Coming into the 2013 draft, the Vikings held two first round picks for the first time since 2005. They ended up with two first rounders last year after a trade with Baltimore to get back into the first round, and ended up with Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith.
That is starting to look like a bad first round compared to what happened a few hours ago. And make no mistake, 2012 was a great first round.
GM Rick Spielman made two solid picks with Shariff Floyd and Xavier Rhodes, and then? Well, he just blew everyone's mind and went all in. The Vikings brain trust would like everyone to know that their 10-6 record was a sign that they feel they're close, and it's time to knock down the door.
The Vikings moved up 23 spots from 52 overall to 29, and if you're a fan of the NFL trade value chart, it was an even trade. The 29 pick is worth 640 points, and the Vikings gave up picks that are valued at about 600. Everyone is going on about four picks for one, but the Vikes still have a fourth round pick, and really, who gives a hoot about a 7th round throwaway pick?
So let's calm down on the 'Vikings got fleeced' talk for a bit, because right now they added three starters in positions of need that will immediately pay dividends.
But Rick Spielman has officially become Crazy Uncle Rick The Riverboat Gambler, and by God, I love it. This 2013 first round will be the turning point for the Vikings: they're either heading towards the elite of the NFL or into oblivion, but they aren't treading water. Isn't that right, Kenny Rogers?
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
The Gambler SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Rick Spielman, Mad Genius: His first two picks were a combination of great players at positions of need who weren't Manti Te'o. Win and win. Spielman then took a risk with the New England trade, but I really don't think it's as big a gamble as people are making it out to be. Swap second round pick for first. Give up third. Give up one of two fourth round picks and a 7th round pick. Get what is arguably the best WR in the draft and give him a chance to learn from Greg Jennings. I just don't get the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Shariff Floyd, DT: Seriously, raise your hand if you saw Floyd being available at #23. You're a liar. Floyd was a top 10 talent that started to slide for...not a real good reason, other than he wasn't a defensive end or an offensive lineman. Plugging Floyd into the starting lineup gives the Vikes a solid body to help shore up the run. And when you were looking at Kawaan Short or Jonathan Hankins and end up with Floyd? That, kids, is a steal.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: Rhodes was a guy that looked like would be a bridge too far, just like we thought Floyd would be. Desmond Trufant seemed to be the CB here if the Vikes went that direction, but Rhodes was the guy most folks thought would be a better fit. He has the potential to be a shutdown corner, and in the pass heavy NFC North, a huge addition. Again, another steal.
The New Uniforms: Oh yeah, the Vikings rolled out new uniforms today, and I think they strike the perfect chord between a new, modern look while paying homage to the classic look that the Vikings wore for so long. I particularly like the new shade of purple and the matte-styled helmet. Well done, Vikings. Well done.
Corrdarelle Patterson, WR: Okay, follow my logic train here. Patterson was thought by many to be the best receiver in the draft. The Vikings desperately needed another receiver, so they went out and drafted him. Yet, the Chicken Little crowd is PISSED because the Vikings have lost out on a 3rd round pick, an extra 4th round pick, and a 7th round pick. Folks, as it was mentioned by someone on Twitter, the Vikings traded a dime, two nickels, and a penny for a quarter. When you look at it in that manner, was it worth it? Hell yeah.
Manti Te'o Replica Vikings Jersey: I was never so happy to say I was wrong about the Vikings picking a guy. After the Floyd pick, I thought Te'o was the Vikes guy at 25. When they pulled the trigger on Rhodes, I was ecstatic. Look, I don't hate Manti Te'o, I just think he's way over rated and got inflated because he was a high profile Notre Dame guy getting press because of his compelling human interest storyline...which turned out to be compelling, but for all the wrong reasons.
Buy: Five first round picks in the last two drafts. Quality or quantity? In the NFL draft, you can't have both, and the Vikings are going for quality. They have five sure fire starters the last two years, as opposed to two definite starters, and a bunch of maybes. Depth is important, but you build depth after you get quality starters. After the Harvin trade, I said that the Vikings were not a better football team than they were before the trade. I now believe they are.
Sell: Quantity over quality: It's nice to have 11 picks in the draft, but we all knew that the Vikings weren't going to keep all 11...so we get mad when they trade them to get back into the first round? Sorry, I just don't get the anger.
Buy: A one way ticket on the Brian Urlacher train. The Vikings still have a need at MLB, and unless Crazy Uncle Rick coughs up the rest of his picks to get back into the second round to get a guy like Arthur Brown or Kevin Minter, they'll need to sign an NFL veteran to a one year deal. Three first round draft picks AND Brian Urlacher? best. Off-season. Ever.
Sell: Coughing up the rest of the remaining picks to get back into the second round to get a guy like Arthur Brown or Kevin Minter. Go get a veteran MLB and just go best player available from here on out, Rick. Because you might give us a damn heart attack.
This was a wild first round for the Vikings, becoming the first team since the 2001 St. Louis Rams to have three picks in the first round. They addressed three key areas of need, made a blockbuster deal, and were a big winner on Thursday night.
I loved it. I'll give it an A.