As it stands three weeks and a few hours before the Vikings are scheduled to make their first of two first-round picks in this year's NFL draft, they have several options facing them. First is staying where they're at and picking the best player available – at least on their own war room board. The second, and much more intriguing, is what other teams are willing to do to move into the No. 7 spot.
Regardless of how you view the draft, the Nos. 5-7 picks are clearly the most likely picks to be traded on draft day. Given the Vikings' spotty recent history once the clock starts ticking, VU is officially offering up an employee to be in the war room and hang up phones in the final minute if a trade hasn't been consummated – saving face for the team and giving us some largesse to brag about our minimal role in the process. But, at No. 7, the Vikings are going to find themselves in the driver's seat. Why? Somebody is going to fall to that spot that conventional wisdom says shouldn't. Need examples? Read on.
* This year's draft is viewed as a two-QB draft – as many have in the past. Suppose Indy is glad it took Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf? Same goes for the Pats taking Drew Bledsoe instead of Rick Mirer. Utah's Alex Smith and Cal's Aaron Rodgers should go in the first three picks – the Niners and Browns need QBs like Denny Green needs roomy slacks. If, however, one of those teams goes elsewhere and doesn't take a QB, one could slide to No. 7. The Bears are locked into Rex Grossman (for now), the Bucs think the children of successful QBs can fill the bill and the Titans made sure Billy Volek didn't get away before Steve McNair completely breaks down in 2005. If a QB makes it past the Browns, he could easily be there at No. 7. The Cards, Cowboys, Panthers, Ravens and even the Packers could be interested. A trade here for the right package could be huge.
* There is a distinct chance that, by pick No. 7 there hasn't been a defensive player taken. If the Niners and Browns take quarterbacks, the Big Three running backs could all be gone (i.e. Dolphins, Bears and Bucs) and Braylon Edwards could be off the board. At that point, a team like the Cowboys – with two first-round picks and a reputation for draft-day jockeying – could make an enticing offer to move up. The same could be true for any of a handful of teams with a player they covet but are convinced won't be on the board when it's their pick. Given the choice of any defensive player at No. 7, there will be teams that jump. Does anyone think a top-rated offense wins Super Bowls anymore? No. Defense wins championships and if there is a player a team in the middle or late portion of Round 1 (San Diego, maybe?) thinks is a glove fit for their system, the offers will come. Whether it would be linebacker Derrick Johnson or cornerbacks Adam Jones or Antrel Rolle, somebody would likely jump at the chance to put their reputation on the line for a pick that could make the difference between contending for the playoffs and contending for the title.
* If two of the top three running backs are gone, the Vikings will be able to offer up the services of the remaining back – most likely Cedric Benson or Carnell Williams. We know Denny wants one of them – he's holding back on a trade for Travis Henry because of that possibility – and interest could come from the Panthers, Seahawks, Jets, Colts or Eagles to move into that spot. If the draft falls that way, pick No. 7 becomes more valuable as a commodity than it does making the pick.
* A fourth scenario would have the two QBs and all three top RBs going with the first five picks. The Titans need a replacement go-to receiver, but, with the loss of Samari Rolle, they also need a shutdown cornerback. Two players – Adam Jones and Antrel Rolle – have emerged as the best shutdown guys in the draft. If the Titans go that route, Edwards would remain on the board. A half-dozen teams at a minimum would be willing to jump into the seventh spot and secure him – perhaps even a team like the Redskins, Cowboys or Chargers – who could drop the Vikings close enough to still take USC's Mike Williams – whom many of us think the team would take if they stayed at No. 7 and Edwards is gone.
We know that Winter Park checks out the VU site. Hopefully, this is a daily update that gets more than cursory notice. As it stands three weeks and change from the Vikings' first pick of the draft, trading out of the No. 7 spot may be a better option than making a pick. The offers could get of the "can't refuse" variety. If the Vikes have a man-love for a player, he will always carry the label of being "the guy we got for Randy Moss." Trading out of the spot, much like the unlikely flurry of free agent activity, could go a long way to assisting Vikings fans in forgetting the Moss trade – or at least make it more palatable.
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