Since the Vikings are one of the increasing number of teams that have been eliminated from post-season contention in the NFL for this season, the focus of their fans is now turning to this April's annual selection meeting. Yes, it's the time to start looking at the 2011 NFL Draft, and where the Vikings could potentially end up selecting their quarterback of the future. (Well, in theory, anyway. . .if Joe Webb turns out to be more "Superman" than "Spider-Man," then I suppose it's possible the Vikings could look at another position in Round One, but we'll have to wait and see on that.)
The Carolina Panthers still have the pole position for the top overall pick with a record of 2-12. They also have two very tough games to finish the season, as they'll be taking on both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons. It's very likely that the Panthers will finish 2-14 and, since no team can finish worse, they'll have the top overall pick this April. The top six picks currently belong to, in order, Carolina (2-12), Denver (3-11), Cincinnati (3-11), Arizona (4-10), Detroit (4-10), and Buffalo (4-10). The Vikings, as of now, will fall into one of the next two groups, based on what they do tonight against the Chicago Bears.
Should the Vikings lose to Chicago tonight, they'll fall to 5-9 and find themselves in a group of teams that currently involves, in order, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Houston, and Cleveland. I'm not entirely sure where they'd slot into that group, but they'd fall in with those teams somewhere in the range between the seventh and the twelfth picks. The group at 6-8, which is where the Vikings would find themselves if they win this evening, is much smaller, as the only other 6-8 teams right now are Seattle and Tennessee, so that would place the Vikings with a first-round selection somewhere between 12 and 14.
We'll have an update on this tomorrow after the Vikings' game against Chicago has been decided, as we should have a more solid idea of exactly where the Vikings will be at with all the tiebreakers applied and so forth at that time. You can take a look at the entire first-round draft order, as it currently lies, at SBNation.com.