NFL Minnesota Vikings

2013 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Top Five Needs

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2013 NFL Draft: Top Five Needs For The Minnesota Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings were one of the most surprising teams in the NFL in 2012, defying most preseason predictions to win 10 games and earn a playoff spot. But their Wild Card Round loss to the Green Bay Packers put a spotlight on a couple of glaring weaknesses, most notably the lack of depth at quarterback and in the secondary.

General manager Rick Spielman’s philosophy is to build through the draft, and the 2012 draft class yielded multiple significant contributors, most notably offensive tackle Matt Kalil, safety Harrison Smith and kicker Blair Walsh. This year brings an extra first-round pick via the trade that sent wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, so that puts the Vikings in an even better position to add more impactful young players in April.

The Vikings have fairly wide ranging positional needs they can address during the 2013 NFL Draft, from serious overhauls and upgrades down to bolstering depth behind aging veterans. That means they can go almost any direction in the early parts of the draft and be warranted in doing so. Surely Spielman will consult the coaching staff to find the best fits scheme-wise, but his past two years running Minnesota’s draft have yielded good results.

Free agent additions have a chance to alter any team’s draft needs, but the Vikings are unlikely to make any big moves that will alter their draft plan in a significant way.

As the Vikings look to add more capable young players and take another step forward in 2013, here are the five positions I think they need to address at some point during April’s draft.

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5. Defensive End

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Jared Allen and Brian Robison are both firmly in place as starters here, but both are entering the final year of their contract in 2013. The Vikings don’t have great depth behind them other than Everson Griffen, so a better future plan is needed. Don’t look for Minnesota to use one of their first picks on a defensive end, but adding someone who can possibly become a starter in 2014 may be a priority in later rounds.

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4. Defensive Tackle

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Kevin Williams has shown signs of decline over the last few years, and he will turn 33 prior to the start of next season. Finding his eventual replacement has to be on the Vikings’ radar, and adding someone with better upside than Fred Evans and Letroy Guion has to be under consideration too.

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3. Linebacker

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It appears Jasper Brinkley will not be back as the Vikings’ starting middle linebacker, so adding a starting-caliber player to the mix should become an early round priority. Beyond that, adding some quality depth here is a virtual necessity.

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2. Cornerback

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The move to release Antoine Winfield thins an already questionable group, leaving the talented but underachieving Chris Cook as Minnesota’s top cornerback. A veteran addition is possible here, but at least one draft pick should be used to add some youth to the mix.

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1. Wide Receiver

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The Vikings’ offense centers around running back Adrian Peterson, but their lack of talent at wide receiver over the last two seasons has been glaring. Even if a free agent addition or two is made, adding some young talent to the mix is a must. Then the team can fairly evaluate quarterback Christian Ponder in his third NFL season.