2013 NFL Draft: Top 5 Priorities for the Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings' Top 5 Draft-Day Priorities
The Minnesota Vikings shocked the NFL world in 2012 when they made a miraculous playoff appearance after coming off of a 3-13 season. Now, headed into 2013, the team is looking to build on their recent success and take that next step towards being contenders.
The next step is making the most of their 2013 NFL Draft selections.
With 11 picks currently available, the Vikings will have more than enough opportunities to fill voids and give their roster a significant boost in the depth department. And if 2013 is anything like 2012 was for GM Rick Spielman, there should be a surplus of upside in the players that Minnesota picks.
What has to have Spielman excited as April 25 nears is the fact that the Vikings have two first-round picks to work with on Day 1. Minnesota has several needs that must be addressed at one point or another during the draft, and having two first-round picks gives the Vikings a good chance to add starters right off the bat.
Even beyond Day 1, there’s still plenty of work for the Vikings to do. They have several late-round picks with which they can build depth and add some sleepers with starter potential. Either way, it’s a win-win for the Vikings.
Spielman has the opportunity on April 25 to secure the talent he needs to get the Vikings back to the playoffs in 2013. As long as he doesn’t whiff on the majority of his picks, there’s a good chance that Minnesota will be headed for the postseason again when January rolls around.
5. Backup Quarterback
I’m sorry, but I’m not sold on Matt Cassel as a long-term option as the Vikings No. 2 behind Christian Ponder. While the 2013 quarterback class is anything but deep, there are some intriguing late-round options with “sleeper” written all over them. With plenty of late-round picks available, the Vikings would be wise to snag a promising young passer who can learn behind Ponder and Cassel for a year or two before getting the opportunity to ride shotgun as the Vikings’ No. 2 – or No. 1 if Ponder doesn’t pan out.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that Charlie Johnson is a long-term solution for the Vikings at left guard. At the same time, there’s still some concern that Brandon Fusco might not be the answer at right guard. While both currently have a decent grasp on their starting jobs, it would only take a couple bad games to get the Vikings looking for replacements. Minnesota has little depth at either guard spot, and could use some insurance in the instance that either Johnson or Fusco struggles early in 2013.
3. Defensive Tackle
Kevin Williams is no spring chicken, and only has a couple more years left in the tank before he becomes ineffective. Considering the Vikings lack of depth at the position, now would be a better time than ever to add some early-round talent to the mix at defensive tackle. The 2013 class is loaded with defensive tackle talent, which means that it won’t be as high of a priority as other positions of need. Minnesota, however, would be wise to address the issue by the end of Day 2 in order to get a player who can contribute from the get-go.
2. Wide Receiver
Even with the addition of Greg Jennings, wide receiver is still a huge area of concern for the Vikings. Following the loss of Percy Harvin, Minnesota was left without a dynamic playmaker who can wreak havoc out of the slot. Although Jennings can line up just about anywhere, the Vikings need to add another capable pass-catcher who can make an immediate impact in the passing game. Free agency flop Jerome Simpson was re-signed this offseason and Jarius Wright has shown some promise, but adding a legitimate deep threat should be a priority for Minnesota in the first round.
1. Middle Linebacker
When Jasper Brinkley left for the Arizona Cardinals via free agency, the Vikings were left with minimal talent at the middle linebacker spot. The only two options currently on the roster are Marvin Mitchell, a backup/special teamer and nothing more, and Audie Cole, a raw talent with limited physical tools. It’s a huge sore thumb that will be the Vikings’ biggest area of weakness until addressed. Seeing as Minnesota has two first-round picks to work with, it would be wise to use one of them on a potential starter in the middle – let’s say Alec Ogletree or Arthur Brown.