This offseason is shaping up to look very similar to what was going on in 2011 with a new head coach, a strong need for a franchise QB and high draft pick with as much or more uncertainty in this year's QB prospects. But the Minnesota Vikings have been a little more busy so far this off season than they have been in several years. There looks to be a very competent coaching staff that has been put into place that appears to be working well with Spielman and company quietly putting together the foundation of a much more sound and competitive franchise. Most football critics have not paid much attention to the moves made by the Vikings so far this year, although they rarely ever do any other year either. The Vikings secured some very important players of their own, while also signing a few new players. Putting new deals in place for Everson Griffen and Matt Cassel will likely prove to be much important to the Vikings success moving forward as they both are huge stability to in their respected positions. Many critics like to just point out the sizable contract Griffen was awarded, then state he has only started one game in his career and leave it at that. Well for the ones with that perspective that are ignorant of who Griffen is; they are going to find out this season. Cassel buys the Vikings some time to groom a quarterback so he is not rushed out too early, while also giving the team some breathing room in its search for a signal caller in the upcoming draft. Linval Joseph brings the much need help at nose tackle the team has needed for at least three years, and will also take pressure off several of the other players. As will the addition of Captain Munnerlyn to a horrific secondary. Joseph and Munnerlyn are much needed potential huge additions that should help the Vikings' defense perform considerably better, while also giving more breathing room as well for the Vikings come draft day.
While the draft is still well over a month away, there appears to be a much clearer picture of what direction Minnesota will go. Minnesota obviously still needs more quality players, and most specifically a quarterback. But unfortunately for such a deep draft this year, the quarterback prospects, who are always very difficult to gauge are arguably the hardest to gauge in years. Most mocks have the top 3 QB prospects off the board by the time the Vikings are on the board at the number 8 spot, which is not good for the Viking fans that are pulling for one of the top 3 to fall to Minnesota. But who really knows which quarterbacks will succeed and which will not. That is the million dollar question. Now this is just my own opinion, but with the additions of Zimmer and Turner to the organization; the Vikings franchise will be selecting players with an even more precise educated guess this draft, and may have factored into the Vikings being more active this year in free agency with moves that on the surface that look to be much more solid this off season as compared to others in recent years. That said, as good as the Vikings last two drafts were; the 2014 draft could prove to be an even better outing than '12 and '13. Let's hope so.
Looking to the draft and more specifically day one, what is the best course of action? I think there is no doubt the Vikings take a QB with one of their first two picks, if not just their first overall. When looking at all of the tangibles and intangibles, as well as what type of situation and environment the Vikings organization would provide to the top QB prospects; I think Carr and Garoppolo would be the best fits. I think that any one of the big three could potentially work out, but also bring with them more risk, as well as where they would likely have to be drafted. And I would not be surprised at all if only one of the top three became moderately successful. Though as good or great as many prospects are; I think where they end up being drafted to has a huge determining factor on the success of the quarterback, and I see the Vikings having a situation that is very QB friendly to a young prospect this year. Derek Carr could very well be at the top of Turner and the Vikings' list even if other higher rated QB prospects fall to them, and may want to pull the trigger at 8 to secure their guy. Although, such an approach that would be so similar to the 2011 draft in which Christian Ponder was drafted is going to have more than just fans and critics wondering if that would really be the best approach. But as similar as it would be, this is 2014 and Derek Carr is not Christian Ponder. Another, maybe even more likely scenario is that Minnesota take a defensive stud, and trade back up into the latter part of the first round to secure Carr, or maybe even Garoppolo if there is a run on QBs. If Mack is there; I don't think there is any doubt Minnesota selects him, and they will go after their quarterback with their next pick, but he is likely not going to be there. So, with as much trading is anticipating early in this draft before the Vikings are on the clock; I still strongly feel there will be willing trading partners for the Vikings at 8. None the less, with Minnesota's first pick in the draft; I think Carr is just as likely, or maybe even more than likely than any other prospect slotted to be available. As much as I would love to see the Vikings have Mack fall to them in the first, then Carr in the second; I just don't see Minnesota getting the guys they want early without being aggressive early in the draft. I do however think some really good prospects will fall to them in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
Here is a mock I put together without any trades, as I think it is nearly impossible to get it right as it is, adding trades makes it even that much more unpredictable. I do however think Spielman will do some maneuvering that will add at least an extra second or third round pick.
R1 QB Derek Carr
R 2 CB Jason Verret
R 3 SS Deone Bucannon
DT DaQuan Jones
R 4 ILB Shane Skov
R 5 DE Josh Mauro
R 6 OG Chris Watt
R 7 OT Justin Britt