Wide receivers are schooling up in the early 20s of the first round

It appears as though the hot spot for wide receivers in the first round of next week's draft has the Minnesota Vikings in the middle of the Oreo.

The conventional wisdom is that the Minnesota Vikings are locked and loaded with selecting a wide receiver with the 23rd pick if the 2016 NFL Draft, seeing as the Vikings have addressed just about every position of need in free agency – most coming in re-signing their own and keeping the band together.

The one exception has been at wide receiver. Mike Wallace produced little as a Viking and the only difference in the current makeup of the Vikings wide receiver room is that Wallace is no longer allowed past the velvet rope.

There is no guarantee that the Vikings are going to take a wide receiver with their first-round pick, Wide receiver may end up being the collateral damage of a trade-happy first round.

A point can be made that Laquon Treadwell, the presumptive first wide receiver off the board, could go to the Giants at No. 10. Drew Brees could use a receiver at No. 12. Detroit needs to replace Megatron and has the 16th pick.

Beyond that, from the bigger picture thinking, wide receiver isn’t on the front burner. The fan bases of the Falcons, Colts, Bills, Jets and Redskins all are prepping to get to know the newest first-round promise of success that comes on Thursday Night Live.

As things currently stand – currently being the operative word – one thing that has become a trend among those putting eyes on the draft board is that there is a clot in the bloodstream of the first round that consistently seems to settle – the run on wide receivers between picks 22 and 24.

Houston sits at No. 22. The Vikings are at No. 23. Cincinnati is at No. 24.

None of them may take a wide receiver because that decision gets made in front of them. All of them may end up with wide receivers – our next mock drafts (and hopefully the last) have that happening on the “clean livin’” scenario that would make that eventuality possible.

The good news is that, if the Vikings are predisposed to selecting a wide receiver in the first round, there is likely to be one of the top four frontrunners – Treadwell, TCU’s Josh Doctson, Baylor’s Corey Coleman and, depending on who you listen to, Notre Dame’s Will Fuller – available for selection.

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If they want one, one will be there.

The bad news is that the red flag being thrown up and waved wildly is that, if you are one of other 29 teams not in Houston, Minnesota and Cincinnati, if there is a wide receiver you love, you are capable of blowing up the anticipated landing spot.

Right now, you have to start reverse-engineering the love factor. If Washington is on the clock at No. 21 and no wide receivers have been taken, the value of that pick for an aggressive war room general is enhanced.

If the word leaks out that Washington is more than willing to accumulate picks to trade down, suddenly the Jets, Bills and Colts get into play.

Moving up is always a bold proposition in the NFL. Established teams picking behind the Vikings may love the reward end of the risk/reward proposition to jump in front of Minnesota to snag a receiver they have a high grade on.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they have the Texans and the Bengals on either side of them. Both could easily panic to jump up to make sure they land the guy who might have fallen right to them. To thieve a line from Stealers Wheel, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.”

The first two picks of the draft are pretty much set in stone. The order is the only remaining caveat.

Thanks to the proliferation of analyst mock drafts – we’re guilty as charged – a market has been created between Picks 18 and 21 that could throw a grenade in the room for the teams everyone seems to think covet wide receivers.

Just when you have the answers, they change the question.


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