Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
We're only going into Week 10 of the 2012 NFL season, but it's never too early to start looking at the 2013 NFL Draft. Well, not if you're Mel Kiper. . .dramatic pause. . .draft expert, in any case.
Yes, Kiper and his hair have put out a new mock draft which projects what teams would do if the 2013 NFL Draft were to be held tomorrow. The article is behind the ESPN In$ider pay wall, so I can't give you the whole thing, but I can certainly tell you the part about the Vikings. Honestly, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that's been paying attention so far this season.
Keep in mind that, if the draft were held today, the Vikings would hold the 20th overall pick, which is the highest a non-playoff team can draft. (If the playoffs started today, the Seattle Seahawks would be the #6 seed in the NFC thanks to last week's win over Minnesota.)
The Vikings have been successful at turning their early draft picks in 2012 into immediate production. Offensive tackle and safety are no longer the big issues with Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith on the field. Wide receiver now comes into focus for me. Jerome Simpson is a good player, but nowhere near an elite one, and Percy Harvin is still best catching the passes closer to the line of scrimmage, where his elusiveness is a major weapon. They need to find Christian Ponder another consistent target. Elsewhere, they need another good cornerback (or two), and have to acknowledge the age of their best defensive lineman.
Drafting tomorrow: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Allen is one of college football's premiere receivers, having caught 61 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns so far this season. As a sophomore in 2011, he caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six scores. Unfortunately, he will miss his second straight game this week with a knee injury, so you won't be able to get a look at him as the Cal Bears take on the highly-ranked Oregon Ducks on Saturday.
The 6'3", 205-pound Allen is pretty highly ranked everywhere you look. The folks at Walter Football actually have him as the top receiver available in the 2013 Draft, saying that he's been held back by bad quarterback play and that he's "played better than his stats indicate." DraftTek has Allen as their top wide receiver as well, ranking him the 10th-best player available overall at the present time.