...figuratively and literally. As I did last year, I joined in on the Twitter-based MockThree draft. It's called MockThree cuz, well, it's the third mock that was put together- they're currently on their fourth, BTW. Check out www.mockone.net to see the full deal, as well as previous drafts and the current incarnation.
I was joined by Brett Anderson over at Vikings Territory, and we were GM'd by Josh Deceuster over at SBNation's own Mocking the Draft. BTW, if you would like a more in depth play-by-play recap of what all went on, Brett did a great job of doing so over at his blog.
Anyways, there were tears, there was laughter, joy mingled with pain and sorrow. OK, there might have been absolutely none of that, but it was still quite fun. Unfortunately, just like when I participated last year, there was the traditional ‘KYLE'S GONE MIA!', but at least I got my thoughts in on what we should do prior to those little bouts.
OK, let's see what you guys think after the Leap of Faith. Quite frankly I'm pretty proud of this... while naturally one can't assume the real draft will ever go like any mock, I'd be pretty pleased if it did in this instance.
Round One, Pick #1.03- Matt Kalil, OT USC. Shocking, I know- we wanted to do something completely off-the-wall and really blow everyone's minds. Ooooor we did exactly what we, and pretty much everyone else who follows the Vikings, know should be done. We did make a brief effort to trade down with the Browns in the whole dream scenario of "get an extra pick and take Kalil at #4 anyways", but there wasn't any biting. C'est la vie.
Round One, Pick #1.21- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama. Boom, Mark style. OK, not really. But there were some surprising drops occurring in the first round, and we were discussing the possibility of trading back up into it after about the halfway point. We poked around a bit as the round went on, and weren't really pleased with the offers being made. The Vikings have 10 draft picks, but plenty of needs, too, so we wanted to make sure we did this right.
The Bengals were quite keen on trading, however, and we found the deal reasonable- our second (2.03), and a fourth (4.03) and sixth (6.05). It is also VERY worth mentioning that the moment after we made the trade and pick, news broke about the Vikings signing Carr. I won't say that had we known this prior we wouldn't have made the trade- but we might not have gone CB. We naturally didn't really discuss what we would have done otherwise, however, because there's no sense in crying over spilled milk.
I'm still pleased, however. Having a stacked secondary can't hurt, and I'm not 100% sold on any of the FA moves we've made in that regard. I'm a Kirkpatrick fan, and seeing as how we got him- IMO- at a reasonable price, I'm actually still quite good with this move. I do anticipate this will however be the most debated move in the comments below.
Round Two- ...nada. Yeah. Since we traded that second rounder away to get Kirkpatrick, we mostly just discussed the current situation in Syria and traded pictures of childhood pets. Or discussed what we would do in the third and bemoaned how bored we were with waiting. One or the other.
Round Three, Pick #3.03- Markelle Martin, S Ok. State. The initial plan was that, with needs at the O-line and secondary addressed, we would turn out attention to the third big need- WR. However, we watched in dismay in the second round as pretty much every receiver that we would have liked disappeared. Stephen Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones... all gone. And more to boot. Basically, looking at what was left in that category at this pick, we felt we were going to be reaching too much, and decided to go more BPA.
Martin was the third rated safety on our boards, and quite frankly, I think he would have gone much higher if not for some injury concerns. Granted, Bob Sanders shows us just how important health is, but I felt this was worth the gamble- I pushed very much for this pick. While this pick was taken before Tyrell Johnson left, it didn't matter- safety was every bit as much of a concern before that regardless. Since we had no WR we were absolutely drooling for available, I felt that going for the gold in the secondary and stacking it as much as possible was the next best thing. If Martin can stay healthy, this pick, coupled with Kirkpatrick, could really make an immediate transformation in our secondary- and when you've got Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Jay Cutler tossing the ball to Megatron and the other WRs that exist in our division- well, it can't hurt.
Round Four, Pick #4.33- Nick Toon, WR Wisc. Did you know ‘Nick Toon' is a receiver, and not a kids' show?! (Mark will get that joke.) Anyways, the trade for Kirkpatrick slightly bit us in the butt the exact same way as before- a long wait, and worse, watching yet another receiver run. Quite frankly I thought some of the teams taking receivers were ridiculous- some who I really felt had no need at WR were grabbing them up. But, then again, that's what can happen in a draft.
Let's make no bones about it- Toon will not be the next Moss. We're not landing the #1 field-stretching receiver most of us feel this team truly needs with this pick, but we are at least increasing the depth there. Jenkins and Aromashodu won't be around forever- Toon will likely end up being the #2 receiver once we do get the guy we want, eventually. It can't hurt to let him begin developing with Ponder now, and hey, maybe we'd get a decent surprise out of this pick.
Let's just say now, obviously, this draft did not yield the #1 receiver everyone wants so badly. That said, as deep as the draft class is at WR, I've not been entirely sold yet that ‘cure all' guy's around anyways. Justin Blackmon is the (generally) consensus best receiver in this class... and I feel he's going to be at best a solid #2 guy somewhere in the end. Says a lot, at least to me. So, if we don't get that guy in this draft, I'm OK. We have a lot of holes to fill, folks- we can't believe we were going to patch it all up in a single draft anyways.
Round Four, Pick #4.39- James-Michael Johnson, ILB Nevada. LB is a need for the Vikings, as much as it's been overshadowed by the other ‘big three' (O-line, secondary, WR). I personally like this pick because Johnson has some decent coverage skills- something our LB corps is woefully bad at. He's likely to cut his teeth a season or two on special teams, but I do think he could end up in the regular rotation sooner rather than later.
Round Five, Pick #5.03- Jarius Wright, WR Arkansas. I like this pick to match with the Toon pick. Wright has dangerous speed and is a solid route-runner. The issue that's dropped him so far is his size- he's rather small, and might get somewhat manhandled by NFL defenses. That said, Percy Harvin's no giant himself, but seems to do just fine. Is Wright, like Toon, going to be our true #1? Probably not. But, if we can land that magic guy in next year's draft or FA, then we'll have a receiving corps that would potentially involve him, Harvin, Toon, and Wright... I think that, when all is said and done, will make Christian Ponder smile.
Round Six... again, nada. See- Dre Kirkpatrick, trade for.
Round Seven, Pick #7.03- Jaye Howard, DT Florida. Look, Kevin Williams won't be around forever, and right now Phat Pat's old spot appears to be filled via committee. Sooner rather than later, DT is going to be a position of need- if you don't consider it one already. He's not the strongest guy, but has good speed. The big knock on him, aside from said strength issue, is some inconsistency on his part. Still, at this pick, we felt there was real potential and therefore value here. He can use a season or two to bulk up, and with some coaching we might take care of said inconsistency problem. And if not, Jared Allen might hurt him. Always good motivation.
Round Seven, Pick #7.16- Greg Zuerlein, K Missouri W. State. Yep, a kicker. I found it interesting that Chris did the same thing in his latest mock, albeit with a different guy. We were quite in consensus here for this pick, despite the fact that apparently it's never been done in this mock draft before. Oh well, always a first time for everything! I'm a Longwell fan, really I am, but that game against the Redskins, which made me think he had gone ‘The Replacements' and was trying not to have some mobsters take his pub, really signaled to me that the end is near. We liked Zuerlein for his accuracy and kicking strength, and personally I like that by drafting him, we won't be bidding for his services in the chaotic UFA period. Might save some money that way, too. IMO. Granted, he's likely to end up on the PS, and potentially still therefore as someone another team could steal, but I think we'd be safe there.
Conclusion and Recap
To me, the splashiest- and ergo potentially most controversial- move made in this mock was the trade for Kirkpatrick. Again, I would very much like to point out it was before the Vikings picked up Carr- however, I'm going to be honest here and say I'm still OK with it. We've got a shiny new CB, and a shiny new S- factor in what we've already got, and we have the pieces to have a shutdown D in two, three seasons tops. And would that be a bad thing, particularly in our pass-happy division?
It did leave us with 8 out of 10 picks- I know some might not be as happy about that as we are a team very much in a reloading phase, and picks have a lot of value. That said, essentially giving up two bottom level picks in exchange to swap our second for a first, and to get someone who I think has top-tier value, was well worth it IMO. Rather than have two potential developments and a mid-tier guy, we got an immediate starter out of it. That's my opinion, for what it's worth. And since I'm a contributor here, it's worth a lot.
Yes, we did essentially leave WR out of the mix, at least in terms of that #1 guy. I still like Toon and Wright to be the building blocks, alongside sir Percival, of a great receiving corps- in all honesty, seeing as how I think we did a good job of shoring up two out of three major weaknesses, with some work on that third to boot, I would argue that it's really the best we could have done with one draft. I feel we also got some real value out of our later round picks- JMJ and Howard I think have decent shots at making the team in a year or two, even if just as regular backups or top-level special teamers, and that's about the best you really generally hope for with lower round picks. (They're not all going to be seventh rounder Tom Bradys.) And while drafting a kicker might be seen as a tad ‘unconventional', it's not exactly unheard of in the seventh round by any means, and after the research we did on the guy, I'm sold on Zuerlein. After all, ‘kicker' might be the shadow horse of need that's being overlooked, unless Longwell suddenly surges.
Once again, thanks to the guys who put this draft together. Check out MockFour over at www.mockone.net to see what's going on now- I'm not involved but Brett is the GM now. And again a big thanks to my partners in crime, Josh Deceuster and Brett Anderson over at www.mockingthedraft.com and www.vikingsterritory.com respectively.