Team Needs: Minnesota Vikings
NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 10 Needs
1. OT - 4.0
2. WR - 4.0
3. S - 3.5
4. CB - 3.0
5. DT - 3.0
6. FB - 3.0
7. OG - 2.5
8. RB - 2.0
9. LB - 2.0
10. TE - 2.0
Quarterback - No one was shocked that the Vikings used a top pick on a quarterback, but it was surprising when they spent a Top 15 pick on what many deemed a second round talent in Christian Ponder. Well, Ponder got his opportunity to play earlier than expected with Donovan McNabb being a bust. And now the team has firmly hitched their wagon to Ponder, despite the fact that they are picking high enough to potentially be in the mix for one of this year's premier quarterbacks. And with Joe Webb's play down the stretch, they are likely to be content with their No. 2 spot. They could look at adding another developmental prospect late in the draft, but more than likely they will probably prefer to go the veteran route for someone to push Weeb. NEED: 1.0
Running Back - The ACL injury to Adrian Peterson will cause them likely to be on the lookout for some key depth at this position. The lacking production and development of Toby Gerhart probably would have had them looking in that direction anyway, but now there will be increased urgency. Gerhart did pick things up late in the year, and the presence of Jordan Todman makes free agency the likelier outlet to find help. NEED: 2.0
Fullback - The retirement of JIm Kleinsasser leaves a void here that Ryan D'Imperio is unlikely to fill. They will likely seek to upgrade this spot in the off-season. NEED: 3.0
Wide Receiver - Percy Harvin is their No. 1 receiver and a very dynamic option, but he's a slot receiver, and this team desperately is seeking a playmaker to line up on the outside. Michael Jenkins is an adequate third option, but they need a go-to threat on the outside, and it will be a high priority to give Ponder such a weapon. NEED: 4.0
Tight End - The Vikings prepped well for the contingency that impending free agent Visanthe Shiancoe would not be back in 2012 by using their second round pick on Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph played solid down the stretch. They will likely seek to replace Shiancoe with a better blocker. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Tackle - It was a long time coming cutting the underachieving Bryant McKinnie, but their plan to replace him with Charlie Johnson was foolish at best. Johnson needs to be moved inside to his more natural guard position, and they will likely be seeking one of the draft's top tackles with their first pick to upgrade this spot. Phil Loadholt still is liability in pass protection at right tackle, but makes up for it as a run blocker, making his job relatively secure. They at least have DeMarcus Love developing behind him. NEED: 4.0
Offensive Guard - It's expected that Steve Hutchinson will be given his walking papers if he doesn't take a large paycut. If that happens, Johnson will likely replace him at left guard. The team could also dump right guard Anthony Herrera, who is just an adequate starter at best. Brandon Fusco or Joe Berger will be in-house candidates to replace him, but they could also bring in more help in the off-season to try and upgrade this spot. NEED: 2.5
Center - John Sullivan is finally starting to come around and turn into a more consistent blocker here, as they awarded him with a five-year extension in December. Berger is a capable reserve, so there is minimal need here. NEED: 0.0
Defensive Tackle - Replacing Pat Williams with Remi Ayodele did not work out and his playing time fell as the year wore on. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans were adequate fill-ins, but both are free agents and it's doubtful the team bends over backwards to bring either back. Leaving a void here for this team to look for an upgrade. Their run defense was still solid this year, so finding someone that can bring some pressure inside might be the target. NEED: 3.0
Defensive End - Jared Allen almost broke the single-season sack record, and Brian Robison was certainly an adequate replacement for Ray Edwards on the opposite side. Everson Griffen was also solid in a situational role. If they can improve this position they will, but it's not a major need. NEED: 1.5
Linebacker - Brothers E.J. and Erin Henderson are both impending free agents. E.J. is a solid leader, but he'll turn 32 before next season begins and is increasingly becoming more one-dimensional. They won't get into a bidding war to keep. But Erin on the other hand is an OLB on the rise, and will be a much bigger priority to retain. Jasper Brinkley missed this past year with a hip injury, but given that he was a serviceable if not sometimes solid injury replacement for Henderson down the stretch in 2009. If they address this position, it will likely to bring in a more long-term solution in the middle via the draft in case Brinkley doesn't get the job done. NEED: 2.0
Cornerback - The Vikings secondary was atrocious this past year, and while most of the blame falls on their safety play, the cornerback position wasn't without their own inconsistencies. The fact that Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook combined to miss 23 games was a big reason why. Cedric Griffin is a solid starter, and Winfield is expected back and has a few more years left in the tank. The biggest issue is Cook going forward. He's flashed ability, but he's got some off-field legal issues, and the team probably can't be as committed to him going forward as they want to be, similar to how Aqib Talib's situation shook out in Tampa Bay. Asher Allen has been a bust, and they did use a fifth round pick on Brandon Burton last year. But they need better insurance, and if they can get their hands on another good corner in the draft, they likely will pull the trigger. NEED: 3.0
Safety - As mentioned earlier, this position has been a major cause of inconsistency over the years. Tyrell Johnson, Madieu Williams, and now Husain Abdullah have just been adequate at best starters. Abdullah is the best of the trio, but not exactly a piece you build around for the future. Mistral Raymond showed enough down the stretch that he'll also be in the mix. But this team really needs a ballhawk and leader back there to stabilize this porous secondary, particularly at free safety. Jamarca Sanford is not that player. Given that it is not a strong safety draft class, it's probable that they will target one of the top veterans on the open market for the upgrade they really need. NEED: 3.5
Kicker - Ryan Longwell's production took a dip, but he's still a steady vet that can make the clutch kicks. He'll be 38 this upcoming year but they just gave him a four-year extension last summer so it's doubtful they look in a different direction. NEED: 0.5
Punter - Chris Kluwe is one of the league's top punters, having one of the better combos of leg strength and accuracy. NEED: 0.0
Return Specialist - Harvin is excellent when healthy, and Marcus Sherels was serviceable as an Option B, making this more of a luxury than a need. NEED: 1.5
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