i've been having fun with draft speculation this year (see: Monopoly Mock, Want/Settle/Nix, etc), and it's time to go out with a 'bang' and combine my favorites from previous posts now that we're less than 48 hrs from the draft.
here are the players that i absolutely hope we draft, coupled with Magic 8-Ball responses based on how confident i feel they are on the Vikes radar, or whether or not they will make it to the specified draft position.
on that note... hold onto your butts...
...and away we go!!
Rd 1, #23 overall -- DT Sylvester Williams (North Carolina)
i'm getting really excited about this selection -- lots of steam on Sly in recent weeks, both locally and nationally. even with that uptick in coverage, i think Sly will be available for us. he's a versatile high-effort prospect, who can rush the passer and stop the run. i believe he could start immediately next to KWill (Williams Wall 2.0 is the icing on the cake), but this is a two-fold proposition. with Sly's versatility to play either DT spot, it gives us flexibility when KWill inevitably departs the team (perhaps as soon as next year), and we can either draft a big DT to stuff the run and slide Sly over to supplant KWill, or find a stout 3-tech in next year's draft. if he picks up the game quickly, it might help to keep KWill healthy over this season if Sly can hold down on nickel packages.
Magic 8-Ball says: IT IS DECIDEDLY SO
Rd 1, #25 overall -- LB Arthur Brown (Kansas State)
another player who has been rising, but a lot of us here on the DN have liked him pre-Combine. perhaps a little undersized, but i keep making the comparison to Bobby Wagner last year, who many said couldn't play MLB at the next level. even still, Spielman said today that we have versatility at LB and Erin can still slide inside if we go OLB in the draft. i don't know how much stock i put into that, but... either way, Brown has the potential to be our nickel LB right out of the gate, which is the most important part in our drafting-a-linebacker equation. while i don't subscribe to perceived reaches, this might ultimately end up being a little early.
Magic 8-Ball says: REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN*
*obligatory Golden Domer speculation -- despite the wringing of hands, Te'o makes a lot of sense here. frankly, i wouldn't complain about getting a player at #25 who was originally slotted to go in the top half of the 1st rd.
Rd 2, #52 overall -- WR Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech)
i went full circle on this WR class. i originally liked Patton, then Hopkins, then Woods, then Dobson, then Allen for about a day, then Hopkins again, and back to Patton. i'm sticking to the opinion that we need a solid route runner with reliable hands, and Patton is certainly no exception. i particularly like this breakdown (hat-tip to Arif for posting it in a conversation many moons ago), showing that Patton is effective in short, intermediate and deep zones; and while overly effective on 1st down, he is equally productive on 4th down as he is on 2nd and 3rd downs. most importantly, it appears he becomes more productive as the game goes on -- now, perhaps that's a statistical abnormality, but i like to think that he is reliable in the 4th qtr when we may need a consistent, dependable target. but, it's entirely possible there's a run on WRs and Patton won't be available here (though with how deep this WR class is, we can really go anybody here and it'll turn out OK).
Magic 8-Ball says: MY SOURCES SAY NO
Rd 3, #83 overall -- CB Leon McFadden (San Diego State)
i literally think in every mock i've done this year, i had McFadden right here in the 3rd -- far be it from me to back down from that now. i'm surprised McFadden hasn't gotten away from 'under-the-radar' status. i think had he played in the Senior Bowl (injured during, but shined throughout, the week of practice), he would be getting more publicity. he's a feisty zone corner, who i think can slide in and compete for the slot position at TC. to everyone who thinks we'll draft an outside guy, i have to wonder -- do you really think a rookie will step in and win a starting job?? under this coaching staff, we continuously see rookies brought in slowly -- i think they're going to give Robinson and Jefferson every opportunity to win the starting job opposite Cook, which is why i think we'll be looking for a nickel CB to replace Winfield. if that gamble pays off, we'll have a solid set of CBs for years to come.
Magic 8-Ball says: OUTLOOK GOOD
Rd 4, #102 overall -- WR Chris Harper (Kansas State)
Spielman's propensity to draft teammates in this scenario may rear its ugly head, but is a huge benefit. i really don't think our WR depth is as dire as most believe, but we do need some young blood to develop. Aroma was expendable, Burton doesn't appear to be a long-term answer, and Childs is still a question-mark (though hopefully he can defy the odds). Harper has a rare combination of speed and strength, has reliable hands (as i emphasized earlier) and his blocking ability can replace the players listed above. i also have to wonder if he might have ST value so he at least suits up on Sunday. as we start Day 3, this epitomizes 'crapshoot'.
Magic 8-Ball says: CONCENTRATE AND ASK AGAIN
Rd 4, #120 overall -- TRADE FODDER
whoa-ho-HO... you know how Darth Spielman works -- sooner or later, we'll get to trading. maybe we'll use this pick to trade up and get one of the guys i've already mocked. maybe we'll use this pick to trade for a 2014 pick (which would give us three 3rd rdrs next year -- NICE). at this point, it's tough to say -- but since this selection is literally right smack in the middle of our collective group of picks, i'll use it as a placeholder for a potential trade in some way, shape or form.
Magic 8-Ball says: MOST LIKELY
Rd 5, #155 overall -- LB Jake Knott (Iowa State)
we've officially reached 'value' status. Knott is somewhat of a wildcard, as a shoulder injury ended his senior year early. seems to be fine now, though his stock certainly took a hit because of it. he's a versatile LB, but i'm banking on him to be our future at the Will (and could be a core special teamer from day one). i know several DN'ers like his teammate, LB AJ Klein, but i've always figured Knott to be the better long-term prospect. solid, safe play here -- if Knott is available, it'd be hard to pass him up with our lack of quality depth at the position.
Magic 8-Ball says: AS I SEE IT, YES
Rd 6, #189 overall -- DE Mike Catapano (Princeton)
i'm intrigued by Catapano. he's slated to be a late-rd pick, but he has serious size and strength (6'3-1/2", 271lbs, 33 reps, sub-4.7 forty) that might lead one to believe he'll go in the early part of Day 3. the Vikes were at his pro day, and Catapano is allegedly one of the players we flew in for a private visit. with uncertainly at the DE position long-term, it's possible we'll even take a shot at Catapano before the 6th rd to groom as a possible option opposite Everson Griffen as our future DEs.
Magic 8-Ball says: SIGNS POINT TO YES
Rd 7, #213 overall -- OG Earl Watford (James Madison)
it will be an interesting year at the Guard position -- if things don't pan out, we might be using an early rd pick on one next year. admittedly, i don't know much about Watford -- but how many late rd picks do we really know a lot about?? i simply figure in the 7th, we can gain some interior depth along the OLine and hope we find a diamond in the rough. Watford appears to have quality traits, and with some development, perhaps we'll have a good backup on our hands. at the same time, this pick might end up being a waste of time. in any event, we're late in the draft and somebody might have taken a chance on him before we could, so either way...
Magic 8-Ball says: DON'T COUNT ON IT
Rd 7, #214 overall -- CB Michael Carter (Minnesota)
back-to-back picks, i gotta roll the dice on my boy Carter. remember when i asked 'how many late rd picks do we really know a lot about'...?? i may have spoke too soon. usually man-crushes are early round prospects, not guys who could potentially go undrafted. my pounding-of-the-table for him is well-documented, so i won't be a broken record here. needless to say i hope we give the kid a chance -- he just recently turned his $#!* around on and off the field, and i think we could end up with a solid CB and a late-rd steal.
Magic 8-Ball says: BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW**
**SCREW YOU, 8-BALL!!
Rd 7, #229 overall -- BPA
i don't think it's going out on a limb to say we should simply take the best player available -- nor do i think it's a stretch to think one of our 7th rdrs will be packaged with aforementioned trade fodder. maybe it's the Bud Light talking, but i'm pretty much mocked out -- but make no mistake, this 'cop-out' of a pick is still bankable.
Magic 8-Ball says: WITHOUT A DOUBT
hibida-hibihib-thebida-thebida-that's all folks!!
what say you -- any players that catch your eye, here??