With the 30th Pick the Minnesota Vikings select…

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by Peter Christian

The Vikings have a love/hate relationship with the NFL draft. Well, I guess I should say I have a love/hate relationship with the Vikings NFL Draft decisions. They’ve had their share of great 1st round picks over the years (Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Kevin Williams) but they’ve also had their share of disastrous blunders (Demetrius Underwood, Troy Williamson, handing in the draft card late in 2003). I’ll admit that the current front office has done a good job at identifying good prospects in the first round in the past few years but since they are in fact the Vikings, I maintain my ability to be ready for a letdown (read: Vikings entire history).

This year the Vikings hold the 30th pick in the first round which means in the new 3 day draft format it will be well after 10pm (central) when the Vikings make their pick. Holding a pick so late means it is very difficult to prognosticate who will be available when they pick, let alone decide which direction they will go once their pick is announced. The Vikings are in a unique position where they are still expected to be a good team, they didn’t lose much from their core from last season and have a couple of “need” positions to improve on last season’s few shortcomings. All that means is the Vikings are tough to predict even if you work in the organization, much more so if you are an outsider simply trying to mix your own analysis with that of Brad Childress, Rick Spielman and Zygi Wilf.

First let’s take a look at what areas the Vikings are looking to address with their first round pick:

Offensive Line

Even though the Vikings have two pro-bowlers on anchoring their line and last year’s 2nd round pick Phil Loadholt morphed into a very solid offensive tackle, they a little thin along the line. With top backup Artis Hicks moving on to Washington, the Vikings need a player who can be versatile enough to play more than one position and can step in admirably if one of the current starters goes down with an injury or their play falters. They don’t have to address this in the first round but a couple picks will definitely be dedicated to adding depth and flexibility to the offensive line. (Possible candidates: Maurkice Pouncey, Roger Saffold, Anthony Davis, Charles Brown, Mike Iupati)
For more on all the talented OTs in this draft click here
For more on where Mr. Banks’ predicts each Florida Gator will get drafted go here

jimmy clausen

Quarterback

Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre. Ok, I’ve said his name, I got it out of the way, it’s not the elephant in the room anymore. I believe Favre is coming back. I think the Vikings believe he’s coming back. I think Favre believes he’s coming back but as of now it’s more “Up in the Air” than Ryan Bingham’s love life. Whether Favre does return or not, the Vikings don’t currently have a future at the position. Tarvaris Jackson has been given his chances, Sage Rosenfels is, well, Sage Rosenfels and there are a handful of quarterbacks that the Vikings could be looking at with the 30th pick as a player to be groomed as the next purple quarterback.
(Possible candidates: Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, *grimace Tim Tebow grimace*)

Safety

At times last season the lack of depth among safeties really hurt the Vikings as they were running out inexperienced players or somewhat injured players or both. They might be looking to grab one of the best tier 2 safeties late in the first round to build some depth to prevent that from being an issue two years in a row. (Possible candidates: Taylor Mays, Nate Allen)

Cornerback

Antoine Winfield’s multi-game injury last season exposed the fact that most Vikings fans already knew: their nickel and dime backs were a little shaky. They had their moments when they made big plays but they also had some crucial errors that cost them games. Winfield is healthy again but he’s not getting younger and Cedric Griffin is coming off knee surgery due to torn ligaments. The Vikings just signed Lito Sheppard to help add some veteran savvy to the mix which may allow the Vikings to wait on adding a corner until a later round but if one of the top guys falls to them, they may be inclined to select a long term replacement for Winfield. (Possible candidates: Kyle Wilson, Devin McCourty, Kareem Jackson, Patrick Robinson)

Defensive Line

The Vikings have one of the best front 4 in the NFL (if/when Ray Edwards signs his tender) but once you get beyond them, the talent on the along the line of scrimmage falls off. Jimmy Kennedy is back after a solid season as a back up and Bryan Robison is a decent pass rusher but no one is hoping the Vikings have to count on them if one of the starters get injured (well, unless you are a Packers or Bears fan). This draft is stacked with defensive line talent and if a high ranking end or tackle falls into their lap, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them react by selecting that player. (Possible Candidates: Jared Odrick, Everson Griffen, Carlos Dunlap, Brian Price, Tyson Alualu)
For more on all the talented DEs in this draft class go here

Obviously, as any team with a pick so late in the first round, the Vikings need to be prepared to go in any direction based on what happens in front of them. But with the previous information already laid out it’s a little bit easier to narrow down who the Vikings are really after.
The top of the list guys that the Vikings would love to select but they are expecting to be taken before they select are: Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Iupati, Jimmy Clausen and Kyle Wilson. If any of those players are available at the 30th pick, there will be very little hesitation to write their name down on the draft card.

With the signing of Sheppard, I think the chances they select any of the other CB candidates with the 30th pick remains slim. I think next on the list would be any of the offensive line candidates if they are available. I also think that the Vikings will pass on selecting a defensive lineman unless they know something about Ray Edwards that the rest of the league doesn’t in which case I think Odrick or Griffen would be an option for the Vikings.

However I think the Vikings choice will come down to selecting Taylor Mays to play a deep safety and allow him to develop alongside Tyrell Johnson and under the veteran Madieu Williams or a quarterback, namely Colt McCoy. I know Brad Childress is a lot of things but he is not dumb enough to think Tim Tebow is the answer to any question other than “Who is the most overrated college quarterback of all time?” And even though the consistently wrong Peter King thinks Childress is enamored with St. Tebow, it would be suicide to draft Tebow to be the future only 4 years after handpicking Tarvaris Jackson to be the same. Colt McCoy is the safer pick with the higher ceiling. He’s a proven quarterback with actual quarterback skills and could use some refining before being handed the keys. Whether it’s learning what not to do behind Tarvaris or Sage or what to do from a legend, Colt would be an OK pick for the future. If the Vikings aren’t sold on Colt then they can look at anyone of the other candidates I named that are still on the board. That’s the beauty of being a good team, you have options, you just need to make sure you are smart with those options.

Click here to see Mr. Banks 1st round mock draft

Click here to see Peter Christian’s 1st round mock draft

Click here to see The Sports Bank’s Big Board

Click here to see The Sports Bank’s NFL Team Needs

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