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 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.


Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland - LP: J. Lester 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 4
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 3
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 8 FINAL
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 3
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 7:30 AM
Troy 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Western Mich 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Marshall 2:30 PM
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85





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