Minnesota Vikings: Top 10 Prospects

Scout.com's Chris Steuber continues the top 10 prospects series and closes out the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings. In this series, an NFL prospect is classified as a player entering their third year in the NFL or under 25 years of age. Find out who the Vikings top 10 prospects are entering the 2010 season.

Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-4
202
4
23

It took a couple of years, but with Brett Favre leading the way for the Minnesota Vikings during the 2009 season, Sidney Rice developed into one of the NFL's elite wide receivers. After a rookie season full of promise and a second year where he regressed, Rice elevated his game to another level in his third season catching 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. For his efforts, he was selected to his first Pro Bowl. At just 23 years of age (he turns 24 on September 1st), Rice, even though he had a breakout year in '09, still qualifies as a prospect in this series. Entering his fourth season as the Vikings No. 1 wide receiver, it will be interesting to see if he picks up where he left off last year this season, and still possesses that strong chemistry with No. 4.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 2nd Round (2007).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
5-11
184
2
22

When the Vikings selected Percy Harvin in the first round of the '09 draft, many questioned the selection, due to character concerns and his injury history. But, there was no denying the talent he possessed, and he immediately made his presence felt on the field. Despite suffering from a series of migraine headaches, Harvin, who won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, played in 15 games, starting eight of them last year, and hauled in 60 passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns. He also made an impact on special teams by returning two kickoffs for a touchdown. Just like Rice, Harvin made his first Pro Bowl last season and will be expected to continue his ascension this season.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 1st Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
OT
6-8
343
2
24

After seeing that Ryan Cook wasn't the answer at right tackle during the 2008 season, the Vikings knew that they had to upgrade that position going into '09, and they did so with the selection of Phil Loadholt. As a rookie, Loadholt started 15 games and played well, allowing just four sacks. It appears that the Vikings found their answer on the right side of the line, and with Bryant McKinnie holding down the left side, the Twin Cities have a mammoth pair of bookends.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 2nd Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
6-2
212
R
23

With injury concerns and depth issues at cornerback, the Vikings used their first pick in the '10 draft to upgrade their situation. The selection of Chris Cook gives the Vikings a tall CB, who fits their Cover-2 scheme perfectly. Cook didn’t play during the 2008 season, because he was academically ineligible. But, he bounced back and had a solid showing in '09. He played in all 12 games and recorded 40 tackles and four interceptions. There's a chance that Cook will open the year as a starter, as Cedric Griffin recovers from a torn ACL that he suffered last December.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 2nd Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
DE
6-3
273
R
22

It was a surprise to see Everson Griffen, who has first round talent, fall to the fourth round of the draft. He decided to leave USC following his junior season, his first year as a starter, after he recorded 45 tackles, 9.5 for a loss and eight sacks. Even though there were some questions about him, the athleticism and strength that he possesses are intriguing and he could end up being one of the steals of this year’s draft. Griffen will compete for a backup job this preseason and could become a significant situational defender this season.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 4th Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
RB
6-0
231
R
23

When Chester Taylor left Minnesota for Chicago during the offseason, that left a huge hole at running back behind Adrian Peterson. So, the Vikings turned to the draft to fill their need, and in the second round, they snagged Stanford's Toby Gerhart. Gerhart had a tremendous '09 season for the Cardinal, as he rushed for 1,871 yards on 343 carries and scored 28 touchdowns. He enters training camp as the No. 2 runner on the depth chart, and if he performs well during the preseason, he will likely earn 6 - 12 carries a game during the year.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 2nd Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
S
6-0
207
3
25

A second round pick in '08, Tyrell Johnson has been solid, but has yet to standout as a legitimate starting safety in the NFL. Johnson played in and started 15 games last season and recorded 57 tackles and an interception. It's likely that Johnson will begin the year as the starting strong safety, but Jamarca Sanford is highly regarded in the organization, and he could push Johnson for the starting job.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 2nd Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
C
6-4
301
3
24

After playing in all 16 games as a rookie, primarily on special teams, John Sullivan started all 16 games at center this past year for the Vikings. The departure of Matt Birk cleared the way for Sullivan to take over in the middle of the offensive line. In his first season as a starter, Sullivan struggled early on and relied on his guards too often for help inside. He got better towards the end of the year, but he still has to work on his positioning and hand placement. There were rumblings that the Vikings considered drafting a center this past April, but it appears that the front office will give Sullivan time to grow.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 6th Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
5-9
194
2
22

A small, but physical defender, who's an ideal fit as a nickel corner in the NFL, Asher Allen played well in 10 games last season and started one of them in place of the injured Antoine Winfield. He finished the year with 27 tackles, a sack and an interception. He will compete with Lito Sheppard this summer to be the Vikings nickel corner; Allen has the upper hand.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 3rd Round (2009).
Jamarca Sanford
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
S
5-10
200
2
24

A seventh round pick in '09, Jamarca Sanford showed promise as a rookie playing in 14 games. He started one of those games and finished the year with 29 tackles and a forced fumble. The Vikings front office and coaching staff liked what they saw from Sanford last year, and it's possible that he will push Johnson for the starting strong safety job this season.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 7th Round (2009).


For more on the Vikings, check out Viking Update.


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.


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