The future stars of the NFL are almost here. The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 22nd in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICKS NO. 23 AND 25: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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2012 record: 10-6
Key offseason acquisitions:
Greg Jennings, wide receiver
Matt Cassel, quarterback
Key offseason departures:
Percy Harvin, wide receiver
Antoine Winfield, cornerback
Jasper Brinkley, middle linebacker
Geoff Schwartz, guard
Michael Jenkins, wide receiver
Biggest holes in roster: Cornerback, middle linebacker, wide receiver, defensive line
Minnesota had a fairly busy offseason, trading wideout Percy Harvin to Seattle and letting Jasper Brinkley and Antoine Winfield sign elsewhere. They did ink former Packers receiver Greg Jennings to a deal, but they still have quite a few glaring holes.
They also have quite a few draft picks. The Vikings have 10 total picks, including two first-rounders thanks to the Harvin trade. They could use that to trade up, though the chance of that actually happening is doubtful given the fact that the talent level is fairly spread out after the first 10 picks. It's more likely the Vikings sit on their current draft picks and plug whatever holes they can as they go.
The fact that the Vikings' two first-rounders are within two picks of each other makes things easier -- after taking someone at No. 23, they won't have to wait long for a chance to get their next-best prospect at No. 25.
Having said that, it makes the most sense to go defense with the 23rd pick. If either of the top two MLBs (Georgia's Alec Ogletree or Notre Dame's Manti Te'o) are available, they'd have to jump at the chance to take them, particularly Te'o. The Vikings have turned into South Bend North with the amount of Fighting Irish players on their roster -- they took Notre Dame players with each of their last two first-round picks (Kyle Rudolph, 2010; Harrison Smith, 2011) and currently have five ex-Irish players on their roster. Te'o, a solid tackler, would be a nice fit at the heart of the Vikings' defense. On the other hand, Ogletree is a physical freak and would be a better fit for the Vikings' defensive system, though his character concerns have raised numerous red flags. (Not that the Te'o catfishing scheme hasn't raised a few eyebrows either.)
If neither of those two are available, the Vikings could pick up Arthur Brown out of Kansas State. Brown, whose brother is Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown, has a nose for the football despite his size (6-foot, 241 pounds). He's a good tackler who can play inside or outside linebacker. He's not particularly known for his pass defense, but he did have two notable interceptions with Kansas State -- he was on the receiving end of Robert Griffin III's only second-half interception in 2011, and he was the first person to intercept West Virginia's Geno Smith in 2012, ending his run of 274 pass attempts without an interception to start the season.
There's also a hole at cornerback after Antoine Winfield signed with Seattle. It's unlikely that Washington's Desmond Trufant falls this far, but if he's available, he could go here. Otherwise, Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks may be the guy. The Thorpe Award winner is a ball-hawk, pulling down 15 interceptions in four seasons with the Bulldogs. Banks may be a little slow for some teams' tastes, clocking a 4.61 in the 40 at the Combine, but the converted safety makes up for his lack of speed with his great hands and his physical nature.
The Vikings could also use some depth at wide receiver. Not only would another quality receiver help Christian Ponder's development, it'd also take some heat off of Adrian Peterson and force defenses to be honest by not overloading the box.
Cal wideout Keenan Allen would probably be the safest choice at No. 25 given this need (unless Cordarrelle Patterson is somehow still available at No. 23). Allen is a polished possession receiver with good hands and enough size to beat out defenders on jump balls. He could be the third-down target that Ponder needs.
Allen comes with two potential red flags, one of which may directly impact the other. He injured a PCL at the end of last season and missed three games. He reportedly is at 75-80 percent strength. That injury may be a contributing factor to Allen's slow 4.71 40 at his Pro Day (he did not run at the Combine), though he was never known as a burner in college.