Though mocking out the draft is clearly an inexact science, I, as well as many others, take great pride in attempting to decipher what my team may do. As Vikings Team Analyst at www.DraftTek.com, I've poured through prospect profiles, analyzed the Vikings team needs and tried to check out any possible insight into whom they may be looking to lock up come draft day.
For this mock, I have taken into consideration my team needs inputs at DraftTek and combined that with both the full 450 player Big Board from the site and the latest Consensus Mock Draft (CMD) to gauge which players may fall and which will need to be reached for. On top of that, I checked out many other mock drafts out there to get a broader perspective on how the draft may go.
I have also considered the tendencies of the front office with respect to character, value-need, etc. and have come up with 8 picks that I believe make sense for the Vikings. I will also provided some other options and surprise picks for most rounds.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
I believe the Vikings will go with the best available player at the key positions that need to be addressed. In an ideal world, the Vikings would have an offensive lineman fall into their lap that no one expected to be there. Mike Iupati would be the guy I have in mind, but I certainly cannot bank on him being there at 30.
Due to the immense depth at the cornerback position in this draft, I have a hard time slotting Devin McCourty in there in the first round, but I honestly believe that he would be the best option here.
McCourty is fast, he moves well and is certainly able to tackle in the open field, which is a must for any Vikings corner. I've seen many mocks with Kyle Wilson going to the Vikings, but his lack of tackling ability will be a major concern for Leslie Frazier and likely enough to move him down the Vikings draft board.
Maurkice Pouncey, OL, Florida - Childress loves versatile linemen and Pouncey certainly fits the bill. He would likely compete with Anthony Herrera at RG, but would be able to step in at C or LG if needed.
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers - Many believe Davis will free fall due to character concerns, but I am not one of those people. If he's available, I don't see any reason why the Vikings shouldn't grab him, especially with the plethora of question marks surrounding Bryant McKinnie.
Colt McCoy, QB, Texas - Brad Childress needs a franchise QB for the post-Favre era and McCoy fits the mould of the guys he likes as he's of impeccable character and has shown to be a very hard worker. I wouldn't be too surprised if the Vikings took McCoy here.
Notes: There are those who believe the Vikings will take a DT to replace Pat Williams, but I just can't see it happening this year. They gave Fred Evans a 2nd round tender, re-signed Jimmy Kennedy and still have Letroy Guion developing. Before Kennedy signed, I thought DT was an option, but I'm now convinced they will be looking elsewhere.
The Vikings clearly need someone to step in for Chester Taylor. There are rumblings about Albert Young taking over for Chester, which isn't a bad option, but I think they need to add more depth behind Adrian Peterson than Young and Ian Johnson.
If they avoid free agents like Brian Westbrook and still have a hole to fill on draft day, I think Hardesty makes the most sense out of that second tier group of running backs. He is one of the best pass-catching backs in the draft and is certainly capable of excelling in the zone scheme that Minnesota runs.
Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan - I think the Vikings can wait on a QB if they don't snag one in the 1st. LeFevour might be a good fit, but I don't see the logic in reaching for him when there is a pool of QBs with similar value - LeFevour, Jevan Snead, Tony Pike, John Skelton and Jarrett Brown.
Joe McKnight, RB, USC - It comes down to preference and it is possible that the Vikings brass could favour the speedier McKnight over the all-around back in Hardesty.
Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana - Saffold is a bit of an under-the-radar guy who will likely be a second-round pick, but has the potential to be a good starting left tackle in the NFL. With the surefire run on tackles in the first, the Vikings might get lucky and have him slide to them in the second.
Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pitt - Though the Vikings' questionable investment in Visanthe Shiancoe has certainly panned out well, they don't have any receiving threat at TE behind him. Dickerson is a dynamic athlete (4.40 forty) and a versatile player with underrated blocking abilities. The Vikings could certainly find a way to utilize his unique skill set.
Notes: Many feel that the Vikings will select a safety in this draft and that Morgan Burnett would be a great second-round pick if available, but I just don't see it. Last year was Tyrell Johnson's first year as a full-time starter (only his second in the league) and it seemed like things started to really click as the season went on. They knew he was a developmental player coming in and to give up on him this early would be foolish. Also, they have three backups in Eric Frampton, Husain Abdullah and Jamarca Sanford that the coaching staff seems to love due to their intensity and special teams play.
At some point the Vikings need to plan for the future at the quarterback position. I don't think Tarvaris Jackson has shown anything, including a desire to continue his career in Minnesota, that would grant him the title of franchise QB. After the temper tantrum Sage Rosenfels threw when the Vikings signed Favre, I doubt he has the respect from his teammates that would be required to lead this team for any length of time.
That means the Vikings will have to look outside the organization for their next QB and I think that Tony Pike would be a welcome addition.
Pike has been criticized for his lack of athleticism, skinny legs and average arm strength, but I think he has the chance to develop. He has a good head on his shoulders and has shown the leadership qualities and intangibles that can't be measured at the combine. He needs time to develop, but I believe he can play quarterback in the NFL.
Fortunately for Pike he would have a year or two to both bulk up and learn the system. Also, in the Vikings variation of the West Coast Offense, accuracy is a must and arm strength is more of a luxury, which plays right into his skill set.
John Jerry, OL, Mississippi - Jerry is a big, strong offensive guard who also has the potential play RT. If there's one thing Brad Childress covets above anything else, possibly including talent (see Cook, Ryan), it's versatility, which makes Jerry a logical choice.
Austen Lane, DE, Murray State - With Ray Edwards and Brian Robison both likely ending up as UFA's next year (provided there is football), it might be wise to start looking ahead at their replacements and Lane might be a great choice as a player to groom. Comes from a small school, but has the size and athleticism to be an effective LDE in the Vikings scheme and there would be no pressure in year one to make an impact.
Say what you want about Washington's past, the guy can play football. He would be an excellent fit as a project LT that could potentially take over for McKinnie in a year or two. I doubt, with his measurables and tape, that he lasts past the top of the fifth round and he's arguably the best lineman, talent-wise, on the board this late.
Pat Angerer, MLB, Iowa - Despite EJ Henderson's insistence that he will be back in early 2010, along with the emergence of Jasper Brinkley, the Vikings will likely draft for depth at inside linebacker at some point. They would not want to be stuck signing Napoleon Harris off the street to fill in on this team.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami - A former basketball player who is a definite project Tight End, Jimmy Graham could go anywhere in rounds 3-5. I expect he'll be there when the Vikings pick in the fourth. After an impressive 4.56 combine forty, along with a surprisingly solid performance in the drills, Graham looks like he'll be able to transition to NFL TE quite well.
AJ Edds, OLB, Iowa - I do like me some Big 10 linebackers and I think Edds is another guy the Vikings could/should consider. They have two excellent starters in Greenway and Leber as well as some pretty good depth with ST studs Heath Farwell and Kenny Onatolu, which is why this pick may surprise, but the other names on the roster were UDFA's Erin Henderson and J Lehman. It wouldn't hurt to upgrade the depth in case one of these guys has to start and Edds would be a solid value pick if he's available.
Projected as a situational pass-rusher in the NFL, Kevin Basped would provide good depth behind Jared Allen. Also, as noted earlier, with the possibility of losing both Ray Edwards and Brian Robison next year, the Vikings need to start building some contingency plans.
Brandon Carter, OG, Texas A&M - Big and nasty, Childress might consider bringing in Carter to add a mean streak to a somewhat soft Vikings O-line.
Riley Cooper, WR, Floria - Though I don't expect the Vikings to draft a WR, they may come to like a guy like Cooper due to his blocking abilities and solid hands. He may not last this long but, if he does, the Vikings could pounce on him.
The Vikings will gladly take the compensatory selection granted from the loss of Matt Birk as they haven't had such a luxury in quite a while.
Marshall Newhouse is another player that fits the Childress mold in that he's extremely hard-working and versatile. He probably fits best as a guard, but could also kick out to Right Tackle if needed. The Vikings will be lucky if he's on the board here, but it's quite possible.
Value, value, value. The Childress/Spielman combo seem to find a way of getting good value with these later picks and it wouldn't surprise me if they just went with a guy who was at the top of the board whom no one thought would be there at this pick. Even if that isn't who they end up taking, that's likely what we'll hear in the post-draft presser.
Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State - This pick may or may not depend on whether the Vikings take a quarterback earlier in the draft as they might wait this long before taking a QB or they could draft two. Rick Spielman and Brad Childress could be enticed by Robinson's name and college production as they were with JD Booty. It might also give them an excuse to cut their losses and release Sage Rosenfels if Robinson plays well in camp.
Coming from Division 1-AA New Hampshire, Scott Sicko hasn't received much attention this offseason but, when you look at his numbers, I think he'll be noticed by NFL draft rooms.
On his Pro Day he weighed in at 251 lbs, was clocked at 4.53 in the forty, had a 35 inch vertical and did 22 bench press reps. All pretty impressive numbers.
Sicko actually reminds me a bit of Garrett Mills, except bigger, taller and probably won't be drafted in the fourth round and hopefully will live up to his apparent potential.
From here on out, there aren't really any surprises as these late-round picks can come from anywhere.
Erik Cook is the younger brother of current Vikings RFA Ryan Cook and he may turn out to be the better player. After being taken in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Ryan has been a disappointment to say the least. However, if the Vikings bring in brother Erik and keep him in his natural position, Center, he could end up a solid backup with starter potential down the road.
Overall, I see the strengths of the draft being in the secondary and offensive line, which favours the Vikings very well. Also, though it lacks stars at the top, the running back class looks to be fairly deep.
It will be interesting to see who comes off the board in the first for Minnesota because that will determine the rest of the draft, in my opinion. If an offensive lineman falls to them in the first, I can't see how they pass on him. If there isn't a suitable lineman there, I truly wonder if they would pull the trigger on either Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy.
I think that may turn out to be the best option as the draft unfolds.
Otherwise, they may get into a delicate balancing act between taking the guy they want a little early or waiting to see who falls to their next pick, which may get dicey if they're looking for top-notch offensive line or quarterback talent.
However, for the purposes of this draft, which I would say is fairly realistic, I went the other way and waited on the quarterback. This could be partly that I'm a fan of Tony Pike and also partly due to the fact that I just don't see a clear indication at this point that Minnesota will jump early on the quarterback spot.
Perhaps as we get closer to draft day, the picture will be clearer and I'll run through this exercise again.