With slightly more than a month to go until the 2009 NFL draft, teams are preparing and stacking their draft boards to match the talent available with their team needs. For the Vikings, that means a lot of sitting and waiting, barring a trade to move up in the first round (very unlikely given the value the Vikings put on draft picks in the top four rounds).
Perhaps history can give us an answer to how the Vikings will make their top pick. If the Brad Childress/Rick Spielman era has taught us anything, it's that position is not the top priority. When the Vikings took Adrian Peterson, they didn't have a need at running back as much as they did on the offensive and defensive lines and at wide receiver. Last year, they addressed safety in free agency – adding Madieu Williams to play alongside Darren Sharper – but still used their only pick in the first three rounds to take safety Tyrell Johnson.
So where will they be leaning? Here's a quick positional breakdown to let you know the odds;
QUARTERBACK – The Vikings have only taken a QB in the first round twice – Tommy Kramer in 1977 and Daunte Culpepper in 1999. By that logic, they won't do it again until 2011.
RUNNING BACK – Adrian Peterson was the last RB since Michael Bennett to be taken in the first round, so that would seem to be the least likely of positions, but, having gotten rid of Mewelde Moore and Maurice Hicks over the last 14 months, a late-round pickup is a distinct possibility.
WIDE RECEIVER – The Vikings have taken a wide receiver in the first round just twice in the last 40 years. Randy Moss proved to be a game-changer. Troy Williamson was a bust. This position is a possibility with a strong class.
TIGHT END – The Vikings have never taken a tight end in the first round and this year should be no different.
OFFENSIVE LINE – Typically you don't see too many guards or centers go off in the first round. The Vikings have never taken a center with their first pick and the last time they took a guard was 21 years ago with Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel. Offensive tackle is another story. In 2002 the team took Bryant McKinnie. In 1995 they took Korey Stringer. The year before that, they took Todd Steussie. If the numbers hold true, this could be the spot to watch as the draft unfolds because the team's history is to restock that position every seven to eight years and McKinnie's number on that count is about up.
DEFENSIVE LINE – This position has been addressed more than any other on the team. I count Jared Allen as a first-round pick last year because the team gave up its premium pick to get him. In 2005, the team took Erasmus James. In 2004, they grabbed Kenechi Udeze. The year before that, they took Kevin Williams. In 2000, they took Chris Hovan. Those are pretty daunting numbers – five first-rounders dedicated to the D-line in nine years. It may be too much to expect them to go to that well again.
LINEBACKER – The Vikings used their top pick in 2006 to take Chad Greenway and seem satisfied with him, E.J. Henderson and Ben Leber as their starters. Unless someone really blows them away in a private workout, it isn't too likely they will go after this spot in the first round.
SECONDARY – The Vikings used their top pick in last year's draft to take Johnson in the second round, but haven't used a first-round pick on a defensive back since taking Dewayne Washington in 1994. That 15-year drought may well end this year.
For those of you scoring at home, the early returns would rate the top three most likely positions to be used with the first-round pick as offensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver. With 21 picks coming off the board before the Vikings are on the clock, a lot of things can happen, but don't be surprised to see the Vikings' first pick comes from one of these three positions – even if they continue to employ the "best athlete available" approach.
Vikings draft odds vs. history
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