Minnesota Vikings: 5 Players to Target in 2013 NFL Draft
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The Minnesota Vikings surprisingly find themselves in the thick of the NFC playoff race with a 6-4 record after 10 games. While this is encouraging, the reality is that the remaining schedule is brutal. The Vikings will face the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears twice each, along with the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams to wrap up the season. Realistically, Minnesota is likely to finish no better than 7-9 on the year.
This is a marked improvement over last season's 3-13 showing, and it's clear that the Vikings are making progress. However, this is still a team with glaring needs that need to be addressed in the coming offseason.
The Vikings desperately need help at wide receiver, where Percy Harvin is the only legitimate threat. They could also use help at guard, defensive tackle, cornerback and linebacker.
With a 7-9 record, the Vikings would likely draft somewhere between 12th and 15th in the upcoming draft.
Here's a list of five players who might realistically still be on the board when Minnesota is ready to pick. Any of them would help upgrade the Vikings' roster and aid the team in taking the next step up the NFL ladder.
Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Cal wideout would give the Vikes another weapon
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While likely the most accomplished pass-catcher in the upcoming draft, Allen might be available when the Vikings come to the podium in the first round due to questions about his size and durability.
Allen recently suffered a sprained PCL in his left knee, which could cause his stock to plummet. The Vikings aren't shy about drafting players coming off injuries (see Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin), and the sprain is thought at this time to be relatively mild.
Allen stands 6'3" tall and weighs around 205 pounds, so size isn't really an issue. His athletic prowess and ability to run after the catch could cause Minnesota to take a calculated gamble on this Golden Bear.
Robert Woods, WR, USC
Woods was considered the best receiver in the country in 2011
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USC's Robert Woods might still be on the board when the Vikings make their first selection in the upcoming draft.
The Trojan wideout had a stellar season in 2011, amassing over 1,200 receiving yards and scoring 15 touchdowns. He's had less of an impact in 2012, but has still reached the end zone 10 times for USC.
One of the knocks on Woods is that he seems to lose interest if he's not involved early in the game. This was also said about another former Vikings receiver. Perhaps you remember a gentleman named Randy Moss.
Another criticism of Woods is that all he does is catch touchdowns. The same label was once applied to Cris Carter.
If the Vikings were somehow able to add both Woods and Cal's Keenan Allen, their receiving corps would be set for the next 10-12 years.
There are those who have doubts about Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder. If Ponder had another weapon or two in his arsenal, those doubts would almost certainly vanish.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack is widely considered the best OG in the 2013 draft
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While the Vikings' offensive line has performed relatively well for most of the season, they are still vulnerable in the middle, where Brandon Fusco and Charlie Johnson are currently situated.
Conventional wisdom would seem to dictate that the Vikings' pick will be too high in the draft to select a guard. However, Minnesota is heavily invested in both Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder. Warmack would provide insurance on those investments.
If Warmack wasn't on the board, Minnesota could take a chance on his Alabama teammate Barrett Jones. Jones would be regarded as a reach pick at this spot, however.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Jenkins might be the best interior defender in the draft
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One of the primary focuses of Minnesota's defensive scheme is stopping the run. In order to do that, you need strong play from the defensive tackle position.
The Vikings have a potential future Hall of Famer in Kevin Williams manning one of the DT spots, but Williams is getting older and is on the downside of his illustrious career. The other DT spot in Minnesota's 4-3 scheme has been manned by Letroy Guion and Fred Evans. Both are serviceable spot players, but neither has really distinguished himself at the position.
Georgia's Jenkins would fit nicely in Minnesota's scheme. He has the requisite size for a nose tackle, but the athletic ability of someone who plays the 2 or 3 technique. If paired with a mentor like Williams, Jenkins would buy the Vikings time to find another tackle in the next draft or two.
Johnthan Banks, DB, Mississippi State
Banks would be a solid replacement for aging Antoine Winfield
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While the Vikings (and everyone else) might covet Alabama's Dee Milliner to play corner, it is unlikely that the Crimson Tide standout will be available when Minnesota comes to the podium.
A more likely prospect is Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks. The Vikings have an outstanding corner already on the roster in Antoine Winfield, but the veteran is aging and best suited to playing in the slot at this point in his career. Josh Robinson has been a somewhat pleasant surprise on the other corner, but Chris Cook is injury prone at the other outside spot. Banks has the combination of toughness, athletic ability and ball skills to give the Vikings a solid threesome at cornerback for years to come.