Another look around the world of NFL Mock Drafts has brought me to ESPN's pair of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. McShay put out the third version of his mock draft late last week, while Kiper just released version 2.0 of his mock today. Both of these can be found on ESPN In$ider, so I can't detail the whole thing for you. . .but I can tell you who both of these men have projected to the Vikings at this point.
McShay, Kiper, and Kiper's hair have all come to the consensus that, if the draft were to be held today, the Vikings should select North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn with the #12 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. First, here's Kiper's take on the pick.
Minnesota, like Houston, is a team that could use a safety but simply can't pick one within its value range if it stays at this position in the draft. In Quinn you have a guy whose skills as a pass-rusher might rival those of Bowers were he able to suit up this year for North Carolina. A first-rate athlete with an ideal skill set to become a Pro Bowl 4-3 defensive end, he's an immediate upgrade along the Vikings' defensive line.
And now, McShay.
Quinn falls here because of the suspension that cost him the entire 2010 season, and the Vikings take advantage. Their defense is aging, and two of their defensive ends -- starter Ray Edwards and backup Brian Robison -- are free agents. The team would like to find its future franchise quarterback here, but Locker needs too much time to develop.
The suspension that McShay refers to is the same one that claimed about half of the Tarheels' starting defense in 2010, with the suspensions stemming from allegations of improper benefits from agents and things of that nature. So, Quinn didn't set foot on the field at all in 2010, which would have been his junior year. . .but if his sophomore year in 2009 was any indication, he could end up being one heck of a pick-up for the Vikings at number 12.
As a sophomore, you could have made a strong argument for Quinn as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, as he registered 11 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. At 6'5" and 270 pounds, he has the ideal size for a defensive end and, if Ray Edwards is on his way out of Minnesota, would have a great opportunity to step in and start right away.
Quinn is actually ranked number five on Kiper's "big board" at the moment, so it's surprising that he has Quinn falling all the way to number 12. The consensus on Quinn at this point is that he's the #2 defensive end in the draft this year, behind Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers.
And, yes, in both Kiper and McShay's mocks, both Blaine Gabbert are off of the board by the time the Vikings' selection comes. Kiper has Newton going ahead of Gabbert, while McShay has it the other way around. Also, McShay has a third quarterback going off of the board in the first round, while Kiper does not. Guess that "Big Four" I was talking about just after the regular season finished may be down to a "Big Two."and