May 5, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Review & Season Outlook: Minnesota Vikings

#28 Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings

*Click on a team's logo to go to their draft recap and season outlook page. A few will be posted each day in alphabetical order.

Minnesota Vikings
Division: NFC North | Last Season Record: 10-6

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: Is Christian Ponder the answer at quarterback? He struggled down the stretch last year, but he needs more weapons, which is what the Vikings need to look for early in the draft.

Besides offensive line depth, the rest of their needs are on defense. They need a defensive tackle to pair with Kevin Williams, a middle linebacker, and a corner to replace Antoine Winfield. They could also use a pass rusher.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Round 1

23. Sharrif Floyd, DT
Experience: Junior | School: Florida
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 298 lbs.

Analysis: You have to love value picks. Sharrif Floyd was too good to pass on here. He's the best 3 technique in this draft, and the Vikings needed to upgrade at defensive tackle. Well done.

Grade: A+

25. Xavier Rhodes*, CB
Experience: Junior | School: Florida State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 207 lbs.

Analysis: Xavier Rhodes gives the Vikings a true number one corner. I was surprised that they did not select Manti Te'o, but Rhodes is the big, physical corner they need to match up with receivers like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall in that division.

Grade: A+

29. Cordarrelle Patterson*, WR
Experience: Junior | School: Tennessee
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 217 lbs.

Analysis: I loved this pick. Cordarrelle Patterson is a play maker, and has a very high ceiling. With both Patterson and Jennings on the outside, this offensive becomes that much better. The Vikings gave up too much in my opinion (a 2nd, 3rd, and a 4th round pick), but Patterson is a very nice pick for them regardless.

Grade: A-

Round 4

120. Gerald Hodges, OLB
Experience: Senior | School: Penn State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 233 lbs.

Analysis: Very good pick for Minnesota. Hodges easily fits this range and should become the starter at the strongside linebacker spot with Erin Henderson moving to middle linebacker.

Grade: A

Round 5

155. Jeff Locke, P
Experience: Senior | School: UCLA
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 209 lbs.

Analysis: They didn't need to draft a punter, and before the 7th round? Really don't like this pick. Other than this choice, the vikings have had a strong draft.

Grade: D

Round 6

196. Jeff Baca, OG
Experience: Senior | School: UCLA
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 302 lbs.

Analysis: Nice late-round pick here. Jeff Baca is a 6th round prospect and could compete for a starting job in the near future. He gives them immediate guard depth.

Grade: B+

Round 7

213. Michael Mauti, MLB
Experience: Senior | School: Penn State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 240 lbs.

Analysis: They may have found their starting middle linebacker in the 7th round. His injury history is what pushed him down this far, but he is a Day 2 talent when he can stay on the field.

Grade: A-

214. Travis Bond, OG
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 329 lbs.

Analysis: No problem with this pick. They can use another guard. Travis Bond was worth a 7th round pick IMO.

Grade: B-

229. Everett Dawkins, DT
Experience: Senior | School: Florida State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 292 lbs.

Analysis: Whenever a mid-round pick falls to the 7th round and fills a need, it deserves an A+. Dawkins has some upside as an interior pass rusher, and was a solid defensive tackle for Florida State.

Grade: A+

2013 NFL Draft Overall Review:

Analysis: The Vikings may have had the best draft without even picking on Day 2. They got the best 3 technique defensive tackle (Sharrif Floyd), the second best corner (Xavier Rhodes), and the top ranked receiver (Cordarrelle Patterson), all in round one.

They also got two future starting linebackers in the Penn State duo of Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. Both were good value picks on Day 3. Everett Dawkins in the 7th round was also great. Drafting a punter in the 5th round is the only thing I didn't like, but I pretty much loved all of their other picks.

Overall Grade: A-

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Marquis Jackson, DE
Experience: Senior | School: Portland State
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 260 lbs.

Analysis: Marquis Jackson was a late round sleeper out of Portland State. He could be a guy to watch out for in the future if he makes the roster.

Other Free Agent Signings

Colin Anderson, TE, Furman
Brandon Bishop, S, North Carolina State
Joe Bonadies, OL, Pennsylvania
Duron Carter, WR, Florida Atlantic
Nicholas Edwards, WR, Eastern Washington
Darius Eubanks, FS, Georgia Southern
Erik Highsmith, WR, North Carolina
Zach Line, FB, SMU
Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State
Rayon Simmons, RB, Winona State
Rodney Smith, WR, Florida State
Collins Ukwu, DE, Kentucky
James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa
Camden Wentz, C, North Carolina State
Jeroldis Williams, RB, Furman
Nathan Williams, DE/OLB, Ohio State

2013 Season Outlook:

Analysis: The Vikings have improved their roster, but the NFC is so tough this year that they could actually miss the playoffs.

There is a reason why Adrian Peterson carried the ball so much, besides being the best running back in the game. While the running game was so successful, their passing offense was lacking.

Christian Ponder could prove that he is a franchise quarterback with weapons like Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, and Cordarrelle Patterson around him. Or he could flop and be the reason why this team struggles.

Jared Allen, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen combined for 28 sacks last season, and Defensive Tackle Kevin Williams had another great season. All are in contract years, but add Sharrif Floyd to the mix and this is one of the best pass rushing teams in the league.

Having an excellent pass rush really helps when you have young corners. Xavier Rhodes will have an easier time making the transition to the NFL, and both he and Chris Cook should fair well this season. They also have a future Pro Bowl safety in Harrison Smith who is almost sure to make plays.

The Vikings have a hole at middle linebacker, unless Erin Henderson can step in and play well. They have a young group of linebackers overall, but there is some promise.

2013 Season Projection:

Analysis: Minnesota is currently picking 8th overall in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft. They chose 23rd in this year's draft. How can a team that improved pick in the top 10 in my mock draft? Well, for one thing, the NFC is tough. If that's not enough, both the Bears and Packers improved. Plus, I have serious questions about Christian Ponder.

Projected Record: 7-9 (Worst Case) | 9-7 (Best Case)

Projected Finish: 3rd in the NFC North; Result: Miss the Playoffs