Published November 20, 2014
After tying a franchise record for losses in a season in 2011, the Vikings head into a very important draft with 10 total picks and several areas in need of an upgrade. Chief among them is the left side of the offensive line, where longtime anchor Steve Hutchinson's release creates a gaping hole at guard and tackle Charlie Johnson is coming off a rough year as young quarterback Christian Ponder's blind-side protector. With the third overall selection, Minnesota is in perfect position to take the best left tackle prospect of this class, Southern California's Matt Kalil, and kick Johnson inside, though general manager Rick Spielman has publicly acknowledged he's open to trading down if a team meets his asking price. Expect Spielman to also set his sights on a wide receiver early on to give Ponder another playmaker alongside top target Percy Harvin, whose injury history increases the importance of bolstering that position. On defense, the Vikings will be likely seeking some help at safety, a continual sore spot in recent years, and may bring in reinforcements at cornerback as well considering Antoine Winfield's age (35 in June) and fellow projected starter Chris Cook's off- field issues. Veteran E.J. Henderson's departure also makes middle linebacker a concern, though the team appears comfortable with the unproven Jasper Brinkley as a stand-in.
2011 Record: 3-13
Top Needs: S, OL, WR, MLB
First Three Picks: No. 3, No. 35, No. 66
Number of Selections: 10 (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7)
RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2011 - Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State); 2010 - none; 2009 - Percy Harvin (WR, Florida); 2008 - none; 2007 - Adrian Peterson (RB, Oklahoma); 2006 - Chad Greenway (LB, Iowa); 2005 - Troy Williamson (WR, South Carolina), Erasmus James (DE, Wisconsin); 2004 - Kenechi Udeze (DE, USC); 2003 - Kevin Williams (DT, Oklahoma State); 2002 - Bryant McKinnie (OT, Miami-Florida).