Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Vikings want to win now or later?

By Alvin Brown

The draft will take us inside the true franchise expectations of the Vikings brass. In reflection, the Vikings should have won at least three more games last year had it not been for the subpar play of quarterback Christian Ponder, the league’s 25th ranked passer (81.2 QB rating). Yes, Ponder completed 62 percent of his passes, albeit for a low average of 6.08 yards per pass – Peterson nearly matched that on the ground per touch averaging over five yards per carry.

Sure, Ponder was sacked 32 times, but before you come to his rescue, keep in mind Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times and still generated a 108.1 QB-rating.

In short, this has to be a better year for the former first-rounder; neither he, nor the Vikings can survive another slump like last year. With that said, the moral of my opening shot is that if Ponder does not play better, then its does not matter who the Vikings draft.

Now let’s assume Ponder will progress and the Vikings want to return to the playoffs and be competitive upon getting there. I believe the first two picks should be defensive, mainly based on three names within the NFC North –Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler.

To be competitive this coming season the Vikings have to draft to offset their aerial-minded opponents as cornerback, safety and obviously, middle linebacker should be priority — in this order — the top corner or safety on the board at pick 23. This of course is on the assumption that your MLB of choice will be there at pick 25, because barring a trade from a linebacker-hungry team moving up to the 24th pick, there is no indication that the Colts are interested in a middle linebacker. The Colts and several teams drafting after the Vikings first selection, namely Packers, Patriots, Texans and the Falcons, are interested in a defensive back. There is talk that the Falcon’s may even make another Julio Jones-like draft day move to jump up and snag CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State or Desmond Trufant, of Washington, both of whom I think would look awfully good in purple and gold.

Of the inside linebackers, Georgia’s Alex Ogletree, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Kansas’ Arthur Brown, and LSU’s Kevin Minter, all grade out about the same, so the Vikings can’t miss by taking one of them with the 25th pick.

The other side of my assessment is that you will never stop Rodgers, Cutler and Stafford no matter whom you draft; and that the Vikings should try and trade up for homerun hitter Tavon Austin of West Virginia, pair him with Greg Jennings, pray Adrian Peterson has another celestial season and match scores with opponents all season; of course in order for this scenario to be successful, it will depend on Ponder gaining more pocket confidence and developing the instincts to get the ball downfield.

I admit to being able to live with both draft-day scenarios, but being a Vikings fan since 1968, I subscribe to the philosophy that defense wins championships. If the Vikings can keep games close, I like their chances this season, especially with one of the games best young kickers in Blair Walsh.

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  • Mandooooo

    I totally agree and was just saying the same thing on a different article yesterday. If we can take away the passing game from the other 3 NFCN teams, none of them (as of yet) have a running game they can win with (unlike us), Or special teams. So even if we can just get an constant average game play from Ponder, if we draft well with defense it should make a big difference. However, comparing Ponder (3rd year) to Rodgers (7th year, after 3 of sitting and watching B. Favre) isn’t the best comparison. It is a team game. Even teams with “elite” QB’s failed last year (A. Rodgers didn’t make it past round 2 in the playoffs… ) I’m so over this “elite” QB crap.

    • David Thayer

      I share your view points as well. However I must point out this: We no longer have a strength in special teams. Yes, we have Blair. No, we do not have anyone on KR/PR duty that makes us lethal for field position. We lost Harvin and I believe Sherells is gone too. Which can be easily replaced. But how good will they be? You need to be able to win 2/3 of those phases. I firmly believe that defense is the number 1 key to that. Also a strong special teams helps. As noted by last year’s remarkable drive to a playoff berth, we were winning with defense and special teams. Offense needs to pick up and average more yds and points per game. lock down the middle of our D. Get some PR/KR and you should have another solid go at a championship.

      • Mandooooo

        Agreed. I think there are several WR in the draft that can do KR/PR. Which is what RS love to go out and get. maybe we’ll get lucky and Webb will be able to move over and do that job for us, as we all know he isn’t a WR. I gotta say again, this is a VIKINGS draft. It is deep at almost every position we need. We have so many options, it will be hard not to get at least 4 starters this year.

        • Daniel Laxen

          Worst draft in a decade! There is literally no talent in the 1st round. Like 10-15 players is all! Look at the skill position and where they are slotted. That’s horrible! Deep draft…SMFH!

          • Mandooooo

            Maybe you should watch tape instead of spewing comments from a disgruntled GM who wants his guy to fall into his lap… RSMFH.

          • Daniel Laxen

            I was at the Combine dude! Not media row either. When O-line is taken throughout the 1st round, 9 to be exact, that speaks volumes of lack of talent…Look at where all the WRs went after the 1st…DaRick Rogers wasn’t even selected in the draft…He was on game changers, really, game changers and not even selected. The others slid too.

          • Mandooooo

            The combine? Honestly, the combine is not a true measure of what a player can do and what he knows and what he can learn. Just because there weren’t a ton of QB’s doesn’t mean the draft was bad. The draft was bad for QB’s yes. But what is wrong in getting elite O-line talent to block for your franchise QB and open up holes for your running back? It was a great draft for teams needed to overhaul their O-line (unless you’re the pack that is…ha!). I find it sad that O-line guys seem about as important as Punters to most people. They do all the hard work so that Elite QB’s and Running backs can do their job…

          • Daniel Laxen

            It’s not that they aren’t important. It’s the WOW factor that is the NFL. Every team wants to make the big splash…O-linemen aren’t the sexy picks…I agree that there was great talent at the rudimentary positions in this draft. 9 linemen taken in the 1st round shows that…Last season a former GM told me that in the 1st round there was only really 2 draftable O-line guys. The Vikings got Kalil,(he would have went #1 for sure this year)
            but even the Vikings could trade back to gain picks because of the talent level at skill positions…The drafting of guards in the 1st round is testament to the fact…

        • Daniel Laxen

          If the Vikings can’t get Austin then they should draft defense early and often…Those WRs will be there in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

      • Daniel Laxen

        The offense isn’t the place where we need to get 3 points a game. Get this defense to under 21 points a game and they are championship caliber…Don’t turn the ball over and the offense is fine!

  • Daniel Laxen

    Keep it close.You mean like they did last year with Ponder stinking it up mid season? Ponder played well to finish the season and I expect improvement. Why wouldn’t we? Just don’t turn it over and this team is right there. That and drop the PPG about a field goal!…I believe this draft is mainly defensive, because the team goes outside next season and winters in Minnesota can be pretty bad. There are 2 coming after this season!..This teams superstar is AP and they will continue to keep the pressure off Ponder. Jennings will help for sure…The draft is fluid and may result in the Vikings NOT getting their guy. The good news is that we have real needs in other areas too. (Or is that the bad news?) Fighting fire with fire is just not happening with this team. We are not the Packer, Bears, or the Lions for that matter. All have more explosive offensive personnel, but we were competitive in every game vs. the North last year. That is great news. Especially when you consider how out classed we were just 2 short years ago…We won game we should have lost, and lost game we should have won last year. It all balanced out and the Vikings made a great run to qualify for the playoffs. That is the spring board for this season…Next year the defensive line comes due money. That means tough decisions cap wise…So in response to if the Vikings want to win now or later? I say they are poised to do both. We need to hit in this draft and that will be no easy proposition…SKOL Brother!