For months now we’ve all operated on the assumption that the Vikings have no shot at drafting Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. But with Draft Day drawing near, there is evidence to suggest that assumption was/is at least half-wrong.
Jason La Canfora of NFL.com is the man responsible for rocking our draft speculation world today. According to La Canfora, the Tennessee Titans are high on TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, and might even be ready to take him with the 8th pick. Up till now, Dalton has been thought of as late-first-round material at best. And at least one coach famously dismissed the notion of drafting him at all…on account of his having red hair.
Clearly, the Titans do not discriminate against quarterbacks on the basis of hair color. Needless to say, if the Titans do buck conventional wisdom by taking Dalton at 8, it will shake up the draft something fierce.
And there sit the Vikings at 12, wanting a young quarterback but, so the speculation goes, not loving their options. But how will they feel if, lo and behold, the previously-unattainable Blaine Gabbert ends up being one of those options?
Here’s the scenario: Somebody takes Cam Newton high, maybe the Panthers at 1. Nobody takes Gabbert, not even the 49ers. The Titans take Dalton, making him the second QB off the board. Now we have to wonder about the Redskins at 10. Do they snap up Gabbert or go with Jake Locker? Or neither?
Obviously, a lot of things would have to fall right for Gabbert to drop all the way to 12, even beyond the Titans doing the unthinkable with Dalton. At the very least, Dalton going 8 would raise the odds of Jake Locker then dropping out of the top 10.
I was of the belief that Locker would not be there for the Vikings at 12, leading the team to probably trade down a few spots and maybe take Mike Pouncey, then turn around and trade back up into the first for Christian Ponder. But if Locker does last till 12, I could easily see Locker being the pick.
Or, maybe Locker and Dalton aren’t thought of as high-first-round talent by anyone, including the Titans and Vikings. At least one expert thinks Dalton doesn’t deserve to be picked any earlier than the fourth. And there are lots of people who persist in pointing out that Locker ain’t exactly Mr. Accuracy.
When all is said and done, our assumptions might turn out to have been spot-on after all: Newton and Gabbert out in the top few picks, Locker not making it out of the top 10 and the Vikings having to choose between a bunch of guys it’s hard to get all that jacked-up about.
Still, La Canfora’s report has to make you think. Maybe, just maybe, something wacky is set to happen Thursday night. Something wacky that will end up handing the Vikings the franchise-level quarterback they haven’t had since Daunte Culpepper.