Vikings by position, Day 4: Deep class could mean waiting on receiver
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Each weekday until the NFL Draft begins on April 26, Tom Pelissero is breaking down the Minnesota Vikings' roster by position, based on observations of games and practice, weekly tape studies and interviews with NFL coaches and scouts.
On the roster (8)
The Vikings have one of the game's unique talents in Harvin (5-11, 184 pounds), who showed signs of maturity in his third season, battled through a nagging rib problem and smashed several career highs en route to 1,832 total yards on 155 touches. The next step is keeping Harvin on the field -- he played only 57.9% of the offensive snaps in 2011 -- and upgrading the perimeter group to prevent defenses from doubling him in the slot. Jenkins (6-4, 214) is a borderline No. 2 receiver who caught 38 passes for 466 yards (12.3 average) in 54 targets (70.4%) before knee surgery ended his season in late November. His scheduled 2012 base salary is $2.5 million, which is more than triple Harvin's $915,000 but not necessarily exorbitant for a steady complementary player, even one who turns 30 in June. No receiver played more last season than Aromashodu (6-2, 201), but he caught only 26 of the 78 balls thrown his way (33.3%) for 468 yards (18.0 average) in 676 snaps (65.1%). Re-signing him to a one-year deal with a $700,000 base salary probably had as much to do with his blocking as anything. He's not sudden enough to do much damage against man coverage. Burton (6-1, 221) made great strides after a hamstring injury contributed to a brutal training camp, only to sprain a knee in his third game and land on injured reserve. He figures to compete with Arceneaux (6-2, 211), who signed for $75,000 out of the Canadian Football League and spent most of the season on the practice squad. Inexperience won't be an excuse for either player this time. Walters (6-0, 190) signed a two-year deal after spending parts of two seasons with San Diego. Two of his three NFL catches came in last year's opener against the Vikings. Taylor (6-0, 197) spent time with Green Bay, New England and San Francisco as a rookie before joining the Vikings' practice squad in October. He has some quickness and good genes, the son of one former NFL player (safety Keith Taylor) and nephew of another (receiver John Taylor). Adams (6-3, 194) joined the practice squad in December after stints with St. Louis and Chicago. Like Taylor, he signed a futures contract after the season. Camarillo (6-2, 200) never fit in two years with the Vikings and won't be back.
The Vikings need a vertical speed threat. They don't appear to have that player on the roster. And speculation has mounted in recent days they might take a receiver -- Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon or perhaps even Notre Dame's Michael Floyd -- with the No. 3 overall pick. But doing so would mean passing on a potential long-term answer at left tackle in favor of a player who's far from a consensus star at a position believed to be among this draft's deepest. Position scarcity alone suggests the Vikings would be better off drafting Southern California tackle Matt Kalil with their top pick and then looking to upgrade the receiver corps in Rounds 2, 3 and/or 4. A compelling offer to trade down could change things, though, meaning the time they're putting in on Blackmon, Floyd and others is time well-spent.
Last 10 drafts
• 2011: Burton (seventh round, 236th overall).
• 2010: None.
• 2009: Harvin (first, 22nd).
• 2008: Jaymar Johnson (sixth, 193rd).
• 2007: Sidney Rice (second, 44th); Aundrae Allison (fifth, 146th); Chandler Williams (seventh, 233rd).
• 2006: None.
• 2005: Troy Williamson (first, seventh).
• 2004: None.
• 2003: Nate Burleson (third, 71st); Keenan Howry (seventh, 221st).
• 2002: None.
According to various reports, the Vikings hosted Blackmon, Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) and Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) at their Top 30 event this month and were scheduled to host Floyd, the St. Paul native, before official visits ended on Wednesday.
• Mel Kiper, ESPN: 1. Blackmon. 2. Floyd. 3. Kendall Wright, Baylor. 4. Hill. 5. Brian Quick, Appalachian State.
• Mike Mayock, NFL Network: 1. Blackmon. 2. Floyd. 3. Wright. 4. Hill. 5. Jeffery.
• Shawn Zobel, DraftHeadquarters.com: 1. Blackmon. 2. Floyd. 3. Wright. 4. Hill. 5. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers.