In a previous post, I offered the rationale for the Minnesota Vikings both retaining their number three overall pick in this year's NFL entry draft and using that pick to select USC offensive tackle, Matt Kalil. Barring an injury or arrest, I stand by that analysis. But that analysis assumes that Kalil is still on the board when the Vikings draft.
The Indianapolis Colts are widely reported to have already determined that they will use the number one overall pick in the draft on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Assuming that holds, there is but one selection between the Colts' and the Vikings'. And, as fortune would have it, the team currently picking in that slot, the St. Louis Rams, happen to have serious needs along the offensive line.
Should the Rams use the number two overall pick to select Kalil, a player almost universally regarded as the top offensive lineman in this draft, that would leave the Vikings one spot out of being able to take one of the two players that they would have considered a clear option so high in the draft, with Luck being the other. That possibility has given rise in some quarters to sentiments that the Vikings ought to trade up to ensure that they obtain Kalil. That's problematic for several reasons, however, two of which ought to suffice to quell consideration of such a move.
First and foremost, if the Rams are willing to trade out of the two spot to a team that they know covets Kalil, that, alone, suggests that the Rams are not committed to Kalil. Second, trading up will cost the Vikings dearly. Not only will it require the Vikings to concede their second-round pick--just a whisper outside of the first round--it also likely will require the concession of either a first- or second-round pick in next year's draft. That's a steep and foolish price for a team to pay for an unproven college player, particularly when that team needs quality players at so many positions.
If the Rams retain the second pick, they may well take Kalil, but, as of this moment, the grapevine is suggesting that St. Louis will move the second pick to either Washington or Cleveland, both of which covet Robert Griffin, and both of which draft far enough back in the draft to worry that a team ahead of them will take Griffin. If the draft plays out this way, the Vikings have an easy decision to make. Last year, that meant that they eschewed the obvious choice in favor of Christian Ponder. This year, one hopes, they stick with the obvious and take Kalil.
If the Rams draft Kalil--and only if Kalil is gone or otherwise fails a common sense standard for selection--the Vikings should strongly consider trading their pick and moving down the draft board with the caveat that they remain in the first round.
What could the Vikings get for the number three pick in the draft? That depends on with whom they trade. If the Vikings' trade partner is well down the draft board, the taking could be significant, particularly given that this trade has five players widely considered elite prospects, the remaining two being Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne.
If the Rams hold their pick, they almost certainly would do so to ensure that they get Kalil, realizing that the Vikings covet the tackle. That would leave the Vikings in the position of entertaining teams seeking an elite receiver, cornerback, or quarterback, i.e., virtually every team not yet having drafted.
If moving up one spot to ensure Kalil costs a minimum of two second-round picks, the bounty for granting a team such as Miami the choice of three players that they desperately need is probably worth a first-, two second-, and a third-round pick. The price could be even higher for a team such as the middle-round selecting Cardinals or Jets.
Trading down to the mid-teens would ensure the Vikings a solid return in draft picks, plus an opportunity to still pick a player that fills a need and is able to start immediately. Not long ago, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin was being spoken of in the same lofty tones as currently is Kalil. Now, trading down even three spots almost certainly would still ensure the Vikings the option of taking Martin. There is virtually never a flaw in taking a solid offensive lineman from a school that merit screens its athletes. And if Martin is gone, Riley Reiff, the most recent among a string of Iowa-produced NFL-ready offensive linemen, should be available.
In fact, trading down to as low as the fourteenth slot in this year's draft would probably ensure the Vikings the right to choose between Stanford guard, David DeCastro, offensive tackle, Mike Adams, center, Peter Konz (for those not yet convinced that John Sullivan is the center of the future), middle linebacker, Dont'a Hightower (for those without an aversion to apostrophe- named players), and defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox, plus a bonus pick in the top half of round two.
Assuming the Colts select Luck, the only alternative for the Vikings to either selecting Kalil or trading down in the draft to somewhere later in the first round, is selecting Robert Griffin at three, assessing his ability in mini-camp and deciding whether to keep or trade Griffin and, then, what to do with Ponder and Joe Webb. And that route is fraught with peril not only because of the diminished value it establishes for both Webb and Ponder but also because, like a new car, Griffin loses significant value once off the board.
Whether selecting Kalil or trading down, this should be the most fool-proof of Vikings' drafts since taking Adrian Peterson. That almost certainly means, however, that the Vikings will neither select Kalil nor trade down to later in the first round.
Up Next: Preposterous Statement of the Week. Plus, Vikings the first to blink--thrice.