So it's my turn to present my "Closing Argument" as to who the Vikings should pick. My colleague Ted decisively went with J.J. Watt of Wisconsin yesterday, and presented some strong evidence as to why he wants our beloved Vikings to draft him. In the next two days leading up to the draft, you'll hear compelling arguments from other esteemed writers on this site telling you why the Vikings should pick elsewhere with their first rounder.
Me? Not so much. I mean, I like Ted's pick. Although I'm sure it would take quite some time to wash the stink of Wisconsin from him (it smells like cheese curds and manure, not necessarily in that order), I think I would be OK with Watt. Or maybe not. Well, I think Watt would be a good fit, but we really need a quarterback. And we could probably use a new tackle. And our secondary needs some help. But then again, there might be a couple good QBs available in the second round, while all the great defensive line talent in the draft will probably be gone by pick #43. There's no way that we'll get good value in the secondary at #12 because all the good guys worth taking there will be gone. But what if one of those guys slips to us at #12? And what if...
...AAAAUUUGGHH!! You see what I'm going through here? The other writers have a slam-dunk pick that they're absolutely certain will bring our franchise to a new level. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm staring at more question marks than The Riddler's suit, trying to make a choice as difficult as Pat Williams choosing which delicious sandwich he should eat for lunch. (Unlike Pat, "all of them" isn't an option for me.)
So in the case of 2011 Vikings Draft Bust vs. Franchise Player, please allow Counselor Thompson to nervously adjust his tie, slowly stand up from the defense table and address the jury to say which player the Vikings should choose:
I'll at least explain who I like and don't like after the jump; I promise.
The one thing I'm fairly certain of is that the Vikings should go with one of four positions in the first round: defensive end, offensive tackle, cornerback, or quarterback. The talent in this draft combined with our needs seems to dictate the Vikings going in one of those four directions. Rather than give you a complete stream-of-consciousness-word-diarrhea going through each possible candidate for the Vikings at those positions, I'll try to break them up into categories. (That way, it's only a partial stream-of-consciousness-word-diarrhea).
Guys That I Like, But They Won't Be There
- Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara: Both guys would be a welcome addition to the Vikings' indie rock band "Antoine Winfield & The Mediocrity", but they'll be snatched up by the time our pick comes around. Some mock drafts have Prince slipping to--and past--the Vikings, but I don't see the Texans passing on such a huge need.
- Blaine Gabbert: He'd be an excellent fit in our offense. It's just too bad there are way too many QB-needy teams for him to fall through.
- Tyron Smith: All signs seem to be pointing directly to Dallas for Smith. I think he's one of two or three tackles in this draft worth picking as high as the Vikings are drafting.
Guys That Won't Be There And I'm Glad We Won't Have To Worry About Picking
- Cam Newton: Sure, he's got all the potential in the world. But part of that potential is also the potential to set an already reeling Minnesota franchise even further back than they are now. I just don't think we're a good fit for Cam and vice versa. Besides, did anyone come off worse from the Jon Gruden interviews than Newton did?
Guys That We Should Not Pick At #12, But I'd Be OK With Them In The Second Round
Da'Quan Bowers: Why? One word. I'll even spell it out for you: M-I-C-R-O-F-R-A-C-T-U-R-E. No thanks. Let Detroit take that gamble--there are too many great prospects along the defensive line in this draft to take that big of a risk.
- Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton, and Christian Ponder: Mallett is flying out of the first round altogether, while Dalton and Ponder are the new Draft Darlings. It makes me nervous when quarterbacks shoot up and down draft boards without, you know, actually playing a single down to change their status. There's a reason why teams are souring on Mallett as a first round prospect and there's a reason why Dalton and Ponder weren't ranked this high until the past few days, right? That said, if any of them are there at #43, I'm probably A-OK with pulling the trigger. (Go figure--I told you I was confused.)
- Jake Locker: He deserves his own entry since so many mock drafts (including our own) have the Vikings picking Locker. Everyone wails about his accuracy numbers, which is valid. But then again, it's not like Locker was playing for a juggernaut--Washington was below average at best. What I'm most concerned about with Locker are the few plays he seemed to have every game during his senior season that made you say, "OK what the hell were you even thinking there?" Locker made some truly baffling decisions with the ball, and that makes me more nervous than any statistic could. If we're going to pick a quarterback of the future with our first pick this year, I don't want to feel that nervous about him.
Other Defensive Ends Possibly In The Mix
If the Vikings go with a defensive end in the first round, it's probably because they took the "Best Player Available" route, since I think the secondary and quarterback are much more pressing needs. Depending on who we go with, I could definitely talk myself into that route. I'll rank this section in the order I like them, from most to least:
Cameron Jordan: Gets the nod over Watt if only for the fact that I would love to see more Steve Jordan clips next year--he was one of my favorite Vikings in my formative fan years. Jordan the Younger would be a great fill in for Ray Edwards if Edwards bolts in free agency.
- J.J. Watt: The 1A to Jordan's 1. Want to know why he's good? Read Ted's post. Want to see a guy slowly go crazy because he can't make up his mind? Keep reading.
- Robert Quinn: Probably the most talented of this bunch, but the words "inconsistent", "work ethic", and "scandal" get thrown around a little too much.
- Ryan Kerrigan: I think he jumped up a little too much just because of his amazing combine. I still feel like his play in college was slightly below the guys ahead of him on this list.
- Aldon Smith, Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward: I'd be OK with any of these three guys, but not this high. The Vikings could most likely trade down to later in the first round and get them; if one of these three ends up in purple, I hope that's exactly what Minnesota did.
Offensive Linemen I Could Be Talked Into
Just like the D-line, I'll rank them in order I like them:
- Anthony Castonzo: The more I learn about the BC grad, the more I like him. He may not be built like the prototypical first-round tackle, but I think the Vikings could plug him in just about anywhere along the line and get productive downs.
- Gabe Carimi: Again, assuming we could wash off the Wisconsin stank. His consistency and production at Wisconsin tell me that it wouldn't be too much of a reach to pick him in the first round.
- Nate Solder: I know his technique has come into question as he's fallen down most draft boards, but the dude is an absolute beast. Like the defensive ends I mentioned at the end of the previous section, we would hopefully move down a bit in the first round to pick up someone like Solder, but he definitely has all the tools.
Secondary Guys Not Named Peterson Or Amukamara That I Would Take This Early In The First Round
None. Jimmy Smith, Aaron Williams, and Brandon Harris are all intriguing by the time our second pick comes around. But this early? No way.
OK, I think that covers it. Sounds simple enough! But wait--what about the possibility of picking up someone like Kevin Kolb (in brief--yes) or Donovan McNabb (in brief--hell no)? What about trading down? Which picks would be acceptable? What if the new CBA lets players like Sidney Rice walk? What then?!
Let's just stop the speculation here so I have some hair left to pull out by Thursday night. Was this rambling post a glimpse into the tough decisions ahead this week for the Minnesota Vikings? Most likely. I do not envy Rick Spielman's job right now. There are just too many variables in this most uncertain 2011 NFL Draft.
Was this rambling post a complete cop-out from having to choose only one draft candidate for our "Closing Arguments" meme here at Daily Norseman? You bet your ass it was. But hey, if the league, players, and judges can't even decide whether or not they're locked out right now, why can't I be indecisive too?