NFL Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings: NFL Combine Provides New Targets for 2014 NFL Draft

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Minnesota Vikings: NFL Combine Provides New Targets for 2014 NFL Draft

Minnesota Vikings 2014 NFL Draft
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings need to have a big draft this year. They were one of the most disappointing teams in the league last season. Never in contention at all after making the playoffs the year before, they want to make sure that last season was the blip on the radar, not the one before it.

The most glaring need on the draft board for the Vikings is at quarterback. While they would like to take care of that position in the first round, I have a feeling that none of the three top quarterbacks will be available for them once the eighth pick comes around. There are other intriguing passers to be had in the later rounds, but there just might not be a top-10 kind of quarterback for them to take at that pick.

So, they need to start focusing on other players who can be immediate starters and game-changers with their first-round pick. They need to get better on both the offensive and defensive lines, and they will likely use that 8th overall to upgrade there.

That’s where the combine can help them out big time. Several top players impressed, giving them new options at No. 8. And, it’s not just the first-round type talents that can be found at the combine. There were plenty of good late-round guys who looked impressive as well and are now on the Vikings’ radar.

These are five players that are now going to be serious targets for Minnesota after they looked good at the combine.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Taylor Lewan Minnesota Vikings
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The third-best offensive lineman in the draft, Taylor Lewan was impressive at the combine. He had the fastest 40-yard dash for all offensive lineman and the 3rd best vertical jump. The NFL wants athletic lineman who can get out and make blocks in space, and Lewan showed the skills to be a top-10 pick.

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4. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson

Martavis Bryant Minnesota Vikings
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The Vikings don't have a glaring need at wide receiver, but they could afford to use a mid-round pick on a guy with talent. Martavis Bryant, the second banana to Sammy Watkins at Clemson last year, has elite size and speed and showed off his raw skills at the combine.

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3. Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College

Kevin Pierre-Louis Minnesota Vikings
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Speed is becoming the most important factor on defense these days. As offenses get more wide-open, defenders need to be able to run with receivers and running backs on every down. Kevin Pierre-Louis, an undersized outside linebacker from Boston College, ran a blazingly fast 4.51 second 40-yard dash — the fastest time among defensive lineman and linebackers.

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2. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Northern Illinois

Jimmy Garoppolo Minnesota Vikings
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The Vikings need a new quarterback, but I don't think they will be able to find one in the first round. Scouts raved about Jimmy Garoppolo at the combine, and after his ulta-productive career at Northern Illinois teams are wondering if he can make the transition to the NFL. We've seen plenty of mid-round quarterbacks have success lately, the Vikings could take a low-risk gamble on Garoppolo.

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1, Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Aaron Donald Minnesota Vikings
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald was the most impressive defensive player at the combine not named Jadeveon Clowney. The Vikings need to get better up the middle on defense, and Donald could be an immediate starter as their first-round pick.