Draft Value or Team Needs?

The Vikings could be faced with a dilemma of draft value vs. team need with the seventh overall selection. Some of those questions with the top-10 picks could be answered at the combine, which starts today, but those answers might provide more intrigue at the No. 7 slot, especially when it comes to making a value pick.

Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman says the greatest asset the NFL Scouting Combine provides to team executives is to obtain medical information on players.

Film study from college games and scouting evaluations still rule the draft analysis, so the medical reports that teams receive this week on Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson will be key for the Vikings, who have the seventh overall draft pick, right about where most draft analysts project Peterson's value.

Besides defensive ends, the Vikings' team needs don't seem to be matching with their draft position. They need a right tackle or guard, and Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas is the only offensive lineman projected to be worthy of a top-15 draft pick, and he is expected to be gone before the Vikings pick. They also need a tight end, and it's possible no tight ends are drafted in the first round this year. Finally, their biggest need might be at wide receiver, but after top-three pick Calvin Johnson is off the board, there aren't any true wide receivers most would consider worthy with the No. 7 pick.

So that leaves two or three defensive ends … or simply going with the best athlete – or "best football player," as Spielman says – available when the Vikings are scheduled to draft. That might be Peterson.

The knock on Peterson is his durability. He hasn't been able to stay healthy for a full season of full-time duty as the Sooners' highly touted back. Some analysts point to his upright running style, which was exactly the knock on one of the Vikings' best runners of all-time – Robert Smith.

If his medical report checks out and teams trust he can be durable, Peterson could be worthy of selecting at No. 7.

"Most people think he's going to be a top-five pick," said NFL Network's draft analyst Mike Mayock. "A lot of people think Cleveland is where he's going to end up. He's got that upright running style, which means you're probably going to take a pounding, and he has. The amazing thing is, he and Marshawn Lynch are both juniors, but he has a couple hundred more carries. When he played, they gave him the ball 20, 25, 30 times."

His hard-charging running style netted him 747 carries in three seasons with the Sooner and a 5.8-yard average with 41 touchdowns.

That workload is a lot like Chester Taylor's, whom the Vikings paid $14.1 million over four years. While Taylor became an instant workhorse back in his first season as a full-time starter with the Vikings, with the NFL's newfound success with dual backfields, it wouldn't be a complete shock to see the Vikings explore that option, especially if draft value dictated that.

His combine performance and weigh-in could dictate his draft value for a player listed around 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.

"Adrian … is he going to be durable enough to take the pounding in the NFL? I heard he's going to weigh in at about 214 pounds. He's a cut, lean guy that reminds me of Dickerson from a couple years ago. 214 is pretty light for a guy that tall. I think he's probably there because he wantsto run the best 40 you can. You compare him with Marshawn Lynch, who is going to be 230 something and caught four times as many passes in his career who is probably going to run in the 4.4s at 230 pounds. I think the whole running back thing is going to get rekindled after the combine. Adrian Peterson is a consensus top-five pick."

So if a "consensus top-five pick" performs like it at the combine this week and drops to No. 7 more than two months later, does draft value override team needs? It could be an interesting question that the Vikings may have to answer when they are on the clock with their first-round pick.


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