The Vikings may be hoping that one of the top-rated offensive tackles falls to them in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, but that's not how it laid out in Scout.com's intersite mock draft over the past few days.
Head coach Brad Childress and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman have made no bones about the team's need to improve at right tackle. Ryan Cook, a second-round draft pick in 2006, entered the season as the starter, was eventually supplanted by Artis Hicks, but quickly returned to the starting lineup when a triceps injury got the better of Hicks.
"I think we've got to play better there. I don't think that's any secret," Childress said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. "I think Ryan (Cook) would tell you he has to play better there. I thought he came back and played better, even though that sitting down was only for a week because Artis (Hicks) got hurt. I thought he did play better in the last games that he played."
According to the way things fell in Scout.com's draft, the top tackles weren't available when the Vikings' No. 22 pick came up. The action on the top tackles started early.
St. Louis started the tackle-taking early, selecting Baylor's Jason Smith with the second pick. Virginia's Eugene Monroe went to Seattle with the fourth pick. San Francisco got Alabama's Andre Smith at No. 10 and Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher went 13th to Washington.
By the time the Vikings were on the clock at No. 22, the top tackles were taken. Centers Alex Mack and Max Unger were considerations, but at No. 22 that might have been "a reach."
The other position getting serious consideration at No. 22 was wide receiver. Once again, the top choices were selected by the 22nd pick, as Michael Crabtree went seventh to Oakland and Darrius Heyward-Bey (not a serious consideration) and Jeremy Maclin were selected in successive picks by the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, respectively, at Nos. 17 and 18. Hakeem Nicks and Percy Harvin were strong considerations, but there has been an ever-present reminder that value rules in the first round. Nicks isn't considered a fast receiver and Harvin, while offering great versatility on the field, might not be anything more than a slot receiver at the NFL level.
That left a couple of factors converging when it came time for Viking Update to make Minnesota's selection at No. 22. First, the Vikings have had success when they simply selected the best player remaining, even if that hasn't been a position of need (see Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and Adrian Peterson). Second, the Vikings have been searching for depth at cornerback for two years and signed a threesome (Charles Gordon, Benny Sapp and Karl Paymah) of corners to one-year deals this offseason. Third, Antoine Winfield's contract is scheduled to expire after the 2009 season.
With all those factors weighing into the amateur selection process, Viking Update selected Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis with the 22nd overall pick.
Here is how we explained the pick in the Scout.com intersite mock draft, where the first round will be released on Monday: "Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – With the top offensive tackles off the board and receivers that might have been a reach at 22, the Vikings may have to fill those needs in subsequent rounds, but Davis is the best value left and fills a future need. The Vikings have been trying to improve their depth at cornerback for two years and need to protect themselves with Antoine Winfield scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Most of the other nickel guys are on one-year contracts as well. Davis' physical attitude is perfect for the Vikings' version of the Tampa-2 defense that requires cornerbacks to support the run. At worst, Davis would contribute in the nickel defense and be ready for a starting role in 2010."
Agree or disagree with the selection? You can voice your opinion on the Purple Thoughts message board. Want to ask Tim Yotter of Viking Update a question about the selection or other Vikings-related insight? Post those inquiries on Winter Park Whispers, the VikingUpdate.com subscriber message board.
With the 22nd pick, Viking Update selects …
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