Well, I can’t let Rosenthal and Silva have all the fun. This weekend, I’ll be cranking out the draft needs for the teams of the NFC North. Starting with a team that could be heading to the NFC West if it doesn’t get a new stadium soon.
QB: The Vikings need a quarterback around whom they can build a team. Daunte Culpepper was that guy from 2000 through 2005, until he knee was blown out in a game at Carolina. Tarvaris Jackson was supposed to be that guy as of 2006, but he couldn’t hold off Gus Frerotte and, ultimately, Brett Favre. Operating out of the 12th spot in round one, the Vikings are too low to get Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert. They’re likely sitting too high to justify using the pick on any of the next tier of quarterbacks. Trading down to get a quarterback and also picking up a third-rounder to replenish the pick wasted on Randy Moss would make plenty of sense. If they think they can still get the guy they want from a lower position.
WR: Though highly talented, Percy Harvin continues to struggle with migraines and Sidney Rice seems to be intent on leaving for greener pastures, literally and figuratively. Bernard Berrian has been a disappointment and the rest of the depth chart contains no one who can help make much of a difference. The good news? If they don’t draft a good receiver, they can always try to sign Randy Moss as a free agent.
DT: Pat Williams plans to leave and Kevin Williams, 30, is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Jimmy Kennedy has been a pleasant surprise, but he’s no spring chicken, either. With plenty of other needs, however, the Vikings may have to stand pat — and hope that guys like Fred Evans and Letroy Guion can fill a role in the rotation, especially with Jared Allen and the underrated Brian Robison attracting plenty of attention from the end position.
CB: Cedric Griffin can’t stay healthy, and Antoine Winfield turns 34 in June. Chris Cook had durability issues as a rookie and Asher Allen has been inconsistent. It could make more sense to use free agency to upgrade the position, since the Vikings haven’t really reeled in many quality corners over the years via the pool of incoming players.
S: Neither the draft nor free agency have been kind to the Vikings in recent years, with Madieu Williams, Tyrell Johnson, and Jamarca Sanford not providing the kind of solid, consistent performance that a Tampa Two defense requires.
OL: The left side of the line has been a strength in recent years, but Steve Hutchinson turns 34 this year, and Bryant McKinnie will be 32. Center John Sullivan has played well at times, but he’s no Matt Birk. The right side of the line has been inconsistent, but the team still hold out hope that Phil Loadholt can become a solid presence at right tackle.
Overview: Still regarded by many as having a nucleus to contend, the Vikings finished last in the NFC North. And that nucleus is aging. The Brett Favre experiment delivered an exciting 2009 season and nearly a Super Bowl appearance, but the franchise now must pay the price for going all in with a signal-caller on the wrong side of 40. Absent a quarterback who can keep defenses honest, the offense will consist of riding Adrian Peterson until he shatters and playing the kind of defense that will create field position and points.
With the Packers still ascending and the Bears capable of competing and the Lions finally on the rise, the Vikings arguably need much more help than any one draft can yield.