Our pick is up in the annual SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, in which the picks are submitted by each individual site for a two-round selection process. It's a selection that I think may be a bit unpopular, so this is my attempt to explain/justify the selection that we made after much discussion.
To review, the first seven picks of the mock went as follows:
1) Houston Texans - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
2) St. Louis Rams - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
3) Jacksonville Jaguars - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
4) Cleveland Browns - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
5) Oakland Raiders - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
6) Atlanta Falcons - Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The way things played out over the first seven selections represents, in my opinion, the worst-case scenario for the Minnesota Vikings. The top three quarterbacks are all gone in the first five picks, along with the two best defensive players in this year's draft (although there's no scenario in which Jadeveon Clowney makes it to #8, so he doesn't count) and the draft's best wide receiver. So, while there is still plenty of talent on the board and a lot of different directions that the Vikings could go with this pick, it isn't necessarily a scenario that Vikings fans would want to see on 8 May.
Mark gave us the "Big Board" from the National Football Post, which has 274 players rated, graded, etc. The two top guys available on that board are both offensive tackles, Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. There's no reason for the Vikings to take an offensive tackle at #8, so now we're into a group of eight players that all grade out the same at NFP. Nearly all of them would fill positions of need for the Vikings, whether that would be at linebacker, cornerback, or even wide receiver.
However, we came to a consensus that quarterback was the one position that the Vikings absolutely, positively must "get right" in this year's draft. That's why, of all the directions we could have gone, we went with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr as the pick. As we pointed out yesterday, Carr is making a push into the top tier of quarterbacks as we get closer to draft day, and with good reason. You can check out his scouting report at NFP right here, and there are a lot of things to like about it.
Carr seems to be the kind of quarterback that could develop into a maestro in the Norv Turner/Air Coryell style of offense. He has shown the ability to make all of the throws with accuracy, and has one of the bigger arms in this year's draft class. His level of production is nearly impossible to argue with, as over the past two seasons he has put up 85 touchdown passes to just 14 interceptions, averaging just over eight yards per attempt in the process. Some will point out that he threw a lot of short passes as Fresno State, but I don't see that as an issue. As I said earlier, he has the ability to make the throws that Norv Turner is going to ask him to make in the new Minnesota offense.
Some people will likely bang on Derek Carr because his older brother, David, was one of the bigger busts in recent draft history, having gone #1 overall to the Houston Texans back in the 2002 NFL Draft. There might be reasons to not like this pick, but that one is nothing short of ridiculous. At last check, getting sacked 70 times in one season behind one of the worst offensive lines in recent NFL history isn't hereditary. (I mean, I'm no scientist or anything, but that's an assumption that I'm pretty sure I can make.)
Derek Carr also seems to have a pretty clear head on his shoulders. During the first few weeks of the 2013 season, his infant son was born with complications that required him to have three different surgeries over the course of five weeks. Carr went out and continued to play at an incredibly high level while dealing with all of that. He knows all about pressure, and not just on the football field. I have a feeling that character and work ethic would not be an issue with Carr if he were to end up in Minnesota.
Overall, while this pick may not seem like a great one on the surface, we feel that it's the best pick for the Vikings to make under the scenario that played out. In our opinion, the drop-off from Carr to the next tier of quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo, Zach Mettenberger, et al) is much larger than the drop-off. . .such as it is. . .from the "Big Three' quarterbacks to Derek Carr. There's no way he'd be available at the top of the second round, and the Vikings would be wise not to risk that on draft day.
Our next pick is at #40 overall, and will be up in a couple of weeks. Be sure to continue following the SB Nation NFL Mock Draft to keep up with everything until we're back on the virtual clock again.