The Big Question: Are the Vikings quietly assembling a dominant D?
At the end of Brett Favre's Minnesota stint in 2010, it was obvious that the Vikings' once-talented roster had too many key players in sharp decline. By the time the Vikings pulled off a 24-13 upset of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 of last season, it was evident that general manager Rick Spielman had successfully rebuilt his defense.
Winfield is out of the picture, but Spielman already has found his replacement in No. 25 overall pick Xavier Rhodes -- a player the Vikings expected to go off the board at least 10 spots higher. Although Williams is entering what could be his final season in Minneapolis, the Vikings did what smart teams do: They drafted his successor a year early. Sharrif Floyd, the No. 23 overall pick, will be ready to slide into Williams' three-technique spot in 2014.
Don't be surprised if the Vikings emerge as a top-five NFL defense bolstered by the speed and athleticism of their recent high draft picks.
- It's hard to top Spielman's draft record of late. If Cordarrelle Patterson and Floyd join the starting lineup by the end of the season, roughly half of the 22 starters, plus the kicker and punter, will have come from the past three drafts.
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- The Vikings had targeted Rhodes and Patterson with the Nos. 23 and 25 picks to replace Winfield and Harvin, according to SI.com's Peter King. It wasn't until Floyd, viewed by the Vikings' personnel department as a top-10 pick, fell to No. 23 that Spielman adjusted his plan. Those three picks ultimately could determine if the Vikings overtake the Green Bay Packers for NFC North supremacy over the next few seasons.