Vikings' Draft Plans Are Anybody's Guess

The draft is less than a week away, and it’s still almost impossible to get a read on who the Vikings might want to take when they select 30th overall.

Most of the buzz has been about quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow. However, for the Vikes to get either of those guys would be more than a little shocking.

Clausen is expected to be off the board long before the Vikings pick, and even if he does somehow manage to drop to their spot, a lot of people think his attitude would chase the Vikings away.

And then there’s Tebow, who is thought of as a long-term project, and therefore not someone the Vikes could count on to step in as the starting QB whenever Brett Favre decides to hang them up.

Colt McCoy‘s name has also been bandied about, but the first round might be a little high for him, and most expect him to have been drafted by the time the Vikings’ second round pick rolls around.

There is of course one possibility that could put a guy like McCoy more firmly in the Vikings’ cross-hairs: A trade down. No less an expert than the Star-Trib’s Judd Zulgad speculated on KFAN Friday that the Vikings could be looking to move their first-round pick in hopes of accumulating more picks. This would move their first selection into the second round, where McCoy becomes a more realistic possibility.

Zulgad also mentioned that, with Favre in the fold and no obvious quarterback successor being available as low as the Vikings are picking, the team might be inclined to go defense-heavy in this particular draft.

The position that needs the most upgrading would seem to be cornerback. Antoine Winfield is aging, Cedric Griffin is coming off a major injury, Benny Sapp is a nickel man at best and Asher Allen is still young.

This year’s draft happens to be heavy in good cornerbacks. Florida’s Joe Haden and Boise State’s Kyle Wilson are considered the top 2 prospects, but both are likely to be gone by the time the Vikes select.

After Haden and Wilson, you have Devin McCourty of Rutgers, Kareem Jackson of Alabama, Patrick Robinson of Florida State and Chris Cook of Virginia.

Several recent mock drafts have given McCourty to the Vikings at number 30. He is smallish at 5-11 and 185 pounds, but his speed and proficiency in zone coverage could make him attractive to a Cover-2 squad like the Vikes. He is considered solid in run support, another big plus from the Vikings’ perspective.

Jackson has a bigger body than McCourty, but is not considered as physical or sure-tackling. The same could be said for Robinson, whose scouting reports compare him to Antonio Cromartie, a talented player who wants nothing to do with hitting.

Chris Cook is an intriguing possibility mainly for his size. He’s 6-2, 210-pounds, which makes a lot of people project him as a safety instead of a corner. The Vikes could take him strictly on his physical ability, then figure out where to play him down the road.

For my money, McCourty looks like the best pick among those four, with Cook running second. Cook isn’t someone you would probably take in the first round though, meaning if the Vikes do hold onto their first rounder, McCourty would likely be the guy.

Another position the Vikes could look to upgrade is defensive end. Ray Edwards is embroiled in a money dispute and is unlikely to receive the long-term offer he apparently expects. The primary back-up, Brian Robison, is sometimes dynamic, but has yet to develop consistency.

The top 3 DE prospects, Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul and Brandon Graham, all figure to be gone before the 30th pick. The Vikes could realistically trade up to get Graham, but his lack of a quick first step would seem to make him less-than-attractive for a team that favors fast edge rushers who get a huge explosion on the turf.

If the Vikes are looking for a quick pass rusher, they might take a peek at USC’s Everson Griffen, who has great physical skills but is very raw. The only other guy who projects as a late-first/early-second pick is Carlos Dunlap, but again, he lacks the kind of explosion that would make him appealing as a replacement for a disgruntled Edwards.

If you scan down a little you do find a guy who seems to fit the Vikings’ defensive end profile: Florida’s Jermaine Cunningham. He’s explosive, he’s considered a terrific pure pass rusher…and he has had character issues in the past, including a little problem with an arrest.

Cunningham is not a guy you would consider taking in the first round at any rate, but he looks like he would be a solid second round selection, especially if he has put his issues behind him.

Another position where depth and long-term prospects have become issues is defensive tackle. Kevin Williams is in the prime of his career, and Jimmy Kennedy and Fred Evans are solid back-ups, but Pat Williams figures to retire after this season, leaving a very large hole.

I don’t even need to mention that the draft’s top defensive tackle prospect, Ndamukong Suh, will be off the board long before #30. Ditto the second guy, Gerald McCoy. And Dan Williams and probably Jared Odrick.

It’s a strong year for interior defensive linemen though, and if the Vikes want one, they should be able to get a good one. UCLA’s Brian Price figures to be there at the end of the first round, as do Terrence Cody of Alabama and Linval Joseph of East Carolina.

Of those three, Cody comes closest to the Pat Williams type, at least physically. Unfortunately, Cody does not share Big Pat’s freakish-for-his-size agility and athleticism, and there are questions about his motor.

Price is more athletic than Cody, but is much smaller, and may not make it against the massive offensive linemen he would face in the NFL. Joseph is an intriguing possibility because of his quickness and ability as a run-stopper, but again, there are questions about consistency.

Of course, it’s possible the Vikings won’t go defense at all with their first rounder. As we know, there have been question marks about the offensive line, particularly center and right guard, and the team could choose to address these instead.

Among centers, only Florida’s Maurkice Pouncey figures to come off the board in that late-first/early-second area. Pouncey is strong and athletic, but a tad unpolished, and could be a liability in pass protection. One upside for him is that he could play center, guard or right tackle.

If it’s a guard you want with your 30th overall pick, Idaho’s Mike Iupati seems to be the only guy worth looking at. The attractive thing about him is that he is considered a potentially dominating run blocker – and God knows, Adrian Peterson would love to have more of those in front of him. Unfortunately, his pass protection skills are yet to develop.

One guy who’s popped up in some mocks, and was brought in for a visit when the Vikings hosted several prospects recently, is Vladimir Ducasse of UMass. He played both tackle and guard in college – again, versatility is good – and is physically gifted. The downside is that he’s another project guy. Remember though, that’s the same thing they said about Phil Loadholt last year, and the Vikings happily snapped him up.

Like everyone else outside of the Vikings brain-trust, I can only guess what positions are considered true need positions, and what guys are thought of as attractive prospects. The only thing I know for sure is, there isn’t a single guy available who gets your blood pumping the way Percy Harvin did last year.

Then again, crazy things happen in the draft. If there’s someone the Vikings really like, maybe they would be willing to trade up. Could that guy be Clausen? Do they really love one of the defensive linemen who seem to be out of their reach?

Or, do the Vikes look at this as a draft poor in players who could really help them, meaning they would rather accumulate picks and draft for depth?

I’m sure Brad Childress and the boys have a plan. And going by their recent draft history, we have good reason to trust that plan.

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Antoine Winfield Asher Allen Benny Sapp Brad Childress Brandon Graham Brett Favre Brian Price Brian Robison Carlos Dunlap Cedric Griffin Chris Cook Colt Mccoy Dan Williams Derrick Morgan Devin Mccourty Everson Griffen Fred Evans Gerald Mccoy Jared Odrick Jason Pierre-paul Jermaine Cunningham Jimmy Clausen Jimmy Kennedy Joe Haden Judd Zulgad Kareem Jackson Kevin Williams Kyle Wilson Linval Joseph Maurkice Pouncey Mike Iupati Minnesota Vikings Ndamukong Suh Pat Williams Patrick Robinson Percy Harvin Phil Loadholt Ray Edwards Terrence Cody Tim Tebow Vladimir Ducasse

  • Shay

    I’m not sure the Vikings will go for a QB in this years draft. If Brett Favre does come back (which we are all pretty sure he will) we will have 3 QBs on the active roster and i am not sure we will want 4 QBs on our roster. If we did draft someone like Clausen he would be inactive or on practice squad or whatever. I do not think that will stand well with a first round draft pick QB. If the Vikings do pick a QB it will probably be a mid to late round pick QB like Tony Pike or Kafka.

  • Josh

    Considering where we’re picking and the depth of this year’s draft class, I’d have to say trading down would be a smart choice (though less flashy). The trick would be finding a trading partner. It’d have to be someone like Cleveland or Buffalo, looking to trade up to nab a McCoy or Tebow, assuming they don’t get a QB with their first choice. In exchange we could pick up an additional third round pick, giving us five picks in rounds two through four. With those picks, we could get five solid, though maybe not star players. Positions I’d like to see us grab in order of need priority: C/G, DB, RB, DT, & FS. Counting down to Thursday!

  • http://MSN Diradin

    Josh a very nice idea but CB is the number one need position, remember Winfield has 2 yrs. at the most Griffin is coming off a bad knee injury in the Championship Game. Sapp filled in nicely, A. Allen needs more time, and then he should be fine, after that who’s next. This might be Pat Williams last year, Brian Price DT UCLA a Pat Williams clone should be there late first early second, why not do some trading, move up and fill too need positions. Dein McCourty Rutgers or Kaheem Jackson Alabama one of them should be there for pick 30, at the Saftey spot if Taylor Mays was there I’d still pass on him & look for a backup O-lineman.

  • Mike

    CB is a mess but so is safety. Vikings should draft Mays in 1, Cook in 2.

  • http://MSN Dirafin

    Why are most people so high on Taylor Mays, in his time at USC tell me when he’s made any game changing plays, when he saved a game with a Int. or a tackle even a sack maybe, other than being tall and fast not a heavy hitter, show me a game when he’s made 10 tackles or more. I don’t hate the kid, I just know he’s not worth a 1st round pick of the Vikings, the body of work doesn’t add up. I know I keep saying this but Brian Price would be a better pick, check the film on him & you tell me he isn’t worthy of the Vikings pick, or doesn’t fit Minnesota’s system. Again Kaheem Jackson, or Devin McCourty at CB, than Cook “S” or Price “DT”. Other than moving up and drafting Kyle Wilson that’s your best bet. Viking 4ever

  • Mike

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want the Vikings to take a DT while they have such huge problems in the secondary and even on the offensive line. I also cant imagine why Chilly wants Tebow (according to super star Mike Morris on KFAN this morning, who also hopes he changes his mind). Taylor Mays is the highest rated defensive back (according to PFW) that could fall to the Vikings. Of course I would rather have one of the top 2 safeties but they wont be available. I would also be OK if the Vikings got a top CB followed by a S.

    But I would rather the Vikings got Mays and then traded up, if they had to, to get Cook at CB. If you look at the Vikings, if Griffen and Winfield come back strong from injuries, the Vikings will be much stronger at CB than S. I wonder if you people have any idea how bad the Vikings to starting safeties are – they are absolutely worthless – 1 INT last year, 12.6 yards given up after each tackle, etc, etc not aggressive, take bad angles, cant tackle. Cook is a CB that they say can play S in man to man but the Vikings need a safety that roam making plays in their cover 2.

    Taylor Mays got a bad rap, that will allow him to fall to the Vikings in a huge steal. NFL analyst Rick Gosselin writes: I think Taylor Mays will be a better safety than he was at Southern Cal because the NFL will ask him to do more. He has the measurables to do whatever you ask of him with that size (6-3, 230) and speed (4.34). But comparisons to Roy Williams seem to have some NFL teams running scared. So Mays has a sliding value right now. But I think some team is going to get a really good player at a great value when he finally comes off the board. (Roy Williams hardly compares at 6’1″ and 219 pounds and a 40-time of 4.53.)

    Yahoo Sports is reporting Taylor Mays is drawing comparisons to Troy Polamalu, another former USC safety who heard some last-second nitpicking. Some evaluators questioned whether Polamalu’s instincts were good enough for the NFL. Polamalu also had only one interception his senior year. Mays was not expected to get a lot of interceptions where they put him in the defense. He played the deep routes. He was expected to keep the big plays from happening and he did. But in the NFL safeties get paid to get interceptions. He started trying to do that at the Senior Bowl and had an interception. It started to pay off form him once he started to look for the ball.

  • Mike

    Pro Football Weekly’s value chart looks like the following:

    FS Eric Berry Rd-1A
    FS Earl Thomas 1B
    CB Joe Haden 1B
    CB Kareem Jackson 1B
    FS Taylor Mays 1C
    CB Kyle Wilson 1C
    CB Patrick Robinson 2A
    CB Devin McCourty 2A
    FS Morgan Burnett 2B
    CB Chris Cook 2C
    FS Nate Allen 2C

    In “Ranking the corners hasn’t been easy” the Star Trib’s Mark Craig wrote on April 20 that only CB Kareem Jackson may be available to the Vikings. S Taylor Mays could also be available. I doubt they would trade up in the first round. CB Chris Cook, who the Vikings “love” might be available in round 2. Or S Nate Allen could be available. Why not grab Mays in 1 (instead of Tebow) and Cook in 2? Otherwise I would take CB Kareem Jackson if available and try to get Nate Allen. But Mays and Cook sound better to me, especially if the Vikings get Lito Sheppard.

  • Mike

    Looks like the STP Pioneer Press writer Charley Walters writing on 04/21/2010 in “Three things to watch in the Vikings’ draft” thinks the Vikings are thinking like me:

    1. If the Vikings feel comfortable that CBs Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin can return as starters, the team could wait until the second round to improve that position. Maybe even trade up in the second round.

    2. That would leave Minnesota’s first-round options wide open — safety Taylor Mays from Southern California or quarterback Colt McCoy.

    3. Cornerback, safety or offensive line are positions the Vikings seem to be focusing on most.

    Vikings like to get athletes on the field and there is no one as potentially athletic as Taylor Mays.

  • Mike

    Or how about Jimmy Boyd of BetUs wrote on April 21:

    Offensively, New Orleans is sitting pretty good, but the Saints would like to continue to add more athleticism and explosiveness to their defense. Expect the defensive side of the football to get the most attention on draft day……

    1. Outside Linebacker – With Scott Fujita now in Cleveland, the outside linebacker position has become one of New Orleans’ biggest need areas. …. The Saints have a good chance of landing Weatherspoon with the last pick of the first round, and his blend of size and speed would make him a nice fit.

    2. Defensive End – …… New Orleans is not scared to make a move up the board, which would put it in a better position to land an elite pass rusher.

    3. Free Safety – Sharper was a big part of New Orleans’ Super Bowl run. He proved that he could still be one of the game’s best playmakers in his 13th season. I think the Saints would be foolish not to re-sign him, but regardless of what happens, they need to get a free safety of the future in this draft. The free safety position is such an important spot in Gregg Williams’ ball-hawking defense so I would be surprised if it doesn’t get addressed at some point. If the Saints choose to address this spot early, they’ll likely have to move up to get a shot at USC’s Taylor Mays or Texas’ Earl Thomas.