Minnesota Vikings: Draft for Need or Draft the Best Player Available?

Tim ArcandCorrespondent IApril 9, 2011

Projected as a top three pick, the Vikings virtually have no chance of drafting Blaine Gabbert.
Projected as a top three pick, the Vikings virtually have no chance of drafting Blaine Gabbert.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The good news for Vikings fans is that no matter who the team drafts with the 12th pick in the first round of the NFL draft, it is bound to fill a hole.

There will be no need for vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman to explain that the Vikings simply had to take the "best player available."

About the only way the Minnesota front office will have to spin its first choice of the draft is if it eschews its greatest needs of either quarterback or offensive line to draft a defensive end.

If by some chance Robert Quinn from North Carolina, Cameron Jordan from California or Da'Quan Bowers from Clemson is available and the Vikings deems one of them the "best player available," there could be an angry mob with pitchforks and torches marching on the team's headquarters in Eden Prairie.

The Vikings have a lot riding on this year's draft.

After finishing last in the NFC North—along with the desire for a new stadium—there's little the Vikings can do to increase any interest in the team.

With the current NFL lockout, the Vikings have no opportunity to do anything but study film of potential draft picks and free agents.   

Include the promise that comes with the start of a new baseball season, and the Vikings are on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

The Vikings need to use their first pick in the draft to address their biggest need—quarterback.

The boldest move the Vikings could make would be to find a way to move up in the draft to have the chance to select one of the top three projected quarterbacks in the draft.

The addition of Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker would instantly springboard the Vikings to the forefront of Minnesota sports fans.

Many mock drafts have all three quarterbacks gone before the Vikings could use their 12th pick in the first round.

If by any chance any of these quarterbacks are available, the Vikings should not hesitate to deliver their pick to commissioner Roger Goodell.

If the Vikings fail to move up in the draft and the top three quarterbacks are gone, they would be best served by selecting a quarterback. 

Even if one of the top three offensive tackles—Anthony Castanzo from Boston College, Nathan Solder from Colorado or Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State—were still on the board the Vikings, would be better off drafting quarterback Christian Ponder of Florida State, or even Ryan Mallet from Arkansas.

The truth is, no one player is going to turn around the Vikings.

There are too many circumstances factoring against Minnesota. If there is going to be a season in 2011, it will leave too little time for head coach Leslie Frazier and his staff to prepare. 

New coaching staff, new schemes, new players and a shortened time frame all spell another fourth-place finish in 2011.

This draft is about image and publicity. Drafting a quarterback in the first round is the best way to ensure that the Vikings remain the Twin Cities' favorite team.

Besides, another losing season in 2011 could mean the Vikings have improved their chances at drafting Andrew Luck in 2012.