As the Minnesota Vikings' personnel people gathered to consider their 2007 draft board, members of the draft committee undoubtedly raised several key concerns. But while the question of whether to take Brady Quinn or Adrian Peterson might have been raised in the dark recesses of the far reaches of the Vikings' draft room, unquestionably there was no bigger concern among Vikings' draft committee members than whether the players on the Vikings' big board had good bubble.
As the draft wore on through far too many hours on day one and then for far too many hours on day two, through several hundred picks of which only a handful are likely ever to start in the NFL, the Vikings' concerns over the bubble undoubtedly grew, with little information available on the bubble of some of the players from which they would have to select.
After the Vikings selected Adrian Peterson, a player with an excellent bubble, and Sidney Rice, a player with an adequate bubble, they drafted several players in succession about whose bubble little was known within NFL scouting circles.
Yes, the Vikings had the beginnings of a scouting report on their remaining picks, but they didn't know everything. And they certainly did not know about the bubble.
They knew, for example, that scouts considered former Fresno State cornerback Marcus McCauley to be a player in need of improvement to play at the NFL level. Scouts touted McCauley as "a player who regressed as a collegiate player in 2006."
They knew, as well, that scouts considered former Texas defensive end Brian Robison a blue-collar player. Robison, who played in twelve of Texas' thirteen games in 2006, started nine. Scouts view Robison as a special teams player if he makes it in the NFL.
The Vikings also learned something about former East Carolina wide receiver Aundrae Allison, a second-team all-conference selection in conference USA in 2006 after starting eleven of East Carolina's twelve games and scoring four touchdowns. Scouts consider Allison to be "not very strong" and "not a good route runner."
With respect to former Oklahoma outside linebacker Rufus Alexander, the Vikings learned that Alexander was inexplicably available in the sixth round in a draft laden with junk after rounds one and two. Alexander was defensive player of the year in the Big Twelve in 2006, amassing 118 tackles. Vikings' head of pro personnel, Rick Spielman, immediately labeled Alexander a "guy on the come."
Of Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen and Florida International wide receiver Chandler Williams, the Vikings learned that some players actually believe that they should not have been taken in the draft. Both Thigpen and Williams expressed excitement that the Vikings even knew who they were. Scouts felt similarly, viewing Williams as a low risk, low reward type player with a low ceiling and having not much of anything to say about the I-AA Thigpen.
Ultimately, the scouts unquestionably helped the Vikings select in round one the player that everyone rated as the best available player, then taking a bunch of wide receivers that unquestionably could make any team's practice squad. But what the Vikings really want to know about their draft picks in 2007, and what they will not know until they bring the players into rookie camp, is whether they have good bubble. If they do have good bubble, half the battle is won. If not, well, ask Ryan Hoag.
Up Next: Desicating the draft.