Now that we're after the combine, things seem to be coming together with consensus evaluations for the draft, with perhaps one glaring exception. It seems that nearly everyone expects Bortles and Bridgewater to go in the first few picks, while people are all over the place about Johnny Manziel.
The way I see it, the QBs are breaking into tiers:
Bortles and Bridgewater. As I said, these guys are going early and will not be around at #8. If I'm Slick Rick, I'd be scratching my head about whether they are worth trying to trade up to get. Both guys are good, but personally I don't think either is a can't miss lock, so while I'd consider trading up for them, I'd only do it for the right price. And the right price is probably less than what it would take to actually get a deal done. If it was me, I'd make the calls to test the market, but I'd probably have to accept that we aren't getting these guys.
Manziel. Sorry, fanbois, but there seems to be a clear separation in expectations about these top three QBs, and even if there isn't, this is my fan post so I'm proclaiming it. Manziel's got enough potential to be worth grabbing at #8, but he also comes with a ton of question marks. Most notably whether he can pull off his improvisational style of play in the NFL without getting killed (I don't think so) and/or learn to make better, more professional decisions and play within an offense (who knows?).
That said, I don't see how the Dark Lord can pass him up if he's still on the board at #8. We desperately need a QB. He's a QB. And he's got a ton of upside. I'm not trading up to get him under any circumstances, but I'd grab him if he's there.
Carr and Jimmy G. I'd be really happy if we grabbed either of these guys in the draft, just not at #8. But moreover, I'm happy because I think there is a reasonable chance that one of them will be there when we're picking at #40, which gives Spielman a lot of flexibility of what to do with our first round pick. If we don't like what's left for us in the first, we can comfortably trade back to the middle or late middle of the first and still have a real solid shot at landing Carr. Or if Carr is already gone, we've picked up extra picks that improve our chances of getting Jimmy G later on. In fact, if we pick up a extra second round pick, I wouldn't even worry for a moment that we might be reaching a little to pick him at #40.
The First Round
So how do we put it all together for the Vikings big board? I think it goes like this.
Guys we'd stand pat and pick at #8 and be darned happy about: Bortles, Bridgewater, Manziel, Clowney, Mack.
If none of those guys are there, I'm looking to move down and stockpile picks. Especially if there are players like Watkins, Robinson, or Matthews still on the board to entice bidders and drive up the price. In addition to the potential haul, I think there is extra flexibility in the fact that there will still be a handful of players who will be able to step in and make an immediate impact available after we move down. If we can move back, I'd be looking to grab one of Gilbert, Denard, Nix, Mosley, or Carr.
If we can't move back, we have a dilemma. Do we grab one of those guys we're targeting or do we decide that Watkins or Matthews or Robinson are too talented to pass up? I don't want to decide. The good news is that I don't think there is much chance the tackles will be there. I'd have a hard time drafting either of them as BPA, because extra tackles are hard to get much value out of (you can try to move one of your tackles to guard, but that's really a waste of a top-flight tackle's talents). Receivers are a different story, as you can still get productive use out of your bench guys, so it would be a bit easier to pick Watkins as BPA without regard for need. I won't complain if that's the way things go, but I will wonder about the missed trade-back opportunity.
The extra good news is I rather like where we are sitting. There should be solid talent for us to pick at #8 and/or good opportunities to use our pick as an opportunity to get more picks. Is it draft day yet?