With less than two weeks until the draft, questions remain about what positions the Vikings will address and, perhaps more importantly in what order when they get on the clock.
Although the spiel for Spielman & Co. won't be giving away any trade secrets, it is becoming clear through the inactivity in free agency that the Vikings' draft needs are falling into place. When it comes to the draft as a whole, there is confidence in the war room that every choice will be one of filling a need with commensurate talent. They may need a cornerback, but the lay of the land may require them to go elsewhere.
In what order they take players to address needs is yet to be determined. The positions that need addressing are already known. From this vantage point, they come in this order:
CORNERBACK — The uncertainty about the health of Cedric Griffin and the need to find an eventual replacement for Antoine Winfield make this a vital need. Veterans can be found with free agents just about every year, but the commitment to a young player could be the difference between winning and losing in 2010.
GUARD — With the free-agent loss of Artis Hicks, as it currently stands, the only two guards on the Vikings roster are starters Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera. Having made no public effort to find a veteran replacement for the role Hicks filled so ably, the draft may be the solution to the depth problem if Ryan Cook isn't ready to back up all five positions.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES — Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are both Pro Bowl-caliber players, but Big Pat may be entering his final season, Big Kev is entering his eighth season and the pounding his body has taken is starting to take a toll. Factor in the uncertainty of how their legal battle with the NFL will go and both could be gone for the first four games of the 2010 season.
RUNNING BACK — Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL and will either have to be the entire show in the backfield or help will need to come through the draft. The Vikings did little in the initial free-agent period, but one thing they did was wine and dine LaDainian Tomlinson – a clear indication the team understands the gravity of losing Chester Taylor to free agency. With Albert Young as the No. 2 guy and Darius Reynaud being shifted to the position, it's clear that there is room to add a talent if one falls to a slot the Vikings deem worthy of selection.
SAFETY — The Vikings have invested heavily in the position, signing Madieu Williams in free agency and using their only pick in the first three rounds of the 2008 draft to take Tyrell Johnson. Both are servicable players, but neither is the kind of difference-making playmaker that top defenses had. Not every team has an Ed Reed or a Troy Polamalu, but with the pressure the Vikings defensive front can generate, the safety position should have more big plays than it did in 2009.
The Vikings will be in a wait-and-see for most if not all of the "prime time" Thursday coverage coming April 22, so who is gone off their draft board and who remains will be subject to many different factors. That's the curse of drafting 30th. You have no clue who will slide down to you and who will be gone. But, it will be hard not to find a player at one of these five spots that doesn't go to the Vikings in the first round. Considering that it is unlikely the team will take a running back in the first round, that list can be logically pared to four positions. The name has yet to be called, but we probably have a pretty good idea of what pool of candidates the team will be looking at.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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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