The statistics for the Vikings 26th-ranked pass defense will prove why there is such a significant need to solidify the secondary.
The Vikes allowed 251.2 yards per game, 34 total touchdowns and only intercepted opposing quarterbacks eight times. Charles Woodson, Kyle Arrington and Eric Weddle intercepted seven passes each in the regular season—one less than the whole Vikings secondary.
If the Vikings want to ensure a chance at getting back to the NFC Championship game then they must solidify their secondary with a young and talented lock-down cornerback named Morris Claiborne.
Based on Walter Football’s Mock Draft Database, it is clear that Claiborne will be the first cornerback selected in the 2012 NFL draft. For the LSU Tigers in 2011, Claiborne notched 51 tackles, picked off opposing quarterbacks six times and successfully deflected 12 passes.
There is no denying the fact that Claiborne is going to be one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL; he has all the makings of an elite CB.
There is also no question that one elite cornerback can drastically change the look of a defense—which is something the Vikings are desperate for—especially with the high level of quarterback play from their division rivals.
Most fans would likely argue that the Vikes should look no further than OT Matt Kalil if available.
Although drafting Kalil makes perfect sense, he would not noticeably help the Vikings the way Claiborne would. Kalil will definitely allow Christian Ponder to have more time to throw and open up holes for Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart.
However, a player like Kalil could always be found in the later portions of the draft; such a player may not produce at the same level, but still would produce more than a cornerback taken at the same position in the draft would.
Another option for the Vikings is drafting the very talented wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Although this would make great sense, the Vikings could easily address this need via free agency and save the risk of wasting a draft pick on another wide receiver who did not perform to the level that was expected of him.
The Vikings may also be able to strike gold in the second round the way they did with Sidney Rice.
Drafting Blackmon with the third pick will definitely bring a higher level of excitement to Minnesota, only to deprive the fans of what their franchise really needs—a strong defensive back.
Minnesota may be able to sign a free-agent cornerback like a Brandon Carr, but someone like him will not be enough for the massive problems the Vikings have in their secondary.
One great cornerback can take away another team's best wide receiver and the rest of the secondary only needs to be average to take care of the rest of the opposing team's wide receiving corps.
Claiborne would be able to give Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings more fits than Brandon Carr or any other free-agent cornerback would.
The Vikings should select Claiborne with the third pick in the 2012 NFL draft, or else they may face a lot of pain and suffering by the hands of Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and the rest of great quarterbacks in the NFL for years to come.
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