Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Secondary is a primary need for the Vikings

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 8, 2014 - 7:53 AM

In the days and weeks leading up to the draft, our big three here at Access Vikings have covered just about everything there is to cover as the Vikings head into the 2014 NFL draft.

We looked back on last year’s wild first round and looked forward to how Mike Zimmer will fit in.

If you like mocking, we had our mock draft, your mock draft and a roundup of notable mock drafts.

We wrote about linebackers. We wrote about running backs. We wrote about quarterbacks. A lot about quarterbacks, actually, as evidenced by this. And this. And this. And this. And this.

We laid out the team’s current roster, their needs and threw out 10 players they could target.

But the one thing we haven’t really covered in depth is, well, the guys who cover for a living. That lack of attention does not mean that the secondary is an area that Vikings will not address.

The Vikings drafted Xavier Rhodes in the first round last year and signed cornerback Captain Munnerlyn away from the Panthers and took a flier on veteran Derek Cox this offseason. But in today’s NFL, you need at least three starting-quality cornerbacks considering that offenses used at least three wide receivers on more than half of the plays last season.

And while the Vikings have a crowded group of safeties, including two-year starter Jamarca Sanford, they may look to find a playmaking young safety to pair with free safety Harrison Smith.

“You can never have enough corners and enough cover guys on the back end because of the way the league is evolving,” general manager Rick Spielman said a couple of days ago.

No team allowed more passing touchdowns last season than the Vikings, who were victimized for 37. Only the Eagles surrendered most passing yards. And quarterbacks had a 98.6 passer rating against the Vikings. Now, not all of that falls on the defensive backs. The linebackers are asked to cover, too, and the pass rush factors in. But yeah, pass defense was a major issue.

So what options could be available to the Vikings in the first couple rounds of the draft?

At pick No. 8, they could have their pick of the top cornerbacks, who include Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Ohio State’s Bradley Roby and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller. TCU’s Jason Verrett could also crack the first round, and Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner and Lindenwood's Pierre Desir are considered Day Two prospects.

At the safety spot, Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor are the two consensus first-round prospects. There is second-day buzz over Washington State's Deone Bucannon, Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward and Minnesota's Brock Vereen. The Vikings have been linked to all three of those players during the buildup to this weekend’s draft.

Everyone has been asking me for a Vikings draft prediction. Well, here’s one: The Vikings will draft at least one defensive back, and probably two, and maybe one as early as No. 8 overall.

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