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2015 NFL Draft Primer: Minnesota Vikings

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Team needs: Offensive line, Linebacker, Wide Receiver and Secondary.

Vikings’ Selections:

Round 1-11th overall

Round 2-45th overall

Round 3-76th overall

Round 4-110th overall

Round 5-137th overall

Round 7-228th overall

Round 7-232nd overall

Good fits early:

DeVante Parker: The Minnesota Vikings haven’t seen elite quarterback play since Daunte Culpepper, but the organization feels confident in Teddy Bridgewater moving forward. During his rookie campaign Bridgewater threw for 14 touchdowns while completing 64% of his passes.

In order for Minnesota’s pass attack to take the next step, they must improve their receiving corps. To their credit, the Vikings picked up Mike Wallace via trade, but even with that acquisition, they’re still pretty thin at receiver. Former receiver Greg Jennings led the team with only 59 catches. Following him was running back Matt Asiata, who snatched 44 catches. You know its bad when a running back is your second leading receiver.

With the 11th overall pick, Minnesota could benefit from drafting DeVante Parker out of Louisville. During his four-year collegiate career, Parker caught 156 passes for 2,775 yards to go along with 33 touchdowns. Parker’s best season was his junior campaign, which was with Bridgewater. During that season, Parker caught 55 passes with 12 of them being touchdowns.

There’s no doubt Parker would like to be catching passes from Teddy again.

“That would be really good to reunite with (Bridgewater),’’ Parker said. “We’ve got a good connection. That would be a good thing.’’

Malcolm Brown: While Minnesota’s pass defense improved in 2014, their run defense needs major reinforcement. Gone are the days of the “Williams Wall,” as Minnesota finished 25th in run defense allowing 121.4 yards on the ground per game.

Adding Malcolm Brown at 11th overall would make tons of sense. The former Longhorn defensive tackle is probably the most athletic guy at his position, but what’s more impressive is his 320 pound frame. With his imposing size and athleticism, Brown is a guy who could bring instant play making ability to opposing backfields.

Brown had 13 tackles for loses to go along with 6.5 sacks in 2014.

Shaq Thompson: In another effort to improve their run defense, Minnesota may want to address the middle of the field. With the 32-year-old Chad Greenway on the decline, Shaq Thompson could be a viable solution in the second round.

The former Washington Husky may be available for Minnesota at No. 45. Versatility is something Shaq excels at. He played running back, inside and outside linebacker, and he even played a little safety. With his elite speed and athleticism, he’ll be able to cover backs in the open field. On the flip side, there’s no doubt Shaq must add and sustain some more weight.

Don’t be surprised if Minnesota goes secondary with one of their top two picks. As mentioned before, Minnesota did make significant strides in their pass coverage, but with that being said, Minnesota may decide to go best player available. Cornerbacks Trae Waynes (Michigan State) and Marcus Peters (Washington) may both be available at 11. When you’re in a division with gunslingers like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and yes, even Jay Cutler, you can never have enough depth and talent in the secondary.

Potential late-round targets:

Josue Matias: For the Vikings to take that next step, keeping franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater upright has to be one of their main focuses. Bridgewater appeared in 13 games, but he was sacked 39 times in 2014, which ranked 7th in the league.

Matias stands at 6-foot-6, 325 pounds. The left guard excels in pass protection, which is something you must do when blocking for former Heisman award winner Jameis Winston. Matias does a good job of communicating with his unit and has the ability to help out in the middle and the outside. This would be a good safe pick in the middle rounds.

Mike Davis: With the uncertainty of Adrian Peterson’s future in Minnesota, the organization must look to fill a void. You can’t expect one player to replace Peterson’s production, but you can attempt to do it by committee.

Matt Asiata showed signs of promise. He rushed for 570 yards and reached the end zone 9 times.

If the Vikings are able to add Mike Davis from South Carolina, you could have a lethal two-headed monster in Minneapolis. Davis is a physical back with enough quickness to get through the gaps. He excels in short yardage situations and is capable of running through tackles.

Davis rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in 2014 on 4.9 yards per carry. The junior reached the end zone 11 times in 2014.

Anthony Jefferson: When you get into the last two rounds of the draft, teams typically are drafting best available at this point. Anthony Jefferson could be a steal on the last day of the draft.

Jefferson received Pac-12 second-team honors during his senior year. He has good speed for a safety, hoisting a 4.63 40-time at his UCLA Pro Day.

As long as Aaron Rodgers remains in Green Bay, the chances of Minnesota winning the NFC North are slim to none. However, the team appears to be moving in the right direction. They finally have their guy under center, in Bridgewater.

The sooner they’re able to get this Peterson cloud from over their head, the better. Its time for Minnesota to embrace Bridgewater as the new face of the franchise. If they’re able to continue to build around him, Vikings fans should have a lot to cheer for moving forward.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.