Last night on Twitter I began to muse about where the Vikings would place in the draft once the final bell on the NFL regular season has rang. As of right now, the Purple and Gold sit at #4, with the Texans, Redskins, and Falcons all sitting in front of us. However, we will be at #3 after next week, assuming that we fail to top the visiting Eagles (and seeing how the season Nick Foles has been having is actually, factually, rivaling Peyton Manning’s, even the homer in me can’t see the win there). Why? Because the Redskins and Falcons play each other, meaning that one of those teams will have 4 wins to our 3 (and 1 tie).
Before continuing, it is vitally important to remember that the Redskins’ draft position goes to the Rams. That’s important not just because, well, it’s true; it’s also important because it means instead of having a team with RGIII ahead of us ignoring QBs, we’d have a St. Louis team that has all but officially given up on the Sam Bradford era. (And boy are they lucky, having traded away a chance to get another QB just to have another shot fall straight into their lap.)
For those of you hoping for the #1 pick and Teddy Bridgewater, well… now would be a good time to give up hope. It’s the NFL and never-say-never, but I’m just not seeing any team that resides outside of Houston having the first overall pick. Sitting currently at the unchallenged league worst record of 2 wins, the Texans still face the Colts in Indianapolis, the visiting Broncos, and then the Titans in Tennessee. I know the Colts are floundering, but do you really see them losing to the Texans on their own home turf? I don’t. The Broncos may be in Houston but LOL- that is all. And the Titans may be inconsistent this season, but again the Texans will be the visiting team. Even if the struggling Texans squeak out one win somewhere there that still won’t put their record over ours, and if you’re seeing two wins there, well… I have nothing for you.
What are the odds that we could end up with the #2 pick? Well, again, the Redskins and Falcons face each other next week, so one of those two teams will bounce over us. (Unless there’s a tie… oh man. CHAOS!) Last night I mused that the Redskins could win; however, I failed to notice that the game is in Atlanta, which makes me wonder if perhaps the team that did us 0 favors against the Packers might not sorta/kinda redeem themselves. The Redskins defense is something that makes the Vikings blush, and with all of the drama and confusion surrounding the three headed beast consisting of Shanahan the HC, Shanahan the OC, and RGIII the QB, I think I should revise that to a Falcons victory- which would put the Rams ahead of us. (Remember, not a typo- that’s who gets the Redskins’ pick.)
Could the Redskins take another team later to close out the season and place us firmly at #2? Unfortunately for those who want Derek Carr, I don’t think so. They have the Cowboys coming to town the week after and close out by visiting the Giants. While the flying Eli’s aren’t exactly… well, good, the Redskins are probably worse, and like picking Atlanta next week I’m thinking if nothing else home field advantage dictates the victor here. Which would leave the Redskins at 3 wins total, and the Rams behind only the Texans and just ahead of us in draft order.
What if the Redskins actually pull one off in Atlanta, however? Could the Falcons in that instance squeak out another in their final two contests to give us the #2 slot? Well, they visit the 49ers the week after and close out with the Panthers coming to town. So… no.
The trick is, if Atlanta does end up with the #2 pick, don’t expect them to stay there. Granted, that’s just my opinion, but a team with Matt Ryan is not likely drafting a QB, and in this draft that’s exactly who’s going to go at that pick. There are a ridiculous amount of QB-needy teams in the NFL right now, and just as we saw with the Rams-Redskins before, someone will make them an offer they can’t refuse. Which means that the Vikings may be wise to actually make the move themselves… if they can. The Falcons might end up being intrigued by the notion for two reasons: dropping down to just the #3 spot would guarantee them anyone they wanted, including Jadeveon Clowney if they were so inclined. Another trade with a team further down wouldn’t carry such a guarantee, so naturally they might take less just for that reason. The alternative is that they could also drop one down, and then trade again, possibly increasing how much they actually get overall compared to just one big trade.
While the draft trade chart is outdated thanks to the rookie wage scale, it’s still basically all we’ve got to try and figure trades in advance. Currently the difference between the #2 pick and the #3 pick is a paltry 400 points, or the #50 pick to put it another way. Thinking that the Vikings can swap picks with the Falcons in this scenario for the value of a mid-2nd round pick is ludicrous, however. But it does illustrate that maybe it won’t be that painful to do so overall- again depending on what the Falcons really want to do. And it also really does all come down to the bidding war that could exist; while the Redskins appear to have been firmly bitten in the arse by their blockbuster trade, never forget that there are some really dumb teams out there. It’s a scenario that makes your head spin to try and figure out, and considering again this is based on a what-if that I don’t even think will happen (the Redskins topping the Falcons in Atlanta), I’m basically going to end it with this summary: if the Falcons do end up with the #2 pick, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Vikings at least try and swap with them to guarantee a legit QBOTF.
Of course, what about the Vikings themselves? Could they win again and push themselves further back? Well to be fair I don’t think a lot of us thought we had much of a chance against the Ravens in Baltimore (in the snow), yet we won. I mean, we technically lost, but remove the referees from the situation and yup… the Vikings outplayed and beat the Ravens on their turf, in elements that should not have favored us at all. And without Adrian Peterson for a good chunk of the game. So maybe we shouldn’t assume that the Vikings will lose out. That favorably said… we face the Eagles, the Bengals on their turf, and then the Lions for the final game in the Metrodome (assuming the roof holds out //fingers crossed//). Right now the Eagles are being led by Nick Foles, who, again, is acting freaking unstoppable right now. If Xavier Rhodes is out for the game (and it’s looking pretty likely he will be), then our poorly coached and disorganized defense will get run over by that Chipadelphia (tm Arif) offense. The Bengals have yet to lose at home and will be likely still trying to play for 2nd seed in the AFC (especially now that the Patriots have lost Rob Gronkowski), so I again can’t see a win there. The Lions could be seen as a coin-flip game in a sense: it’s the Vikings finale in their stadium so it will be emotional, the Vikings could be trying to play spoiler so they’ll be even more emotional, and… I mean, the other team is the Lions. That said, they’re more than likely still playing for the division lead, and will need that win. Plus, they have perhaps the most fearsome front line in the NFL right now, and our O-line has been doing our QBs (whomever they are on any given game) few favors. Honestly… and I am definitely in the “always root for a win never a loss” camp… I just don’t see any more wins hiding on our schedule.
So, to conclude, this most likely means that the draft order will be the Texans, Rams, and then Vikings. Both the Texans and Rams will be drafting QBs and will not trade down. So that leaves us three options come draft day: 1.) select the 3rd best QB on the board, 2.) select BPA (assuming that doesn’t basically equal the previous point), or 3.) trade down and get more picks. For those of you thinking that the draft class is so deep at QB that we could wait until the 2nd round to get one, do not forget the amount of quarterback starved teams in the NFL right now. As we saw with the run on offensive linemen last draft, once teams start seeing a certain position go, there can be a trend towards it. I don’t see guys even like Johnny Manziel being left after the dust clears in the first round; if we want a quarterback, we’re going to have to do it then.
The issue of course with that is that the last time we were in this position, we reached well over other players who became stars for Christian Ponder. And that has landed us firmly back in the same spot. If the team determines that there really is no quarterback worthy of a first rounder, making another reach could be a huge mistake. And as much as we desperately need a quarterback, this team is chock full of other positions of need- offensive guard, and, well… basically any position outside of DE on the other side of the ball. Going BPA or trading down (and then going BPA anyways) might be the wisest move for this team depending on what the perceived drop off between the first two quarterbacks and “the rest” would be.
So, to conclude this rather wordy and still ridiculously early speculation, let’s end it at that question: assuming we are #3 behind the Texans and Rams, what do we do? Target the third best quarterback and move along? Stay put but go BPA regardless of QBs available? Or trade down and try and get more ammunition? (Of course, if we end up with 4 or 5 first round picks or something crazy like that, maybe it would help if we had a coaching staff who… you know… would play them without waiting for injuries to clear the way. Then again I’m thinking that will be less of a problem next year.) What say you, fellow Viking fandom?