Mayock: Draft fits Vikings' needs nicely

The way respected NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock sees it, the Vikings' needs match well with where the draft is deepest. Good thing, since the team's desires in free agency could be short-circuited with the lack of a CBA extension and the team's success in the playoffs.

The Vikings' personnel needs match up well with the some of the deepest positions in the draft, according to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.

In a conference call Tuesday, Mayock said the 2010 draft is probably the deepest defensive draft in eight years, especially at defensive tackle and cornerback.

"If you need a DT, a corner or a safety, you can get a quality player deep in the third, fourth, fifth round," Mayock said.

He listed cornerback and safety as two of the Vikings' top three needs.

The Vikings have their two starting cornerbacks coming off of injury. Antoine Winfield missed six consecutive games during the regular season with a fractured foot and then tried to play through the pain in the final four games and into the playoffs, and Cedric Griffin tore his anterior cruciate ligament in overtime of the NFC Championship Game.

"The (Vikings') defensive backfield to me can take some upgrading, especially since I love Winfield and he's getting older, he got hurt. The other corner, Cedric Griffin, got hurt," Mayock said.

The draft guru has Florida's Joe Haden as his top cornerback and one that will be gone well before the Vikings pick at No. 30. However, some of the other cornerbacks in Mayock's top five at the position – Boise State's Kyle Wilson, Rutgers' Devin McCourty and Florida State's Patrick Robnson – could be available.

Mayock is used to bucking conventional groupthink draftniks, and this year one of his against-the-grain predictions is that
Earl Thomas will be a better safety than Tennessee's Eric Berry. Berry is projected by many to be a top-five pick, but Mayock lists Thomas as a player that the Vikings could consider with their first-round pick.

"The (Vikings') safety position I think has upgraded itself a little bit athletically. I think you've got to be looking at that back side of your defense and saying, ‘OK, where we're drafting happens to hit depth in this class.' You can have a really good safety or really good corner either late in the first or late in the second round," Mayock said. "So I think that's a real logical place for the Vikings.

"… The safety position, after Berry is gone, I happen to think Earl Thomas is even better and you guys probably haven't got my new list yet, but I think Earl Thomas, the safety from Texas, is the best safety in the draft. He won't go ahead of Berry, but I happen to think the kid is just an amazing playmaker suited for today's NFL. Taylor Mays from USC will probably be there. I don't think he's anywhere near as instinctive, but he's a big, strong, tough guy in the middle of the field. I think that's the biggest area of need."

Mayock also listed offensive tackle and a complementary tailback (assuming Chester Taylor is gone via free agency) as needs for the Vikings. He said four offensive tackles could go in the first nine picks, but after that the position gets much dicier with talent.

He also listed quarterback as one of the team's primary needs but, unlike other positions on defense, the quarterback class isn't full of answers.

Last week, Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said the team will be sending about 60 people to the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Thursday. It will be up to those coaches, scouts and support staff to help answer all the questions.

Note: and will have continuing in-depth coverage from the NFL Scouting Combine starting Thursday, with blogs, interviews and analysis all in one incredible spot for draft information overload. Remember to check back more than hourly for blog updates throughout the day and more in-depth stories throughout the evening.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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