It's less than one month to the NFL college entry draft and we're no closer to knowing in which direction the Minnesota Vikings will go when they make their first selection in the draft than we were at the end of the 2006 season. With the seventh pick, the Vikings still appear just as likely to trade down, stay pat, or even trade up if they can find a willing trade partner.
What we do know right now, however, is that the Vikings covet several players that could fall to them at number seven. The rank order of those preferences appears to be Calvin Johnson, JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Gaines Adams, Joe Thomas, Laron Landry, Jamaal Anderson, Adrian Peterson, and Alan Branch. The numbers bode well for the Vikings. The question is whether the player available at seven will be worth the seventh pick in the draft--or more.
In previous posts, I've discussed the possibility that either Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson could fall to the Vikings at seven. Johnson appears highly unlikely to last that long in the draft with all but Arizona being very interested in the receiver and all but Arizona and Oakland currently able to make a rational case for Johnson making more of an impact for them in 2007 than some other top six option. The most likely scenario at this point is that either Detroit or Tampa Bay takes Johnson.
Peterson also seems unlikely to fall to Minnesota, unless Detroit takes Johnson, leaving Quinn available to Cleveland and Thomas available to Arizona. Both Cleveland and Arizona need help at running back but both appear willing to address that need later in the draft if the right alternative is available in the first round--Quinn and Thomas, respectively, appear to be the right alternatives.
Passing on Peterson?
Even if Peterson is available when the Vikings select at number seven, however, if their rank ordered preferences, as stated above, are accurate, they likely will take either Laron Landry or Jamaal Anderson with Adams likely already off the board to Washington.
Though Landry should be a fixture at safety--a position at which the Vikings soon will need a fixture given Darren Sharper's diminishing skills and increasing age--the addition of Landry does not meet a pressing need in 2007. And while Anderson had a solid 2006 college year, there are many scouts who believe that he will need at least one year to adjust to the NFL and that he will still need work on technique and with his strength. If you're a Vikings' fan, that analysis sounds a bit too cautionary given that the two most recent Vikings' first-round, defensive end draft picks were greater pro prospects than is Anderson and neither has done much yet.
Building the Road?
If, as Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf last week contended, the Vikings truly are in rebuilding mode, taking the best available player at number seven might not be in the team's best interests in 2007, even if that player happens to be Adrian Peterson. Rather, trading the number seven pick for a later first-round pick and either a second- and third-round pick or a first-round pick in next year's draft might be the more sagacious move.
The possibilities for the Vikings trading down rather than using the number seven pick are intriguing. Clearly, the possibility for trading down increases if one of the top six players in the draft--Russell, Quinn, Johnson, Peterson, Thomas, or Gaines--falls to the seventh spot. But the prospect for some established team of taking a heavy hitter like Landry or a promising prospect like Anderson should still be enough to tempt a team drafting in the twenties to trade up to get the one piece that they believe they are missing.
Up Next: Let's Make A Deal. Plus, quarterback comparisons.