Offseason review: Minnesota Vikings

BY foxsports • May 17, 2011

Pre-draft needs

QB, DT, DE, WR, SLB, C, G, SS, K

Draft class

Round 1: Christian Ponder, QB
Round 2: Kyle Rudolph, TE
Round 4: Christian Ballard, DT
Round 5: Brandon Burton, CB
Round 6: Demarcus Love, G
Round 6: Mistral Raymond, S
Round 6: Brandon Fusco, C
Round 6: Ross Homan, LB
Round 7: D’Aundre Reed, DE
Round 7: Stephen Burton, WR

Potential free agents of note

Tarvaris Jackson, QB
Naufahu Tahi, FB
Sidney Rice, WR
Ryan Cook, C/OT
Ryan Longwell, K
Pat Williams, DT
Ray Edwards, DE
Ben Leber, SLB
Husain Abdullah, S
Lito Sheppard, CB

Post-draft needs

QB (veteran), DT, WR, SLB, DE (depth), C (veteran), G, SS, K

Analysis

The Vikings had plenty of needs on offense and defense coming into the draft. With 10 selections, they addressed several issues, but many still remain.

It’s unlikely that first-round pick Christian Ponder will be ready to start early on, so it’s imperative that the team signs a veteran quarterback who’s capable of starting this season. Wide receiver could potentially be a huge need should the team be unable to re-sign veteran Sidney Rice, who could be an unrestricted free agent depending on the rules for free agency. Even if Rice re-signs, depth would still be an issue at the position.

While tight end wasn’t a need, the value with Kyle Rudolph made sense where they picked him in the second round. With new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave expected to use a lot of two tight end sets, Rudolph could see a lot of playing time as a rookie. And with veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe’s contract expiring after the 2011 season, Rudolph could be seen as his potential replacement in the starting lineup.

But perhaps the biggest issue going forward remains on the offensive line. The Vikings have one of the most unathletic lines in the NFL especially on the interior, but that area wasn’t addressed until the sixth round with center Brandon Fusco, who could challenge starter John Sullivan down the line.

The Vikings might have gotten a steal with offensive tackle DeMarcus Love in the sixth round. He had a much higher draft grade from several teams, so he could have enough upside to eventually challenge incumbent starter Bryant McKinnie at left tackle in a few years. Poor performances during Senior Bowl practices pushed him down a bit in the draft.

The defense has depth issues at several positions, but no greater than on the line. With veteran nose tackle Pat Williams unsigned and turning 39 this fall, the Vikings must find a way to replace him. Third-round pick Christian Ballard might be nice value as a fourth-round pick, but he’s really not a fit for Williams’ position. Ballard’s versatility could allow him to also see time at end.

The Vikings did not attempt to re-sign starting strongside linebacker Ben Leber before free agency, so they might have to look outside the roster to replace him since they don’t have a viable candidate to replace him within the current roster.



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