Draft day 2012 is finally upon us now, and the first two picks in the draft have already been pre-selected. The Minnesota Vikings at No. 3, however, is far from set in place. The Vikings are in a great position and have many options available to them.
Three of the top four best players available would fit immediately into some major holes that the team has, and they have a chance of trading down to add a couple picks later in the draft. Even being in a great position, there are always risks involved with any pick in the draft and any trade they may accept.
Let's take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for each of those three players that could go to the Vikings at No. 3, plus two possible trades:
OT Matt Kalil, USC
Vikings fill a large hole at the LT position. The team is now able to move Charlie Johnson from LT to LG, where he is more suited to play.
This solidifies the line, and there is a dramatic improvement in overall line play. With an improved line, the running game improves, and QB Christian Ponder can calm down in the pocket and develop into a better passer.
Kalil becomes another USC flop. The rumors of his sense of entitlement and ego are true, and he becomes un-coachable. He's slow off the line in the run game and is only a marginal improvement over Johnson at LT.
CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
Claiborne is able to step right into the starting role. With other CBs Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook, the Vikings' pass defense improves greatly over a historically bad 2011.
His rumored low score on the Wonderlic Test is a precursor to an inability to adjust to the professional game. He becomes slow to react in a more complicated defensive scheme. His ball-hawking abilities are negated by the Viking's Cover-2 scheme on defense, and he struggles in the zone defense.
What is the Vikings best option?
WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Blackmon steps right into the starting lineup and has a AJ Green or Julio Jones-like rookie season. Blackmon, along with WRs Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson and TEs Kyle Rudolph, help Ponder excel in the passing game, and the Vikings move out of the bottom of the league in passing.
Two words for you...Troy Williamson. Blackmon and Williamson are two different types of wide receiver, but no Vikings fan will forget what happened the last time the team took a receiver in the first round.
Blackmon's stock dropped a bit when he came in a couple inches shorter than anticipated and is not a burner. He ends up sitting behind Harvin and Simpson as the No. 3 receiver on the team. The DUI he got in college didn't teach him anything, and he adds to the Vikings NFL-leading arrest total since 2000.
Trade with Tampa Bay for No. 5 Pick
Vikings trade the No. 3 overall pick for Tampa's Nos. 5 and 36 picks. Tampa picks Trent Richardson, Browns pick Blackmon at No. 4 and the Vikings are able to still get the player they seem to covet the most in Kalil at No. 5. Vikings get the player they wanted to start with and add an early-second-round pick.
Vikings are only able to get a third-round pick from Tampa, No. 68 overall. Buffalo wants Kalil and trades up to No. 4 to select him in front of the Vikings. Vikings then have to take either Blackmon or Claiborne, who will still help the team but are not the Vikings' first choices.
Vikings get a slew of draft picks a la the Redskins/Rams trade. Vikings are still able to get one of the second-tier players at a position of need (OT Riley Rieff, LB Luke Kuechly, WR Micheal Floyd or S Mark Barron), and they have either an extra first-round pick next year or a bunch of extra picks in this year's deep draft pool.
The second-tier players are average. The haul that the Vikings get isn't large. The team that they trade with has a great season, and the first-round pick for next year is late in the draft.
In the end, the haul that the Vikings get was not worth the talent difference between the first-tier and second-tier players in the 2012 draft.
Rieff is projected by many to be a better RT than LT, and the Vikings aren't able to fill that hole at LT. Floyd becomes the latest bust from Notre Dame. Barron is stuck on an island in the horrible Vikings secondary and is not able to develop.