Three days away from the 2007 NFL college entry draft, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in both an enviable and an uneviable position. Selecting number seven overall, Minnesota is assured of having at least two bona fide starters available when they draft. Unfortunately, as seems so often to be the case for the Vikings, those two bona fide starters probably will not be players who can fill any of Minnesota's pressing needs, as numerous as those needs might be.
The two players in the draft on whom the Vikings could most count to be long-term starters beginninng in 2007 are Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas and LSU safety LaRon Landry. Thomas would do fine as a converted right tackle until the Vikings come to their senses and move the highly overrated Bryant McKinnie. Given Arizona's desperate need for an offensive tackle, however, there is virtually zero chance that Thomas will be available when the Vikings draft at number seven.
Landry should be available at seven, however, making him a tempting selection for the Purple. Despite depth at safety, the Vikings could be excused for selecting Landry with the plan of moving one of their younger safeties to corner and using Landry at safety in 2007. Landry won't be the highest reward selection that the Vikings could make at number seven, but he should be a safe pick and a great stopper for some time, as safeties tend to wear well in the NFL.
The Next Two
After Thomas and Landry, the next two most certain picks are Adrian Peterson and Amobi Akoye. What Peterson loses in years of service by playing a punishing position, he should make up for in production over the short haul. If the Vikings are in a three-year rebuilding mode, as owner Zygi Wilf recently suggested, selecting Peterson would be an odd choice. Of course, odd choices are what this franchise is all about the past few seasons, so Peterson might fit in nicely regardless of the short-term team prospects.
Akoye, on the other hand, offers both production and longevity, assuming his growth stays within reasonable bounds. At only nineteen years old, Akoye toyed with his college opponents in 2006. He's big, he's strong, he's reasonably intelligent, and he gets to the quarterback playing the interior. That's something that certainly can compensate for a weak outside pass rush. And with Patrick Williams probably looking at retirement sometime in the next two years, Akoye would be a nice full-time replacement and a very nice short-term sub.
USA Today-Like Summary
If the Vikings want long-term contribution from their seventh overall pick in this year's draft and want to limit the risk in their selection, the best two options likely to be available to them are Landry and Akoye. If they want great short-term production from a player with a higher risk attached to his selection, Peterson would be a good selection.
Up Next: Weeding Through the Best of the Rest in Round One. Plus, the picks.