Can the ‘playmakers' wait for Vikings?

The draft's positions of depth match up nicely with the Vikings' needs, but does that mean they can wait to pounce on a receiver or defensive tackle? Rick Spielman talked about that concept and the analysts' assessments might match that line of thinking.

A deep draft at positions of need for the Vikings might allow a patient approach. Some of the Vikings' positions of biggest need are also the positions of best depth in the draft.

Of course, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman isn't about to confirm what he views as the team's biggest needs, nor is he about to lay out the team's draft plan. Still, he is keenly aware that wide receiver and defensive tackle are considered two of the deepest positions in this year's draft.

With or without Percy Harvin, the Vikings have a real need at receiver. Despite missing the final seven games of the season with injury, Harvin still led the team with 62 receptions. After Harvin, no other wide receiver had more than 40 catches (Michael Jenkins had 40 and Jerome Simpson 26).

Defensive tackle isn't an immediate need unless the Vikings prematurely part ways with Kevin Williams and his scheduled $7.5 million salary in 2013, but either way they need to start bracing for life after the man they call "Ticket."

So the question becomes this: If the draft is deep at those positions, are the Vikings better served looking elsewhere with their first-round pick?

"I think that's part of the feel for the draft as you go through, and as it gets closer down to your pick, knowing the depth of the draft in certain positions," Spielman said. "Can you still move back and maybe pick up another pick and still get what you want? Or is it something like a Harrison (Smith), where you know if you want to get that guy you're going to have to move up to get him? To me, that's all part of working the board on draft day, when you see the depth and the options you have as you get ready to come on the clock."

Last year, the Vikings had the No. 3 pick in the draft and leveraged that to move down only one spot – to Cleveland's No. 4 pick – and still got the player they wanted, Matt Kalil, and an additional fourth-round pick that netted receiver Jarius Wright. This year, accumulating additional picks won't be so easy. Possessing the No. 23 pick in the draft, as the Vikings do, won't yield that kind of bounty, but Spielman, who admitted that he loves trading draft picks, would like to enter the draft with 10 picks, one more than he currently holds.

"You don't know what's going to happen. There's always wild cards that happen," he said. "Last year was pretty easy to figure out. This year will be fun, because there's so many different ways it could go, what falls into your lap. …

"I think we're going to get an excellent football player at 23, if we're there. And I think, through the first four rounds, to have that extra fourth-round pick this year – we were able to change a fifth into a fourth this year from Detroit – that will be valuable as well. I think the depth of this draft class, you're going to get some pretty significant players that can come in and help you win ballgames."

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock entered the NFL Scouting Combine with six defensive tackles rated as first-round values, and there could be starting depth at that position into the third round. At receiver, there is a big difference of opinion on the top prospects, but most analysts agree that none of the receiver prospects are worth a top-10 pick and some don't see more than two of them being worth first-round picks, even if the names of those two differ.

That could lead to a better overall draft if the Vikings eschewed more pressing needs at receiver and defensive tackle in the first round and waited until the second, third or fourth rounds to grab them.

The ideal move might be for the Vikings to either try to move down with their first-round pick and accumulate additional picks in the top three rounds or use one of their two fourth-round picks to gain an additional pick in the top three rounds.

"From a personnel standpoint and a football standpoint, to me it's a very deep draft," Spielman admitted. "From a media splash-type thing, it may not look as exciting as some of the football people are going to be about it. Just because you don't have the RG3s (Robert Griffin III), the Andrew Lucks or a specific playmaker, it's a lot of guys that don't get the recognition but can make a huge impact on your roster. They're just not at splash positions."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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