Draft Day is Here at Last

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The long, wearying draft hype season is over. At last, draft day itself has arrived.

Now we get to see which mockers, which speculators, which alleged experts were right, and which were full of crap. Actually they’re all full of crap, but every year a few of them get to gloat because their darts happened to hit the right names. Get your gloating hat ready Shawn Zobel!

The big names on the Vikings dart board have been rehashed so many times that I’m hesitant to bother doing it again. We all know them by heart. Jake Locker. Prince Amukamara. Da’Quan Bowers. Christian Ponder. Tyron Smith. Ryan Kerrigan. Aldon Smith. Dimitrius Underwood. I threw that last one in there to make sure you’re still paying attention.

Actually, I threw Underwood in there because at least I’m not sick of typing his name. Thanks to Jake Locker, the “k” is now completely worn off my keyboard. And all for naught if it turns out the Vikings don’t even draft him!

That’s how it goes on draft day: most of the guys we spent the last few months obsessing over are going to end up on other teams, at which point we will immediately stop caring about them. Until one of them lights us up on game day and the “I can’t believe we passed that guy up” talk starts.

Which Viking non-draftee will come back to haunt us this time? It will take years to find out. But, somewhere in this draft there is a Warren Sapp. Honestly Dennis Green, Derrick Alexander over Warren Sapp? WTF?

And, oh yes, there could be another Derrick Alexander or Dimitrius Underwood or Erasmus James looming among this year’s prospects. His name may be Aldon Smith. Or it may be Ryan Kerrigan. Or it may be Robert Quinn.

But enough negativity – let’s focus instead on positives. It’s possible that, later tonight, the Vikings will select the man who becomes their Aaron Rodgers. Tonight could be the beginning of the end of the long No Franchise Quarterback nightmare for the purple.

We can sit here and talk about defensive end prospects, the need for a new tight end, the possibility of strengthening the secondary all we want, but let’s face facts: it’s all about the quarterback. For the first time since no one can remember when (actually it was 1999), the Vikings are in line to take a shot with a highly-regarded college QB prospect. No more project guys like Tarvaris Jackson. No more dusting off old fossils like Gus Frerotte. The time has come for the Vikings to jump off the QB merry-go-round and find their man for the next decade.

Unless, you know, they don’t like any of the QBs that are available. In which case they would probably wait till the late rounds and take someone like Adam Weber or Scott Tolzien. Viking Nation would be thrilled if that happened, eh?

But there would be no need to fret if that scenario did come to pass. It would just mean Donovan McNabb was on the way. Bridge quarterback!

If I had money to bet, I would bet it on the Vikings not letting the first round go without taking a QB. I’m not saying they’ll use their #12 pick though. The scenario I’d wager on is their trading down from 12 and either using that pick on a QB or making further trades to move up from the early second into the late first to grab themselves an Andy Dalton or a Christian Ponder. Or, heck, maybe even Jake Locker if it turns out his draft value has been somewhat over-estimated.

The long-shot, to my eyes, is Ryan Mallett. The fanbase seems to love him but I personally soured on him from the moment he stormed away from that press conference. Another drama queen quarterback? No thanks.

And then there’s the dark horse, Blaine Gabbert. For Gabbert to be a Viking something crazy would have to happen. Either there would have to be an unexpected dramatic trade-up, or an unexpected dramatic slide-down.

Just going by the last three months of rumors, my guess is the Vikings are zeroed-in on Locker. Whether they are able to land him may depend entirely on Daniel Snyder and his star-happy brain. Snyder sits there at 10, maybe wanting to trade up for Gabbert, maybe wanting to stay put and snap up Locker. Be funny if Snyder ended up taking our QB-of-the-future only to turn around and console us by giving us our QB-of-2011 in the form of McNabb.

And then there’s the crazy panic scenario: All those teams wanting quarterbacks decide they can’t risk a trade-down and just start snapping them off the board like a fat old sports writer working over a buffet. Everything good could conceivably be gone by the time the Vikings pick at 12. They might end up with no choice but to take Ryan Mallett or even Colin Kaepernick.

Of course there are some folks who would be thrilled to see Mallett in purple. That’s the wonderful thing about the draft – somebody’s gonna be happy, no matter what happens. There were probably even people who applauded when the Vikings took Troy Williamson. Besides Williamson’s family members and agent. And the sarcastic people who were just glad the Vikings got the pick in before the clock ran out.

Thankfully, Mike Tice is no longer running the ship, so we won’t have to worry about a silly over-reaching need pick or a tardy selection. Now we have Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, two guys who inspire nothing but confidence. Spielman won’t reach – we know because he said so.

And the great thing for Les and Rick? If they do eff this up tonight, we won’t know for a couple of years. By that time the Vikings could be in Los Angeles.

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Tags: Andy Dalton Blaine Gabbert Christian Ponder Draft Jake Locker Leslie Frazier Minnesota Vikings Rick Spielman Ryan Mallett Troy Williamson

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