2013 NFL Draft: Subtracting Harvin creates multiple needs for Vikings
Minnesota left with many holes to fill without its top playmaker, Percy Harvin.
Tired of his occasional attitude? Uneasiness about re-signing him? Durability concerns? Maybe all of the above. But Percy Harvin's ability on the field was not the reason the Vikings decided to unload the talented receiver and trade him to Seattle.
The deal is expected to be completed on Tuesday. In return, Minnesota will receive multiple draft picks, including the Seahawks' first-round pick, according to reports. The trade leaves the Vikings with the 23rd (original pick) and 25th selections (Seattle's pick) in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. But it also leaves them with an even larger hole at wide receiver.
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The Vikings' three leading receivers from 2012 are not on the roster. Harvin (62 catches, 677 yards, three touchdowns) will suit up for Seattle, Michael Jenkins (40/449/2) was released earlier this month, and Jerome Simpson (26/274/0) is a free agent.
The Vikings were expected to strongly consider a wide receiver with their first-round pick before unloading Harvin, but now with a pair of picks in the top 25, it would be a surprise if they didn't lean wideout with one of those selections.
In my current mock draft, I have the Vikings slotted to select Clemson wideout DeAndre Hopkins with the 23rd overall pick. With this draft lacking an "elite" prospect at the position like a Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, it's possible we won't see a wide receiver drafted in the top 15. Depending on how the top 20 picks play out, Minnesota could have their choice of Hopkins, Keenan Allen or Tavon Austin with that pick at 23. Even Cordarrelle Patterson, who many consider this year's top wide receiver and possible top-10 pick, could be an option if he falls that far on draft day.
Although this class of wideouts lacks starpower at the top, the depth of this wide receiver group is very deep in the late first, second and third rounds. The Vikings will struggle to replace Harvin's playmaking ability, but this draft has some prospects to lessen the blow.
If the Vikings invest in a wide receiver with one of their first-round picks, that leaves another top-25 pick for them to address another need. Other positions the Vikings could look at in the first round include offensive guard, defensive tackle, cornerback or even right tackle if Minnesota is unable to re-sign incumbent starter Phil Loadholt.
There are several options the Vikings could go via free agency to fill their need at wideout as well. Wide receiver Greg Jennings has been a thorn in the side of Vikings' fans for the last half-dozen years as a member of the Green Bay Packers, but he will be on the open market on Tuesday. Speedster Mike Wallace will likely command a similar contract that Harvin was seeking, which makes him unlikely to land in Minnesota, but he is available.
Minnesota invested two draft picks in the fourth round last year on wide receivers, selecting Arkansas' Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. However, Childs suffered a potential career-ending injury last summer, and Wright didn't make his debut until mid-November, finishing his rookie season with 22 catches for 310 yards and two scores. Wright is currently the Vikings' leading receiver from last season among players who are still on the roster.
Neither is the same threat Harvin was -- five kickoff-return touchdowns -- on special teams.
Regardless of whether the Vikings address the position in free agency, another target for Christian Ponder must be near the top of Minnesota's priority list on draft day.
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