NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. QB - 4.0
2. DT - 4.0
3. DE - 4.0
4. S - 3.0
5. LB - 3.0
6. OT - 2.5
7. OG - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Favre is done, and folks certainly aren't too optimistic about Tarvaris Jackson being re-signed as a free agent. Jackson could be a serviceable stopgap, but his biggest supporter: Brad Childress is gone. So the Vikings will likely be in the market for a new starting QB. Considering they aren't that far flung from a Super Bowl run, a veteran would be preferred to come in and win right away. Joe Webb wasn't bad considering the circumstances late in the season, but they probably would also bring in a new QB in the draft to push for time as a backup and develop long-term. NEED: 4.0
Running Back - Adrian Peterson had a nice season and fumbled only once, so presumably that means he'll be even more reliable than before, even if he's not as explosive. Toby Gerhart wasn't the replacement for Chester Taylor they were hoping for. So adding another back that has potential to develop more there is possibly in the cards. NEED: 1.5
Fullback - This position isn't a huge part of their offense, but could be if they make a change at offensive coordinator. But Tahi is a free agent and even if they don't switch schemes, he isn't good enough to merit coming back. So this is a position for potential development. NEED: 1.0
Wide Receiver - Berrian is likely done in Minnesota, and Rice and Harvin are a nice pair of pieces for the future. But both their injury issues must be concerning for them and their lack of depth. If not in the draft, a veteran pickup in free agency would be a smart addition to bolster depth and give them a nice insurance policy. NEED: 2.0
Tight End - Shiancoe's production in the redzone dropped off this year, but he's still a solid tight end. But 2011 is his last year, and the same goes for Kleinsasser. Look for them to draft depth and insurance in case Shiancoe's play doesn't pick up enough next year to merit him getting a big extension. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Tackle - McKinnie had a pretty good year, relative to some other recent years. But they've been looking to replace him for a number of years because of his inconsistency. He's expected to try and drop 20 pounds this year, and accomplishing that goal could go a long way to how Frazier & Co. decide to deal with this position. But they should be looking for at least some mid-to-late round talent to develop behind him for the next year or two. Loadholt isn't great on the other side, and they could target another developmental option to push him down the road as well. NEED: 2.5
Offensive Guard - There is talk that Hutchinson and Herrera may not be back next year. Hutchinson is in a contract year and will be 34 at the end of this season, and he's shown signs of slowing down for a few years now. Herrera is a serviceable starter, but that's about it. DeGeare showed enough improvement late in the year, that he'll have a shot to start next year if they dump one or both. They'll need to draft depth and insurance. NEED: 2.0
Center - John Sullivan has been fairly mediocre since replacing Matt Birk in the middle, and the team would be smart at this point to draft a potential replacement with him entering the last year of his contract in 2011. NEED: 1.5
Defensive Tackle - Pat Williams probably won't be back. The dropoff in production from last year in Jimmy Kennedy doesn't give them a lot of currently on the roster options. Letroy Guion was their best backup, but hasn't shown enough to date to rely on him as a potential starter next to Kevin Williams next year. This is an area that they should make an addition at, either by using an early pick on a widebody or trying to sign a veteran stopgap in free agency. NEED: 4.0
Defensive End - While he still finished with 8 sacks this year, Ray Edwards production tailed off significantly. The same goes for Jared Allen. But Edwards is a free agent, and the team probably won't bend over backwards to match his price tag on the open market. Robison is a decent third option, but certainly hasn't been good enough to be trusted as a starter. Everson Griffen and Jayme Mitchell have flashed talent, but not to a level where they will be counted on to be starters next year. This is a need that the team will likely try and find a quality left end in the draft. NEED: 4.0
Linebacker - E.J. Henderson had a strong year despite coming off a gruesome injury at the end of the year. Greenway is one of the more underrated OLBs in the league. He's a potential free agent, but should get an extension. The return of Ben Leber seems less promising at age 32. Erin Henderson has worked as his backup for most of his stint, but has played so little on defense he's a question mark as an option to replace him. So it's quite possible the team looks for a young guy in the draft that can add some speed on defense. NEED: 3.0
Cornerback - While Antoine Winfield showed that he still had quite a bit left in the tank, injuries to Cedric Griffin (again) and Chris Cook once again exposed their lack of depth. Asher Allen improved as the season wore on, but clearly was outmatched. While they could take the path of trying to develop Allen and Cook more, the inconsistency at this position that they've seen the past two seasons and lack of depth means that they could once again look for more depth in the draft. NEED: 2.0
Safety - Madieu Williams isn't expected to be re-signed. Husain Abdullah was a nice injury fill-in for Tyrell Johnson, so he should be back as a free agent. The competition between the two of them next summer should settle the strong safety spot. But they need to find a ballhawk that can make more plays at free safety, something Williams was not. NEED: 3.0
Kicker - Ryan Longwell is a free agent, but his accuracy, consistency, and age (37 in August), means that he probably has a few more years left in him and should be back. NEED: 1.0
Punter - Kluwe is one of the premier young punters in the league. NEED: 0.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.