Well, Vikings fans, it looks like Leslie Frazier and his staff will have to try and fill some more hole this offseason with the possible departure of Sidney Rice and Pat Williams' announcement that he's done in Minnesota.
Even though Minnesota has tagged Rice with a first round tender, the new CBA could render this null and void. He is one player that cannot be easily replaced either through free agency or the draft. Rice's departure will leave the Vikings with Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin as their most experienced wide receivers. The recently signed Emmanuel Arceneaux from the CFL's BC Lions also has plenty of game experience, but it remains to be seen how effective he is in the NFL.
Pat Williams decision to leave, while a loss, has been expected for some time. He's now 38 yrs old and realistically has been only a 2 down player for the last several years. It will be easier to find a replacement for the elder part of the "Williams Wall" in this draft, as there are a number of very talented 4-3 defensive tackles available.
Now bearing all of this in mind, forecasting the Vikings' actions in the upcoming draft becomes a little more problematic. It is well known that Leslie Frasier will be looking for a young quarterback in this draft, but at No. 12, Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert will most likely be long gone. If one of them manages to fall on draft day, regardless of my feelings on the matter, the Vikings will grab him. If not, then they will most likely entertain trade offers from lower ranked teams to swap first round positions and pick up a third round pick to replace the one they wasted on Randy Moss.
Round 1: 12th Pick Overall – Traded to San Diego along with the Vikings fifth round pick at 147 for the 17th overall pick and the Chargers third round pick at number 89.
With the 17th pick in the 2011 Draft, the Vikings select
Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor: 6'3" 334lbs
Pat Williams version 2.0+. Taylor was probably the most impressive defensive tackle at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine. He's a physical monster at 334 lbs., and that's having lost weight. He is surprisingly quick, running the 40 in 5.18.
Now, I know that DT is not the most pressing need for the Vikings to fill. However if Minnesota can grab him now, it would truly be a steal. Taylor's been shooting up the draft boards and is now my personal No. 1 DT/NT in this draft, ahead of Nick Fairley.
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: He could be the team's new left tackle, which would allow Frazier to move the aging Bryant McKinnie to the right side
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Sidney Rice could be a free agent depending on the CBA.
Round 2: 43rd Pick Overall
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada: 6'6" 225 lbs.
Kaepernick is an intriguing player, and if the Vikings can get him here, it would be a steal. He possesses a HUGE arm and is surprisingly mobile for a quarterback 6'6" in height. In 2010, Kaepernick became only the second quarterback in FBS history to throw for 20 TD's while rushing for 20 in the same season.
Colin was consistently the most impressive of all the quarterbacks at this year's Senior Bowl. Even though he played in the Pistol at Nevada, he looked comfortable taking snaps under center in a pro-style offense. Very similar to Josh Freeman both in physical size and how he plays the game. If the Vikings think someone could grab him ahead of this pick, they could swing a trade to move up.
Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State: Ponder is another QB the Vikings could look at drafting here in the second Round
Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor: Watkins would be an excellent addition to the Vikings OL, and I'm not just saying that because he's a fellow Canuck. Danny Watkins would be a low first round pick if he weren't 26 years old
Round 3: 89th Pick Overall
Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU: 6'5" 325lbs
Barksdale isn't getting the national recognition he deserves. He is by far the best technician in his draft class. He has elite knee bend, has textbook hand use, and displays nice patience in pass protection. If Minnesota can get him in the third round, consider it a huge steal. He's easily first round material.
Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware: Devlin is trying to be this year's Joe Flacco. He possesses many of the same qualities as Flacco, including a cannon for a arm.
Will Rackley, OT/G, Lehigh. Rackley is probably one of the biggest sleepers in this draft class.
Round 4: 105th Pick Overall
Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State: 6'4" 263lbs
Winterswyk is one of those guys whose motor doesn't quit when he steps on the field. Every coach loves to have someone on his team who maybe doesn't have the natural born physical gifts other players at his position have, but this guy just doesn't take plays off or quit.
This guy was a walk on at one of the toughest non-BCS football programs in the country and proceeded to work his way into the starting line-up by his sophomore year. Had a huge year as a junior, with 17 TFL and nine sacks, and although his senior year wasn't quite as dominating it was due to being double teamed.
Edmund Gates, WR, Abilene Christian: Gates has tremendous speed and good hands. Ran a 4.35 40 at 195 lbs. That's fast, folks.
Darius Morris, OT/G, Temple: Morris could be this year's Roger Saffold. Morris is a very versatile player who can play either guard position or right tackle.
Round 5: 136th Pick Overall
Eric Hagg, FS, Nebraska: 6'2" 205 lbs
Hagg played cornerback in college but is probably best suited as a free safety. A very good cover player and has the weight to come up in run support. Returned two picks for touchdowns his senior year in Nebraska.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami: As we all know, Antoine Winfield turns 34 in June. Cedric Griffin is coming off two ACL tears. Chris Cook was frequently torched in his limited action as a rookie. The Vikings are desperate for corner help.
Darryl Skrine, CB, UT-Chattanooga: Skrine is a burner, posting the fastest 40 time at 4.29 secs. Still a raw prospect but has an excellent ball cover skill set and could be versatile as a P/K returner.
Round 6: 176th Pick Overall
Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State: 6'2" 304lbs
Linnenkohl seems to be a fluid athlete laterally especially in pass protection, but it takes him a while to get to the second level. He looks like a developmental starter.
Chris White, ILB/MLB, Mississippi State: With E.J. Henderson's injury bug right now, the Vikings are a little light at the Middle Linebacker spot on the Depth Chart.
DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Mississippi: It will remain to be seen if Brown can recover from two serious leg injuries. Could be converted to a tight end at the next level.
Round 7: 220th Pick Overall
Chris Prosinski, FS Wyoming 6'1" 201 Lbs
Personally, I think Chris Prosinski is highly underrated and probably would go higher if he had played in at more highly ranked program. Prosinski ended his career ranked No. 4 in career tackles at UW with 373 career tackles. He ranked No. 3 in the MWC and No. 42 in the NCAA in tackles this season, averaging 9.0 tackles per game. He led Wyoming in tackles with a total of 108 in 2010, marking the second consecutive season in which he had over 100 tackles in a season. I don't care where you played; if you average almost 100 tackles per season while only playing 12 games, you're good.
If the Vikings could grab this guy with their last pick in the draft, it could be a great selection. I've seen this kid play and he's a gamer. Would be a real special teams demon.