After selecting the quarterback of the future at 12th overall, the Minnesota Vikings struggled to develop any consistency last season. Christian Ponder made mistakes—as all rookies do—the secondary fell apart, and Adrian Peterson finished the season with two serious knee injuries. All in all, the Minnesota Vikings finished 3-13 and will be picking third overall this in the upcoming NFL draft.
With so many needs, the Vikings will be forced to decide between drafting an elite player or attempting to trade down and accumulate additional draft picks. Assuming the Vikings stay at third overall, here are three players the team must consider drafting.
Matt Kalil is the premiere left tackle available in this year's draft and should be the first player considered by the Vikings. Left tackle is a premium position that also fits a big need in Minnesota.
The Minnesota offensive line was one of the worst in football last year, and it has only gotten worse this offseason. The Vikings released both starting guards (Herrera and Hutchinson) and have not signed any players to fill these holes.
Kalil is an impressive talent that excels in pass- and run-blocking. While not as skilled as Joe Thomas was when coming out of college, Kalil possesses Pro Bowl-caliber talent.
Drafting Kalil would be a massive upgrade for the Vikings and go a long way towards protecting the new franchise quarterback in Christian Ponder.
Similar to the offensive line, the Vikings secondary was embarrassing last season. Minnesota ranked as the 26th overall passing defense last season, and while free agency offered some options, the Vikings did not bite.
Notable cornerbacks such as Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan came and went without a visit to Minnesota. Instead, the Vikings have signed lower level corners such as Zack Bowman and Chris Carr. The Vikings also lost Cedric Griffin to the Washington Redskins in free agency.
If the Vikings are serious about revamping their defensive secondary, they need to take Morris Claiborne with the third pick. Claiborne is the top defensive back in the 2012 NFL draft and is a true shutdown corner.
While some are highlighting Claiborne's low Wonderlic score (4/50), the game film proves he is a lockdown corner that can anchor one side of the field.
The final player the Minnesota Vikings should consider is the top wide receiver in this year's class, Justin Blackmon. Outside of Percy Harvin, the Vikings have struggled to develop a true receiving threat.
The team is expecting big things from Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson, but this offense is still lacking a true No. 1 wide receiver. In order to allow Christian Ponder to succeed, the Vikings must surround him with playmakers, and Blackmon is exactly that.
Blackmon is an incredibly talented receiver that uses his big frame and an explosive first step to make big plays. While he may not possess elite top end speed, Blackmon is an excellent route-runner that has the strength to fight off defenders.
The Vikings have not had an explosive offense since the loss of Sidney Rice, and Blackmon would help to fill that void.