We’re just a few days away from the NFL draft, and rumors are starting to fly around in anticipation of the event.
It can be hard to know what to trust at this time of the year, so I’ve compiled three draft predictions for the Vikings I feel pretty confident in, no matter what the NFL rumor mill churns out in the next couple of days.
I’ve also laid out some pretty interesting tidbits from various media members at the bottom of the article, though they don’t necessarily have my endorsement when it comes to assessing validity.
Only a few more days until this all is over. It can’t get here soon enough.
Vikings Draft Predictions
Vikings Make a Trade in the First Three Rounds
General Manager Rick Spielman has a reputation as a draft day wheeler-and-dealer, and all signs have pointed to more of the same this year.
In a recent interview on Vikings.com, Spielman called trades one of the most exciting parts of the draft, and his actions the past few years certainly backs that belief up. Spielman has developed quite a reputation in the past few drafts, moving five times on the drafts first two days in the last four years.
There has already been plenty of speculation that the Vikings will move down from the 8th overall pick this year to gain extra selections. If they do that, it’s also possible they employ a similar strategy as they did in 2012, moving down with their first round pick, and then later using the ammunition they gained to move from the top of the second round to the first.
It actually makes sense for the Vikings to think about trading up for a quarterback at the bottom of the first round, because first round picks have an extra fifth year option on their rookie contracts. That allows he team a possible six years on control of a player including the franchise tag.
The Vikings have a history with teams in the bottom of the first round too, swinging major trades with New England and Seattle just last year. Expect the Vikings to dial up these teams again this Thursday.
Vikings Will Grab a Quarterback in the First Three Rounds
If you want to know who the Vikings are going to pick at quarterback, you should know by the end of Friday night.
While the Vikings don’t seem to be married to the idea of taking a signal caller in round one, if they truly hope to take their “quarterback of the future” they’re going to need to grab him in the early rounds.
Bears General Manager Phil Emery said as much when talking about an internal survey his team did on later round quarterbacks at a recent press conference.
“There isn’t a single quarterback after the third round since 2006 that has been a long-term starter,” Emery said. “So you’re either developing thirds, and most of them have been wiped out of the league. So to get a quality quarterback, you’ve got to draft them high.”
As pointed out by Brian McIntyre, since 2006, there have been 50 quarterbacks selected in rounds 4-7 in the NFL draft. Over half of those quarterbacks never saw the field in a regular season game.
Only two of those quarterbacks have played over 1,000 snaps in their career (1,000 snaps is the equivalent of a full season for a quarterback, or 16 starts): Bruce Gradkowski and John Skelton. Not exactly a who’s-who of NFL quarterbacks.
Rick Spielman, as thorough as he can be, has likely conducted an internal survey of his own similar to Emery’s. And looking at the results Emery got, it would be shocking if Spielman didn’t conclude he needs to draft a quarterback by the end of round three if he wants to have any chance of that prospect panning out.
Expect a Healthy Mix of Offense and Defense
Leading up to the draft, the prevailing thought among the media and fans has been that most of the Vikings biggest needs come on defense, with the offense’s only major hole at quarterback, where the team needs to groom a potential future starter.
On defense, the Vikings still could use linebackers (multiple), cornerbacks, a long term partner for Harrison Smith at safety, and depth on the defensive line. So basically, you could argue that the Vikings could take any defensive player available and it would technically fill a need.
That doesn’t mean that’s how the team is going to draft though.
While the Vikings biggest needs come on defense, that’s not really where the true talent of this draft class lies.
In an article on Bleacher Report, Dan Pompei cited three different front office personnel from different organizations as saying that their board was 60 percent offensive players at least.
“It’s surprising how heavy it is on one side of the ball,” Pompei quoted one NFC general manager as saying. And that could mean that defensive players get overdrafted due to need, like the run on offensive lineman early in the 2013 draft.
“You may see more defensive guys go early,” the general manager said. “Teams could reach for defense early because they know they won’t be able to fill those needs in the third and fourth rounds.”
Pompei concluded that some general managers may be able to find offensive steals in this draft in they take the best player available instead of drafting for needs. Spielman always stresses that the Vikings use a “best player available” approach though, and if he stays true to that the team may wind up with plenty of offensive players at the top of their board when they’re on the clock in later rounds.
It’s not as if the Vikings couldn’t use some talent on offense. Left guard is a position that could get better, and the depth behind Adrian Peterson at running back could be addressed.
Norv Turner could always use more options in the passing game as well, so the Vikings could select one of the estimated 40 draftable wide receivers in this class. With Jerome Simpson on a one year deal, it may not be bad to pick up a future fourth option at wideout.
While the Vikings needs are on defense, that may not be where the value is in this draft class. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings pick up a few more offensive players than you might think, possibly using three of their eight selections on that side of the ball (or more if they trade for extra picks).
Vikings Draft Tidbits
- Peter King of the MMQB thinks the Vikings go quarterback second round, and a front seven player in the first
- Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News has heard the Vikings, specifically head coach Mike Zimmer, are fans of UCLA LB Anthony Barr and he fits the criteria of “front seven player” King mentioned
- Wolfson also predicted the Vikings would come away from this draft with one of three signal callers: Blake Bortles, Zach Mettenberger or Tom Savage.
- Minneapolis based agent Blake Baratz has a specific quarterback from Wolfson’s list in mind. He predicts the Vikings are going to draft Zach Mettenberger.
- ESPN Vikings writer Ben Goessling “can’t see” the team trading for Sam Bradford. Goessling mentions that Turner “has always liked Bradford,” but the money on his contract makes the idea of a trade remote.