Monday, March 19, 2012

The Vikings draft day dream is still alive (actually it's my draft day dream)

Well, free agency has been a dud so far for the Vikings with the team resigning guys they shouldn't, failing to resign guys (so far) they should, and giving contracts to other guys I've never heard of.

So the real excitement – where Vikings fans can get enthused about this team's future – lies in April's draft. Minnesota has the #3 overall draft pick.

I've been drifting back and forth between hoping the Vikings keep it simple and just draft USC left tackle Matt Kalil at number #3, or trading out of the spot, grabbing extra draft picks and gambling Kalil will still be there when they pick later on in the draft.

Trading out of the number #3 spot would be a gamble – if the Vikings truly covet Kalil. They'd also need a trading partner to do that. The Miami Dolphins, who signed David Garrard today, could be that partner.

Miami needs a long-term solution at quarterback (Garrard isn't it) and they could be very interested in Texas A & M QB Ryan Tannehill.

Now Miami holds the eighth overall pick. So the question is: if the Vikings were to swap draft slots with the Dolphins, could they still grab Kalil?

If you look at the needs of the team's picking before the #8 slot, it's possible.

#4) Cleveland: The Browns have franchise left tackle Joe Thomas in the fold and no running backs or wide receivers to speak of, so drafting Kalil isn't an obvious need unless they want to move him to right tackle. They might also be looking for a quarterback, which means they might want to swap picks with the Vikes if they're worried Miami would swing a trade instead and draft Tannehill ahead of them.

#5) Tampa Bay: The Bucs would be the real threat to draft Kalil if Minnesota were to trade out of the #3 slot. The Bucs starting left tackle is Donald Penn and he made the Pro Bowl in 2010, but I've read lots of negative reviews of his play. Kalil would be hard to pass up considering the Bucs filled some other pressing needs by signing wide receiver Vincent Jackson, cornerback Eric Wright and guard Carl Nicks. However, the Bucs could use help at running back as well and Alabama's Trent Richardson should be there at #5. LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne would be tempting at this spot as well.

#6) St. Louis: The Rams have high draft picks Roger Saffold (left tackle) and Jason Smith (right tackle) already playing on the O-line and probably wouldn't select another offensive tackle. They do need to provide quarterback Sam Bradford with someone to throw to, which is why Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon would make sense at this spot.

#7) Jacksonville:
The Jaguars have former first rounder Eugene Monroe at left tackle and former second round pick Eben Britton coming back from injury to take over at right tackle. Kalil would be an odd choice for them. Besides, the Jags could use help at defensive end (UNC's Quinton Coples could entice), wide receiver and cornerback.

Anyway, trading down to the #8 draft slot would be extremely risky for the Vikings, especially if Tampa Bay takes a shine to Kalil. There's also no guarantee some other team that likes Kalil wouldn't trade up and leapfrog ahead of the Vikes to nab him after Minnesota made the deal.

But looking at the needs of Miami and Cleveland (both clubs could use a franchise QB), and the needs of the other teams drafting from #4 to #7, the option of trading down should still be in play for Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.

I'd be interested to hear what Viking fans think the club could/should do here.

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  1. I think trading down is a calculated risk. I enjoyed your breakdown of why teams would lean away from Kalil between the 3rd and 8th picks, and I think you're right about the greatest dangers being Tampa Bay or another team jumping ahead of the Vikings' new spot at 8.

    1. It all depends on whether Spielman gets any decent offers and whether he thinks another left tackle prospect - Martin from Stanford and Reiff from Iowa - would be a decent option at LT. Everything I've read says Kalil is hands down the best LT in the draft.

    2. same here (that Kalil is the best - no question).

      If the Vikes could get Miami's 2nd round pick this year and next year, that might be worth the risk of missing on Kalil. I wouldn't mind the Vikings having the 8th, 35th and 40th picks this year as well as an extra 2nd rounder in 2013. (almost certainly top 10 - could be top 5. it's like an extra first rounder!)

      my gut tells me Kalil won't make it to 8 though. I think someone will trade to a spot above 8 if the Vikes move down and Kalil is still on the board when Cleveland's on the clock.

  2. An extra second rounder this year and next sounds a bit weak of a return for trading down five spots and giving a team the chance to pick their franchise QB. If Spielman is going to deal, he needs to do a bit better than that. We better get an extra first round pick out of it.