Minnesota Vikings to focus on o-line, defense for draft

The NFL draft is a week away and the Minnesota Vikings have big gaps to fill on both sides of the football if they want to get back into playoff contention once again.

Round one of the NFL draft begins Thursday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET and teams are finalizing their draft boards in preparation for the big night. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, Minnesota lacks a first round draft pick as a result of last year’s trade that brought quarterback Sam Bradford over from the Philadelphia Eagles. But, they do have a number of third and fourth round draft picks in a draft that is widely seen by NFL analysts as one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

If there is any position, or phase of offense that the Vikings are in desperate need of, it’s at the offensive line position. Minnesota’s front-line became scarce after a litany of injuries and other problems that reared their ugly heads during the course of last season. With left tackle Matt Kalil leaving via free agency to join his brother Ryan Kalil on the Carolina Panthers, the offensive line has to be priority number one for Minnesota.

The Vikings did however acquire two offensive tackles from free agency. Tackles Riley Reiff from the Detroit Lions and Carolina’s Mike Remmers were brought in to help strengthen a depleted line, but quality depth on the offensive-line is still a major concern for a team that struggled to keep many healthy during the season. Minnesota’s first pick will come in the second round at the 48 overall spot, barring any trades to move up to an earlier pick.

If the Vikings do go with a lineman at the 48th pick, it will more than likely be offensive guard Dan Feeney out of the University of Indiana, who is projected as the first lineman to be taken in the second round by SB Nation’s Dan Kadar. Feeney is viewed as the second-best offensive guard at his position and the 53 overall player on cbssports.com’s draft prospects.

Assuming Minnesota goes with Feeney at the 48th pick, they still have two third-round and fourth-round picks to go with other positions of need. Behind their primary focus of offensive line help, the Vikings will have to look towards the defensive side of the ball, specifically at the cornerback positions and potentially defensive tackle. Even though cornerback Xavier Rhodes established himself as a top-end corner this past season, the loss of savvy veterans like Captain Munnerlyn and Terrance Newman, have drastically weakened the depth of the Vikings’ cornerback stable.

Luckily for Minnesota, this is one of the deeper cornerback classes; so don’t be surprised if they take a corner with one of their two third-round picks. The Vikings will have a lot of options in the deeper rounds and with the abundance of corners in this year’s draft, Minnesota will look to grab one that could potentially fall to them at the 79 or 86 pick. With 15 cornerbacks in the top 100 projected picks, the Vikings will have the pick-of-the-litter when their name is called to select in the third round.

Minnesota may not have a first round pick, but if there were any draft to stockpile mid to late-round draft picks, it’s this one. Even without a first-round draft pick, the Vikings have six picks within the first five rounds, and four picks between the third and fourth round combined. The hope is that they can make a splash on either side of the ball with one of their many picks, just don’t be surprised if it’s another addition to head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.

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