ESPN's Adam Schefter said on SportsCenter that the Vikings decision on draft day will come down to Claiborne or Blackmon and not Kalil.
This news comes a couple of days after Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier went on the record of saying that a left tackle is not a "game-changer".
“You’ve got to really weigh your options,” coach Leslie Frazier told Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Because the philosophy [in the NFL] has always been to get the game-changer. And left tackle is not necessarily the game-changer. Usually game-changers are the guys who can score you points. Receivers. Quarterbacks. So what are we measuring that left tackle against? It’s a loaded debate.”
It should be noted here that if the Vikings do not select Kalil and draft Claiborne, then they might as well kiss Christian Ponder's career good-bye. There is no way Ponder will be excited about having a patchwork offensive line and a group of wide receivers led by a slot receiver.
The only other position the Vikings should draft is a wide receiver. There is no reason for the Vikings to go out and get a young quarterback if they are not going to put anything around him. If the team is going to ignore the left tackle need, then they must focus on the wide receiver position.
It is obvious that the Vikings need to sure up their secondary, but not by taking the top rated cornerback in the draft. There are plenty of cornerbacks that are available in the second or third rounds that could help the Vikings defense.
Who should the Vikings select with the third overall if they pass on Matt Kalil?
Players like Janoris Jenkins, Chase Minnifield and Alphonzo Dennard could land with the team in either the second or third round. All three of these players have first-round talent and will drop because of character concerns and/or injuries.
The team already addressed their secondary by signing Zack Bowman and Cris Carr in the offseason. Contrarily, the team has not done much with wide receivers in the offseason other than bringing in Jerome Simpson for a visit.
The lack of talent in the Vikings wide receiver core should be enough to justify the pick of Blackmon. Percy Harvin is better suited in the slot, and Michael Jenkins is sub-par. The team does have Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson at tight end, but they will be much more effective in the middle of the field if the team had other wide receivers to work outside the numbers as well.
Blackmon is not drawing comparisons to Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green. Instead, many have compared him to Anquan Boldin. He may pan out to be better than Boldin because he is a bit quicker in games and has incredible hands.
The Vikings could also take a look at Michael Floyd as well. The only problem with selecting Floyd with the third overall pick is that the team could probably snag him a bit later on in the draft if they trade down. Blackmon is the highest rated receiver and he won't likely slip past Jacksonville at the seventh pick or Carolina at the ninth pick.
An offense with Blackmon, Harvin, Rudolph, Adrian Peterson, Carlson and Toby Gerhart should be enough to put Ponder in a comfort zone. Blackmon would fill that huge void Sidney Rice left, all the while leaving Harvin is in his most effective position. Teams won't stack the box as much knowing that the Vikings have receivers. With less defenders in the box, Peterson would continue run wild on opposing defenses next season.
Claiborne would be a good pick for the Vikings because of their need at cornerback and because of the great quarterbacks they play six times a season. However, Blackmon would be a much better value pick with the third overall and finding another guy like Blackmon would be tougher in the later rounds.
Keeping Ponder happy and comfortable should be the number one priority, if not, the Vikings might as well send an airplane to Brett Favre's ranch and see if he will give it a go for another season in 2013.