Well Vikings fans, we now have less than a week until we find out if this will be the year that a quarterback of the future is delivered to us. This offseason has been much more interesting and/or frustrating than in years past due to the labor situation and lack of free agency. This has not only complicated the player evaluation process for teams, who typically have the opportunity to address many of their needs during free agency and before the draft, but also for fans attempting to understand team game plans come draft day. Because of this, the deception with which teams approach discussing who and what they like during the player evaluation process has been doubly effective this year. Leaving us fans in a situation where with less than seven days until draft day one, we know next to nothing about what the Vikings aim to do with the 12th pick.
One thing I have always enjoyed is mock drafts. A lot of fans think these are a speculative waste of time, but I find that there is value to be found if you approach them in the right way. First and foremost, you have to be reading the right ones and by that I mean mocks done by reputable writers or scouts who speak with teams. You also have to look at a number of them in order to identify trends in player stock. You obviously can get this information elsewhere, whether through articles or Twitter, which is a draft followers dream come true, but mocks wrap much of this up in to one bundle. The last thing to be mindful of is when a mock was completed. For example, if you look at a mock today that was completed last month, you might as well be looking at one from last year, because player values fluctuate like the stock exchange. I find that in the last 10 days before draft day the truth begins to shine through the deception and it’s at this point that mock drafts can tell you some truth about what teams are thinking. I have listed below eight mock drafts that I value (sorry, the table didn’t copy over well). Each has been completed on or after April 18th and by a reputable writer or scouting service. In addition to the Vikings selection, i’ve also included the two before and after their pick at 12 so we can see which players tend to fall in that range. Now, I’m not guaranteeing anything here, if I did this a few years back, i’d surely find Aaron Rodgers in the top 10 of almost every mock draft, so there are surprises that we can’t predict. You have to remember we’re only fans and we only have access to so much, so this is just an attempt to make the most of it. Anyway, here goes.
|Mock 1||Mock 2||Mock 3||Mock 4|
|10. Was||J. Jones, WR, Al||R. Quinn, DE, UNC||B. Gabbert, QB, Mizz||Quinn|
|11. Hou||A. Ayers, OLB, UCLA||P. Amukamara, CB, Neb||Amukamara||A. Smith|
|12. MN||C. Jordan, DE, Cal||A. Smith, OLB, Mizz||N. Fairley, DT, Aub||J. Locker, QB, Was|
|13. Det||T. Smith, OT, USC||A. Castonzo, OT, BC||T. Smith||Amukamara|
|14. Stl||D. Bowers, DE, Clem||Bowers||Bowers||Bowers|
|Mock 5||Mock 6||Mock 7||Mock 8|
|10. Was||Jones||Jones||Jones||J. J. Watt, DE, Wis|
|14. Stl||Quinn||Fairley||A. Smith||A. Smith|
Of the Vikings selections, we see Cameron Jordan three times, Jake Locker twice and Aldon Smith, Nick Fairley and Da’Quan Bowers once apiece. I find it interesting to see that an offensive tackle wasn’t selected once, something that I agree with for two reasons. One, I don’t value any of the tackles in this draft that high. The two in the discussion this high are Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo. I hope Dallas takes Smith at nine as has been rumored; he’s raw and wasn’t even the best tackle on his college team. Castonzo’s value has risen in recent weeks mostly because he’s a low risk pick that’s expected to start, but doesn’t have great potential. A safe pick is what I want in the 20s, not at 12. Two, if you draft a tackle that high, you start him. I don’t see the Vikings pulling the trigger on an OT at 12 because I don’t think they’ve given up on either McKinnie or Loadholt. As much as each struggled last year, they’re both starters. Plus, Loadholt isn’t a guard, so the idea of sliding him inside isn’t happening. Also interesting, but not surprising is that the Vikings pass on Amukamara twice. Though he’s the consensus second best corner in this draft, taking him at 12 indicates the team is ready to give up on either Cedric Griffin or Chris Cook, which I don’t believe they are.
Now for players they did select. Da’Quan Bowers is a favorite of mine, because his potential is that of a top five pick and an elite pass rusher. On the other hand he was a bit of a one year wonder and questions about his knee and the possible need for microfracture surgery have put him in danger of a draft day slide in to the 20′s. As much as I like his potential, I couldn’t blame the Vikings for passing on the guy if they question his health. Much like Bowers, Nick Fairley is a player that was in the top five mix a few weeks ago and was also a one year wonder. Questions about his work ethic and maturity have put his stock in question, but I still expect he will go on the top 10. If he’s on the board at 12, the Vikings have a tough decision on their hands, as his potential next to Kevin Williams is ridiculous. Aldon Smith is a guy I can’t figure out. Is he an OLB or is he a DE? I don’t know, but I think 12 to the Vikings is his ceiling and a stretch. I don’t see this happening.
On to the two players who are most often mentioned in connection to the Vikings these days, Jake Locker and Cameron Jordan. Jordan is a bit of a shock to me because his has suddenly become popular in connection to the Vikings and I can’t figure out exactly why. He, like Aldon Smith seems to have a ceiling of 12, which doesn’t make me comfortable. I feel a little like Jordan is being paired with the Vikings because he’s a legacy, but this isn’t Animal House and Jordan isn’t Flounder. I loved his dad, Steve Jordan, and sure it would be a neat story, but that has nothing to do with drafting his son, who by the way sports a sweet 80′s slanted flat top in his stock photo. While I wouldn’t be unhappy if the Vikings ended up selecting the younger Jordan, if they elect to go DE, I would much prefer Bowers or Quinn if he fell that far.
Now to Locker, arguably the most talked about player in this draft. The guy’s stock continues to climb to the point that I’ve seen him going to Washington at 10 in a few; mocks and have even seen him go to Tennessee at eight. All indications point to the Vikings loving this guy and he’s even rumored to remind some within the organization of a certain Brett Favre. I won’t touch that, but the guy’s got all the physical tools and I love his intangibles. He’s a natural leader, has a great work ethic, is a competitor and is tough as nails. His accuracy has been his issue and I’ll admit that’s a big issue, but on the other hand he lead a talent starved team to a bowl game win his senior year and that has to count for something. That Favre guy had about the same completion percentage and also got a lot out of a weak college roster. I know, I said I’d leave it alone, but I couldn’t resist. I don’t completely buy in to the comparison, but I do see the competitiveness and toughness. The way things are shaping up, the Vikings only chance to get Locker is at 12 and that’s if he even makes it that far. Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have said this, but if he’s there I take the guy without thinking twice and I think the Vikings agree.
If I were a betting man, I’d say the Vikings will select Locker or a DE at 12, Quinn, Bowers or Jordan in that order. That’s what the mocks are telling me and at this time of year I don’t think they lie. While there’s an outside chance Fairley falls or Amukamara is the pick if Locker is off the board, these are unlikely scenarios. What’s likely on the other hand, is that at the end of it all, the Vikings will select a player that I’ll either love or talk myself in to loving and chances are it’ll be someone we’ve discussed here.