What Is the Vikings' Best Option at No. 23 in the 2013 NFL Draft?
The Vikings may have stunned everyone with their play in 2012, but that won't happen again this year.
A year ago people were talking rebuild and now, fans are hoping for another appearance in the postseason come next January.
Despite the success, though, the Vikings still have work to do so they can build on it.
Trading Percy Harvin gained them an extra first-round pick, which gives them flexibility in what they can do.
Since there are two picks, we'll do this in two articles—one Thursday, one Friday—and base the second choices you have on the results of the 24 hours between the pieces.
That's right, I said "choices you have" because for once you're not going to listen to pundits and panelists tell you what they think will happen.
You're going to tell us what you think.
I'll break down the four positions I expect to be the biggest priorities and you vote. Because I'm me, I'll chime in with my overall leaning, but at the end of the day the choice is yours.
The Case for Cornerback
Antoine Winfield was old, and perhaps overpriced, but he was far and away the best corner on the team.
Which points out that even before he was cut, this position needed an upgrade.
It's unlikely that Alabama's Dee Milliner is going to be around at pick No. 23, but Xavier Rhodes from Florida State or Desmond Trufant from Washington could be.
In a league where teams like to throw—a lot—you need a crackerjack secondary. The safety position needs an upgrade next to Harrison Smith, but it's not a high priority. What is a priority is a new cornerback.
Winfield accounted for 12 defended passes—the next player on the roster had less than half of that—and 73 tackles.
The Vikings need a corner who can cover, but also one who can (and will hit).
Of course, the question is whether or not a suitable player can be found in the second or third rounds.
The Case for Wide Receiver
While signing Greg Jennings helps fill the void left by Harvin, it didn't improve the wide receiver situation—it merely kept it in the neighborhood of "status quo."
Really, that "status" isn't all that "quo."
Jarius Wright will hopefully continue improving while Jerome Simpson will get another chance to prove himself healthy and effective. Beyond those two, though? There isn't much depth.
The Vikings will have several players to choose from—Tavon Austin could be a direct replacement for Harvin and is a dynamic receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson is raw (with just one year playing for Tennessee) but perhaps has the most pure upside, Cal's Keenan Allen is battling a knee injury nut could be the best all around receiver in the draft—we could go on.
Of course, because we can go on, we are aware of how deep this class is. While it doesn't have a "can't-miss" prospect like a Calvin Johnson or an A.J. Green, it has a ton of very good players.
The position is a priority—but perhaps it's one which can wait.
The Case for Defensive Tackle
The Vikings' run defense was not all that pretty last season. They started out well, but it degraded over the course of the season and that can't keep happening.
Going with this position would hinge completely on available talent. Will Sheldon Richardson or Johnathan Hankins fall this far—for purposes of this crowd sourcing, assume yes.
Of course the dream scenario would be Star Lotulelei dropping, but as the Utah tackle cleared his latest health exams, I don't expect him to drop very far at all.
So balance out the two players mentioned and consider the strength of the second rounders—guys like Alabama's Jesse Williams or Purdue's Kawann Short—against missing out on those two.
Also, while the middle of the defense is a need for the Vikings, the middle linebacker position is a more immediate need, given the lack of players on the roster for it.
The Case for Middle Linebacker
As has been chronicled all year, I love Audie Cole. That said, I'm not sure he's the guy you want to roll with as your starting middle linebacker—not yet.
Of course, I think he'll get there some day. It's just too critical a position to let slide by.
I'm a big fan of LSU's Kevin Minter, and consider a guy like Arthur Brown from Kansas State a possibility to play either outside or inside. There are also two guys bound to cause some sharp opinions but must be in the discussion—Notre Dame's Manti Te'o and Georgia's Alex Ogletree.
Te'o's concerns mostly lay on that terrible performance against Alabama in the national championship game while Ogletree has a laundry list of character concerns.
Inside linebacker is in dire need of help here, though, and there is a lot of talent to spare at No. 23.
What should the Vikings take with their first pick of the 1st round?
I'd say if Rhodes or Trufant are around when the Vikings have their first of two picks that they should run to the podium. If by some weird quirk of the draft both are available, then you can wait an extra Colts pick out, but if it's just one guy, I say why risk it?
If neither cornerback is there, middle linebacker seems to be the bigger need, though I wouldn't scream at a defensive tackle.
Really the Vikings are in great position to go whichever way they want—with two picks almost back-to-back, they are in a sweet spot.
Keep in mind as you vote that we'll be back tomorrow to nail the other pick. If you are having trouble keeping the depth of each class in mind, I suggest checking out CBS Sports and my friend Scott Wright at Draftcountdown.
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