Alright, ladies and gentlemen. . .draft day is officially upon us, and in a little less than fifteen hours, the festivities will be kicking off from Radio City Music Hall. We're going to have comprehensive coverage of everything the Vikings do today, and all of that will be coming throughout the course of the day.
But, before all that, I want to take one last stab at a Vikings-only mock draft. I'm not going to project any trades, which is going to make this kind of tricky. That's mainly because I feel that, during the actual draft, the Minnesota Vikings are going to be bouncing around like an eight-year old after a double espresso. But, we'll have to see about that when the time comes.
So, without any further ado, here's what I have for the Vikings in this final day before the 2013 NFL Draft.
Round 1 (23) - Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame - It's happening, ladies and gentlemen. Good, bad, whatever. . .it's happening. Just sit back and let the calming waves wash over you. People have ragged on Te'o a lot, citing his lack of speed. However, he's got great instincts, and that sort of thing can't really be taught. He'll start from Day 1, and I think he'll be a whole lot better than a lot of folks think right now.
Round 1 (25) - Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama - We've been over what the big Aussie brings to the table, too. He's huge, he's agile, and he would be a force against the run (at the very least) from the start. Again, another guy that would start immediately and produce, in my opinion.
Round 2 (52) - Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State - We're hitting all the need spots as we go along, folks. They just happen to intersect with really talented players. Slay has been in the news recently, as it was revealed he has a torn meniscus, but it shouldn't affect his ability to be ready for the start of the season.
Round 3 (83) - Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall - Arif put together a very nice analysis of Dobson (and every other draft-eligible wide receiver), and he seems like the kind of receiver that could come in and make a real impact. He's got great hands and a huge catch radius, both of which the Vikings could use.
Round 4 (102) - Hugh Thornton, G, Illinois - The Vikings are solid at both tackle spots and at center along the offensive front. However, the guard spots are iffy as they're currently constituted. Thornton is a guy who could, at the very least, come in and push for playing time early on. Very athletic for a big man.
Round 4 (120) - T.J. McDonald, S, Southern California - McDonald was sort of a hybrid linebacker/safety this past year with the Trojans, and appears to be more of a strong safety type who could complement Harrison Smith. He was first-team All-Pac 12 in 2011, and second-team this past season.
Round 5 (155) - Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma - I still think the Vikings take a quarterback in the mid-rounds that they feel has a legitimate shot at developing should Christian Ponder fail to step up in his third season. Jones has good size, can make all the throws, and would be perfectly fine holding a clipboard for a year or two.
Round 6 (189) - Brad Wing, P, Louisiana State - And, with this pick, the Vikings set a record for most Australians taken by one team in a single NFL Draft, surpassing the previous record of. . .well, one, I'm guessing. I don't think Chris Kluwe is long for the Vikings' roster, and his replacement will be selected around this point, whether it's Wing or Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp.
Round 7 (213) - David Bass, DE, Missouri Western - A small-school prospect that lit it up at the East-West Shrine Game, Bass had 11.5 sacks for the Griffons as a senior. He showed that he has the ability to play with the big boys, and the Vikings could do much worse at this point in the draft than to take a flier on him.
Round 7 (214) - Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Texas A&M - And every writer on the DN staff cringes over having to learn to spell Nwachukwu. But, in order to be a receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, you've got to block, and as Arif told us, there probably isn't anyone in this draft class that does that better than Nwac. . .Nwau. . .Uzoma.
Round 7 (229) - Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame - During his career under the Golden Dome, Riddick saw time at both receiver and running back. Running back is his more natural position, however, and the Vikings could use someone there that's more of a change of pace type than what Toby Gerhart provides.
That's my take, folks. What do you think? How would your ideal Vikings' mock draft play out this evening?