Overview: The Vikings appear to be in the draft’s pole position, so to speak, with picks one and two all but signed, sealed and delivered. We know Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be first and second, so now that leaves the Vikings at No. 3. They have several needs to fill and easily could stay there and choose a talented player. But league sources have indicated that the Vikings might be very interested in moving down and collecting more picks. With the continued buzz of a few players, the market could develop. The team has two compensatory picks in Round Four, and after all is said and done, it once more could land another big class, a year after drafting 12 players and seeing most of them contribute in some form as rookies.
Need No. 1: Offensive left tackle
The OLT spot is the biggest single need. This is a power run team that was badly overmatched with underpowered Charlie Johnson manning the position a year ago. And protecting QB Christian Ponder has to be the priority. There is no single player on the roster who can fill this void with any sense of comfort right now, and the coaches know it. Turning back to Johnson, except for in an injury situation, just isn’t a realistic option, as hard as he competed last season. He’ll be best as a guard or swing tackle. Even money says the Vikings will come out of this draft with their starter at left tackle — whether it’s with the third pick or perhaps a bit lower on if they can make a trade.
Need No. 2: Wide receiver
We’ll give the slight edge to receiver as, like the left tackle theory, you have to protect your investment in Ponder and give him as much help as you possibly can. Percy Harvin can do his thing in the slot if he’s healthy, and the team appears to have a good thing going at tight end with Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. But outside of that, who is Ponder throwing to? Michael Jenkins is solid and wholly unspectacular. Devin Aromashodu is talented but highly unreliable. What they need is an outside-the-numbers burner at split end who can tilt the field, take the eighth man out of the box and give Ponder a home-run hitter.
Need No. 3: Cornerback
Cornerback is less of an individual need in the sense that the team’s cover-2 scheme, the theory goes, can cover up some talent deficiencies. Only problem: That didn’t work out so well last season. Antoine Winfield is great, but he turns 35 in June and is coming off an injury. Cedric Griffin is gone, and though Chris Cook has excellent potential and has been cleared of any legal wrongdoings, he still can’t be considered the most accountable player on the roster. More is needed — the team seeks tough, physical zone corners who can reroute receivers and play disciplined in space. However, if the chance to draft an elite talent came up — say, LSU’s Morris Claiborne — the temptation might be too great to pass up.