I'll admit it, I get very excited over the draft. I read quite a lot about the NFL draft (as I imagine many people here do) in the months leading up to it, and try to come up with my own 'dream' scenarios. www.first-pick.com is a really fun tool / game that allows me to do just that with some semblance of reason. I understand that there are so many moving pieces that what actually happens on draft day will bare almost no resemblance to any of these mock drafts anyway. The expected value for each of these players will go up and down as a result of the combine and various different pro days. Plus a teams needs will change as they sign or lose free agents, which will ultimately affect their draft day decisions, which affect our options. I get all of that. With that preamble out of the way, let's get started.
While I agree that Teddy Bridgewater is an extremely exciting QB prospect, but I'm not willing to trade away a future 1st round draft pick to move up enough to grab him, we have so many needs around the entire team, and I'm not willing to mortgage the teams future on a single player. Depending on what happens with draft and the 2014 season, I might be willing to do it next year if we are able to fill enough of the wholes on the roster, but right now I just think it is way too risky, especially with so much valuable talent available. On one hand, having so many needs on the roster makes the draft rather challenging. How do you prioritize your greatest needs? Is it worth trading up to grab a player that you're in love with? On the other hand, having so many needs also provides opportunities to find mismatches between draft position and player value. More than anything else, this was the metric I was trying to maximize while filling up on positions of need. Having so many different needs actually makes this easier. With that said, my overriding initial goal was to trade down in the first round as much as possible and still be able to pick up one of the players I valued the most.
My estimates of the positions of greatest need on the Viking's are QB, NT, CB, and OLB, and the potential first round drafters that I was interested most for those positions where Derek Carr (QB), Louis Nix (NT), Darqueze Denard (CB), Justin Gilbert (CB), Jason Verrett (CB), and, Anthony Barr (OLB), Khalil Mack (OLB). OG is another area of need, and I'd like to get Xavier Su'a-Filo, but that's a much lesser need in my mind. With that, I accepted any trade down offer provided at least two of these players were still available to be drafted and, in my estimate, the teams between the current draft position and my new draft position where unlikely to leave me with at least one of them. And it turned out pretty well for me.
Round 1 Pick 29 (N.E.): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (A-)
I think Derek Carr can be the Viking's QBOTF. There are risks associated with any player at any position, but trading down from 8 to 29th in the 1st round allowed me to gain 3 more 2nd rounders and 2 more 3rd round draft picks. Trading down like that significantly reduces the risk associated with any given pick, because even if they don't turn into the QBOFT, we've significantly reduced the damage done by that pick.
Round 2 Pick 3 (CLE): Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame (A)
I am quite happy with this selection too, NT is a pretty huge need at the moment, and I was able to grab someone who could fill those shoes immediately. I would still like to sign Kevin Williams to a 1 year deal to start at NT too, it'd ease the transition of a rookie into the offence, plus it'd give us some valuable depth. At this point, I've managed to pick two of my 'wants' from list.
Round 2 Pick 8: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA (A-)
I was excited that he was available at this position, and I didn't want miss on this prospect. He'll have an opportunity to make an already good OL much better, and drafting another QB, this seemed a bit like a no brainer. Especially cause I had the next pick in the 2nd round.
Round 2 Pick 9 (BUF): Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida (B+)
Our greatest remaining need at this point was a CB to go across from Xavier Rhodes. I felt that Marcus Roberson could fill that need in short order. Even though I thought it was a bit of a stretch at this position, things where getting a bit thin with the remaining CBs that I coveted, so I took him. I wrestled with this choice a bit, I wasn't sure if I should go with an OLB here, since our linebackers were terrible last year too, but given we're in the NFC North, I figured that another top corner was a greater need.
Round 2 Pick 30 (N.E.): Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young (A)
Van Noy is one of the OLBs that I have been interested in for a while. He's not Mack or Barr, but he looks like he can be very good, and I think represented a good mismatch between value and draft position of need. Still, I felt that we probably needed two OLBs, cause Henderson has been cut (thankfully), and Greenway isn't up to the task anymore. I'd be inclined to cut Greenway too, unless he restructures his contract to make it a lot more favourable to us. Otherwise, let him walk.
Round 3 Pick 7 (CLE): Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State (B+)
Telvin Smith wasn't an OLB on my radar to be honest, but I wanted an OLB, and he seemed to do a good job of filling that need/want, so off the board he came.
Round 3 Pick 8: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas (A)
We also have some needs at DE. If we resign Everson Griffin, then this need is somewhat reduced, but Robison isn't getting any younger, so I thought it would be good to draft a DE to have some more depth and talent at this position. Jeffcoat was available, and I thought he'd fit in fine.
Round 3 Pick 19 (CLE): Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State (A)
Everybody loves #28, and I do too. At one point I was in the 'trade AP for picks' camp, but no longer. First of all, I don't think we need to do it, and I don't think we're going to get nearly enough for it to make it worth our while. I'd like to keep Gerhart, but I don't think that's in his interest. I think it'd take too much money to keep him, and I don't think it's fair to him, so we should let him go. On the other hand, we will need some more depth at RB, and Carlos Hyde is an interesting option.
Round 3 Pick 32: Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois (A-)
Jimmie Ward had an excellent day at the Senior Bowl, and we could definitely use some more secondary help. Harrison Smith is so versatile, that when Jimmie Ward was still available at this position, I had to take him.
Round 4 Pick 8: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois (A-)
ca At this point, I was somewhat surprised about how many of the needs that I'd high lighted that I had already met. We certainly didn't need to draft another QB after grabbing Carr, but I haven't spent a lot of time reading about WRs and TEs, nd there wasn't anyone around at this point that I was really excited about on the defensive side of the ball. Plus i think it'd be a mistake to just draft Carr and assume that he'll necessarily be the guy to replace Ponder. Is a QB I would also have been happy grabbing instead of Carr if he hadn't been available when I selected him, so why not? Let's have a QB competition. Ponder, Carr and Garoppolo seem like a reasonable trio. Baring an unexpected turn of events, this will be Ponder's last year with the Vikings, and this gives us two young QBs who can play. If Carr works out to be the best fit for our team, and Garoppolo turns into a great back up, we can always trade him for more draft picks later. On the other hand, if Carr turns out to be a bust, or gets injured, I think Garoppolo is a guy I'm pretty happy with.
Round 5 Pick 8: Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State (B+)
Max Bullough is an ILB that I thought could help give us some more depth. I'm not ecstatic about this selection, but I'm quite happy with it.
The last two picks where made at positions where I think we needed some more depth on the D side of the ball. I would've happily grabbed a WR or a TE, but I just don't know enough about that side of the draft to make a good choice here. On the other hand, at the moment, I'm of the 'moar defense' mind set. I'm happy with our WRs, but we could definitely use more help at CB, and it's nice to have depth at DT.
On to free agency:
I would resign Chris Cook and Marcus Sherels. I think Sherels is actually an underrated player. He's not great, and he shouldn't be starting at CB, but he actually does a better job than I think most people give him credit for. He tackles well, he doesn't seem to miss a lot of assignments- he's just not super athletic. And he's a very good punt returner. And by all accounts he works very, very hard. I like that. We should resign Chris Cook, but only on a very cheap contract. If nothing else he allows some more continuity with the team, and some, uh, leadership? He's not Antoine Winfield, but who is. I'd rather keep Marcus Sherels than Chris Cook, so if we signed one of the big name free agent CBs, I'd let Chris Cook go before Sherels. Plus, Sherels might be my favourite player on the team, if only because he works so hard.
I'd also cut Greenway, Bishop. I'd keep all of our safeties. Cut Guion. Keep Fred Evans. Keep Jerome Simpson. I think he's totally worth a decent 2 year contract. Yes, outside of Simpson we've still got a WR corps that has some talent, but Simpson had decent productivity. I'd cut ties with John Carlson. He did okay in the end of the season after Rudolph left, but that's too little, too late. Unless he can be had for the veterans minimum, he's not worth it to me.
Alright, I should go back to work now.