NFL Minnesota Vikings

5 Senior Bowl Players The Minnesota Vikings Must Keep An Eye On

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5 Senior Bowl Prospects The Vikings Must Watch Closely

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have quite a few positions they must improve this offseason, and doing so through the draft is crucial for sustained success. The Vikings hit on Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson in the first-round last year but are still waiting for Sharrif Floyd to prove himself worthy of a starting job.

Of those three first-round picks Floyd was the only one to play in the Senior Bowl, but the majority of late-round picks play in some senior only All-Star game. Whether it’s the Shrine Game or Senior Bowl the Vikings have been watching draft prospects closely, but there are certain players they should make sure to keep an eye on.

Many of these players are on the defensive side of the ball mainly because the Vikings’ defense last season cost them numerous victories. They must also find their quarterback of the future, and although only one QB is on this list, the Vikings should really take a close look at every signal-caller of the 2014 class.

While the following five players are all accomplished seniors, their draft stocks vary based on skill sets, meaning the Vikings will have a chance to draft each of them if they desire to. There is still plenty of time between now and the draft, but the following five players should all get an extra look from the Vikings' coaches and scouts at this week's Senior Bowl activities.

Nick Baker is a contributing writer for Rant Sports and you can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Chris Borland, ILB

No. 5 Chris Borland, ILB
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Borland is one of the higher rated inside linebacker prospects, but he is currently seen as a third-round pick due to his limited physical capabilities. He’s proven to be productive and effective during his career at Wisconsin, but now it's his chance to show his physical capabilities won’t hold him back from competing with the best college football talent. The Vikings have plenty of depth at the linebacker position, but with no clear-cut star it would be a good idea to give Borland a look.

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4. Cyril Richardson, OG

No. 4 Cyril Richardson, OG
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Cyril Richardson began the year as the top offensive guard in all of college football. After an unspectacular season and a bad start to Senior Bowl practice, Richardson has fallen to a possible second or third-round talent. Richardson’s fall down the draft boards may not be warranted, however, and if the Vikings staff takes a close look at him they could get a potential steal in a round other than the first as well as a replacement for the soon-to-be free agent Charlie Johnson.

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3. Derek Carr, QB

No. 3 Derek Carr, QB
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr has one of the better arms in the upcoming draft class, but he recently has become a fringe first-rounder because of his inconsistent footwork and seemingly poor bowl showing. Carr is one of the more experienced passers in the draft class and has already stood out as the best quarterback at Senior Bowl practice. The Vikings may be best served to draft defense in the first-round, but if Carr continues to drop he could be a very solid second-round selection for a Vikings team in desperate need of a new quarterback.

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2. Daniel McCullers, DT

No. 2 Daniel McCullers, DT
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel McCullers is a monstrous 6-foot-7 350-pounds and fills a need the Vikings currently have. Hopefully Sharrif Floyd can get more time on the defensive line this coming season, but with Kevin Williams and Fred Evans pending free agents, the Vikings must looks for a long-term answer to who will play alongside Floyd. McCullers has caused some very mixed reviews through two days of Senior Bowl practice, but the bottom line is he’s a fourth-round talent who has the potential to be a dominant run stopping force for years to come.

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1. Jaylen Watkins, CB

No. 1 Jaylen Watkins, CB
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylen Watkins has two of his Florida cornerback teammates listed ahead of him on most draft boards, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a prospect the Vikings should target. Hopefully the Vikings go after a top-notch corner in free agency, but depth at the position would still be a concern thus making Watkins a viable fourth-round pick. He also has the versatility to transition to safety in the NFL, giving the Vikings a few options, but keeping him as a situational cornerback is where I see him fitting in best.