I know that its tough to be honest when it comes to our favorite teams. I know Cub fans, for example, who annually tell anyone who will listen (and even some that don’t want to) that THIS is the year for the Cubbies. Every year, of course, they’re wrong. But it is hard to be really honest with yourself about your team, unless of course it’s becoming evident on the field that the team in question is A) really, really good, or B) showing the world that they’ve got no chance at all to be competitive this season. Viking fans, your team has shown up in Column B this season, with no chance to be competitive in 2011 after stumbling out to a 2-6 record, with wins over Arizona and Carolina. But lest you lose all hope, I will remind you that the NFL Draft is right around the corner, so we’re going to look at some of the possible game changers that Minnesota could pick up next April.
The Minnesota Vikings will likely be drafting in the 1st Round next year somewhere between #8 and #12 overall. Not a bad spot to be in, but kind of an awkward one, because you know the premier players will be gone, so it becomes very subjective and based on individual needs after that point. The good news for Minnesota is that they’re not missing much by not being in the Top 5 this year, because other than a premier Wideout in Justin Blackmon, there’s not much up there that the Vikings really need. Until he proves otherwise, Christian Ponder is this team’s future at QB, so the need for any of those big arms is moot.
Here are three players, though, who we feel could be available to Minnesota and could definitely make a big impact:
Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina: Coples is probably the most athletic defender in this draft, and probably the safest pick of anyone in this group to be a perennial Pro Bowl caliber player. I understand that the Vikings are not particularly hurting on the defensive line, but Coples is far too great of a talent to pass up. If he rotated through plays with Allen and Robison, I think that the Vikings would easily have the best defensive line in the NFC, and one of the best in the NFL. Coples is that good – - dream about him in the days leading up to the draft.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St.: I’m guessing that most of you have not seen Burfict play much. That’s too bad, because he brings a Ray Lewis type of intensity to the game, and I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to call him an immediate upgrade over Erin Henderson. Look, I like the story of two brothers at LB as much as the next guy, but Erin hasn’t shown a whole lot this season. Burfict’s football instinct and athleticism would be a huge upgrade in the Vikings front 7 if he is available when they pick.
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: LSU is constantly churning out big, athletic, shut-down type corners, and Claiborne fits that mold nicely. Honestly, I think that any help in the defensive secondary will be welcomed after the debacle that has ensued this year, but Claiborne in particular brings some size and physicality in a division where you’ll have to do something to stop Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings. Claiborne could fill that role nicely for Minnesota.
The good news in all of this is that there are plenty of good, solid options for the Vikings in the 2012 Draft. So be honest about where you stand, Viking fans, and while we hope for some good results in the next 8 games, here’s to hoping that next April’s draft is truly the biggest win of them all.
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