Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is known for going the extra mile when it comes to trying to decipher what will happen in advance of draft weekend. He conducts mock draft after mock draft and factors in the potential of unseen scenarios. What if there is a run on quarterbacks before the Vikings pick? What if there is a position that the teams in front of them don't have as pressing needs? How far can a prospect potentially fall before some team pulls the trigger and drafts him?
Of the myriad of potential possibilities, one that Spielman couldn't have envisioned was defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd – ranked by most scouts as the No. 1 defensive tackle in the 2013 draft class – falling to the Vikings at pick No. 23.
"I went though 1,000 scenarios with that 23rd and 25th pick and I can tell you honestly, he was not in one of those scenarios for him to fall down to our lap," Spielman said. "There were some conversations as he fell to potentially even move up. But as the names kept falling off the board, we had more than enough options to just sit there and let everything fall to us. When Sharrif fell to us, it was something that was very unexpected that he would come that far, because we had him that high on our board."
Spielman credited the insane run on offensive linemen, including a couple that had second-round grades on them, as being the primary reason why Floyd fell from being almost universally linked with the Raiders at No. 3 to the Vikings at No. 23. Three of the first four picks went on the O-line and it didn't stop there. By the time Chicago took tackle/guard Kyle Long with the 20th pick, he was the eighth offensive lineman in the first 20 picks, which left a lot of talent available for the Vikings – a blessing considering that the Vikings weren't in the market for a tackle – at least not an offensive tackle.
"Because of all the offensive linemen – there was a really big run on offensive linemen in that first round – some of those offensive linemen pushed down some of (the defensive talent)," Spielman said. "It worked in our favor because a lot of the needs we were trying to fill were on the defensive side of the ball. I think that the run on the offensive linemen had an integral part in (Floyd) falling to us."
While Floyd is ideally a 3-technique tackle, the same position played by Kevin Williams, Spielman lauded Floyd's flexibility – the ability to play nose tackle or even a situational defensive end. But his strong suit is a classic under-tackle.
"He's an under-tackle," Spielman said. "He can play the run. He can rush the passer. He played some end (in 2011) and when they moved him back inside to his natural position (in 2012), he really flourished and showed what he can be as a defensive tackle."
The initial thought was that, while Floyd would appear to be the long-term answer as a replacement for Williams, would the two be able to coexist if they were in a rotation or even play alongside one another? Head coach Leslie Frazier believes that Williams could be the best thing to help Floyd successfully transition to the NFL game.
"I think it's going to be a great combination for us," Frazier said. "Kevin is still a guy who is viable for us. We're excited that he's back for another season and he'll get a chance to tutor a guy that we think is going to be a very, very good football player for a long time. It should be a great combination for our team."
Spielman added that, while the Vikings didn't have any expectation of Floyd falling to them, there was a plan in place if one of their first-round picks was used at defensive tackle and that the Vikings are ready to hit the ground running with their new D-lineman.
"He's a young player that is only going to get better," Spielman said. "He'll have a great opportunity to come in here working with our defensive staff and our defensive line. We expect a lot of big things from him – not only next year, but into the future years as well."
Much like the drafts that brought players like Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, the unexpected fall of a star whose talent should have warranted going much higher was a happy accident that the Vikings readily accepted as being their good fortune thanks to the needs of so many others. Frazier said he felt blessed that someone of Floyd's talent, whom he was convinced would be long since gone by the time the Vikings were on the clock, fell into their waiting arms.
"The scenario with Sharrif never came up and we talked about so many different scenarios," Frazier said. "We went though a lot of different possibilities. But I don't think any of us foresaw that he would come down to 23. I don't recall us really talking about that. If we did, we all said it would be a no-brainer and it turned out to be just that."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Floyd's fall was ‘no-brainer' for Vikings
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