The Other 31: Vikings make bid to give Peterson enough help

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Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was among the Vikings’ three opening-round picks in the NFL draft (Craig Ruttle/The Associated Press)

nfl_vikingsBackground: Schedule | Depth chart | Draft | Team page | Previous teams

Last season’s record:  10-6

Key players released: WR Michael Jenkins, CB Antoine Winfield, P Chris Kluwe

Key free agents lost: LB Jasper Brinkley, G Geoff Schwartz

Key free agents re-signed: WR Jerome Simpson, T Phil Loadholt, FB Jerome Felton, LB Erin Henderson, LB Marvin Mitchell, C Joe Berger, S Jamarca Sanford

Key free agents added: CB Roderick Williams, QB Matt Cassel, WR Greg Jennings, G Seth Olsen, DE Lawrence Jackson, CB Jacob Lacey

Key player traded: WR Percy Harvin

Draft:

Rd. 1 (No. 23 overall)… Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

1 (25)… Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

1 (29)… Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

4 (120)… Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State

5 (155)… Jeff Locke, P, UCLA

6 (196)… Jeff Baca, G, UCLA

7 (213)… Michael Mauti, LB, Penn St.

7 (214)… Travis Bond, G, North Carolina

7 (229)… Everett Dawkins, DT, Florida St.

Analysis: After the Vikings emerged from NFL draft night with a trio of first-round picks, few teams around the league were left with as many intriguing possibilities for the upcoming season as they possess.

It already would have been an interesting offseason for the Vikings after they traded one prominent wide receiver, Percy Harvin, to the Seattle Seahawks, but signed another, Greg Jennings, as a free agent. The loss of Harvin was further mitigated for the Vikings when they got a wideout, Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, with the third of their three first-round draft selections.

The other two first-rounders, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, were added to the defense. The Vikings tried but failed to re-sign veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield after releasing him. He signed instead with the Seahawks. Even so, the arrivals of Floyd and Rhodes mean the defense has been upgraded.

The issue, as always, is whether there is enough help for tailback Adrian Peterson. He chased the single-season NFL rushing record while carrying the Vikings to the playoffs last season. The Vikings need more from quarterback Christian Ponder. And it’s reasonable to believe that Ponder will produce more as he enters his second full season as an NFL starter, particularly with Jennings and Patterson now in the fold. If not, the Vikings gave themselves an alternative at quarterback by signing Matt Cassel.

The division is tough and there are plenty of teams throughout the NFC capable of being in the mix not only for playoff spots, but also for conference supremacy. The Vikings are surely in that group, and much could depend upon how rapidly the three prized rookies progress.

Why Redskins fans should care: The teams play Nov. 7 at Minnesota.

Conversation starter: How high is Adrian Peterson’s ceiling? We know he can run for 2,000 yards. Can he hit 2,250? 2,500?

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