Fans of 2-11 teams always have the tendency to look towards the draft next year. Thus, I feel the need to do excessive research on college football players to cope with the pain of being terrible. Here is a breakdown of each position of need, and which draft-eligible players could fit the bill for each. I will start off with the offense:
Most who have watched the Vikings this year agree we are sorely lacking a receiver who can stretch defenses downfield and make big plays. And despite Percy Harvin's total badassness, he is really not suited to be a good deepball receiver. Thus, the Vikings should look for a receiver in the middle rounds of the draft to try to add some explosiveness to our offense.
Dwight Jones, UNC (projected early 2nd round)
At 6-4, Jones brings excellent size to the receiver position and he has great run-after-the-catch ability along with it.
Jones has nearly had two back-to-back 1000 yard seasons, and he has been extremely consistent this year with only one game under 70 receiving yards. He's also capable of having monster games, with a 233 yard game against Florida State, and a 198 yard game against Virginia, both during his Junior year.
NFL Comparison: Kenny Britt
Kendall Wright, Baylor (projected early 2nd round)
At 5-10, Kendall Wright is definitely a smurf of a receiver, but he makes up for it with incredible speed. Kendall Wright is having a massive year with games of 208 yards, 201 yards, 189 yards, and 166 yards. Wright also produces in big games, with those four massive games coming against Oklahoma, Kansas State, TCU, and Texas, respectively. If the Vikings are looking to stretch defenses with explosive plays, Kendall Wright may be their guy.
NFL Comparison: Mike Wallace
Marvin McNutt, Iowa (projected mid 2nd round)
Marvin McNutt is a consistent receiver with great size and hands. McNutt is solid in all areas, but won't really wow anyone. That being said, McNutt is a great possession receiver who can still go deep every now and then. McNutt comes up big in crucial moments, and he's a great redzone receiver too.
NFL Comparison: Marques Colston
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (projected 3-4th round)
Broyles' stock will drop because he tore his ACL this year, but if he can recover, this guy can be outstanding. Despite missing the last 3 games, Broyles still finished with 83 catches. Broyles also had a ridiculous 131 catches as a Junior. Broyles is small, but he had ridiculous route-running skills and makes short catches into long gains. Broyles can also go deep when necessary, and brings great PR skills to the table.
NFL Comparison: Greg Jennings
Jordan White, Western Michigan (projected 3-4th round)
White is leading the FBS in receiving yards this year, albeit against weaker competition than the others on this list. White is a real sleeper with decent size, speed, and great route-running ability. White is a very well-rounded receiver who could surprise many at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Roddy White
After watching all of the receivers on this list, I think the Vikings would be wise to target Broyles or White in either the 3rd or 4th round. Most of the good teams in the NFL these days are winning with a bunch of good receivers, instead of 1 superstar (New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New England, etc). With Broyles or White, the Vikings could add another solid weapon to their receiving corps
The Vikings cannot possibly go another season with Charlie Johnson at LT. He seems like a tough, hardworking guy, but he's much more suited to be a guard. Luckily for the Vikings, there are some very good prospects at the position this year.
Matt Kalil, USC (projected top 5 pick)
Matt Kalil is a freak of an athlete as far as LT's go. His foot speed is great and his height (6-7) and long arms are put to great use. Kalil still needs to add bulk to be more effective in the run game, but he has plenty of potential. He should be able to start immediately and go toe-to-toe with the best pass rushers in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: D'Brickishaw Ferguson
Jonathan Martin, Stanford (projected top 10 pick)
Martin is another extremely athletic tackle who possesses a lot of potential at the next level. Martin is one of the best run-blocking LT's to come out in a long time, which could be a great asset to a team with Adrian Peterson. Martin had some inconsistent moments throughout the season, but he remains a top-notch prospect.
NFL Comparison: Marcus McNeill in his prime
Reilly Reiff, Iowa (projected top 20 pick)
Reiff is a balanced LT with great run- and pass-blocking skills. His ceiling isn't as high as Kalil or Martin, but he should develop into a top-notch LT in the NFL. Reiff, like Kalil, may need to add some weight for the next level to handle stronger defenders.
NFL Comparison: Chad Clifton in his prime
After watching both players, I'm convinced both Martin and Kalil will be stars. I think the Vikings would be smart to either draft Kalil, or trade down to draft Martin if Spielman & Co think Martin will be a better fit for what they want to do on offense. Either way, the Vikings should end up with an elite LT, something we have sorely needed for a while now.
With Hutchinson aging quickly, and Herrera being constantly injured, it's time for the Vikings to upgrade their guards. The Vikings should look to the mid-rounds to add one of a decent crop of guards this year to help beef up our run game, and provide protection to Ponder.
Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State (projected 2nd round)
Osemele is currently playing LT for the Cyclones, but he projects as a guard on the next level. Osemele is surprisingly athletic for his size and he will be an absolute beast as a run-blocker. Most project that he could struggle in a zone-blocking scheme, however.
NFL Comparison: Leonard Davis
Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin (projected 3rd round)
Zeitler has had a great season making Montee Ball look like a superstar. Zeitler is a well-rounded guard with good power in the run game, solid athletic ability, and great instincts and mobility in the screen game. Zeitler could thrive in both man and zone-blocking schemes, which is exactly what the Vikings do.
NFL Comparison: Chris Snee
Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech (projected 4th round)
Edwards is one badass looking dude for Texas Tech. He has improved steadily over the years, and brings an overall solid game to the guard position. Edwards does not have star potential, but he will be a consistent guy at the next level.
NFL Comparison: T.J. Lang
After watching the guards, I think Zeitler would be a great guy for the Vikings to target in the 3rd round. He has great potential, and seems to be a great fit for what Musgrave wants to do with our offense. If the Vikings pick up Kalil/Martin and Zeitler, we have the makings for what could be the top OLine in the NFL for a long time.
*If the Vikings don't resign Shiancoe, TE will also become a need.