Sep 28, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) celebrates getting a sack during the second quarter against the Virginia Cavaliers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh defeated Virginia 14-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
To hear most of the media tell it, the question of who the Vikings will draft at 8 come Thursday night has already been settled.
The hoard has gathered all the necessary information and arrived at a consensus. It will be Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
After weeks of speculation about quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers and others, Donald has emerged in recent days as the popular pick for the Vikings at #8. The argument being?
1. He’s a 3-tech, and that is an important position in Mike Zimmer’s defense. Geno Atkins rose to prominence playing that position with the Bengals.
2. He has tremendous ability despite his relatively small stature.
4. Floyd has given signs that he might have an issue with conditioning (though he reportedly has lost whatever weight he put on earlier this offseason).
5. As Peter King put it recently, the Vikings want a disruptive front-7 player. Donald best fits that bill at the #8 spot.
The above points seem to be the sum total of the media argument for why Donald is the favorite. That and the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a QB the Vikings love enough to draft that high.
Of course you’ll see the odd dissenter. Rotoworld’s Josh Norris, for instance, thinks Donald won’t even be there at 8. He has the Vikings going with CB Kyle Fuller instead.
You’ll also see C.J. Mosley in that #8 slot. And then there’s the two-headed monster of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who in their last mock were still giving the Vikings Blake Bortles.
And what does all of this really mean precisely?
I guess it depends on what you want to believe.
If you’re still rooting for a QB at 8, you might convince yourself that the steam for Donald is just the media being stupid.
If you’re sold on Sharrif Floyd as the future of the franchise at 3-tech, you might even be a little bit upset at the suggestion that Mike Zimmer is looking to replace him.
This is all I’m going to say on the matter: The last time the Vikings had a pick in the same range, they ended up drafting Christian Ponder, a player almost no one had going to Minnesota in their mocks.
Despite the media’s complete cluelessness about who the Vikings would actually take that year, they still did their mocks and made their predictions. Because they had to.
Guys who get paid to make those predictions are going to make their predictions. Sometimes, out of some kind of protective instinct I almost suspect, many of them flock together around a certain set of assumptions.
That set of assumptions is that the Vikings will go defense in the first, probably defensive line, probably Aaron Donald for all the reasons stated above.
Rick Spielman may have something completely different, and a whole lot wilder, up his sleeve come Thursday.