ESPN's two main draft gurus, Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay, have each released new versions of their mock drafts, and they appear to agree on a whole lot more than usual. That agreement extends to our favorite football team, as they both have the Minnesota Vikings selecting the same player.
Both Kiper and McShay have the Vikings tabbing Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the #8 overall pick in this year's draft. In both cases, Bortles is the second quarterback off of the board, as both men have Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel going to the Cleveland Browns at #4. (In fact, the first five picks in both of their drafts are identical.)
So what do each of them have to say about Minnesota's pick? We'll start with Kiper's take.
Obviously, the current tandem of Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder isn't the long-term answer. On the other hand, the presence of both provides a reasonable basis for drafting a quarterback, because there's no need to simply force-feed a rookie the starting role out of the gate. I think Bortles will benefit from some time in the system before he's forced to handle first-team reps. I'll say again that Bortles is a very good athlete with excellent pocket instincts and can benefit from his ability to create some yards with his legs, as we've seen from a few other young quarterbacks recently.
And now for McShay, who says a lot of the same things.
The Vikings need a long-term answer at quarterback, but the presence of Matt Cassel (who did not play terribly last season) would allow for Bortles to sit for at least part of his rookie season, which is an ideal situation for him. He has prototypical size and good mobility, and I think that issues with his mechanics are fixable. I also wouldn't be surprised if GM Rick Spielman trades again. He made a shrewd deal in 2012 to move down and add picks while still getting Matt Kalil and then traded back into the first round to get Harrison Smith. He was active again in last year's first round.
As far as other quarterbacks, McShay doesn't have another quarterback going in Round 1 after Manziel and Bortles are off the board, while Kiper has Fresno State's Derek Carr going to the Arizona Cardinals at #20. Neither of them have Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater going in the first round at all, which just continues the mind-numbingly stupid (in my opinion) trend of Bridgewater falling off the face of the earth in the eyes of scouts everywhere.
With a limited number of quarterbacks being taken in the first round (apparently), it would appear that if the Vikings really want to target that spot in the first round, they would have the ability to trade back with a team further down the board and accumulate some more selections. Thankfully, we're only eight days away from all the madness officially coming to an end, and I'm as intrigued by what the Vikings might do now as I can remember being leading up to any draft in recent memory.