I've been considering our options at #12 and beyond for quite some time, and with less than two weeks to go until the draft I think I'm ready to lay out two scenarios. For starters, I think I've solidified my Top 10, but whoever Houston takes right before us at #11 is where our path will be decided, IMHO. I also assume we will be doing some trading throughout the draft, but I can't factor in those spots exactly (especially in the later rounds). As our picks currently stand, here are my thoughts after the jump.
First, my Top 10:
1. Carolina – Cam Newton, QB -- I still don't know if it makes sense, and I think it's a reach -- but as time goes by, and with Carolina not having a 2nd rd pick to take a QB with, the more logical it becomes to take the athletic specimen that Cam is (especially considering DeAngelo Williams is likely heading out of town).
2. Denver – Patrick Peterson, CB -- Everyone likes Dareus here, but I think Denver goes with the 'cleanest' pick in the draft. Along with Champ Bailey, the Broncos will have a stellar secondary -- and by the time Champ retires, they will still have an elite-level DB to keep things under control.
3. Buffalo – Marcell Dareus, DT/DE -- The pick makes sense, plain and simple. Next.
4. Cincinnati – AJ Green, WR -- Cincy could be tempted to take Gabbert here, and it's quite possible they will, but I think they could use Green as a chip to maybe keep Palmer from 'retiring'. Even if Palmer goes elsewhere, Cincy picks early enough in the 2nd rd to grab a good QB in this draft, but the WR talent pool takes a nosedive.
5. Arizona – Blaine Gabbert, QB -- Talk about a no-brainer.
6. Cleveland – Robert Quinn, DE -- They could use a WR, but I question whether Juilo should go this high. Instead, with switching back to the 4-3, the Browns take a high-motor rusher in Quinn. It's risky, I'll admit, but I see them taking the leap.
7. San Francisco – Von Miller, LB -- The 49ers are on the clock ... and they take Miller in 1.8 seconds. Again, kind of a no-brainer for a player who fell this far.
8. Tennessee – Nick Fairley, DT -- This is a ho-hum pick, but still logical. Despite their need for QB, considering who is left I think the Titans wait until the 2nd rd like the Bengals and take a DT who can start right away.
9. Dallas – Tyron Smith, OT -- Smith is going to be a helluva player at the next level, and Dallas needs a lot of help along the line.
10. Washington – Julio Jones, WR -- The 'skins need a No. 1 WR, and Jones fits the bill quite easily.
So where does that leave us?? Houston will almost definitely go with a defensive player, and it could go one of two ways:
11a. Prince Amukamara, CB -- Their secondary is awful and Prince will be a huge asset.
11b. JJ Watt, DE -- Perhaps they decide to help their secondary out by getting a playmaker on the line to rush opposing QBs. Da'quan Bowers is still available, but I think concerns over his knee are legitimate and his stock is falling accordingly. I also considered Cameron Jordan here, but Watt is a better fit, I think.
With that in mind, here are the scenarios for the Vikes, in my mind:
-- Scenario A (Houston picks Amukamara)
#12 (Rd 1) - Jake Locker, QB -- Oh, how I know a lot of people hate this pick. Spielman seems quite impressed with Locker, and I don't think in this instance it's a smokescreen. If the triangle sees him as our QBOTF, we take him here with the above talent off the board. We almost certainly would have to get a McNabb or some other veteran to come in for at least one season, however.
#43 (Rd 2) - Bruce Carter, LB -- While LB isn't a glaring need, we could secure one of the best LB cores in the league by drafting Carter. His knee is a concern, but he has had a lot of time to heal and for a player with 1st rd talent falling this far, it isn't as much of a risk as it could be. Carter would also annihilate the competition on ST, especially with his potential to block kicks. At the very least, Singletary will be quite happy.
#106 (Rd 4) - Tyler Sash, SS -- Honestly, I don't see Sash falling to the 4th, but if he does he is an absolute steal here. He certainly need help at the Safety position and Sash is a very physical, ball hawking player. I wouldn't be disappointed if we traded up into the 3rd using this pick and two later rounders -- that's how much I think this guy can produce.
#139 (Rd 5) - Owen Marecic, FB -- Marecic could be taken before the 5th rd, but he very well could be available here. Reuniting him with Gerhart (and having him on the field with AP) could make for some very special years looking forward. Like Bruce Carter, Marecic would be a huge asset on ST.
#150 (Rd 5) - Brandon Fusco, C -- Small-school standout who could use a little polishing, but should provide good competition for the starting job.
#172 (Rd 6) - David Carter, DT -- Wouldn't start right away, but will provide youth in the middle of the D-line and should be serviceable in time.
#200 (Rd 6, compensatory) - Ryan Taylor, TE -- Another Tar Heel goes in this scenario. Would most likely serve as an H-back, but a promising young player nonetheless who could develop into a major contributor in coming seasons when our older TE's are gone.
#215 (Rd 7) - Owen Spencer, WR -- He has some issues and wouldn't be an impact player right away, but could find his place down the road.
#236 (Rd 7, compensatory) - BPA
-- Scenario B (Houston picks JJ Watt)
#12 (Rd 1) - Prince Amukamara, CB -- If Prince fell in our laps at #12, it would be too difficult to pass him up. Even if we addressed a quarterback as our QBOTF, I still say you take Prince here and find a way to trade back into the end of the 1st or early 2nd to get our QB, possibly with a 2012 2nd round pick + change (with New England having picks at #28 and 33, they would be a logical partner considering Belichick likes to trade for future picks).
#43 (Rd 2) - Andy Dalton, QB -- Dalton is a good fit here, and assuming he trickled through the QB-needy teams (which isn't a foregone conclusion), I think he'd be a solid fit in MN. Again, maybe need to go with a veteran while Dalton watches from the sidelines for a season or two, but I would be happy with this pick.
#106 (Rd 4) - DJ Williams, TE -- Another TE that fits the mold of an H-back, Williams is the type of young TE we need as our current TE's are all up there in age.
#139 (Rd 5) - Cortez Allen, CB/S -- It's hard to find a lot of info on this guy, but he had an impressive showing at The Citadel's pro day and he is an intriguing prospect at FS (or at CB, should Griffin or Cook shift to FS).
#150 (Rd 5) - Brian Rolle, LB -- Undersized but a physical monster (put up 28 reps at the combine, if memory serves). Would dominate on ST and could find himself with an increased role at LB in no time.
#172 (Rd 6) - Zane Taylor, C -- A prospect who may be relegated as a backup to start, but worth taking at this spot.
#200 (Rd 6, compensatory) - Kris Durham, WR -- If you haven't read up on this unsung WR from Georgia, check him out.
#215 (Rd 7) - Chris Blohm, TE -- This would make for 5 TE's on our roster, but Blohm is an exceptional blocker and with two TE sets becoming a real possibility, we need players like Blohm to at least be given a shot.
#236 (Rd 7, compensatory) - BPA
Your comments are welcome -- any thoughts on either of these scenarios??