With two first-round draft picks, the Minnesota Vikings have several potential scenarios to consider entering draft day. The 23rd and 25th selections offer the team a great opportunity to select top talent, as well as propose a trade that could help the team maneuver great value in later rounds.
Considering where the Vikings are currently drafting, any of the top 10 players selected could be excellent fits with the team. However, we will try to stay realistic with prospects most likely to be available when Minnesota is on the clock.
Among the Vikings' greatest needs are wide receiver, middle linebacker, defensive tackle and cornerback. If Rick Spielman stays true to his current slotted draft positions, it's most likely a combination of those four positions will be selected in the first round.
Read on for my list of draft prospects who would fit perfectly with the Minnesota Vikings. Make sure to weigh in with your opinion in the comments section below.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Cordarrelle Patterson ranks as the top receiver on my draft board, blending great versatility and vision in the open field. He posted a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical at the combine.
The junior out of Tennessee would serve as an excellent complement to the newly acquired Greg Jennings, featuring the ability to stretch the field and keep defenses guessing in underneath routes.
Patterson recorded 1,858 all-purpose yards last year, scoring a touchdown in four different ways—receiving, rushing, kickoff and punt return. His ability to make defenders miss would help Christian Ponder in short passes, as well as replace Percy Harvin in kickoff duties.
With Patterson joining the Vikings, Jennings would serve as an excellent mentor to a player with similar characteristics to himself.
Although Tavon Austin and Keenan Allen also rate high for potential selections at wide receiver for the Vikings, Patterson is an absolute must if still available in the first round.
WR Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
WR Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
Alec Ogletree fits well within the Vikings' Tampa 2 defensive scheme, an approach that puts a premium on speed, aggression and pure athleticism—qualities that Ogletree clearly possesses.
The converted safety played inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense at Georgia, demonstrating excellent closing speed on ball-carriers and good coverage in both man-to-man and zone.
Ogletree will need to add bulk to his frame if he plans to play in the middle of the Vikings' 4-3 defense. He has difficulty releasing against blocks and may be more productive on the weakside of Chad Greenway, learning behind Erin Henderson and eventually working up to multiple downs.
Kevin Minter and Arthur Brown would also fit nicely in Alan Williams' defense and may be worth trading up early in the second round if either are still available.
LB Kiko Alonso, Oregon
LB A.J. Klein, Iowa State
Johnathan Hankins fits a much-needed hole left by former Viking Pat Williams of the once dominant "Williams Wall." The big-bodied lineman out of Ohio State is a superior run-blocker who can disrupt the backfield with sheer force up the middle.
Hankins also has surprising foot speed at 6'3" and 320 pounds, with the ability to swim past the offensive line and make life visibility difficult for scrambling quarterbacks.
Sylvester Williams and Kawann Short should also receive high consideration from Rick Spielman on draft day, but Hankins would help transform a Vikings team that finished 11th in rush defense the past two years to a perennial leader for the future.
DT Akeem Spence, Illinois
DT Bennie Logan, LSU
Outside of Dee Milliner from Alabama, the Vikings should have a handful of excellent cornerback prospects to select from, either among their two first-round selections or in later rounds.
Desmond Trufant ran a top-three 40-yard dash time among cornerbacks with a 4.38, falling just short of Milliner at 4.37 and Darius Slay from Mississippi State at 4.36.
He was also second in the 20-yard shuttle with a 3.85, just shy of leader B.W. Webb out of William & Mary with a 3.84.
In addition to his pure speed, Trufant has strong coverage ability and good height at 6'0" to contend with taller receivers. His solid vertical jump of 37.5 inches at the combine also makes up for any lost length.
Trufant is among a deep cornerback class, including Xavier Rhodes and Johnthan Banks. The senior out of Washington fits best in the Vikings defense due to his speed and athleticism. While he will need to improve on tackling to complete the package of a Tampa 2 defender, Trufant would be an excellent replacement for Antoine Winfield in the team's defensive backfield.
CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana
While defensive end is far less of a priority than the four positions already highlighted, the Vikings may look to improve on the exterior by adding depth behind Brian Robison and Everson Griffen, as well as provide a succession plan for Jared Allen who turns 31 on April 3.
When reviewing the position for best fit, Datone Jones stands out as a top option after prospects Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah come off the board.
Jones has good speed to rush the quarterback—he ran a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash at the combine—and superior length to drop back and deflect passes. Although he will need to work on his form at the next level, his athletic ability and tackling skills will be coveted by the Vikings.
Minnesota may also consider Damontre Moore and Corey Lemonier if the team chooses to pull the trigger early on defensive end, but Jones provides a better overall package with significant upside.
DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina
DE Lavar Edwards, LSU
Follow me on Twitter and Google+