The Vikings are going to essentially be draft-day observers tomorrow as the league takes on its annual allocation of college talent. For the first time since 1992 – the year after Brett Favre got drafted – the Vikings won't have a first-round draft pick.
So what will the Vikings personnel department and coaching staff do during the first round?
" We're going to bring some board games in I think. Yeah, go for a run. Watch NASCAR," joked director of college scouting Scott Studwell.
But what makes 1992 significant, aside from being so long ago, is that it was the final year that the Vikings were saddled with giving away draft picks to the Dallas Cowboys as part of the Herschel Walker deal. It's going to be a strange feeling for Vikings fans who annually debate the direction in which the Vikings should go.
The sentiment around Winter Park is that, if there was a year to make the move to get out of the beginning of the draft, this might well be it. There are tons of questions swirling around as to how the draft is going to play out and who will wind up where. With St. Louis sitting at No. 2 on the board, they hold a lot of the cards early. If the Rams were to take Chris Long with the second pick, the Falcons would likely jump on DT Glenn Dorsey and allow QB Matt Ryan to slide all the way to Baltimore at No. 8. If the Rams take Dorsey, the Falcons will likely jump on Ryan.
Some might ask how, at this late date, could there be so much confusion still at the top of the draft board? The answer is simple. This is one of the weakest draft crops in terms of blue-chip prospects that there has been in some time.
Just take a look at the top prospects by position. Who would you rather have at quarterback – Matt Ryan or JaMarcus Russell? Or running back? Adrian Peterson or Darren McFadden? How about wide receiver? Calvin Johnson would be head and shoulders better than anyone available this year. The 2007 draft had a tight end (Greg Olsen) that went in the first round. Will this year's? Probably not. Jake Long was the first overall pick, but if Joe Thomas had been in this year's draft, Long would not have been the first overall selection.
While the top defensive linemen in this year's draft are probably better than in 2007, the depth at most positions seems woefully thin and the top-end talent at most positions pales in comparison to what came off the board a year ago. It's no disrespect to those players, but it is a sign that the talent level at the top of this year's draft is thinner than most years, much less when compared to 2007's bumper crop of talent.
The timing of the trade for Jared Allen took the Vikings out of the mix in the first round for the first time in 16 years. Whether intended or not, it may have been the perfect timing for the Vikings because, as confused as things remain at the top of the draft, it would be just as muddled at pick No. 17, where Kansas City is almost sure of getting a might-miss prospect.
"We're not disappointed about losing the picks because we don't feel like we lost them. We traded them for a great player, so there were certain positions in the draft that we have targeted that we think would help our football team in certain areas of need, and obviously defensive end was one of them and we got a great player in Jared Allen," Studwell said. "Really for us to probably go up and get a marquee defensive end in the draft, it could have cost us almost as much as it did to go get Jared, who obviously already has the playing history in this league. He's a bona fide Pro Bowl player, and there are always questions marks about the top pick in the draft to the very last pick. So we would have liked to have kept the picks but we got a great player in exchange for him, so we're ecstatic with the player we got."
If you believe in timing, this was a great year for the Vikings to make the kind of blockbuster deal that took them out of the first round, because, simply stated, the talent pool is pretty shallow compared to most seasons.
Draft Talent Pool Helped Allen Trade
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