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The Vikings started the season thinking Super Bowl, but by the end they could only watch their expectations go down the toilet bowl. The Vikings finished 6-10 and in last place in the NFC North.
The Vikings were a team built to win now. Unfortunately, Brett Favre was downright bad, receiver Percy Harvin was not on the field much due to his constant migraines, and the defense was sub-par.
The Vikings are no longer a contender, as their division has passed them by. They said “ciao” to Brad Childress and welcomed Leslie Frazier as head coach, which was a good start. In April, they made more solid personnel moves to try and get back to respectability.
On offense, the Favre experiment is over and done. He’s retired for good, hopefully, so the Vikings needed to find a franchise quarterback. Joe Webb wasn’t the answer, so with the 12th pick the Vikings selected Christian Ponder our of Florida State,
Ponder shined in the Senior Bowl, earning MVP honors with good reason. Ponder is not big and has only an average arm, but he offers much more. He is accurate, he makes the right decisions when throwing the ball, and the guy is smart. All of these traits were demonstrated in the Senior Bowl, as he and Leonard Hankerson played like they had been college teammates, not rivals.
To give Ponder a big target with great hands, the Vikings chose tight end Kyle Rudolph out of Notre Dame in the second round. Rudolph has a knee injury to recover from, but he was rated the best tight end in the draft. He will play on the other side of Visanthe Shiancoe, creating a pair of big targets for the young quarterback.
To complete a strong offensive draft, the Vikings added offensive linemen Demarcus Love and Brandon Fasco. Love is a tackle who should play guard in the NFL. He is very big, but has trouble in pass protection, which is why he’ll fit best at guard. His lack of pass blocking in the Senior Bowl did not help his stock. Fasco is out of Slippery Rock, but he dominated small school competition and could double as guard or center.
Defensively, the Vikings picked up two steals at key positions. Somehow, defensive end Christian Ballard fell all the way to the fourth round. He was a monster at Iowa, but lost momentum as he went through the draft process. He will definitely add depth to the Vikings’ strongest position.
The other steal was cornerback Brandon Burton. Like Ballard, Burton was at one time projected to be a first-round pick, but he too lost steam and will be a huge gain for the Vikings, as their secondary is their weakest position.
The Vikings needed a good draft as free agency may hit them hard. Their main target in Sidney Rice is out on the market and will be heavily sought after. Defensively, Pat Williams, Ben Leber and Ray Edwards are all free agents and have been crucial to the front seven’s success the last few years.
Ponder is heading into a good situation, but with a questionable secondary and the fact that every other team in the NFC North keeps improving, it will be hard for the Vikings to do more than challenge the Detroit Lions for last place.