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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - I think it's safe to say that it's been an interesting offseason for the Minnesota Vikings. After finishing the 2012 season 10-6 and fighting their way into the playoffs, a few dramatic departures and a couple ancillary additions have shaken things up quite a bit over at Winter Park. No single position group took as much of this turnover as the wide receiving corps.
On March 11th, the Minnesota Vikings announced that they had traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seahawks for a first round pick in 2013, a seventh round selection in 2013 and a third round draft choice in 2014. After public displays of discontent and rumored issues behind the scenes, Harvin had seemingly worn out his welcome in Minnesota. Still, the loss of a skilled player will surely effect the Vikings as they head into 2013.
Among those who took Harvin's departure to heart, Adrian Peterson sounded off initially on twitter saying, "I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!!!"
The best all around player I ever seen or you'll ever see! Goes to Seattle! I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!!!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 11, 2013
Approximately one month after the trade went down, we caught up with Peterson outside of Portland, Oregon and he elaborated on his feelings towards the Harvin situation.
"I'm adjusting to it now," Peterson said. "That's part of the business, it kind of goes like that sometimes unfortunately. We lost probably one of the best players that will ever play or suit up...I know the type of talent that he is because I know talent. It's going to be hard not to have him around."
Welcome Greg Jennings...
Shortly after the Percy trade, the NFL free agency period kicked off. A handful of days later, the Vikings began their rebuilding process by landing the second rated overall wide receiver on the board, Greg Jennings.
Jennings is not the dynamic player that Percy Harvin was, but he is equally dangerous and may prove to be a better fit for the type of team that Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier are looking to piece together.
"You've really got some weapons to explore," Peterson said on the addition of Jennings. "Not only [Greg's] talent but his leadership skills but his knowledge of the game...I'm excited about the new addition of Greg Jennings and I'm just excited to see the way that things pan out."
With the addition of Jennings to the wide receiver group, the Vikings are currently sitting with Jennings and Jerome Simpson who have decent NFL experience, Stephen Burton and Jarius Wright who have limited NFL experience, and then a complete wild card in last year's fourth round selection Greg Childs who injured his knees last preseason. It's no secret that they will be looking to bolster the depth and acquire some young, talented wide receivers through the draft this week.
Replacing Percy through the Draft...
With the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and eleven picks overall, it's a pretty safe bet to assume that Minnesota will look to add at least two wide outs to the list above. Focusing in on the Vikings' first round picks (23rd & 25th), it becomes very possible that a wide receiver (or multiple wide receivers) may be on the Vikings radar.
Tavon Austin has emerged as the top wide receiving prospect out of this year's class and would be the most likely to replace the multiple-facets that Percy Harvin brought to the table last season. At 5'8", Austin grades out as an effective slot receiver who has the ability to run out of the backfield and return kicks/punts. If the Vikings have interest in Austin they will likely have to trade up in the draft and land right around the 14th or 15th pick.
As recently as last week, Keenan Allen was supposedly the next receiver thought to have been taken off the board. Questions surrounding a drug-test at the combine and a potential ankle issue have added question marks to Allen's draft status, but for the purpose of our arguments, we'll assume he will still be the next wide receiver taken. At 6'2", Allen has the size to develop into a big-time, number one receiver in the NFL but needs to work on consistency (on both route running and solidifying catches in traffic). Allen would be a good outside receiver fit for the Vikings and his draft stock may be falling right into Minnesota's wheelhouse in the early twenties.
Maybe the most likely and most interesting option for the Vikings is Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. Patterson was initially the top receiver on the board when mocks were first released. As we stand today, he will likely be the third (sometimes fourth) wide receiver taken in this year's draft. Still, he grades out higher than Keenan Allen and may fall into the laps of the Minnesota Vikings at 23 or 25. Patterson is tall (6'2") and fast but his strength in contention has been called into question. He has developed a reputation as a "body catcher" rather than meeting the ball at it's highest point with his hands which is viewed as a negative in the NFL. Armed with breakaway speed, Patterson may be the blazer that would complement the Vikings lineup of Jennings, Rudolph and Wright.
Other names to note as the draft approaches include DeAndre Hopkins (graded in second round), Quinton Patton (second), Terrance Williams (second), Robert Woods (second/third) and Justin Hunter (second).
A lot can, and probably will, change between today and the start of the Draft Thursday night. However, we know that the Vikings will be targeting wide receiver (because they have to).
Stay tuned to 100.3FM KFAN, @AjKFAN on twitter and KFAN.com for the latest draft coverage and analysis throughout the week.