Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vikings' First Four Selections Clear

As the Minnesota Vikings put the finishing touches on their pre-draft big board, Vikings' Vice President of Player Personnel, Rick Spielman, already has a good idea which players the team will take with each of the team's first four picks in this weekend's draft. All that remains to be filled in are the names.

Given the Vikings' short-comings along the offensive line and in the nickel and dime defensive sets last year, the Vikings' first four picks ought to be, in rank order, right offensive tackle, cornerback, right offensive guard, and left offensive tackle. If a defensive tackle of merit remains on the board when the Vikings make their fourth pick, an argument could be supported for drafting that player over Bryant McKinnie's replacement--but it would have to be a good player and a very good argument.

The argument for the Vikings going heavy on offensive linemen in the 2009 draft is self-evident. With arguably the worst right side of an offensive line in the NFL in 2008 and an offense predicated on running 90% of the plays within five yards of the line of scrimmage, the Vikings must be stouter than most teams along the offensive line. While Anthony Herrera has improved, he still is far from a top-flight right guard, and even he is leagues ahead of mistake-prone right tackle Ryan Cook, who has averaged one penalty and nearly one sack allowed per game as a starter with the Vikings.

At cornerback, the Vikings have made a long-term commitment to the mercurial Cedric Griffin and have made overtures on an extension to veteran Antoine Winfield. Griffin's uneven play, Winfield's age, Madieu Williams' injury history, and poor performances by most of the Vikings' nickel and dime backs in 2008 makes bolstering the secondary a suddenly pressing need for the Vikings.

Picking linemen and corners with the first four picks in the draft might not energize the Vikings' fan base, but the results very well could, particularly if the Vikings can find a right offensive tackle capable of starting this season.

Up Next: Putting the Kibosh on Percy Harvin.

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