Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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Minnesota Vikings (Last Year: 8-8)
Offensively, this team has nearly all the tools - a powerful and explosive running game and speed at receiver (with the addition of Bernard Berrian). What they lack is simply a quarterback. As long as Tarvaris Jackson is under center, just put eight in the box and dare the Vikings to throw, hoping Jackson makes a mistake or two - or three. The defense has quite a few holes, especially with depth. Right to the Vikings' draft range with the 17th overall pick:
If he falls (and I think it's extremely possible), Minnesota simply has to take him. In nearly every draft, Ryan has the talent to be taken in the top 10 (including this one, but history tells us that quarterback isn't a big need anymore).
Ryan Cook is not an adequate starter and Jeff Otah would be an absolute mauler at right tackle, opening U-Haul-sized running lanes for Adrian Peterson. If this pick happens, I would take "All Day" No. 1 in my fantasy draft.
Kentwan Balmer/Pat Sims/Dre Moore/Trevor Laws:
This is a similar pick to what happened with the Packers and Justin Harrell last year. Draft for future need and invest in a very valuable position on the defense. Am I saying this would be good value with a Pat Sims or Trevor Laws? No, but like with the Harrell situation, it makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things if the Vikings have one of these four rated high enough on their big board.
With Kenechi Udeze battling Leukemia, defensive end becomes a need on the left side. I think they like what they have at right end with Ray Edwards and Brian Robison for depth, but a starter might be needed here. Merling is great versus the run, but not shabby versus the pass. I have him rated No. 7 on my Top 50 Big Board.
Aqib Talib/Antoine Cason:
These are the two best Tampa-2 corners in the draft. Antoine Cason is extremely physical and possesses great awareness. Talib has elite ball skills and is a play-maker. Can't go wrong with either one, but the rumors are that Talib has some character concerns. I'd give Cason the slight edge, but both are extremely possible.
If the Vikings don't go with Merling in round one, Lawrence Jackson would be a smart pickup in the second round. He's a high-character individual and a very balanced defensive end. Jackson is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type prospect. Good athletic ability, but not great. Good production, but not elite; fits in very well as a Tampa-2 left end.
Tight end is a very pressing need as well. I think you can plug in nearly any of the top tight end prospects and Minnesota will seriously be considering them in the second or third round (Fred Davis, Martellus Bennett, Dustin Keller, and Jermichael Finley... Brad Cottam's durability issues could cause him to fall out of the top three rounds).
Tarvaris Jackson - need I say more? But who will the Vikings consider as a franchise quarterback? Andre' Woodson and Joe Flacco seem to fit the mold in what Brad Childress wants. Both possess high upside, prototype bodies, and extremely strong arms. Look for the Minnesota Vikings to trade up high into the second round to get their quarterback
If they don't address defensive tackle in the first two rounds, then getting some depth is a must. Marcus Harrison, DeMario Pressley, Red Bryant, and Letroy Guion are in the third to fourth round draft range.
I feel like if the Vikings were to draft a position late, it would have to be outside linebacker. Ali Highsmith, Ezra Butler, Bryan Kehl, and Curtis Gatewood make sense in the third to sixth round draft range.
It would not be a bad idea to add some depth to the interior offensive line. Adam Kraus, Shannon Tevaga, and Fernando Velasco can play both guard and center, and would be solid sixth or seventh round draft selections.
Minnesota Vikings 2008 Offseason Needs
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