If the Vikings don't take a defensive end in the first round, they're going to have to consider taking one in the second round. Whether there will be one worth drafting with the 47th pick, is a whole 'nother question. There are three defensive ends who look like second round picks, Calais Campbell, a junior from Miami, Quentin Groves, a senior from Auburn, and Cliff Avril, a senior from Purdue. Don't be surprised to see Lawrence Jackson from USC go in the second round as well.
Calais Cambell- 6'8", 282 LBs, Miami
Campbell looked like a top 15 pick after his sophomore year, where he dominated the ACC, racking up 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for a loss. He was living up to his hype as the favorite for the Ted Hendricks award through his first 5 games, with 4.5 sacks and 7 TFL. He fell off dramatically after that, only getting 1.5 more sacks and 5.5 more TFL through the last 6 games. His size, reach, athleticism, tackling, motor and quickness all scream "First Rounder", but his fall off in production, tendency to play too high and mediocre showing at the Combine (5.04 forty, 7.45 second 3 cone drill) mean he'll likely fall to the second round. How far he'll fall is the question, but he'd be a good choice for the Purple if they think his junior year was the real Campbell.
Quentin Groves-6'3", 250 LBs, Auburn
With the recent revelation that he had heart surgery, Groves is now damaged goods. He is the all time sack leader at Auburn, has the speed, quickness and strength to be a force coming off of the edge, but he also had a heart condition serious enough to warrant surgery. Any team looking to draft him had better trust their medical staff to check him out properly before drafting him, that's for sure. Groves might not be the best fit for the Purple, since, at 250 pounds, he's small for a 4-3 defensive end, and would likely have trouble going one on one every play with the much bigger NFL offensive tackles, especially since he has a limited repertoire of moves. He'd be a much better fit at outside linebacker in a 3-4, but with his speed and quickness (he ran a 4.57 forty and a 4.42 20 yard shuttle), its not unreasonable to think he could be a poor man's version of Javon Kearse (Kearse is only 263 lbs). He wasn't as quick in the 3 cone drill, running it in 7.31 seconds (6.90 seconds was the best time), so he might not be as quick as he'd need to be to play as an undersized defensive end.
Cliff Avril--6'3", 252 LBs, Purdue
Like Groves, Avril has the skills and speed to be an undersized speed rusher, but would likely be better as a linebacker. Unlike Groves, however, Avril's didn't start playing defensive end until part of the way through his junior year. Once he moved, however, he flourished, racking up 6 sacks his junior year and 6.5 sacks as a senior. He also caused six fumbles in his two years and had 30 tackles for a loss. He's exceptionally quick, running the fastest 3 cone drill by a defensive lineman (6.90 seconds) and his time would have put him in the top ten amongst running backs and linebackers as well. Avril has the burst to get by offensive linemen, and while he will likely struggle against NFL tackles that he can't get by with his quickness, he has some good pass rush moves, and can use his hands to keep blockers off his body and get separation. He has trouble against double teams as well, but that shouldn't be much of a problem on the Vikings' defensive line. He's decent against the run, but had some problem bringing down the bigger backs he faced.
Lawrence Jackson, 6'5", 268 LBs, USC
Jackson's a hard working end from USC that has injury and consistency concerns. He plays the run well, and when he's hot, he can be a pass rushing force. He has the quickness you want in a defense end, running a 4.40 2o yard shuttle and a 7.08 second 3 cone drill (both were top ten amongst defensive lineman at the combine), but his motor is questionable, and he seems to disappear for long stretches of time. When he's playing well, he keeps separation, displaying good pass rush moves and fights through blocks. When he isn't, he can be controlled relatively easily. He was on a lot his senior year, racking up 10.5 sacks and 17 TFL, but it needs to be mentioned that he also shared the line with a dominant partner, possible top 5 pick, Sedrick Ellis. Jackson has also been compared by scouts to Kenechi Udeze, which isn't bad, but isn't exactly the highest compliment for a pass rusher.