The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a winning season in which they reeled off 12 one-score victories in recording a 13-4 regular-season record and finishing in first place in the NFC North.

It was a solid year for first-year head coach Kevin O'Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, also in his first year. But while the Vikings were able to assert themselves on offense behind superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson and quarterback Kirk Cousins, there is quite a bit improvement needed.

The Vikings have a significant amount of work to do on defense, because that area is a liability for them. Minnesota ranked 31st in yards allowed during the regular season, and the defense was at its worst in the team's home Wild Card loss to the New York Giants.

That unit allowed New York quarterback Daniel Jones to fire the ball with ease and look like an All-Pro even though he is far from a finished product.

So, it's clear that the Vikings need to make several defensive selections in the upcoming draft. However, they cannot ignore the quarterback position.

The Vikings made the choice not to extend Cousins past the 2023 season. They could do so after the upcoming season, but it's clear that the Vikings need to address the position and find a quarterback of the future.

They should do that with their first-round selection

Select a quarterback in Round 1

As usual, quarterbacks have a commanding presence at the top of this year's draft. C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Bryce Young are likely to be two of the first selections.

Will Levis of Kentucky and Anthony Richardson of Florida are likely to be drafted inside top 10, and certainly no later than the top 15.

The Vikings have the No. 23 selection in the first round, and they will have a chance to address their future quarterback needs with this choice.

Hendon Hooker of Tennessee could turn out to be the best and most consistent quarterback in this year's draft. Hooker was on track to win the Heisman Trophy last year before suffering an ACL injury, and he has been making steady progress since then.

Hooker is likely to be ready to go by the start of training camp, but having him prepared and ready to learn while Cousins lines up under center should be enough.

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The former Tennessee quarterback throws the best looking pass among this year's quarterbacks. He has an incredibly smooth delivery and perfect timing on his medium- and long-range passes. Hooker had a 58-5 touchdown to interception ratio during the last two seasons with the Volunteers while passing for 6,080 yards.

He is a winning selection for a team that won't have to panic when it's time to insert a young quarterback in the lineup.

Use 3rd-round pick on pass rusher

The Vikings don't have a 2nd-round selection. They will follow their first-round selection with the No. 87 selection overall in the 3rd round.

The need on defense is immense and the belief is that that they must improve their pass rush and their secondary.

The need in both areas is great, but finding a pass rusher who can contribute consistently will help both areas. An improved pass rush means the secondary won't have to cover as long and can focus on staying with receivers in an intense manner over a shorter period of time.

Derick Hall of Auburn could be available when the Vikings select in the 3rd round. The 6-2, 254-pound edge rusher had 9.0 sacks in 2021 and he followed that up with 7.0 sacks last season.

He has the ability to overpower blockers with his initial movement, and while he does not have an array of moves, his combination of speed and strength should allow him to become a player who produces consistently.

Trade back into the second round

The Vikings have just 5 picks in this year's draft. Since the team is under the gun with regards to the salary cap, that's not a good thing.

Finding rookies who can contribute can help the Vikings get out of salary cap trouble. By trading productive veterans, the Vikings may be able to add to their total of draft picks. If they can do that, they will have a much better chance of rebuilding their defense faster than most observers believe they can