Well fans, NFL draft day is upon us and by midnight tomorrow the Vikes first round pick will have been revealed to the Purple faithful. In a naughty world, draft day, when the collegiate players ascend to the pros, is the secular equivalent to the Feast of Ascension, and a festival much more widely observed in this country, especially now that it is to be celebrated in prime time.
As always, the Vikings have needs that must be addressed in the draft, the primary opportunity to add new players and talent to their roster. They need, in this order, which not everyone might agree with:
1. Help along the offensive line. They lost the versatile journeyman, Artis Hicks, need help at right guard, might not have the man they need at center in John Sullivan, and it could be that patience will soon be exhausted with Bryant McKinnie, aka, Good Time Charlie. This was to have been a Vikings strength, but neither run nor pass blocking was consistent last season. Adrian Peterson avoided enemy contact behind the line of scrimmage no better than half the time, and Brett Favre was nearly killed in the NFC Championship game, although part of that was because the Saints were crude thugs and the refs blind;
2.) Depth at cornerback. Antoine Winfield is aging and injury prone, while Cedric Griffin is recovering from a bad knee injury. The Vikes did keep Benny Sapp, and Asher Allen stepped up, although his ultimate capabilities are unknown;
3.) A defensive tackle, probably a big run stopper to play the nose position, as Pat Williams is now 38 and although a prodigy of nature, canít last too much longer;
4.) Someone to play quarterback almost certainly by next year, unless you think Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels is capable of winning a Super Bowl (taking us there?). We can reasonably hope that Brett Favre will return this season, but that should be about the final curtain;
5.) A running back to replace Chester Taylor, safety to push the under achieving Johnson and Williams, and linebacker in case E.J.Henderson is done for.
Those are tall orders and canít, of course, all be addressed. Most mock drafters have the Vikes taking one of three or four second tier cornerbacks, Floridaís Joe Haden being the only blue chipper in a group that has a lot of guys who should go in the first/second or third rounds, but might bob up because of the perennial need for corners. The fact that no one has any clear idea how these second tier guys actually rank tells me that a corner should not be taken till the second or third round.
I think the Vikes should address the offensive line with their first choice, and Floridaís Maurkice Pouncey, a 315 pound center who can also play guard, is the player who will be available if they are lucky, although Idahoís Mike Iupati, a guard talented enough to kick out to the tackle position, could be available if they get really lucky. Otherwise, the draft is rich in offensive tackles, at least five or six considered first rounders. One of these could slip down to the Vikes at position 30, although NFL personnel guys are particularly alert when it comes to OTs. There are a similar number of superior defensive tackles in this draft, one of whom could similarly slide to the Vikes. If you are familiar with the players expected to go in the first round, every surprise Thursday night will make it more likely that one of these good linemen will be available when the Vikes draft.
Now it is time to consider the radical move. The Vikes will be needing a QB soon, if not this year. Floridaís Tim Tebow has all the scouts raving about his leadership qualities, toughness, running ability, size, arm strength, and accuracy, but he is generally considered second or third round material because of bad passing mechanics, a long windup starting below his waist. Recently, he emerged from seclusion with a retooled, quicker, and more economical delivery which wowed the scouts. Someone will take him at the end of the first or early in the second round, it is now said. That someone could be the Vikes, a bold move with much upside, but fraught with peril.
I would counsel the sure bet offensive or defensive tackle, should he be there, but otherwise Tebow would be an intelligent, calculated risk.