SB Nation Mensch and all around good guy Dan Kadar has been killing it with his NFL Combine coverage, and has put out a new mock draft. I gotta say, I'm not a fan of the pick.
Before we get to the Vikings pick, let's look at the first seven in front of the Vikes:
1. Houston, Blake Bortles, QB.
2. St. Louis, Greg Robinson, T
3. Jacksonville, Jadaveon Clowney, DE
4. Cleveland, Johnny Football, QB
5. Oakland, Teddy bridgewater, QB
6. Atlanta, Khalil Mack, LB
7. Tampa Bay, Jake Matthews, T
I don't have an issue with any of these picks falling like this. It seems reasonable, and there really aren't any surprises. Well, with the exception of one guy, which we'll talk about at the end. This mock is kind of the worst case scenario for the Vikings though, as the three top QB's and two top defensive players at positions of need are gone. This leaves the Vikings in a No Man's Land of sorts...is there a guy that makes an immediate impact at 8, or do they trade back with the Three QB Amigos, Clowney, and Mack off the board? Since this is a mock draft, there are no trades, so Kadar says:
8. Minnesota, Kony Ealy, DE, Mizzou. GM Rick Spielman stressed the importance of drafting a QB, but he also said he won't reach on one. Derek Carr would be a reach in the first round. Early is rising up the draft and would allow the Vikings to cheaply move on from Jared Allen.
I don't disagree at all with the quarterback logic train, and I'll ride that all the way to the station. But I really disagree with the pick here at 8. Dan's correct in saying that Ealy would allow the Vikings to cheaply move on from Allen...only I think they'll re-sign impending free agent Everson Griffen. That won't be an Allen contract, but it won't be cheap, either. Assuminig Griff re-signs, DE is the least of the needs heading into the draft, taking the rest of free agency in a vacuum, of course. There's still depth to be addressed, but LB, CB, and DT are all bigger priorities at that point.
If you look at it from that perspective, there are three or four guys that are bigger needs at that spot. Ra'Shede Hageman is still on the board, and allows the Vikings to move on from Kevin Williams, another vet who's future with the team is murky. Teamed with the tragically short armed Shariff Floyd, the Vikings interior line looks solid. CB Darqueze Dennard would also be a good fit here, assuming Chris Cook doesn't come back. Team him up with Xavier Rhodes and add in Harrison Smith, and that's one of the best young secondaries in the NFL.
There are also two linebackers out there that I like, C.J. Moseley and Ryan Shazier. Shazier seems to be climbing on some draft boards, while Moseley seems to be falling a bit. Moseley isn't Khalil Mack, but is still an immediate upgrade at LB. Shazier might seem like a reach right now, But I still see him moving up, and by draft day it's not inconceivable to see him as a top ten guy.
But there's one name that just jumps out at you as a guy still on the board, and he'd be one hell of a wildcard--Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. WR isn't a need for the Vikings in any way, shape, or form...but it wasn't in 1998, either, when Randy Moss fell to the Vikings at 21. Now, I'm not saying Watkins has the talent of Moss, but he's the best WR in this draft, and if he's on the board, the Vikings are going to get a lot of calls for a trade.
Can I see them taking Watkins? Sure. He's a heck of a playmaker, and a three wide of him, Jennings, and Cordarrelle Patterson makes my mouth water. But I can also see Spielman wheeling and dealing like a madman, and fall back into the middle of the round with a boatload of other picks.
And, if Kadar's on point with the rest of the first round, falling back will allow Spielman and the Vikings to still get one of Moseley/Mack/Dennard/Shazier, and still have enough ammo to either get into the bottom of round one or the top five picks of round two to grab a quarterback, like Derek Carr.
So what do you think, Vikings Nation? Up or down on Kony Ealy? Is he...wait for it...too early at 8?
WHAT I DID THERE PLEASE TELL ME YOU SAW IT.