The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

May 2, 2014

Courrier: Vikings should continue building defense in draft

Quarterback, schmorterback.

All the national draft “experts” want or expect the Minnesota Vikings to take a quarterback with the No. 8 pick in Thursday’s first round of the NFL draft, noting how poorly that position played last season.

But when it comes to needs, quarterback should not be on top of the Vikings’ list. Next week, Shane Frederick and Jim Rueda will argue otherwise, but the Vikings need to pay more attention to defense in next week’s draft, especially in the first round.

Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end from South Carolina, will likely be the first defensive player taken, maybe the first overall selection. But that’s based on speed, size and athleticism, not production or film, which makes him a huge risk. If you saw Clowney play last season, you wouldn’t take him in the first round ... or any round.

The next defensive player taken will likely be outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who would be a perfect fit for the Vikings, but he’ll likely be chosen in the top three or four picks.

After that, it seems the Vikings will have their choice of defensive players.

Outside linebacker Anthony Barr of UCLA would be a nice addition, as would inside linebacker C.J. Mosley from Alabama, a solid program.

The cornerback position seems stacked, with Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert seemingly at the top of that list. Ohio State’s Bradley Roby, Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, Michigan State’s Darqueze Denard and TCU’s Jason Verrett seem to have some first-round steam. Given how many misses the Vikings have had with cornerbacks, it seems a risky, but completely defendable, selection.

The Vikings have paid a lot of attention to the defense in the offseason, signing defensive tackle Linval Joseph, defensive end Corey Wootten, safety Kurt Coleman and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

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