Vikings Draft 2013: The Argument for Going Defense in the First Round

I am of the mind that Minnesota should definitely go offense with their first round pick this year. Wide receiver is the position I would target. There will be plenty of receiver options for them at 23 if things play out the way everyone expects. Keenan Allen might be there. Terrance Williams is another name being thrown out. Cordarrelle Patterson is a guy getting a lot of mention. Justin Hunter. DeAndre Hopkins. Even Robert Woods if you’re not scared off by his injuries. I’m just talking about the bigger receivers. No doubt the Vikes will have several to choose from at 23. It’s a pretty good year to be taking a receiver late in the first.

But let’s consider for a second the other side of the argument. The side that says the Vikings should go defense instead of offense. There’s no question that the defense still has a bunch of weak spots personnel-wise. You can rank these any way you want but the main needs are defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback. I would put safety up there possibly even with cornerback because I’m just not a huge fan of either Mistral Raymond or Jamarca Sanford. Any way you slice it, the Vikes need to upgrade their defensive talent. But should they put offense on the back-burner in the first round for the sake of making this upgrade on the defensive side?

I suppose it all comes down to who is available. If there’s a really good defensive player sitting there at 23? And you think one or two of those wide receivers might slide all the way to the back end of the second round or at least far enough down the second round for you to trade up and get them? Maybe you consider it. The best player available argument is always in play. Then again, looking at the way Rick Spielman approached last year’s draft, I’m not sure he’s a “best player available” sort of guy. He may say he is but look at the facts. The Vikes targeted specific positions all the way down the draft. They drafted for need all the way down. I don’t see Spielman getting away from that strategy. He’s pretty consistent when it comes to working a plan.

It all boils down to what the Vikings believe their biggest need to be. Is receiver the biggest need? Some would argue it is. But there are other factors in play here. What are the Vikings planning on doing in free agency? There will be several potential #1 receivers available on the market including Greg Jennings. Maybe the Vikings plan to target a guy like that. If so, receiver might be less of a draft priority. So maybe the Vikes put off receiver until round 2 or 3 and focus on the defense in round 1.

The style question also enters into it. What kind of team do the Vikings plan on being in 2013? Will they try to open up the offense more with Christian Ponder entering his third year? If so, it seems you would want to stockpile some more weapons for him. The Vikes don’t just need one receiver, they need at least two. And if they plan on moving Percy Harvin on, they might need three. Do you rebuild the whole receiver corps just with free agents and lower picks or do you try to find a #1 in the first round?

We can only guess what Spielman’s approach will be. If he goes defense, look for defensive tackle or linebacker to be the pick. The Vikes must build up the middle of their defense. Both D-tackle spots are in play as are the middle and weak side linebacker spots. Whatever linebacker they pick needs to be a better coverage guy than either Jasper Brinkley or Erin Henderson. That guy Manti Te’o might fit the bill if you’re not worried about his over-active imagination causing him problems. Cornerback is also a concern with Antoine Winfield getting long in the tooth and Josh Robinson being a question mark. Another bigger outside corner with good tackling skills would be helpful.

As I said, wide receiver is the way I would go. Build up the offensive talent and then figure out how to use it. Bill Musgrave gets a lot of grief but I think he was pretty creative last year in figuring out how to mix and match the pieces he was given. I think in the end he wasn’t given enough pieces…and that includes the back-up quarterback spot. I would give the offense an upgrade. But I can see the case for giving attention to the defense too. The Vikings seem invested in this tough-guy defensive identity. They came a long way last year but there’s still a ways to go before they’re in that Purple People Eater territory again.

Hey, just get a good player there. Offense. Defense. Whatever. We need it all.

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