NFL Minnesota Vikings

2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers The Minnesota Vikings Should Target

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5 Late-Round Draft Sleepers The Minnesota Vikings Should Target

Minnesota Vikings
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The upcoming NFL Draft is seen as one of the deepest talent pools in years. More and more underclassmen keep declaring for the draft early, and because of it NFL teams are able to more easily get late-round steals.

The Minnesota Vikings haven’t been known for getting late-round steals in recent years, but with general manager Rick Spielman hitting on some early-round picks in his two drafts as the team's GM it’s about time he carries that success into the later rounds.

The immediate needs for the Vikings are quarterback, linebacker, and cornerback. Hopefully the team addresses at least one of these in the first two rounds of the draft, but it will be imperative they select at least one future starter in the fourth round or later.

While Mike Zimmer is a defensive-minded coach, free agency is the Vikings’ best bet at getting top tier defense talent, leaving the later-rounds of the draft the area where they can get a steal or two on the offensive side of the ball. This will force the team to mine for some diamonds in the rough in this year's selection, and that could prove fruitful given the amount of talent still likely to be available in the later rounds.

There will still be some player movement on draft boards between now and the May 8 draft, but with the Scouting Combine almost over it's safe to assume the following five players will be available in at least the third-round if not even later.

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. Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State

Keith Wenning
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

None of Keith Wenning’s physical attributes jump off the page, but his football IQ and accuracy will lead him to be a solid starter at the minimum once reaching the NFL. Wenning has been overlooked so far by many of the draft gurus, but he does all the little things right and makes good decisions, leading me to compare him to Tom Brady given the proper coaching. As of now it looks like he might not get drafted, but using a fourth or fifth-round pick on the senior out of Ball State is a small risk for a player with his skills.

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4. Dri Archer, RB, Kent State

Dri Archer
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Dri Archer has been a late riser on many draft boards because of the speed he displayed at this weekend's NFL Combine. Archer was unable to set the combine record for fastest 40-yard dash time, but he still led all prospects with a time of 4.26 seconds. Archer is small at 5-foot-8, 173-pounds, and it's unlikely he will be a three-down back in the NFL. However, with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner stating that Adrian Peterson will catch between 50-60 balls this year, it would be a smart decision to bring in a specialist like Archer who can catch the ball out of the backfield and make people miss.

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3. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

Pierre Desir
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of those who pay very close attention to the NFL Draft, Pierre Desir is a relative unknown from a small school. Before the Senior Bowl Desir was likely on his way to being an undrafted free agent, but after impressing scouts with his size (6-foot-1) and speed, Desir has quickly become one of the best small school prospects in the current draft class. He fills a position of need for the Vikings, and as a third- or fourth-round pick he’s a player that may need to sit a year but could be the next big-bodied cornerback to break it big.

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2. Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama

Anthony Steen
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Steen will be a player that falls on draft day because of a torn labrum he suffered before Alabama’s Sugar Bowl loss. While it’s always risky to draft a player with injury history, Steen was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide and was even named second-team All-SEC this past season. The Vikings will likely let the under-performing Charlie Johnson walk via free agency, meaning Steen would come in and compete right away with Jeff Baca and Brandon Fusco for a starting guard spot.

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1. Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford

Josh Mauro
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not the Vikings re-sign Everson Griffen (they should) they will be in the market for a backup defensive end this offseason. It’s unlikely they make a move during free agency, unless it’s for former Cincinnati Bengal Michael Johnson, so the next likely move is looking for a late-round steal in the draft. Josh Mauro is a unique athlete standing at 6-foot-6 and 271-pounds who could be used in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme because of his broad skill-set. He would be a nice complement to Griffen and someone who may even make a bigger impact down the road.