The Scout.com team publisher and expert mock draft is rarely a short process (it's conducted via e-mail in between writing and other assignments) and it never goes as planned.
Just two years ago, some of the team publishers were shocked and felt a bit embarrassed that Brady Quinn was still available late into the first round. It felt quite a bit better when Quinn actually fell to the 22nd pick in the real NFL draft.
This year, Viking Update was a bit surprised that cornerback Vontae Davis was still available with the 22nd pick. The plan had been to select an offensive tackle or wide receiver with that selection, but the top four offensive tackles were already selected and Davis felt like a better "best athlete available" selection than a wide receiver like Hakeem Nicks or Percy Harvin, who were each still available.
We justified it by thinking that the Vikings would be able to get one a few offensive tackles in the second round. The way this mock draft fell, however, the two tackles that might have had a chance to fall to the Vikings both went well before the 54th pick. So did the leftover receivers that we passed on in the first round – like Nicks, Harvin and Kenny Britt. That was hardly a surprise, but the combination of tackles, wide receivers, and even both potential center/guard prospects, Alex Mack and Max Unger, were off the board.
It didn't take long for the sighs of missed opportunity to start. As expected, Harvin and Britt went later in the first round, and the slow torture continued in the second round. With the first pick, Detroit selected Britton. With the second, the Patriots picked Nicks. Mack to Cleveland at No. 4. Unger to Oakland at No. 8. And Chicago twisted the knife with Loadholt at No. 17 of the second round.
That could serve as a lesson to trade up in the second round, where the Vikings have typically been pretty active since the Childress era, trading up to get Tarvaris Jackson in 2006 and Tyrell Johnson in 2008. If they want players like Britton and Loadholt, they may have to do the same.
But with trades not part of the mock draft rules, we were left with a challenging debate: Is the second round still too early to project for need or should we stay true to conventional valuations on players and select for the future?
Hermann Johnson and Duke Robinson, two big offensive linemen who might be able to play right tackle at the NFL level, were each available. But, at the risk of engendering the wrath of the win-now crowd at the draft party ("OK, OK, calm down," we can still hear Mike Tice saying), we drafted for the future.
We've seen what pushing a quarterback into service too early can do, so we implored our coach not to count on this prospect for contributions this year. With that, Viking Update selected Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman.
Here is how we justified the move to the masses: "The Vikings still haven't addressed two of their biggest immediate needs – offensive line and wide receiver, but the value at those positions wasn't there with this pick. Freeman probably isn't ready to compete for a starting job, but he has the physical requirements to be a solid starter in the future and, short of a trade for Jay Cutler, that's something the Vikings can use. He needs to improve his accuracy and the Vikings should be able to give him a year or two to do that. Now the Vikings may have to revisit free agency to fill the more immediate needs."
With that, we stepped down from the podium, absorbed a little Miller Lite tossed on our cheap suit by the few remaining fans at our two-round mock draft party and waddled back to the war room to start looking at our free-agent board once again.