Over at NFL.com, they have a piece on the best case and worst case scenarios for each team heading into the draft...which is now only seven days away. Here's what they're saying for the Vikings:
Best-case scenario: Mike Zimmer's defensive background could put the Vikings' focus on upgrading a defense that has slipped in recent years. Thus, the team could target a versatile linebacker like Mack to add a disruptive defender to the mix. The Buffalo standout is an ideal Sam linebacker in Zimmer's scheme, with the coverage ability and rush skills to make an impact as a three-down playmaker. If Mack is off the board, the opportunity to land a dynamic safety like Clinton-Dix wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound ball hawk is a rangy defender with instincts and awareness to shut down passing lanes between the hashes.
Worst-case scenario: The Vikings obviously need to address their quarterback situation, but there are enough options available in Round 2 to focus on grabbing a blue-chip position player at No. 8. If none of their desired targets are available, it would make sense to grab one of the quarterbacks (Bridgewater or Manziel), but the team would miss out on landing a marquee defensive player with the potential to make a bigger impact in Year 1.
Bucky's pick: If Khalil Mack is on the board, this should be a no-brainer for the Vikings. He fills their biggest defensive need, while also giving them another potential pass rusher to use on exotic blitzes in their base and nickel packages.
Hmm, let's break this down.
As to the best case scenario, I agree with the assessment. It's no secret the Vikings need a quarterback, but they need a linebacker almost as bad. In 2013, Minnesota had one of the two or three worst defenses in the NFL, and from a franchise perspective, it was arguably the worst in team history. During free agency, they addressed some key needs along the line and in the secondary, but linebacker is still a glaring need. Unless, of course, you look at Jasper Brinkley as the answer. If you do...well, he isn't, and let's just leave it at that. If you consider Khalil Mack as more of a sure thing at linebacker than you do with any of the quarterbacks available at their position, then yeah, taking Mack is the best case scenario. Run to the podium, take him, and don't look back.
But I'm going to have to disagree with the assessment of the worst case scenario. Most of the folks that follow this stuff don't really think that Mack will be on the board, so the natural inclination is to look at quarterbacks available. With the apparent yet inexplicable free fall of Teddy Bridgewater and/or Johnny Manziel, depending on what you read, one, if not both, of the top two quarterbacks could be on the board when the Vikings select. I don't see this as a worst case scenario, not by a longshot. Actually, I'd look at it as ‘best case scenario 1A'.
Let's walk through this. As little as a month ago, it was widely believed that not only Khalil Mack, but both Manziel and Bridgewater would be off the board. It was also the general consensus that Blake Bortles, widely thought to be the #1 QB in the draft, was going to be long gone as well. In our SB Nation Blogger's Mock Draft, that's exactly the situation we found ourselves in, and we ended up selecting Derek Carr, the fourth of Three Musketeer quarterbacks.
But look at what's happened in the last few weeks. Teddy Bridgewater has developed skinny knees, Johnny Manziel is brittle, and the Houston Texans seem to be leaning towards Jadeveon Clowney as opposed to Bortles. The way things seem to be going, Mack will still be gone, but the Vikings might have two of the three top quarterbacks on the board to select from.
This is a good thing.
To me, the worst case scenario is the one we faced in the SB Nation Blogger's Mock. Not only were the top three QB's gone, but so was Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, and, obviously, Clowney. The absolute best player on the board at that point is probably an offensive tackle, the one position the Vikings do not need. Looking at team needs, taking Derek Carr here is a real stretch, and could be Ponder 2.0, something the Vikings really want and need to avoid. The best linebacker left is C.J Mosley, and the best CB, probably the position of need highest after QB and LB, is probably Darqueze Dennard.
To me, that's the worst case scenario: The top three QB's gone, Mack gone, and no obvious choice staring them in the face.