All those hours spent mourning another loss have finally led to something good in chilly Minnesota. They have a sound defense, a young quarterback, a stud running back and a chance to improve with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
This draft has the chance to turn around a lowly Vikings team. This draft could mean the difference between a winning season and another year of obscurity. No pressure.
The prime position that the Vikings have could make other NFL teams green with envy, but Minnesota must not trade the pick away. A chance to land one of the Big Three prospects should be incentive enough. Here are five draft prospects Minnesota must consider when it comes time for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Outside of Percy Harvin the Vikes don't have a reliable receiver for young quarterback Christian Ponder.
Enter Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon has already proven that he is an elite recover lighting up stadiums with his physicality and speed.
Having a target like Blackmon will only make second-year quarterback Ponder even better. He fights for yards after the catch and is able to run block when needed. He is a physical presence and will create a big mismatch in the tough NFC North. Picking up Blackmon would be a major upgrade for Minnesota and will let the offense become two-dimensional.
Blackmon is tough as nails and a true fighter. We could be seeing Ponder to Blackmon touchdowns for a while to come.
If Washington or St. Louis doesn't pick up this Heisman winner then the Vikes will have a very tough decision to make. Should they roll with Ponder or pick up Griffin?
I don't think anyone can make that decision except the Minnesota front office. If they feel that Ponder is their quarterback of the future, then they should build around him by picking Blackmon or Matt Kalil.
But if they just can't trust the second-year quarterback with the reigns, then a transition to Griffin makes sense. He is athletic and exciting and will definitely sell tickets. This young man will have a bright future in the league and I see him as a Cam Newton.
He can burn you with his legs but also air it out and weaken your secondary.
If the Vikes do want to roll with Ponder then they need to get him some help. While Blackmon may be the obvious pick over Kalil, Minnesota might want to choose this NFL-ready prospect to protect their crown jewel.
Kalil is big and athletic and a huge upgrade over Charlie Johnson. With this pick, Ponder would get the protection he needs. Kalil is the best offensive tackle prospect since Jake Long.
He will be a guaranteed opening day starter and will fill a huge need in Minnesota. Kalil will be the franchise tackle Minnesota is looking for.
How do I put this nicely? The secondary in Minnesota is, well, awful. Grabbing LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the third pick is a reach, but the Vikes should definitely consider him.
This is a Vikings team that ranked 26th in the league this season when it came to defending the pass. Jamarca Sanford led the team in interceptions with two. Claiborne is a shutdown corner and will help an atrocious secondary.
Claiborne would be an instant play maker and he gives the Vikes a chance to slow down Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings and Johnny Knox in the NFC North.
Claiborne has can't-miss prospect all over his DNA. He will make a huge impact from day one, shutting down opposing receivers and forcing turnovers.
Grabbing Brockers here would be a huge reach. While I do have him going in the Top Ten, number three is just way too high for this defensive tackle from LSU. That being said, Minnesota should have Brockers very high on their big board.
This is the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the 2012 draft class. He would be an instant force for the Vikings. The quarterbacks in the NFC North are some of the best in the league, but Brockers would get pressure on Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford.
He and Jared Allen on one line would be a force to be reckoned with.