As the Vikings make their draft list and check it twice, there are two factors that come into play – who the Vikings want and who the other teams are looking for. For example, in 2012, it could be argued the Vikings had the first pick of the draft because it was already common knowledge that Andrew Luck was going No. 1 and Robert Griffin III was going No. 2 – effectively giving the Vikings the first chance to make a pick that wasn't already spoken for or locked up.
The Vikings took advantage of that opportunity, trading the No. 3 pick to Cleveland, dropping one spot and still landing the player they wanted – offensive tackle Matt Kalil. The pick the Vikings acquired to flip-flop picks with the Brown turned out to be wide receiver Jarius Wright, who essentially became a "free pick."
As the Vikings prepare for the 2014 draft, the team doesn't appear to be in the market for a wide receiver or an offensive tackle in the two picks they have in the top 40 selections – the eighth pick of the first round and the eighth pick of the second round. Every pick made among the 38 picks not currently allotted to the Vikings in the top 40 that are at positions the Vikings don't have an intention of taking can be viewed as a bonus. It would appear that the team is set at offensive tackle (Kalil and Phil Loadholt are both under contract for at least the next two seasons and likely longer) and wide receiver (the Vikings signed Greg Jennings in free agency and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round last year).
A case can be made that as many as eight picks could be made at wide receiver by the time the Vikings are making their selection in the second round – Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Marqise Lee, Brandin Cooks, Cody Latimer, Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews. Added up together, it would potentially drop the number of eligible picks that the Vikings might be interested in from 38 to 30.
The same is true for offensive tackle. The Vikings aren't going to use the No. 8 pick on an offensive tackle simply because they don't need one at this time. As many as seven offensive tackles are expected to be gone by the times the Vikings make their second-round pick, including Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin, Morgan Moses, Joe Bitonio and Cyrus Kouandjio. If all of them get selected, the number of "competition picks" – players taken at positions the Vikings have a need or interest in – goes from 30 down to 23.
If the Vikings take a quarterback with the eighth pick, you could probably added three or four more selections of QBs that would come off the board after the Vikings have made their pick, which could drop the number of competitive picks down to just 19.
As fans look to see where the Vikings will try to improve their team in the first two days of the draft, it may help them to know that the player they select with the 40th pick, who will likely be expected to start – immediately or shortly thereafter – will be available, whether at guard, safety, quarterback, linebacker or defensive back. When you take out the more than a dozen players at WR and OT that the Vikings won't have interest in taking with their first pick, the distance between pick No. 8 and No. 40 shrinks considerably and should help put the Vikings' decisions on who to select with the first two picks into clearer focus.
There will be 32 picks in between the Vikings' first- and second-round selections, but, given the realities of their needs and the players in the Class of 2014, it can be argued that number will be closer to 20 players the Vikings may have a legitimate interest in, not 32 players.
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.
Vikings' wait seems to shrink matching needs
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