The long drag is almost over.
Well, not many are enjoying the fact that the NFL decided postponing the Draft was a good idea. I imagine we will see the date move back into April next year, based upon fan feedback and general negative reaction to this "experiment". Regardless of the ill-advised change, there have been an unprecedented (and overwhelming) number of Mock Drafts all across the media. Many of the Daily Norsemen's faithful readers have posted some intriguing and generally thought-provoking Mocks of their own.
One thing the long wait has provided is time to really look at the possibilities from every angle. My own thinking has changed on some positions, and the time has also allowed me to come to certain conclusions - merely my own semi-educated opinions, but maybe worth something. I think the biggest change has been tempering my typical enthusiasm and hopefulness and instead putting on my "reality glasses" as I look forward to the actual Draft.
I went from feeling "Oh my God, we are in such a great position to finally get the QBoTF!" to "Well, maybe we have to focus on defense early and could grab a sleeper QB after Round One." Of late, I have sort of sobered up and recognize what the Draft will likely yield and how the Vikings "should" attack it. My personal wishes and dreams no longer factor as heavily as they did a few months ago. Instead, I have arrived at some conclusions drawn more from a position of prudent, businesslike assessment. Not as exciting perhaps, but this is a critical (more than usual) time for the franchise. The optimism brought about by the change in coaching could easily evaporate if the Draft is a disaster - and if the team doesn't provide at least reasonable hope at the most key position of all.
After further review.
After many months of research, reading and sharing opinions with fellow DN contributors, I am ready for the Draft now, armed with the following conclusions. While I am sure everyone will have varying reactions and criticisms of my comments, it is merely an open invitation for anyone interested to post any conclusions of their own they will be taking into the Draft. With all that said, here are a few of the things I have decided... along with a few predictions, for added spice.
How I see it.
1. The Vikings' glaring needs will affect the selections, but not to the detriment of the team's future. I mean to say that the hierarchy certainly understands the desperate need (and fans' frustrations) regarding the QB position. Now, what I mean by the first statement is this - the team will draft the BPA and are willing to be patient until the opportunity to pounce presents itself. Spielman is not going to gamble beyond reason to get a QB, just for the sake of filling the spot. Too much rides on this decision. In light of the evaluations I've done, I don't see the Vikings drafting a QB in Rd. 1 ... unless their favorite miraculously falls into their laps.
2. Expect the Vikings to trade down, at least once but perhaps up to three times. It all hinges on the dance partners, but this is the ideal Draft to move down and acquire Picks. I believe the team will trade out of Rd. 1.8 and their first Pick will come from around #15-20 in the 1st Round. And, that selection is more likely to be a defensive player rather than a QB.
3. The Vikes need play-makers at OLB. In assessing the team as it stands, this continues to dominate my thoughts. And this is a great Draft to fix the issue. I think the team will draft more than one OLB, and may also look to add at least one ILB. A player like Ryan Shazier would do wonders. Of course, Mack would too, but he will go early.
4. The team needs another CB, preferably a big player. There are quality CBs who can be taken late in the Draft, so this is going to be a case of patience paying off in the long run.
5. I no longer am enamored with any of the QBs, not specifically. None of them strikes me as the type of "franchise quarterback" I once dreamed of getting. I now believe the team will draft one of the more polished, good-attitude QBs in Round 3-4, and also take a flier with a very late Pick on a very athletic QB who needs seasoning.
6. The team had best draft a Running Back. What did not seem a high priority in December has become one of many now. I think they will grab one of the top three RBs in an early Round, especially if they add a Pick or two via trade. With Tobey gone, this is a must.
7. I think they will draft a versatile TE, but one who is a proven blocker as well as receiver. I think Rudolph is in a very critical position, all things considered with contract, etc. Besides that, the team would benefit greatly from improvement to their double TE sets. I think Norv wants more focus on the TEs, so we need another difference-maker there.
8. The LG position is a very crucial need, and I would expect them to draft one of the top three, as early as Round 2.
9. I now feel we need to draft a big WR. I previously felt it was low-priority, but have changed my outlook. If they draft one before Round 3, I would be surprised, but my feeling is we will indeed be drafting one.
10. I felt the team did great in FA, adding my top choice in Linval Joseph, and my second most wanted in Munnerlyn. The influx of other additions to the Line and LB positions were helpful, but there is still need for more. I think the Vikes should be ready to grab another D-Lineman, even though we have decent depth there. A lot hinges on how they plan to utilize Wooten.
Predictions (for entertainment value only - no wagering, please!)
- One of the following LBs will be a Viking soon: Shazier; Barr; Skov
- The likeliest QBs to be Vikings include: AJ McCarron; Derek Carr; Logan Thomas
- Ponder will be traded during the Draft. This leads to the Vikings drafting two QBs; one early-ish and one late.
- The team will end up with 10 selections and will use them to draft: QBs(2); LBs(2); DL(1); CB(1); WR(1); G(1); S(1) and RB(1)
So, what conclusions have YOU arrived at with Draft Day finally drawing near?