The 2012 NFL draft is days away, and the Minnesota Vikings are on the clock. Andrew Luck will be a Colt. Robert Griffin III will be a Redskin. While this information has been known for a month now, who the Vikings will pick with the third selection is still a mystery.
Most experts agree that the Vikings should select USC left tackle Matt Kalil with the third pick, but the Vikings have been reluctant to tip their hand so far. Others have suggested that the Vikings should trade the pick and try to accumulate as many picks as possible to help the rebuilding process.
These are both good, safe options. However, the best option to bring the Vikings back to relevance and energize the fan base is to take Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon with their first selection.
Selecting Blackmon third overall is a riskier pick than Matt Kalil. All Vikings fans need to do is ask a Lions fan how Charles Rogers worked out to realize this. A safer option would be to trade down to take Blackmon, but that always comes with the risk of him being off the board when the pick the Vikings trade to comes up.
This leaves the Vikings in a position where they have to be proactive and select Blackmon at No. 3.
No doubt, many will second guess the Vikings if they make Blackmon the third pick in the 2012 NFL draft. However, the Vikes need for playmakers on offense, coupled with the NFL's trend towards pass-orientated offenses makes the selection less risky than it may seem.
Also, while Matt Kalil is the top rated tackle on most mock draft boards, he is not the only left tackle who is regarded highly enough to step in and start for the Vikings next season. Riley Reiff, Jonathan Martin and Mike Adams all have first-round grades, and the Vikings have enough draft picks in the later rounds to trade back into the first round if the opportunity presents itself.
The wide receiver position seems to have more depth than left tackle, but players like Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill do not possess the all-around ability that Justin Blackmon has.
With Adrian Peterson still recovering from his torn ACL, the Minnesota Vikings are left with a lack of playmakers on offense. It makes sense to add a player like Blackmon in order to make defenses around the league respect the Vikings ability to pass the ball, which in turn should open up more running room for Peterson, Toby Gerhart and Percy Harvin.
While protecting Christian Ponder is still a high priority for the Minnesota Vikings, that can still be accomplished later in the draft and with good coaching.
If draft history shows us anything, it is that the Minnesota Vikings are capable of surprising fans and experts on draft day. If this holds true, it should not be a surprise when Justin Blackmon becomes the third pick in the 2012 NFL draft.