NFL Minnesota Vikings

2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Minnesota Vikings’ Top 5 Needs

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NFL Draft 2014: Ranking the Minnesota Vikings' Top 5 Needs

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings will have the eighth pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Picking in the top 10 two of the past three years certainly shows the Vikings have plenty of holes to fill.

Luckily for the Vikings this is a very deep draft, and there should be an elite talent left on the board for them at No. 8. There should even be some strong options when they pick again in the second round.

The mock drafts are all over the place. The Vikings have been projected to take anyone from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to receiver Mike Evans.

But it’s no safe bet that the Vikings will stay put at that eighth spot. Don’t forget that general manager Rick Spielman has shown a willingness to trade around the draft in the past. The Vikings have had five first-round picks the past two years, two of those picks coming on draft day trades.

In a league that has shifted to the passing game, the Vikings' greatest strengths remain at running the ball and stopping the run. Their offense is focused around Adrian Peterson, arguably the best running back in football, and a strong offensive line. Defensively their biggest weakness is in the secondary. So it’s not shocking that the Vikings' greatest needs all pertain to the passing game.

Last year the Vikings selected receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, corner Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. While the picks seem to have worked out for Minnesota, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Vikings address one of those positions again in the first round.

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5. Guard

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The Vikings have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but left guard Charlie Johnson is a free agent. He is also coming off a dreadful season. The Vikings don’t need a star at the position, and could opt to fill the hole in free agency, but the draft could be a cheaper alternative.

There is great guard depth in this draft, and the Vikings should be able to find a starter in the second or third round. Gabe Jackson and Cyril Richardson should be available in the second. Adding another young talented player to the line could help it to return to its 2012 form, and possibly become the most dominant line in the league. That will help whoever lines up under center.

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4. Nose Tackle

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The Vikings haven’t had a dominant presence at the position since Pat Williams left. Kevin Williams will likely depart in free agency, and while the Vikings have players that can fill the two starting spots, they could certainly use an upgrade at nose tackle. Pairing a player like Louis Nix III with Floyd could give them a young talented wall in the middle that could rival what they had in the Williams Wall when they made the NFC Championship.

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3. Linebacker

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The Vikings badly need to upgrade the linebacker position. The only certain starter they currently have on their roster is Chad Greenway, and he is coming off his worst year as a pro. Part of that can be attributed to the weak group surrounding him, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings have to upgrade the talent around him. Middle linebacker was a big need for the team last year too, and many expected the Vikings to draft Manti Te'o.

There are three likely targets in the first round: CJ Mosley, Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr. Any of the three would be a great addition, but there should also be some quality options in the second round. One way or another the Vikings are going to address this need in the offseason.

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2. Corner

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The secondary was atrocious last year. The only bright spot was Rhodes, who came on strong near the end of the season. If the Vikings don’t address the position in free agency they could look to one of the top corners in this year’s draft to team with Rhodes and form one of the top young pairs in the league. Top prospects Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard should be available.

Corner is another deep position in this year’s draft, and even if the Vikings make a signing in free agency, they could draft another in the second or third round. In this pass-heavy NFL you can never have too many corners, and a move like that could turn a weakness into a potential strength.

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1. Quarterback

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The most obvious need for the Vikings. The Christian Ponder pick didn’t work out for them, and now they are in need of a long-term answer at the position. The top three players are Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. It’s possible none of those players will be available for the Vikings, but there will be options in the later rounds.

The Vikings have stressed a desire to find a prospect in the draft, so expect a quarterback to be taken in either the first or second round.