The problem with forming a firm consensus on who the Vikings should and will take with the #22 pick in this year’s draft is that, frankly, there doesn’t seem to be one guy worthy of such a commitment. Percy Harvin, talented Florida wide receiver, seemed to be taking on favorite status there for awhile, but then the stories came out about his failing a drug test at the combine – stories that have yet to be denied by the player and his agent – and suddenly Harvin was off the board. Offensive tackle Eben Britton then stepped into the void created by the Harvin downgrade, his combination of talent and character making him seem more in line with the Zygi Wilf/Brad Childress culture of accountability. Unfortunately, Britton’s reign as favored prospect would prove short-lived as well, not over any worries about him preferring smoke to football, but rather concerns that he is not physically well-endowed enough, particularly in the arm-length area, to make it as an NFL tackle.
This is of course the kind of silliness that goes on every draft season, folks wringing their hands over whether a dude’s arms are long enough. Seems to me that every player has pluses and minuses and the good ones are those that learn to work around their disadvantages, whatever they may be. That’s why the draft is such a crap shoot: you can’t know which guys will learn to adapt themselves to the circumstances they face. It’s possible Britton could turn out to be a great tackle in spite of having the upper extremities of an Ewok; or, the arms issue could wind up being an insurmountable obstacle. The question isn’t whether a given player is a risk, cause they all are to an extent; the question is, given what you have and what you need, and where you are in the draft, is the risk worth taking, or would you be better going with the cautious approach?
Here’s what I know: the Vikings need a right tackle, very badly, unless they want to end up with Ryan Cook over there again. There are lots of tackles considered worthy of a first-round pick in this draft, but unfortunately, most if not all of them will be gone by the time the #22 pick rolls around; and even if a guy like Britton is left, there is, as I indicated before, doubt whether he would be a good value pick at that spot. The Vikes then have several options: trade up to get a shot at a better right tackle; stay at the #22 spot and take a chance with Britton; stay at #22 and take something other than a tackle; trade down. Not being a psychic, I have no idea which of these options the Vikes will choose come next Saturday. But my gut is now telling me that there’s a very good chance they will choose to trade down, possibly out of the first round altogether.
And how did my gut come to this conclusion? One name: Phil Loadholt.
This giant tackle from Oklahoma was in for a visit, and I believe the Vikings are high on him. Thing about him is, he’s not really a first-round prospect, but more of an early second-round type. In other words, for the Vikings to take him at #22 would be a stretch. Of course, we know that Brad Childress is not above reaching for a guy, but this time he shouldn’t have to. If the Vikings really like Loadholt, more than they like Britton or William Beatty, the other right tackle whose name is often brought up, they can trade out of the first round and get him. Of course, this assumes they can find a trade partner at the top end of the second round. Sometimes you can’t make the deal you want to and have to eat it.
I now fully expect Trader Chilly to be wheeling and dealing come draft day. Naturally, this could all change ten more times in the meantime. Cause I really have no idea what’s going on, and neither does anyone else.