Anticipation is Making Me Wait...
After the Super Bowl hype machine has run out of gas, every NFL fan looks forward to the next significant date on the calendar: April, and the NFL Draft. Every fan spends the days leading up to it in high speculation mode, arguing the pros and cons of who might be available when their team drafts, what their teams biggest needs are, and who they should draft with their first-round draft pick. I am no exception.
The Vikings have entered the offseason with many holes to fill. After the disaster of 2011, the team has many needs: WR, DL, OL, LB, S, CB. Some even say QB. Some holes will be filled through free agency, some through the draft. There are a LOT of ways the Vikings can go in this year's draft.
The Indianapolis Colts have the no. 1 pick in the draft, and if they take anyone OTHER than Stanford QB Andrew Luck, I will eat a football.
The St. Louis Rams have the 2nd pick, and there are several options for them, all of which seem plausible. They could go with WR Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State. They need someone for their 3rd year QB Sam Bradford to throw to, since Danny Amendola went out with a season-ending injury last year. They have Brandon Lloyd as well, but not much else. Blackmon would make really good sense.. There has also been speculation that the Rams have an interest in picking RG3, Heisman Trophy-winning QB Robert Griffin III, from Baylor, or trading away their pick to a team who WOULD pick him.
The Vikings have the third pick in the first round, and a lot of speculation has been that the they will take T Matt Kalil from USC with that pick. That would certainly be a safe pick, and I would welcome it, no question. Ever since Bryant McKinnie was booted off the team last year in training camp, the Vikings have been looking to replace him with someone solid. Kalil has been rated by just about every team as a "can't-miss" player, someone who would join the team and become a starter and anchor on the OL for many years. Charlie Johnson was OK, but just wasn't the right fit. Blackmon could also be available, and the Vikings could certainly use a WR with his talent - he catches everything, fights for every yard after-the-catch, and would be a tremendous weapon for QB Christian Ponder to have. Defensively, there are several players who the Vikings would be willing to grab as well. CB Morris Claiborne from Louisiana State is probably this year's shutdown corner. Having Claiborne in the defensive backfield for the next dozen years would be a nice thought for the Vikings, who haven't had a shutdown corner since I can remember.
There is also speculation that the Vikings having the 3rd pick in the draft puts them in a very unique position of trading down and still getting someone who fills a need on the team. I have heard that the Vikings could trade down with Cleveland, who has the #4 and #22 picks in the first round. Speculation is that Matt Kalil would still be available to them at #4, and they could a take WR or CB at #22 as well, filling two needs in the first round. While that scenario seems possible, I'm not sure that the Vikings have the kind of money it would take to sign two 1st-round picks.
It really is a little bit TOO early to say with any certainty how the draft is going to go, at least past the no. 1 pick anyway. So many players are moving up and down the draft, their stock rising and falling by the hour. I think it would be safe to say, however, that the Vikings are going to have their pick from four players at the #3 pick: Matt Kalil, Robert Griffin III, Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne. To be honest, I would be ecstatic getting any one of them. Realistically, I see the Vikings taking either Kalil or Blackmon. Kalil would be my bet right now, if I were a betting man.