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Viking View (04/27/2011)
By John Edstrom

Vikes in position to make safe consensus pick...donít blow it!

Well fans, what a difference a year makes. Last season it looked like all we needed was to paint over a few bare spots and spruce up around the edges on our way to the Super Bowl. This yearís project looks more like a rebuild than a remodel. The Vikes have a gaping hole at quarterback, yawning gaps along both the offensive and defensive lines, a dedicated ward at the hospital for their cornerbacks, and questions at wide receiver. Did I mention their safeties arenít much good?

Any discussion of this yearís Vikings draft, at least from the perspective of need, must start with the QB position where the Vikes are stocked with the intriguingly athletic long shot Joe Webb, and thatís it. He is not ready to play. The consensus top two quarterbacks in the draft are Cam Newton, from national champ Auburn, and Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri. Neither will be available at the Vikes # 12 spot, but the generally regarded third best prospect, Washingtonís Jake Locker, may be, and many pundits have the Vikes grabbing him. I donít like the move, as the knock on Locker is a lack of passing accuracy. How does that improve in the pro game where everyone is bigger and faster, both defenses and offenses much more complicated, and pressure greater?

Virtually no one thinks Locker is a good value in the top fifteen anyhow. There are quality candidates slated to go after the first round whose stock is rising: Florida Stateís Christian Ponder, and Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton from Nevada and TCU respectively. I think the Vikes should wait in hopes that one of these would fall to pick # 43.

That dictates that their first round be spent on the best available player still available at the twelfth spot, and there should be one or more safe, blue chippers available. Once considered a top five pick, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley could be there, which would be a great stroke of luck, since Pat Williams is likely gone. Julio Jones, a wide receiver from Alabama might fall, big and fast, a sure immediate starter in most franchises. Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara could start immediately for the Vikes, and there are a number of sure first round defensive ends who could be available, North Carolinaís Robert Quinn, Calís Cameron Jordan (the highly regarded son of former Vikes TE Steve), or J.J. Watt, former Badger. Finally, the best two offensive tackles in the draft, Trojan Tyron Smith and BCís Anthony Costonzo, might still be sitting along the wall, either of them likely to be better in his first year than any OL currently wearing horns.

I would hope that the Vikes avoid taking a DE in the first round, since that is the deepest position this year, and could be bolstered in a lower round, cornerback as well. But the key to this yearís draft will be choosing a Pro Bowl quality starter in the first round. The Vikes under Brad Childress made a sometime practice of drafting as if they were smarter than anyone else, e.g. Tarvaris Jackson, Ryan Cook, et. al. This year they will be in a position to make a safe, consensus pick.  


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