Friday, April 25, 2008

And the Best Available Player Is...

By consummating the Jared Allen trade earlier this week, the Minnesota Vikings shored up one of their glaring needs. The price of a first-round pick and two third-round picks, however, means that the Vikings will have to keep their fingers and toes properly crossed in the hope of landing either a safety or an offensive tackle, the team's most prominent needs outside of reliability at quarterback, in this year's NFL entry draft.

The good news for the Vikings is two-fold: safeties tend to go lower in the draft and this year's draft is strong for offensive tackles. The bad news is also two-fold, however: this year's draft is light on high-end safeties and offensive tackles, though relatively plentiful, are likely to be in high demand.

Projecting picks in round one is a risky enough proposition when one reaches the mid- to late-round selections. Projecting slotting after the first round is merely a guessing game. If fortune favors the Vikings on Saturday, however, there is at least a chance that they will have three high-end players from which to select to fill either their offensive tackle or safety need.

The three players most likely to slip to the Vikings at forty-seven are offensive tackle Sam Baker, safety Kenny Phillips, and offensive tackle Duane Brown. There is also an outside possibility that offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus will still be on the board at forty-seven, but that possibility appears increasingly remote as Matt Ryan's stock continues to rise and scouts consider the linemen responsible for Ryan's performance.

Given that most scouts have Baker, Phillips, and Brown in their top 35 players, the Vikings would be fortunate to have any of the three fall to them. Likewise with Cherilus, who is ranked in the top 20 on most boards.

As with any NFL draft, however, few players will go where they are ranked, with most falling somewhere below where they are ranked as a consequence of being by-passed by teams opting for players whom they need over players ranked higher at a position that is not of need. That makes Phillips, Baker, and Brown, all projected in the thirty to forty-five range, reasonable possibilities of still being on the board when the Vikings select in the second round, though Cherilus remains unlikely to fall out of the first round.

The question for the Vikings is whom they will take should Phillips, Baker, Brown, and Cherilus all be off the board at 47. Barring a trade up, or the unpredictable fall of some other high-end talent, the Vikings would be left deciding whether to draft an offensive lineman or safety that otherwise would have gone in the third round (a round in which the Vikings no longer have a pick in this year's draft) or selecting a player at a position less certain to produce an NFL-ready player, such as wide receiver?

If fortune shines on the Vikings on Saturday, the team could emerge from this off-season having filled most of the team's primary, acknowledged needs. Or, the team could be left still searching for offensive line help, a conundrum that seems to have become the team's new linebacker concern.

Up Next: Draft Review. Plus, around the division and the league.


RP in DL said...

I can't see wasting our 2nd round pick on a safety when we already have two very good players in Williams and Sharper. I am sure with the money they paid Williams they plan on him being one of our two starting safeties. And I am sure they feel the same way about Sharper. So our 2nd round pick for a safety is not going to happen and it shouldn't happen. I can see getting a safety in one of the later rounds but definitely not in the 2nd round.

aceontheriver said...

I could definately see the purple going offensive tackle here. I wouldn't be surprised if they sneek up a couple slots to get the tackle they want....if the price is right. The 2008 draft is about depth for the purple. A tackle, a defensive tackle, a safety, project qb, wr/kick returner, and perhaps a guard

aceontheriver said...
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Virginia Viking said...

If quality at tackle has evaporated by this point, then we should value tight end over our need in the defensive backfield. Shiancoe hasn't lived up to his contract. Garrett Mills is more potential than anything right now, but he really functions best as an H-back rather than a down-lineman tight end. Kleinsasser remains a great blocker unable to stretch the field.

Bill From Arlington, VA said...

So what does everyone think of trading away our 4th rounder to move up a couple spots and take Johnson? It does address a need but make no mistake about it that now all eyes are going to be on the one ? left on this team or any other team for that matter and that's the qb position. I still think we'll take a qb in the lower rounds as a project but to quote the late George Allen the future is now and much of that future will depend upon the continued development of TJax.