Vikings War Cry

April 30, 2013 10:18 AM

Vikings Continue to Stockpile Talent

Vikings 1st draft pick.jpgIn the 2012 NFL season no team in the NFL made as big a leap into the NFL playoff picture from as far away - based upon their win total from 2011 - as the Minnesota Vikings. Yet, Minnesota's presence in the playoffs flew a bit under the radar, despite the remarkable Adrian Peterson posting one of the greatest individual seasons in league history.

As discussions have emerged of likely Super Bowl contenders for the upcoming 2013 season, the Vikings do not enter such discussions. What has been overlooked is the talent that has been amassed on Minnesota's roster in recent years. There is a reason the Vikings won 10 games while navigating through one of the toughest schedules in the league last season.

The Vikings have been built to win.

Despite the second-year quarterback Christian Ponder's struggles during the middle part of last season, and despite playing without the dynamic talents of Percy Harvin for the final six games, the Vikings were still able to make the playoffs because of  the heroics of the league MVP, Peterson, and because of a very solid crop of talented young players.

In January's Pro Bowl, seven Vikings played in that game. Only two teams sent more players, the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers, both of whom sent nine. (The Vikings defeated both of those two teams last year). Three of the seven Viking Pro Bowlers were recent draft picks, including the game's MVP, second-year tight-end Kyle Rudolph. Two Vikings rookies also made the Pro Bowl, tackle Matt Kalil and placekicker Blair Walsh.

Given Ponder's strong play down the stretch last season, he seems to have settled in as a quarterback the franchise can rely upon after all. With the promising play of last season's rookie safety Harrison Smith and third-year cornerback Chris Cook, the recent drafts have already begun to pay off in very significant dividends. Throw in last year's rookie speedster Jarius Wright who caught a touchdown pass early and later a huge 65-yard bomb in the critical regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers, and the future is extremely bright for the young talent populating the Vikings' roster.

With last week's draft, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman may have even pulled off his best draft yet! With three first-rounders, the Vikings have seemingly filled three immediate needs.

The 23rd pick, defensive tackle Shariff Floyd - a steal where the Vikings got him - would project to be the heir-apparent for long-time mainstay Kevin Williams who's career appears to be winding down. The 25th pick, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, would project to take over for the long-time mainstay and recently departed Antione Winfield. The 29th pick, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, would project to replace the multi-talented and recently departed Harvin, but hopefully with a lot less headache. (Yes pun intended).

While the later round picks may produce some players who will in fact become productive members on the team, especially at linebacker, if the three first-rounders pan out like expected, any production the Vikings get after that will really be gravy.

The Vikings' 10-6 season last year was not a fluke, and with even more quality young talent being added onto an already talent-rich squad, perhaps by Halloween the Vikings will no longer be flying under the radar. Perhaps, when discussions of the Super Bowl contenders come up at that time, the Minnesota Vikings will be front and center.

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