Coming off a 10-6 season and a playoff berth, the Minnesota Vikings have more to be excited about than originally anticipated. But after being bounced from the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers, most fans are turning to the 2013 NFL Draft for hope leading into next season.
Let's be honest. Most people still have serious questions about Christian Ponder, aside from his relationship status. However, it's hard to deny how he finished the season.
After a downright abysmal showing in Green Bay during Week 13, Ponder finished the season 4-0 to propel the Vikings into the playoffs. He had three TDs and zero INTs in his last game of the season.
OK, some guy named Adrian Peterson may have also helped in that stretch.
The point is the Vikings are not selecting a quarterback with the 23rd pick. Forget about Matt Barkley. Forget about Tyler Wilson. Let other teams reach for those players.
Minnesota's most glaring need in the first round is wide receiver. While I love the upside of Cordarrelle Patterson, I don't think he will be available by the time the Vikings pick.
I have highlighted five players who I feel are the best option in this draft position. Who would you select? Start the slideshow and weigh in with your opinion.
WR Keenan Allen, California
The Vikings need a deep threat and someone who can win a jump ball in coverage, something the team lost with the departure of Sidney Rice in 2011. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, Allen has good size and the potential to be a No. 1 wide receiver.
With the uncertainty regarding Percy Harvin, this pick could prove to be even more of a necessity. Either way, the Vikings are desperate for a deep threat to keep defenses honest against Adrian Peterson.
LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Ogletree has a nonstop motor with incredible closing speed. He plays with aggression and pure athleticism, something the Vikings could use to complement Chad Greenway.
Some will argue that Ogletree's off the field problems may cause him to slip further in the draft, but the Vikings will seriously consider him if he is still on the board. The former safety has an opportunity to make an immediate impact in the NFL with some added bulk and a solid work ethic.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
The kid they call "Nuk" was one of the most productive wide receivers in 2012 with 1,405 yards and 18 TD. Hopkins blends strength and speed to pose a threat both on the outside and in the middle of the field.
Hopkins is a stronger route-runner with better hands than Keenan Allen, but doesn't quite have the height and jump ball ability of the California junior. Depending on his speed out of the NFL Scouting Combine, he could overtake Allen as the best option available for the Vikings.
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
While Minnesota has Kevin Williams, the All-Pro defensive tackle will be turning 33 before the start of the season. Sharrif Floyd is a legitimate option with the 23rd pick if the Vikings choose to wait on a wide receiver and Ogletree is off the board.
Floyd showed versatility in his college career as he played each position on the defensive line. Over 300 pounds, he has good movement for his size and the ability to fill gaps, something reminiscent of the Vikings' defensive linemen from 2006-2008.
WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
Leading all college receivers with 1,832 yards, Williams showed no drop-off in production after losing Robert Griffin III to the NFL in 2012. In fact, he nearly doubled his yardage total as a senior.
Williams possesses the type of vertical threat Minnesota needs in order to get back to the top of the NFC North.
While Williams can run the deep route, he has not shown the ability to break tackles or demonstrated strength in the middle of the field. He's currently my third-best available wide receiver with Patterson off the board, but he still has time to move up.
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