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Minnesota Vikings' draft needs: Teddy Bridgewater fits well

Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

To stay competitive with the rest of the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings need to solve their quarterback problem. Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are both serviceable signal-callers, but neither is a franchise-caliber player. The Vikings could find their long-term answer with the No. 8 overall pick, or they could take a passer in the second round and use their first pick to upgrade their defense. That unit ranked second to last in yards allowed per game, surrendering most of that yardage through the air.

I expect new coach Mike Zimmer to have a big impact on turning the defense around, and he'll likely start by adding playmakers to the linebacker corps and secondary in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Here are four positions of need for Minnesota -- and four prospects who could fill them.

1) Linebacker


Chad Greenway is one of the Vikings' most dependable and productive players, but he's entering his ninth season. There's a need to upgrade the talent around the All-Pro defender, as well as find his eventual replacement. With the eighth overall pick, the Vikes should consider C.J. Mosley, who's the best inside linebacker in this year's group. The Alabama product showed excellent instincts, range and production during his college career.

If Minnesota passes on Mosley with their first-round pick, the team could wait until the middle rounds to address the position. I really like Jordan Tripp from Montana, who is an excellent blitzer, extremely athletic in pass coverage and has the ability to play both inside and outside.

2) Quarterback


The Vikings should have their choice of one of the draft's top three quarterbacks -- Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater's probably the most likely of the trio to still be available at No. 8 overall, and his combination of accuracy and decision-making will be a nice fit in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's system.

The Vikings could opt to find their signal-caller of the future with their second-round pick (No. 40 overall). Zach Mettenberger played at LSU under former NFL offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who runs a similar offense to Turner's, which could help the quarterback transition to the pro game. Mettenberger, who will be just four months removed from knee surgery by May, threw the ball well at his pro day and has one of the strongest arms in the draft.

3) Offensive guard

Path to the Draft
Airing weekdays at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network, "Path to the Draft" previews the 2014 NFL Draft by providing in-depth expert analysis of the top prospects and each team's needs.

» 'Path to the Draft' videos
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Upgrading the interior offensive line should be a priority for general manager Rick Spielman. There's plenty of depth at the position in this year's draft, so I think the Vikings could wait until the later rounds to find their guy. If they're looking for more physical players, Cyril Richardson from Baylor and John Halapio from Florida could be solid options in the fourth round. Both are a little inconsistent in pass protection, but both are dominant run blockers who could create lanes for Adrian Peterson.

4) Secondary


With Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford on the schedule a total of six times, the Vikings will likely look to bolster their secondary. That being said, I don't think they need to prioritize the cornerback position early in this year's draft, as I think last year's first-rounder Xavier Rhodes will continue to develop into a quality player. The Vikings could add depth on Day 2, though. Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste has outstanding size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) and plays the ball well down the field. Pairing him with Rhodes would give the Vikes two big defenders on the perimeter.

In the back end of the defense, Minnesota has one of the NFL's top young safeties in Harrison Smith. However, the team could use a guy like Dezmen Southward as an upgrade over Jamarca Sanford. The former Wisconsin safety has outstanding speed and versatility, and could be available in the middle rounds.

Projections


So what will the Vikings do with their first-round pick (No. 8 overall)? Here's what NFL Media's analysts see happening, according to their mock draft projections (click here for full mock drafts):


Daniel Jeremiah: Blake Bortles

Bucky Brooks: Khalil Mack

Charles Davis: Blake Bortles

Matt Smith: Teddy Bridgewater

Chase Goodbread: Johnny Manziel

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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