The Vikings are at the point where they are evaluating their young talent for next season to see how the players hold up and how hard they play in the midst of a painful losing streak.
The results have been fairly mixed, at best.
QB Christian Ponder seems to have taken steps backward in his development.
TE Kyle Rudolph doesn't get many opportunities (and perhaps doesn't create enough either), but he flashes some ability here and there.
CB Marcus Sherels appears to have a future as a corner and return man, but can he hold up physically?
This week, we added another name to the list. CB Brandon Burton received his most defensive snaps of the season in the loss to the Saints. The coverage by the entire secondary was horrid, but Burton was hardly the one we can point fingers angrily at. He gave up a few first-down receptions and appeared a little timid but could develop into a semi-useful player.
The rookie who has done surprisingly little has been fourth-round DT Christian Ballard. The team likes his athleticism, but he clearly is not developed enough as a player. His technique is squishy, his effort waxes and wanes and too often Ballard is invisible when he's getting snaps. He turned in another quiet game against the Saints with one assisted tackle.
With the defensive line due for an overhaul, Ballard will remain in the mix, but he hardly has impressed in his first season with a chance to get a head start toward 2012.