Well fans, draft day will soon be upon us, and with five picks in the first three rounds, there will be much for MInnesota fans to watch, for better or worse. Despite expending numerous high picks on, and trading for a bunch of linebackers in the last few years, that position remains the Vikes glaring weak spot. Raonall Smith couldn't stay healthy, E. J. Henderson and Dontarrious Thomas can't (at this point) figure it out, Sam Cowart is old and slow, and Napoleon Harris is a bust. Did I leave someone out?
Consequently, everyone has the Vikes taking either Chad Greenway, from Iowa, or Florida State's Ernie Sims with their first pick, # 17, depending on who is left. (And Green Bay's choice of A.J. Hawk, Ohio State linebacker at the #5 pick, is virtually unanimous.) These scenarios ignore the fact that the Vikes have an urgent need at quarterback for the year or two down the road when Brad Johnson will be playing golf exclusively; it doesn't appear there is any chance they can get one of the three premier choices, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, or Jay Cutler. Standard wisdom is that the Vikes will choose Brodie Croyle of Alabama or Charlie Whitehurst of Clemson with one of their second round picks.
But that discounts two interesting possibilities. First of all there is the chance that Jay Cutler could fall, if not to # 17, far enough for the VIkes to trade up with all those first day picks. The second is that they could trade a choice or two to Atlanta for the excellent QB prospect Matt Schaub. Unfortunately, the Falcons are holding out for a high price; they know that Michael Vick, like many another running QB, is just one hard hit from being a not-so-great passer with a bent wheel. (Just like Daunte Culpepper -- I'll take odds that not long from now, the second round pick the Vikes got for him will seem like excellent compensation.)
So the Vikes, with three picks in the first two rounds, are almost certain to grab a LB and QB; what else? The draft is deep in offensive lineman and defensive backs, areas where the Vikes need help. The Gopher's all-America center Greg Eslinger, widely written off as too small, but a marvelous, speedy athlete and a fierce competitor, would be an excellent local choice, especially with Matt Birk's dicey physical condition. And there are at least 15 cornerbacks rated worthy of a first day phone call. The Vikes should not have let Brian Williams get away; they will have a chance on draft day to remedy that.