Going into the 2010 NFL Draft the Minnesota Vikings were a mere couple players away from making the Super Bowl. Really all the team needed was a backup running back to fill in for what Chester Taylor left behind and a quality cornerback to serve as depth until Cedric Griffin returned from a torn ACL. That’s it. Of course there was the possibility Brett Favre wouldn’t come back, but we all know what would eventually happen and otherwise… This team was set.
But as the draft started and on Thursday night (don’t forget this was the first year the draft did not start late Saturday morning… Don’t we all miss the days where your buddy orders about 10 pizzas and has multiple cases of cold beverages and we sat around all day as if it were a grown-up version of Christmas receiving young talented football players as gifts?) we all watched becoming more and more confused about this teams direction.
The 1st round saw Notre Dame signal caller Jimmy Clausen slip from an anticipated top ten pick all the way to the back of the 1st round when the Vikings were on the podium. Could this be our own Aaron Rodgers? A talented California raised passer who slipped late into the later parts of the 1st round and could learn from future Hall of Famer Brett Favre for a year or two until being handed the car keys? But instead of selecting Clausen, we traded the pick to our division rival Detroit Lions who then selected Cal’s Jahvid Best (a speedy big-play-waiting-to-happen running back) in a move that may haunt Vikings fans down the road. Fine, so we stayed up watching this only to go to bed at night without seeing out team select. But I guess all is okay because the Vikings on Friday will have 3 picks combined in the 2nd and 3rd round.
Onto a new day in Friday and the 2nd round began with us then having the Lions pick. We immediately filled a need by selecting Virginia cornerback Chris Cook. Cook possessed outstanding size, speed and tackling ability. Some mocks had him going in the later parts of the 1st round and cornerback is a position that you really can’t have enough depth anyway. Yes, it would have been nice to get Rutgers Devin McCourty (whom the Vikings were believde to be high on) now with the Patriots and a serious Rookie of the Year candidate, but hindsight is always 20/20. Then we sat back having another 2nd rounder only to shockingly have Rick Spielman trade up from 62 to 51 and also include our 3rd round pick to select Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. Now Gerhart ran for over 1800 yards and accounted for 28 touchdowns in his senior season. He also helped Jim Harbaugh (who by the time you read this may be the highest paid coach in the NFL) get to his first bowl game and could still be a serviceable runner for the purple.
But still… that’s not the point. The point is this draft was really over before it began. Thanks Rick Spielman. Now I can’t complain about passing on Jimmy Clausen. Every team passed him on until he fell to the Carolina Panthers and was downright awful in his rookie year. Nor can I complain about Spielman. Looking at his track record in previous years he was the same guy who drafted Adrian Peterson, Sticky Rice (I hope as much as anyone he re-signs… blog entry certain to follow), Percy Harvin and traded for Jared Allen, but still it was unfulfilling. Was Toby really worth it to cough up a 3rd round pick? The later rounds gave us USC defensive end Everson Griffen, Wake Forest o-lineman Chris DeGeare, Minnesota linebacker (who we drafted to help out on special teams) Nate Triplett, UAB quarterback (who we drafted as a wide receiver) Joe Webb, Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler and Rutgers linebacker (who was then moved to fullback) Ryan D’Imperio. All are still with the team with the exception of Triplett who is now with the Colts and Shuler with the Dolphins.
Dennis Green used to say, “You judge your drafts two or three years down the road” and it wouldn’t be fair this soon to say we blew it in 2010. Cook is likely to start as early as next year, Gerhart will be Adrian’s backup, Griffen will either be a solid starting DE opposite Jared Allen or a perpetual underachiever, DeGeare did actually show flashes and could start in the Vikings youth movement next year and D’Imperio was moved to fullback then put on the practice squad. But still, I feel like at best we got at best solid role players instead of difference makers this past year. Unless of course Joe Webb (don’t worry, I wasn’t going to forget him) emulates another quarterback drafted 199th overall… some guy named Tom Brady… and has a Hall of Fame career while leading us to multiple Super Bowl victories.
Looking ahead to 2011 season our biggest needs are QB, OT, C, DT, LB, CB and S. Sound familiar? Perhaps it may have made more sense to address that in a prior year knowing we had an aging team instead of tinkering.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig