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Crucial draft on tap for Vikings' foundering ship

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The Minnesota Vikings are less than two weeks away from one of the most crucial college drafts in the 52-year history of their team.

The Vikes have been spiraling downward since the 2009 season for a variety of reasons. They had a terrific offense that year led by veteran quarterback Brett Favre. Barring some overtime stupidity they would have played Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.

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When Favre started playing footsie and Brad Childress grimly sent three of his players on a team jet down to Mississippi in August of 2010 to fetch Favre back it told a lot of us that he was seriously hurting for a good quarterback. If the Vikes would have had a solid young quarterback ready, like they should have, Childress would not have had to gamble. So what happened? Favre reverted to something akin to the quarterback he was in 2008 when he was with the Jets. It did not help that his top target of 2009, Sidney Rice, was not around to help him. Rice selfishly decided to withhold information from the club regarding an injury.

Chester Taylor, Pat Williams, Ray Edwards and Bryant McKinnie are some of the players that have left the team since the 2010 season. The Vikes did not have the people there to replace them.

Zygi Wilf may have jump-started his Vikings with the free agent market when he first acquired the team but with just a few exceptions, most of the recent drafts have been filled with disappointment. The Vikes may not be the worst team in the NFL when it comes to drafting players but they are far from the best.

When are the Vikings going to take their secondary seriously? Cedric Griffin, who was sent packing just before the free agent bidding began, is the last good secondary player that the Vikings have drafted. There was a time when the New England Patriots, a team that drafts pretty smart, had four No. 1 picks in their secondary. What the Vikes have back there are underachievers like Tyrell Johnson and Asher Allen. Chris Cook may have been found innocent of the assault charges he went to court for but he has been guilty more than once of lousy coverage.

What is the use of having a great pass rusher like Jared Allen when your secondary is a sieve?

No one will blink an eye if the Vikings go ahead and draft Matt Kalil to play offensive tackle. They have to put their line back in shape before their offense can be expected to work. Yet given their proclivity for screwing up in the draft you really have to wonder what general manager Rick Spielman has in mind. Conventional wisdom says that you spend your first pick on an impact player. That might put wideout Justin Blackmon in a purple uniform this fall.

Perhaps none of these choices are really the best way to go. What about trading down and landing more draft picks? After all, this team can use more talent just about everywhere.

The Vikes can be a better team this fall but first they have to make some canny decisions this spring. They have to come out of the 2012 draft with an "A" on their report card.

Break for taxpayers and Vikings?

The Minnesota state legislature does not want to take the White Earth Indian Nation offer seriously but there are plenty of taxpayers who do.

The tribe has offered to shell out $400 million toward a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the right to build a gambling casino in the more lucrative Twin Cities market.

Some taxpayers see it as a win-win situation because it would take us off the hook for the state's contribution to a new football stadium. The state legislature is afraid of opening a can of worms by favoring one tribe's gambling interests over other tribes. The Mystic Lake Casino in Shakopee would probably squawk the loudest but their casino is on the south side of the Twin Cities area. Arden Hills, a suburb on the northern side of the metro area, has already offered land for a stadium. How much more trouble would it be to tuck a casino in next to that stadium and keep it 26 miles away from Mystic Lake?

The bottom line for diehard Viking fans is that a new stadium is the only way to keep their team in Minnesota.

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