Assigning Odds to Potential Minnesota Vikings 1st-Round Pick

Mike Nelson@Mike_E_NelsonCorrespondent IApril 17, 2014

Assigning Odds to Potential Minnesota Vikings 1st-Round Pick

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    Teddy Bridgewater (left) and Johnny Manziel are expected to be on Minnesota's radar on draft day.
    Teddy Bridgewater (left) and Johnny Manziel are expected to be on Minnesota's radar on draft day.USA TODAY Sports

    So, in case you didn't know, there is this NFL draft coming up on May 8. 

    It's kind of a big deal, especially if you're a Minnesota Vikings fan. 

    With the Christian Ponder experiment having all but failed, the franchise again will seek to acquire its quarterback of the future.

    And, given that the NFL is an offensive, quarterback-oriented league, it's more important than ever to have the right guy under center. 

    But, then again, the Vikings have serious holes on the defensive side that could be addressed early in the draft. 

    It's quite a conundrum: Draft a quarterback or improve the defense? It may be outside of Minnesota's control.

    The early part of the draft, specifically Minnesota's lone first-round pick (No. 8), is the focus of this slideshow. 

    Plenty of names have been linked with Minnesota, and we'll discuss some of them here. 

    This slideshow features five players, listed in order of most favorable odds to become a Viking, who could wind up being called at No. 8. These aren't the only players who could be selected at No. 8 but the five that I wanted to discuss.

    Each slide will assess what makes the player attractive to the Vikings, how likely it is he'll be available at No. 8 and the odds that the Vikings will likely end up with him. 

Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel

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    As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes in his pro player comparison video attached to this slide, Johnny Manziel is a very polarizing figure. 

    ESPN's Ron Jaworski said he wouldn't select Manziel before the third round. 

    Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach told the NFL Network he'd select Manziel No. 1 overall.

    Former Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton told USA Today that Manziel has "franchise" player qualities. 

    And to add fuel to that fire, there is the fact that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has said there are red flags to worry about with Manziel. 

    Now, some will argue Zimmer said something like that to build hype that the Vikings aren't interested in Manziel when they really are. Others will say he legitimately doesn't want to draft Johnny Football. 

    Regardless, the Vikings should consider him if he's still on the board at No. 8 (for what it's worth, Miller has the Vikings selecting Manziel in his latest mock draft).

    The difficult thing to project is whether he'll actually be available. 

    His stock was fading before his pro day and the news of his Wonderlic score. But both have since boosted his stock. And teams seem to get quarterback crazy on draft day.

    If he's available at No. 8, depending on how the draft has played out, the odds are high that he'll end up in purple and gold. 

    Odds: 4-1. If he's there, I don't see the Vikings letting him slide. With many respected analysts having Minnesota tab him, the odds are good.

Alabama Linebacker C.J. Mosley

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    If Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles is still on the board when the Vikings pick at No. 8, then it's tough to see Minnesota bypassing one of them (even with many defensive holes remaining). 

    But if those three quarterbacks are off the board, then expect Minnesota to consider C.J. Mosley with its first overall pick. 

    He was a standout at Alabama and could solidify the middle linebacker position for the foreseeable future. 

    As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes in the video attached to this slide, he is a three-down middle linebacker, something that has been foreign to the Vikings as of late.

    Erin Henderson could do that when he was Minnesota's middle linebacker this past season, but before that, E.J. Henderson and Jasper Brinkley were huge liabilities if left on the field in nickel situations. 

    If the Vikings like Mosley over the top three quarterback prospects, then they might trade out of this spot. They can probably get him in the middle of the first round, as fellow B/R Featured Columnist Bill Hubbell notes.

    If the Vikings can't trade out of this pick, there also isn't any shame in staying put and tabbing Mosley. He should be a standout NFL player. 

    Odds: 6-1. Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider told Bleacher Report the Vikings really want a linebacker at No. 8, specifically Buffalo's Khalil Mack. I don't see Mack sliding to No. 8 (he'd be a good selection if he somehow does), so Mosley would be a good get if linebacker is high on the team's draft list. 

Louisville Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

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    At the beginning of the draft process, Teddy Bridgewater was considered to be among the best prospects in this class. 

    Now, he could possibly be selected anywhere from the top three to somewhere in the mid-20s of the first round. 

    It's amazing how his value has fluctuated during the draft evaluation season. 

    That process may end up benefiting the Vikings, who could have the opportunity to select him. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares him to Aaron Rodgers in the video attached to this slide.

    ESPN Insider Todd McShay reports (subscription required) that Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner likes both Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel.

    McShay says nothing about Blake Bortles (who appears destined for a top-five selection at this point) or about whom Turner would favor should Manziel and Bridgewater both be available at No. 8. 

    Given what Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer has said publicly about Manziel, if Bridgewater and Manziel are available, it's tough to see the Vikings taking Johnny Football over Bridgewater. The Louisville product seems to be the safer pick with plenty of potential. 

    Odds: 10-1. The odds are less in Bridgewater's favor to become a Viking than Manziel because I don't believe he'll be available at No. 8. I see Manziel as being more likely to be available due to his polarizing nature. But if both are available, I see the Vikings tabbing Bridgewater.

Alabama Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

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    Imagine all of the plays that Harrison Smith has made in the Minnesota secondary. 

    Now imagine that he had someone equally as talented and versatile playing alongside him at safety. 

    Exciting, isn't it? 

    That could be the case if the Vikings select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the No. 8 pick. 

    By most standards, it would be a reach. Generally speaking, mock drafts have him going anywhere from the high teens to the mid-20s. 

    But ESPN Insider Todd McShay has the Detroit Lions taking the plunge on Clinton-Dix at No. 10 in his latest mock draft

    McShay notes the selection of Clinton-Dix feels "early" at No. 10 but also proclaims the player to be a "premier talent at the free safety position" with "his range in coverage and run support." 

    Much like fellow Alabama defender C.J. Mosley, if the Vikings feel Clinton-Dix is their guy, then they'd be better off trading back a few spots and accumulating picks. But if they can't, then there's no shame in drafting a playmaker like Clinton-Dix at this spot. 

    Odds: 15-1. It's tough to see Clinton-Dix in purple and gold, unless he slips into the very end of the first round and the Vikings trade back to get him. But with the versatility and playmaking skills of Smith and Clinton-Dix, the Vikings would have one of the game's best safety tandems. 

Oklahoma State Cornerback Justin Gilbert

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    With Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn in the fold as the starting cornerbacks and Josh Robinson the third cornerback (who should have a better season if Munnerlyn assumes the slot position as expected), it's tough to envision a scenario where cornerback is the position tabbed at No. 8. 

    But it's not out of the realm of possibility. 

    Justin Gilbert (6'0" and 202 pounds) can make plays with the football. The Minnesota defense has lacked someone with his abilities for some time. Antoine Winfield made plays as a tackler, whereas Gilbert can take any interception to the house. 

    Pairing Gilbert with Robinson, Rhodes and Munnerlyn would give the Vikings a strong group of cornerbacks to compete against the pass-happy NFC North. 

    And before Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater began to fall down draft boards, Gilbert was often linked to the Vikings (like in this March mock draft by Todd McShay).

    Odds: 20-1. Gilbert is talented, but since the Vikings signed Munnerlyn and appear in position to draft Bridgewater or Manziel or select a linebacker, it just doesn't seem likely.