When the Vikings' team needs were discussed more than a month ago at the start of the free agency, several categories were mentioned. A veteran quarterback was needed, at least one or two wide receivers, a pass rushing defensive end, help on the right side of the offensive line, depth in the secondary, etc.
To date, the Vikings have done little to address any of those needs, leaving fans to wonder how they can address so many perceived weaknesses in the draft.
The biggest wild card may be yet to come, especially if touted wide receiver Calvin Johnson makes it into the top three of the draft. If that happens, the Vikings may find themselves facing the dilemma of actually going for the best athlete on the board, who could well be running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson has a couple of things going against him at the top of the draft. All three of the top teams in the first round -- the Raiders, Lions and Browns -- could make a case to grab a quarterback of the top two available early (JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn). Throw in "can't miss" offensive tackle Joe Thomas and it is easily conceivable that Peterson could make it past Cleveland at No. 3. If that happens, his slide could take him right to the Vikings.
If Peterson is on the board after the third pick, it would be hard for the teams currently sitting in between the Vikings and their pick to justify spending the tens of millions it would require to sign Peterson. The Buccaneers used a top-five pick two years ago to take Cadillac Williams. The Cardinals gave Edgerrin James more than $12 million in guaranteed money just last year to be their running back. And the Redskins not only invested a ton of cash, but traded All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey in order to get Clinton Portis. It's hard to imagine any of those three teams that have invested so much in acquiring running backs would pay the demands a pick at Nos. 4-6 would be due on his first contract.
While some could argue that the Vikings might pass on Peterson too, it's a harder sell considering how much Brad Childress and Rick Spielman value players with special abilities. There's no questioning Peterson's skills. Despite losing time to injuries -- none of which are deemed serious structural injuries to a knee or foot -- he rushed for more than 4,300 in three years, scored 41 touchdowns and averaged almost six yards a carry.
Add that to the fact that the four teams that made it to the conference championship games all had running back tandems, in a copycat league like the NFL, that sounds a blaring horn that teams take notice. If it worked for someone else, why not us?
While it still may be a longshot that Peterson lasts down to the Vikings at No. 7, if he makes it past Cleveland, the odds of him staying on the board if no trades are made have to be in the 50-50 or better range. At that point, the Vikings will have to make the decision. They've invested in an offensive line to make the running game more of a threat. They've refused to get a veteran quarterback. And Chester Taylor wore down as the season went along. The Vikings have rarely taken a running back in the first round -- much less this high in the draft -- but if the draft shakes out right, you may see the best college running back since Chuck Foreman come to the Vikings and make a big difference in how its offense operates.
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