Hey all. Sorry for the lack of activity recently, I've been really busy with school at the moment but with my second quarter of college officially ending in two weeks (yussss) I'll be able to get back into writing for a little while right around when free agency starts.
I wanted to give a spontaneous draft update for the Vikings, some targets for the offseason and a quick mock draft to digest, so I apologize in advance for the complete and utter lack of organization this blurb of writing is about to have.
First of all, did any of you watch the combine today? I did for the time that I could, but I got to see Matt Kalil work out as well as some of the other Offensive Line and Tight End prospects. Some notable players that I thought had a great combine and really helped their stock out of the initial OL/TE group were (with numbers/weigh ins courtesy of www.walterfootball.com):
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford (6'4 and 7/8, 316Lbs): Even though he ran a 5.43 forty time, he had 34 reps on the bench, had decent arm length (33 inches) and scouts were raving about his football drill abilities.
Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia (6'5, 345Lbs): The dude weighed in at 350 and ran a freaking 5.15 forty. If that doesn't guarantee you a top 25 spot as an offensive lineman I don't know what will. If only the Raiders had a first round draft pick...oh well, Carson Palmer was worth it, right? (/sarcasm) Also put up 33 on the bench with 35 inch arms. That's pretty impressive.
Out of the tight ends, I don't think there are many major guys the Vikings would be targeting in the first couple rounds because they spent their second on Rudolph last year. I do, however, they might try to add a tight end with a late round or compensatory draft pick if a good blocking guy is there. One guy i thought had a really good day was Drake Dunsmore out of Northwestern. He is about 6-3 and 245, and he plays a lot like the good ol' Jimmy, the Sauce Boss. Why not replace the TE3/H-Back with another awesome name in the later rounds? I'm calling it now!
And obviously...Matt Kalil blew up the combine, which is what I wanted to talk about the most. He weighed in at 6'6 and 7/8, 306 pounds, which I thought was really impressive considering he weighed in 10 pounds above his listed playing weight, and just a hair under 6'7 sounds about right. He also put up 30 reps on the bench despite having 34 and 1/2 inch arms, which is quite an impressive total. Most impressively, he ran the second fastest 40 time out of the offensive line group with a 4.99 official (4.96 unofficial) and killed it in the football drills, never looking lost. All in all, he put himself head and shoulders above the rest of the offensive linemen in this year's class, with DeCastro coming in at a close second (him also being the top guard prospect by quite a bit).
After his combine workout today, several media sources claimed Kalil would be a lock to the Vikings with the third overall pick with talk heating up that the Rams would be trading their pick for the highest bidder (with a trade possibly being completed before the draft happens). Myself along with several others (Chris and Ted to be two of them) think the Vikings would be beyond moronic to pass on Kalil or trade down if he's there for the taking, and that's how I feel as well. While it's true that Christian Ponder needs weapon to help his game develop, his game can't develop at all if he's constantly on his back. Not only that, but adding Kalil would allow Charlie Johnson to move to right guard, upgrading two spots for the price of one. Additionally, Kalil would give the running backs some better running lanes. I think he's the pick if he's there, and if he's not then I think the Vikings should trade down for their biggest RGIII bidder.
Back to the whole "Kalil is a lock to the Vikings" thing as a side note, take a look at all the articles that got posted tonight after his workout claiming such (notably from the major news sites, NFL.com and ESPN):
All of this whole "consensus" stuff is what makes me really worried that Kalil isn't going to be going to the Vikings. I don't know, maybe I'm still shell-shocked from Christian Ponder getting taken with the 12th pick last year, but I almost feel as if Rick Spielman is going to get overly cute with the pick and try to either trade down when Kalil is there, or take a guy like Justin Blackmon even if he is there. Hopefully, Spielman's recent comments (as Chris quoted on the front page) are just a smokescreen, and the Vikings will make a great move and just nab Kalil and call it that. We'll see what happens though. My gut tells me that something interesting is going to happen either way, and I'm not 100% sure that that's a good thing.
It'll be interesting to see how the Vikings address this upcoming free agency period, and it'll definitely give us an indication of where the Vikings will be going in the first round of the draft. To be 100% honest with you, I think that the Vikings game plan when it comes to targeting players will look something like this (no funding plans included, that's Mark's job): grab a somewhat young, deep-threat wide receiver (Pierre Garcon and Robert Meachem would both be great targets) for a decent price, spend a large amount of money for a top-tier secondary player such as Brandon Carr, LaRon Landry or Tyvon Branch, and then sign one more guy coming off his rookie contract on defense (Curtis Lofton and Dan Connor both look like potential targets IMO, with Connor being the more likely target because of how cheap he'll be.)
If I had to make cuts, I would do the following: cut Cedric Griffin, Remi Ayodele, and let the rest of the free agents go except for Erin Henderson, who I think should be resigned. The "Steve Hutchinson debate" is probably going to be a big indicator on what the Vikings do in the draft. If they keep him, it could mean that they're not only paying him to play his contract out, but to also mentor some of the younger guys, especially if they draft a left tackle like Kalil. If they don't keep Hutch around, I think that it'll mean that they're blowing things up altogether, rolling with the young guys and going with a playmaker on offense in the first round. Personally, I think Hutch's experience alone is worth his payroll, but ONLY if they plan on drafting a left tackle in the first round to groom. Otherwise, I wouldn't keep him.
Now, moving on to the mock draft. Assuming that the offseason plays out as I described before (with Brandon Carr, Garcon, and Connor with Ayodele and Griffin getting cut) and Hutchinson NOT being released, here's how I would mock the Vikings draft (Spielman has indicated that the team is expecting TWO fourth round compensatories, but I'm not sure the league will be that generous so I'll go with a 4th comp. and a 7th comp.)
1st Round, 3rd Overall: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
2nd Round, 35th Overall: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
3rd Round, 67th Overall: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
4th Round, 99th Overall: Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina
4th Round (comp.): Janzen Jackson, SS, McNeese State
5th Round, 131st Overall: Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly
6th Round (Jayme Mitchell trade): Lucas Nix, OG, Pittsburgh
7th Round, 195th Overall: Drake Dunsmore, TE/FB, Northwestern (called it)
7th Round (Randy Moss trade): Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
7th Round (comp.): Lennon Creer, HB, Louisiana Tech
What do you all think about the draft/offseason coming up, and how would you shape the roster with free agents and the draft if you could? Have at it!