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Both Brian Robison and Jared Allen will be free agents in 2014.
The Vikings defensive line is the oldest part of the roster. With the release of Antoine Winfield, defensive tackle Kevin Williams takes over as the senior member of the squad—at least until Winfield is re-signed.
The Vikings are also facing a crisis in that the bookends of their D-line will both become free agents following the end of the 2013 season. In fact, even their main backup, Everson Griffen, will join them looking for a new contract.
These three were the top-three sack producers for the Vikings. Jared Allen led the way with 12, while Brian Robison added 8.5 and Griffen eight.
The Vikings need to address the defensive tackle position. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans both finished with two sacks last season, but neither has the same kind of presence that Pat Williams had while playing alongside Kevin Williams for six seasons from 2005 until 2010.
The Vikings finished 11th against the run last season and will need an athletic wide body to play along side Williams if they want to return to a top-10 run-stuffing defense.
Of the nine defensive linemen on the roster, eight of them saw action last season. The only player not activated was Chase Baker. An undrafted rookie from Boise State, he spent last season on the Vikings practice squad.
Jared Allen—in his 10th season, he is still a sack-producing machine.
Kevin Williams—he needs to be the veteran presence to a new version of himself in 2013.
Letroy Guion—made 15 starts last season, but the Vikings may be looking for an upgrade.
Brian Robison—in the last year of his contract, this could be his last year with the Vikings.
Everson Griffin—four years younger than Robison, I believe he has the inside track to a contract extension.
Christian Ballard—a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, he needs to bide his time. Just as Robison did before becoming a starter in his fifth season.
Fred Evans—a solid backup for six seasons, he could be the odd man out if the Vikings draft a defensive tackle.
George Johnson—signed off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad last December, he played in two games for the Vikings.
D'Aundre Reed—a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, Reed's days are numbered with the Vikings.
Chase Baker—no more than practice squad material at this point.
Look for the Vikings to take a defensive tackle in one of the first two rounds of the draft. I see them taking John Jenkins from Georgia with either the 23rd or 25th pick in the first round.
At 6'3" and 359 pounds, he has the size to plug the middle of the line and help the Vikings improve against the run.
If for some reason they wait until a later round, they might be interested in Brandon Williams from Missouri Southern. Projected to be drafted somewhere in the second or third round, at 6'1" and 341 pounds, he's another wide body that could develop into a starter.