ADVERTISEMENT

Chart: Vikings needs by position

  • May 7, 2014 - 12:24 AM

The talk around town has been dominated by quarterbacks, but the Vikings have other needs to address so new coach Mike Zimmer can turn this ship around. He and General Manager Rick Spielman have eight draft picks to work with, including two third-rounders. Which positions will they prioritize? Here’s our best guess:

QUARTERBACKS

Level of need * High

The Vikings brought back Matt Cassel, which they say gives them the ability to pass on a signal-caller with the No. 8 pick. But at some point, presumably sooner than later, they will draft a quarterback for the future, toss him a clipboard and let him watch Cassel for a while.

RUNNING BACKS:

Level of need * Moderate

Adrian Peterson is 29 and human — no machine parts were found during his latest offseason surgery — and Toby Gerhart left in free agency. Peterson can’t carry the ball every time, so the Vikings, who have checked out college backs, need someone to give him a breather.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Level of need * Low

Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, who electrified in a limited role as a rookie, are penciled in as the starting wideouts. Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson provide depth. But this draft is said to be stacked with talented receivers, so don’t be surprised by a luxury pick at WR.

TIGHT ENDS

Level of need * Moderate

Kyle Rudolph is healthy and a year removed from the Pro Bowl. He is also a year away from free agency and his backup, John Carlson, was not re-signed. How they feel about Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford could determine if they spend one of their eight picks on a tight tend.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Level of need * Moderate

Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt are one of the NFL’s better tackle duos and C John Sullivan is solid. The guard spots are less certain. They have options in Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Jeff Baca and Vlad Ducasse, but they could look to add another to the mix or draft a swing tackle.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Level of need * Moderate

The Vikings will have three new starters (DE Everson Griffen, DT Sharrif Floyd and NT Linval Joseph) on their front four and new DE Corey Wootten provides depth. But Zimmer likes to rotate on the D-line, and there will be intriguing options to choose from deep in the draft.

LINEBACKERS

Level of need * High

OLB Chad Greenway is the only sure bet to start. Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole, Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and others are battling for the other two spots. One or two of those linebackers might emerge, but the Vikings could use a top-end talent infused into this group.

CORNERBACKS

Level of need * High

The Vikings did well in adding Captain Munnerlyn, who can play outside or in the slot, to pair with 2013 first-rounder Xavier Rhodes. But in today’s NFL, you need at least three starting-caliber corners. They might not trust Josh Robinson or Derek Cox to be that third guy.

SAFETIES

Level of need * Moderate

One spot is set with FS Harrison Smith. But while SS Jamarca Sanford has started the past two seasons, there could be an open competition at the spot. Kurt Coleman, Andrew Sendejo and Robert Blanton will be in the battle, but there could be room for one more.

SPECIALISTS

Level of need * Low

The Vikings drafted a kicker in 2012 and a punter in 2013, so don’t count on them making it three in a row. Blair Walsh is one of the NFL’s best young kickers and P Jeff Locke had a decent rookie year. And they are set at the returner spots with Patterson and Marcus Sherels.

MATT VENSEL

© 2014 Star Tribune