Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vikings' First-Day Picks Ring With Admissions

After learning that Brad Childress last week engaged in his own fact-finding mission to Florida in an attempt to scout the true Percy Harvin, it should have come as no surprise that the Vikings' head coach confirmed his own inclinations about Harvin and opted to draft him with the twenty-second pick in this year's NFL entry draft. What is mildly surprising, however, is what the selection of Harvin--and the subsequent pick of right offensive tackle Phil Loadholt signals.

In 2006, the Vikings selected Cedric Griffin at the top-end of the second round of the draft. They then used a second, second-round pick to select center Ryan Cook out of New Mexico. Taking Cook so early in the draft seemed a head-scratcher, particularly since Cook was a pure center in college but deemed physically ill-equipped to play center in the NFL. But, as if attempting purposefully to compound the questions surrounding Cook's selection, the Vikings then traded two third-round picks for the right to move into the second round to take quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

In-season moves last year and off-season moves this year suggest that the Vikings, however begrudgingly in some quarters, finally are willing to admit the fiasco that was the latter part of the second round of their 2006 draft. After benching Jackson in favor of recently released quarterback Gus Frerotte and trading for Sage Rosenfels to compete with Jackson in 2009, the Vikings have now used their second pick in the 2009 draft to take Ryan Cook's replacement at right offensive tackle--a move that likely will signal the end to Cook's NFL career.

More illuminating, however, might be the Vikings' decision to select Harvin with their number one pick in this year's draft. Harvin's selection is anathema to everything that Childress stands for. Harvin has a checkered past, he tested abysmally on the Wonderlic test, he smoked dope prior to taking a drug test despite knowing when he would be taking the test, and he has no concrete position on the field. Thus, while Harvin unquestionably has football talent, he is exactly the type of player that Childress and the Wilfs have professed that they do not covet.

While Harvin's addition to the Vikings thus marks Harvin as yet another exception to the Vikings' poorly crafted and even more poorly enunciated culture of accountability, he no doubt will provide the Vikings at least a mild boost in ticket sales--at least until fans have an opportunity to discover what Childress is able to do with yet another talented offensive player. For, despite already having Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, and Bernard Berrian in the fold, Childress has done the bare minimum to exploit the team's offensive abilities. Adding Harvin thus suggests merely another dangerous option for Childress to ignore.

Childress' use of Harvin aside, Harvin's selection, like that of Loadholt, signals the Vikings' concession that Sidney Rice and Aundrae Allison, taken 44th and 146th overall in the 2007 NFL draft might not ever play to NFL expectations. With Taylor and Peterson already in the backfield, the Vikings will be compelled to use Harvin primarily at receiver. That will leave the Vikings with little playing time for Rice and Allison and probably will spell the end for the latter. And that will leave the Vikings with but one starter left to show for their eight 2007 draft picks.

In a normal system, with even an average coach, Harvin and Loadholt would be strong additions. Given Childress' difficulties crafting an offense and getting the most from his offensive line, however, it is far too soon to draw such modest conclusions.

Up Next: Day Two.

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