From 3-13 to 10-6, the Vikings had several specific needs to stay closer to their performance in 2012. If they failed to fill those needs, it’s not for lack of trying. He’s a look at what they did.
What they needed: Linebacker, receiver, quarterback, guard, defensive tackle, cornerback.
Who they got:
Round 1: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida.
Round 1: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State.
Round 1: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee.
Round 4: Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn State.
Round 5: Jeff Locke, P, UCLA.
Round 6: Jeff Baca, G, UCLA.
Round 7: Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn State.
Round 7: Travis Bond, G, North Carolina.
Round 7: Everett Dawkins, DT, Florida State.
Where they hit: Floyd slid into their laps, and they were ready. The Vikings brought him in for a visit, even though it was believed to be highly unlikely that he’d be available at No. 23. Now, they have a guy who can help the front four become dominant once again. Rhodes became a safe and predictable needs-based pick two spots later, and the dice-roll came four positions after that, when the Vikings went all in for Patterson, a pass-catcher who is regarded as a project with ultra-high potential.
Where they missed: When the Vikings traded back into round one with the Patriots, many assumed they’d be taking a middle linebacker, like Manti Te’o. They opted to apply a longer-term vision, hopeful of finding help at linebacker elsewhere. Going with the linebacker could have paid quicker dividends.
Impact rookies: Floyd and Rhodes step right into the starting lineup on defense. Patterson’s primary impact as a rookie would come as a return specialist. Locke will help a largely ball-control offense win the field position battle.
Long-term prospects: The defense continues to improve under coach Leslie Frazier, and the running game continues to be the team’s major strength. The question is whether the passing game can develop, and the presence of Patterson, Greg Jennings, and Kyle Rudolph puts ample pressure on quarterback Christian Ponder. If he can’t respond, we’ll be writing next year about the quarterback the Vikings acquired via free agency, trade, or the draft to get them to the next level.