes don’t want to reach for a passer with the 8th overall pick, though, we probably can forget about them taking one of the top-three passers. Instead, they’ll cross their fingers a big-armed passer like Zach Mettenberger or Derek Carr are still hanging around in round two. Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage would also be appealing, and it’s not insane to think they could land him one round later.
Adrian Peterson is a machine, sure, but top backup Toby Gerhart is gone and there’s nothing behind him to scare defenses. The Vikings would be wise to draft a back in the middle rounds or even earlier. Pretty much any running back is fair game here, but a guy that could be available in round three or four like Charles Sims could make sense.
Minnesota seems to be set at wide receiver and tight end for now, so their only other issue is maybe getting some depth for the offensive line. However, this might not even be something they can address with quarterback and several defensive needs existing.
Defensive needs: LB, S, DT
The Vikings need a new inside presence for their line-backing corps. Jasper Brinkley isn’t the answer, so it isn’t crazy for them to look long and hard at Alabama inside ‘backer C.J. Mosley as high as eight overall. That is admittedly a bit of a reach, though, so perhaps someone like Carl Bradford could be worth a look in round two. That’s probably where they’re going to find their franchise passer, though, which could make Shayne Skov their guy in round three if they don’t reach early.
Safety is set on one side with Harrison Smith, but the other side is still up in the air. They did bring in Kurt Coleman, but few can be sold on him, so adding a talented young safety is something they should be interested in. Luckily safety is fairly deep, so they can try to land one in the middle rounds. Someone like Dion Bailey or Craig Loston could easily slide into the third or fourth round.
Defensive tackle is only a need if Mike Zimmer isn’t in love with 2013 first rounder, Sharrif Floyd. Early indications are that he is not, so defensive tackle could actually end up being Minnesota’s first pick of the draft. If so, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald could be the guy. He’s an elite pass rusher and can snuff the run, and despite being undersized has really skyrocketed up draft boards. If the Vikes opt not to take him in round one, they’ll probably wait and just grab a high upside guy late in the draft. The drop-off in DT talent from round one to round to is perceived as quite drastic.
*Photo Credit – Joe Bielawa via Wiki Commons