For the Minnesota Vikings, the 2012 season holds plenty of promise. After finishing at the bottom of the NFC North the past two seasons, there is plenty of excitement surrounding the Vikings' draft picks.
When the Vikings open the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 9th at Mall of America Field, there could be as many as four rookies in the starting lineup.
This could be either a testament that general manager Rick Spielman and the Vikings did a great job drafting talent that can step in right away or an indictment that the talent from last season was terrible.
I suggest it is a little of both.
It was certainly a lack of depth that hurt the Vikings defensive secondary, resulting in giving up more touchdowns passes than any other team in the NFL. The result of a 3-13 record, along with some shrewd dealing by Spielman, yielded two first-round draft picks expected to make an immediate impact.
After that, the Vikings drafted wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs in the fourth round from Arkansas, and selected Georgia kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round, prompting the release of Ryan Longwell.
Spielman also addressed the Vikings' needs through free-agent signings. He added cornerbacks Zack Bowman and Chris Carr to the roster that currently has 17 defensive backs. The strategy seems to be to throw as many players into the mix as possible and see who rises to the top.
If it does nothing else, it serves as a wake-up call to those cornerbacks and safeties returning from last season, letting them know that they will have to earn their positions on the roster.
There is sure to be plenty of training-camp battles as the Vikings work to whittle down the roster to 53 players by September.
So far, the assessment of players has been limited to the rookie and free-agent minicamp. Things will start getting really interesting as the Vikings open their OTAs this week.
The Vikings will be looking for the right combination of players to upgrade the offensive line, the receiving corps, the defensive backfield and the special teams.
Here are eight players whose stock right now appears to be sky high.