Lurtsema's Reaction: To draft or trade?

What should the Vikings do with their first-round draft choice? Former Viking Bob Lurtsema has some opinions on the old "window of opportunity" and what they should do if they keep the pick. Offensive line, cornerback or wide receiver? Lurtsema doesn't shy away from his perspective.

VU: How important is it for the Vikings to get someone who can contribute right away as opposed to potentially selecting a player at a position where the starter is entrenched in the old "best player available" scenario?

BL: No. Sometimes your window of opportunity is really limited and the way the defense is with Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, whether they will have four-game suspensions or not, you don't know. But that defense is strong enough now to carry them. They are so close right now, just tweak the offense and get somebody that can play right now. That's why I really hope that there is still a chance they trade the No. 1 draft choice and get a receiver. That's the main thing. Supposedly with Brad Childress' knowledge at the quarterback position, he's got to be happy now in his fourth year, so tweak the offense and get somebody who is a good, solid receiver. Trade the No.1 draft choice. Look what happened last year with Jared Allen. Best available athlete? I get sick of hearing that, especially when this club has an Adrian Peterson that is so good. I hope he plays forever, but with that position there is always a chance for injury, so take advantage of it now. They've got to be OK at center. I cannot believe that the coaches would let Matt Birk go if they are not 110 percent in whoever might take over at that center position. If they have to regroup on that position when they had a chance to keep Birk intact, then I would classify that as a huge coaching error.

VU: Anquan Boldin has his name thrown around in trade talks and Arizona has said they will listen to offers for him. There is Braylon Edwards as another guy who is supposedly on the trading block. Do you have a preference on that? The other question with trading for a receiver is that you'd likely have to get the guy a new contract in the $7 million per year range. With what Bernard Berrian is being paid, is that too much investment at the receiver position?

BL: Is it too much after what Zygi Wilf has given so far? He's opened up his checkbook to the Minnesota Vikings organization. Money is not an issue right now. In his fourth year with Coach Childress, he's done everything and if that's the missing part, then go after Boldin. I happen to love the guy. To play with that broken jaw, his attitude, his cup is half full – actually it's three-quarters full. The guy is just a great, great individual as far as locker room charisma. He's the total package. He would be outstanding to bring in. Money is not an issue.

VU: In the draft, most people look at offensive line, wide receiver and even cornerback as being the positions of need. Is there any one of those three positions that you think is easier to come in and play right away and be a starter right away in this league?

BL: Sometimes the easiest spot is left tackle. About 90 percent of the time you just block the end, period. That's not a real big thinking position. For somebody to step in right now, of the three, wide receiver can be the toughest because they have to be a very disciplined wide receiver. In the draft, do you go wide receiver? You do if he can run back kickoffs and punts. But that might be the No. 1 position. Don't go offensive line. That doesn't set with me at all after letting Birk go.

VU: I'm thinking mainly right tackle when I say offensive line.

BL: I know you are, and so is everyone else. They're all saying right tackle, right tackle, right tackle. The difference to have a chance at offensive success would be more with getting a receiver than an offensive lineman, especially on the right side. If it was a left tackle, then there is always that concern about blind-siding the quarterback. The scouts have to do their homework and get a knowledge of how well the receiver learns – how good his instincts are. Instincts are great, but route discipline is most important. Last year, there were too many interceptions because of bad routes. If the receiver can run back kicks and punts, that's a tremendous bonus. I know Percy Harvin from Florida has been reported as testing positive for marijuana, but sometimes if you have that good locker room character, somebody like that can be steered and follow the other veterans and will be following down the good street, not the bad street.

VU: How much do you think an "exciting" pick is needed with their problems trying to sell out games last year, and do you think the draft decision-makers like Brad Childress and Rick Spielman put any stock in making it a pick that the fans can get behind?

BL: That's a great question. I think they have to sign an exciting player. That's the stimulus package for ticket sales. I'm out constantly promoting my Vikings – and when I say "my Vikings" I love the Vikings. But that's what fans are looking, that little more spark in the offense since they haven't had a 300-yard passing game in over three years. You have to address that. Leslie Frazier and that crew are doing a fantastic job on defense. Let him run the show. Don't anticipate the Williamses going down and having to draft a defensive tackle. That's next to illiterate to think that way. Get your offense straight for the whole season and don't worry about your first four games if something does happen with the suspensions. But, yes, get somebody who has a name, is exciting and adds something to the offense.

VU: With all the drug-testing rumors coming about, I'm wondering what it was like back when you played. Did they test you for that and how much importance do you put on a draft pick that might have smoked marijuana versus someone that tested for steroids? Is there is a difference for you?

BL: I never tried drugs. I always tell kids out there the reason I didn't try drugs is that I asked myself, "What if I like it?" That scared me enough to say no. That's basically my speech when I travel to schools and even football camps. With that type of attitude, I don't see the reason for it. We all make mistakes and obviously I made a lot of them. You get second chances, but some of these guys have been warned time and again, so it's like they have had three chances already. They tell you in high school, they tell you in college and then you get caught doing it. By the time you're in the pros, you've already had three warnings. I don't want to hear people talking about giving them a second chance. The idiot who goes against it after being caught and warned three times, I don't like people like that. I think it tarnishes the game itself.

They can have their own personal problems, but when you're in the NFL there are millions of kids looking up to you. If they see you get away with it constantly, there could be a chance they'll try it.

I'm so old-school that I think it's repulsive when a defensive lineman makes a tackle or a sack and runs 20 yards towards the end zone knowing the camera will pick up on him. If I got a sack, I know somebody got double-teamed so you go back and congratulate them. I feel if defensive linemen can do that and make it about "me, me, me," when the offensive lineman pancakes them, he should be able to stand over the guy and go "me, me, me." But they would be flagged for that and it's taunting. So it's a bad image for kids. Why run the extra 10 or 15 yards because it takes energy. Stay where you're at and get on with the next play.

If you watch it, it's a bad habit that even offensive players have where the clock is running down and patting themselves on the back. You just wasted two seconds. You've got to get back in the huddle when there is only 25 seconds left in the game. You see it all the time. Call me an old fart or whatever, but I still believe in the old-school philosophy as far as the integrity aspect. I wasn't perfect through high school or college. Everybody makes mistakes, but at this level, with the coverage they have on the networks, it does influence the image with the upcoming ballplayers.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

Viking Update Top Stories