2013 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings' 3 Biggest Position Needs
The draft is only a few weeks away, and with two first round picks the Vikings have a few major concerns they can address to ensure a 2013 playoff push. This slideshow will go inside the Vikings' plans and show you what positions need attention on draft day.
Here are the top three position needs for the Minnesota Vikings.
Honorable Mentions: Defensive Tackle and Guard
Minnesota defensive line's strength is on the edges with Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen. The defensive tackle positions are serviceable, but could still use an upgrade.
Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans and Christian Ballard make up the interior rotation, which will eventually be something the Vikings need to upgrade via draft in the next few years.
If the Vikings use one of their two first round picks to add depth to the defensive tackle position, Sylvester Williams from North Carolina could be the pick.
On the offensive end, look for the Vikings to draft a guard, most likely a left guard, in the middle rounds. In his first season at left guard in 2012, Charlie Johnson started strong but faded down the stretch.
In order to dominate the trenches and make another playoff push, the Vikings need better play from this position.
3. Middle Linebacker
Minnesota's 2012 starting middle linebacker, Jasper Brinkley, signed with the Arizona Cardinals during free agency. Brinkley's 97 tackles sounds like a lot to replace, but don't let the statistics fool you.
Brinkley's supposed strength is stopping the run, yet Vikings opponents rushed for over 100 yards seven times in eight games from Week 6 to Week 14. Plus, Brinkley will be 28 at the start of next season and has never played up to his full potential.
Not re-signing Brinkley could actually prove to be a smart move if the Vikings handle the linebacker position well in the draft. The kitchen cupboard is essentially empty at middle linebacker right now, but drafting a player like Georgia's Alec Ogletree in the first round would be an immediate upgrade. If Ogletree is not on the board at pick 23 or 25, the Vikings could either draft Notre Dame's Manti Te'o or wait to address this position in the middle rounds.
To date, Antoine Winfield is not a Viking. Rumors continue to circulate that Winfield will re-sign with the team and take less money, and that acquisition would then change this ranking.
But as it stands, the Vikings are young at corner and still relatively unproven. A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson showed glimpses of potential and talent in their first year as Vikings last year and Chris Cook still remains on the roster.
Playing in a division against Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson and Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of weapons, it is in the best interest for the Vikings to add cornerback depth. Playing in the NFC North is a guaranteed six games per year against pass heavy offenses, which is why addressing the cornerback position draws precedent over filling the plug at middle linebacker.
If Minnesota selects a cornerback in the first round, keep an eye on Florida State's Xavier Rhodes. He has the height, speed and wingspan to get physical with divisional opponents like Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, James Jones and Jordy Nelson.
1. Wide Receiver
Percy Harvin's explosiveness and play-making ability will not be replaced, but trading him was a brilliant business move. Harvin made it clear that he was unhappy in Minnesota and would not be re-signing with the Vikes when his contract expired at the end of the 2013 season. Vikings ownership recognized this and squeezed a first round pick out of Seattle. They then got the next best thing in free agency: Greg Jennings.
Even with the addition of Greg Jennings, Minnesota still needs help on the outside for developing quarterback Christian Ponder and to draw attention away from the reigning MVP, Adrian Peterson.
Michael Jenkins was lost in free agency. Jerome Simpson re-signed for another year but questions about his production, concentration and hands will still loom over his head until he plays up to his potential.
A nice surprise will be second-year slot receiver Jarius Wright, who actually played well as a rookie last year after Harvin suffered a season-ending ankle injury. In his only start of the season, Wright recorded three catches, 90 yards and one touchdown against Green Bay in week 17.
Wright has the versatality to be a poor man's Percy Harvin and line up all over the field in 2013. Still, the Vikings are in desperate need of a No. 2 receiver to line up opposite of Jennings. They might choose to address this need in round two, but if they do decide to take a receiver in round one, look for Cal's Keenan Allen to be the guy.