Well fans, the ‘07 NFL draft is set for this weekend, and despite all of the disappointments Vikings fans have suffered through this last year, hope springs up anew. A dismal season with a dire finish has at least positioned the Purple to take the seventh player available in this year's lottery, a pretty rarified perch. The last time the Vikes held it they wasted it by reaching down for Troy Williamson, all but a certain bust, a wideout with world-class speed but lobster claws growing where the all-important hands should be.
Common wisdom now has it that QB JaMarcus Russell, WR Calvin Johnson, OT Joe Thomas, and DE Gaines Adams are certain to be gone before the Vikes pick. (Reports over the weekend that Adams and Johnson have admitted to dabbling in marijuana could drop their standing, but I doubt it.) That means that among others, the highly regarded RB Adrian Peterson, QB Brady Quinn, DE Jamaal Anderson, WR Ted Ginn, DT Alan Branch, or S LaRon Landry may or may not be available when the Vikes pick.
What to do? I rule out Peterson, as being injury-prone, and not high on the Vikes list of needs. It is too early to throw another pick at a DE, as we can still hope that Udeze and James might develop. Besides, the Vikes have a long history of plain old bad luck drafting DE's in the first round, ditto WR's, so for that scientific reason I pass on Ted Ginn also. Defensive tackle is not a crying need, but our secondary is getting old and thin at the safety position, making LaRon Landry my first choice. He brings to mind the former great Vikings safety, Joey Browner, who was a mainstay of a lot of good Vikings defenses, and played at a pro bowl level for many years. Landry has excellent speed and size, played all through four years of college without injury, brings no baggage of character issues, and is supposed to be intelligent and coachable. That makes him a safe pick, and one that none can second guess, an important consideration for the Purple after the last few years.
I did not mention Brady Quinn, because I don't see how the Vikes can pick him without admitting that the Tarvaris Jackson reach in the second round last year was a brain-dead move. It may have been, but no one knows, or less, can say at this point. Quinn is tempting, though, another Joe Montana, perhaps, but a better athlete with a stronger arm.
This draft is strong in wideouts, and if the Vikes lurk astutely at position 41 in the second round they might well snap up a good one. Ted Ginn and Dwayne Jarrett will almost certainly be gone, but LSU's Dwayne Bowe, South Carolina's Sidney Rice, or Robert Meacham of Tennessee are slated to go late first round, and one might easily slip through the cracks to the Purple. Otherwise, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio State will probably be there, and would make a solid pick.
In the third and later rounds of the draft, it is nearly impossible to predict who might be available, but this is a rich year in defensive ends, and good value may be available there. The same is true of corners, wideouts, and running backs. Unfortunately, this years crop of draftees is fairly thin along the offensive line, where the Vikes need help almost as much as anywhere else.
I, for one, would like the Vikes to take advantage of what is there for them this year, and not part so drastically from the generally accepted player evaluations, as they did last year.