Vikings' Draft Plan B could be franchise LB

The Vikings may not have a shot at the top three quarterbacks in the draft, leaving them to consider one of the top three linebackers.

It would seem clear that the Vikings have a Plan A in place for the draft. That would entail drafting a quarterback. Make no mistake about it: If Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles is available, the Vikings won't entertain trade offers outside of the absurd.

There is a growing fear among fans that the Vikings will reach for a quarterback that would likely be available double-digit picks later if left on the board in Derek Carr. Once bitten, twice shy when it comes to that prospect again.

But what if all three quarterbacks currently being viewed as value picks at No. 8 are gone? Is there a Plan B in place?
By this point, Rick Spielman has likely conducted only a couple hundred mock drafts through seven picks to determine under what scenarios players would be available with that pick.

Plan B may well be to address the glaring need at linebacker. The salience of that decision lies in the depth level at which the linebacker crop drops. It's precipitous and it will happen in the blink of an eye.

Under the Plan B Protocol maintained by Spiel Team 6, the three quarterbacks are gone. It is assumed Jadeveon Clowney is also gone. It will be hard for other teams to not select offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews. At least one of them has to be gone. Sammy Watkins is too good to leave on the board too long. All of those prospects factor into the Vikings looking at drafting a linebacker.

There are three linebackers that are currently being viewed as top-10 values – outside linebackers Khalil Mack of Buffalo, Anthony Barr of UCLA and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama.

Beyond those three, much like the quarterbacks expected to clot the top five picks of the draft, the prospects at the linebacker position drop like a stone. It can be argued that once Mack, Barr and Mosley are off the board, the next linebacker to go in the draft won't be selected until somebody trades up into the end of the first round to get a player they covet.

It can be argued that the significance of landing a franchise-type player is the watershed goal of Spiel Team 6. He's on the third head coach with the same ownership. If there is a fourth, he likely exits stage left with No. 3. The 2014 draft may be the watershed year in the career of Spielman.

Plan C may eventually become Plan B – if the three QBs viewed as the franchise Class of '14 are gone. Plan C might be that the Vikings trade down, stockpile picks and roll the dice on the future of the franchise. If the three quarterbacks are gone, Plan A is out of play. All that leaves are Plans B and C – and possibly plan DC (Derek Carr).

The big decision for Spielman and the draft posse comes down to the value they place on the eighth overall pick in the draft? Manziel, Bridgewater or Bortles would be welcomed with open arms and brisk jersey sales. But if the Vikings are to improve and can add a linebacker that can make the handful of plays in a game that can be the difference between winning and losing, Plan B should be given its own due diligence before defaulting to Plan C.

Ideally for the Vikings, the draft drops in such a way that Plan A can be executed. If not, Chad Greenway needs someone to run with that can play at a high level. There are only three players viewed as donning the "can't miss" tag. If the draft falls right, the Vikings will have their choice of all three – with the knowledge that all three of them will go quickly once the first domino falls.

It may be time to give some serious consideration to Plan B – both for the short-term and long-term health of the franchise.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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