It doesn’t take much to turn the prognosticatory tide nowadays. When it comes to the Vikings‘ draft, all it required was one visit from Brad Childress down to Gainsville. Now pretty much everyone is convinced that Winter Park has its eye on Percy Harvin, the Florida wide receiver whose talent is surpassed only by his love of toking up. If the Vikings do take Harvin, they will undoubtedly be rolling the dice on a guy with questionable judgment. Of course this would not be the first time they rolled these same dice. They also took a huge chance on Jared Allen, who at the time of that trade, was one strike away from a one-year suspension under the substance abuse policy. Allen, as things turned out, remained on the straight and narrow, and is now back to square-one in the policy. Oh, and he wasn’t too bad on the field either.
Here’s the point: considering the huge risk the Vikings took with the Allen trade, should any of us really be surprised that they would be interested in Harvin, a guy who has been summarily dismissed by so many people? The Vikings put multiple draft picks and a huge pile of money on the line by trading for Allen; with Harvin, they’re risking only a single pick and a lesser amount of money. Of course, the big difference is that, with Allen, you were acquiring a known commodity on the field; Harvin, on the other hand, has yet to play a single down in the NFL, and is regarded by some as an awkward fit in any pro system, given his smallish stature and unproven ability to master routes (in Florida he basically outran defenders). The risk with Allen was only about his character, not his production, but with Harvin it’s both. Still, the Vikings have shown themselves willing to take such chances, and given their experience with guys like Allen and Fred Evans, who had a checkered past before coming to the team, maybe they feel more comfortable with a guy like Harvin than teams that have seen such experiments blow up in their faces.
Another factor that can’t be underestimated here is Brad Childress’s background. The coach actually has a degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois, and seemingly fancies himself an expert in sizing up a player’s marbles. It could be that Chilly took a look at Harvin’s history, and spoke to Harvin, and concluded that the kid isn’t as big a head-case as everyone else seems to believe. Should anyone prove skeptical of Childress’s grasp of the inner-workings of the athletic mind, he can always point to his successes with Allen and Evans. As a matter of fact, Childress has pointed to those successes as a means of justifying taking a chance on a guy others may have cast aside. “Facts are facts,” the coach said when discussing problem players. “Sometimes you don’t go by the facts. Sometimes people get second chances like a Jared Allen, like a Fred Evans.”
That statement almost seems like a set-up for Saturday, which may very well see the Vikings and Chilly taking the plunge again. I’m just not entirely convinced this is a plunge worth taking. Not when you still need a right tackle, and not when you’re unsure exactly how Harvin’s skills will fit into the KAO. At the very least, this is all making for a higher level of suspense than we normally see going into a draft. Last year’s was boring from a Viking fan’s point-of-view; this year’s should be anything but.