By TPR Staff

As we continue the Team Needs series for the 2013 NFL Draft, we proceed to the team with the twenty-third overall pick; the Minnesota Vikings. It was an exciting, if not unexpected season in the twin cities as Adrian Peterson flirted with history and came within eight measly yards of breaking the single season rushing record. But the team made the playoffs and it’s hard to get upset about that.

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For Leslie Frazier, the 2012 season likely earned him another handful of seasons at the helm in Minnesota. He hasn’t done poorly, but the clock was beginning to tick on his time in the position. The key now is to improve upon the strides made in 2012 with a strong draft come April. Here is the direction I believe he and the Vikings war room will take in this draft.

Wide Receiver

With all of the criticism that falls on Christian Ponder, he has Percy Harvin and just a bunch of guys to throw the ball to. And if the rumors of Minnesota shopping Harvin are true, they’re going to need some big time receiver help in this draft. Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson can’t even be a complimentary number two. Running that pair out there as your starters in 2013 would be disastrous. I see the Vikes taking the best receiver on the board in the first, which will likely be  Keenan Allen.

Draft Possibilities: Keenan Allen, Tavon Austin

Linebacker

The only position bad enough that I could see the Vikings going for in the first outside of wide receiver is the middle linebacker position. All one has to do is watch the film of Jasper Brinkley to see what I mean. With him and Eric Henderson hitting the free agent market soon, this will be an early need for the Minnesota war room. I expect them to go with a player like Khaseem Greene in the third.

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Draft Possibilities: Khaseem Greene, Arthur Brown

Offensive Line

When I began research for this piece, I was astounded even further that Adrian Peterson almost did what he did running behind an average line. Phil Loadholt is solid, but his free agency is looming and it is unclear if he is in the plans. Meanwhile, Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco would be depth at guard on a good team, not starting. With so much depending on Peterson in this Vikings offense, don’t be surprised to see an early pick on a guard. I’m thinking a prospect like Larry Warford in the second could be awfully tempting.

Draft Possibilities: Larry Warford, Kyle Long

Defensive Tackle

This could be a position that Minnesota could surprise at with an early pick, even in the first round if the board falls in their favor. Kevin Williams is consistent, but Letroy Guion didn’t really work out as well as the coaching staff might have hoped. If a massive nose tackle like Johnathan Jenkins or Star Lotulelei surprisingly keep sliding down the board into the Vikings lap, it would be a great fit.

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Draft Possibilities: Johnathan Jenkins, Star Lotulelei

Safety

The Vikings hit a homerun last year with Harrison Smith and he even had his name in the defensive rookie of the year talks. What the team needs to do now is find him a compliment next to him in the secondary. This draft is so wide open for the Vikings that I could see them drafting any of these five or six positions in the first round. If they go best player available at these positions, safety will be addressed in one of the first two rounds with a player like Phillip Thomas.

Draft Possibilities: Phillip Thomas, J.J. Wilcox

I think the first thing the Vikings need to consider doing is bringing in a veteran quarterback to at least provide some competition for Christian Ponder. Having Joe Webb behind him is scaring no one into stepping up their game.

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For Leslie Frazier, this team looks like they’re heading in the right direction unlike his first two seasons prior to 2012. Being a defensive minded coach, I expect him to go that way early and often in this draft. But he has to find some weapons for Ponder besides handing the ball off to Peterson 40 times per game going forward. This could be a make or break draft for the future of Frazier and Ponder in Minnesota.

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