Five draft storylines to follow

Each year, the draft has a storyline or two that unfolds in the first couple rounds. What will the plotlines be this year? We present five strong candidates.

With the draft just a day away, the storylines have yet to play themselves out. Fans have a general idea of how the draft will unfold, but there will be a dominant storyline that marks the 2009 draft. What will it be? We've narrowed it down to five potential scenarios.

1. The Year of the Quarterback – It seems clear that Matthew Stafford is going to be the top pick in the draft, but what about the other two top QBs? There continues to be a sentiment that Mark Sanchez of USC will go as early as No. 4 to Seattle and likely last no longer than No. 8, where Jacksonville sits waiting if he slides down the board. If Sanchez comes off the board by the eighth pick, then the focus will turn to Josh Freeman. After Freeman, the dropoff at QB is pronounced, making him a hot commodity. Expect him to be gone before the Vikings pick and potentially having teams jockeying for position in front of the Jets at No. 17 to secure his rights.

2. The Running of the Bulls – Last year, there was a run on offensive tackles that started early and was relentless throughout the first round. This year may see a repeat. There are three OTs likely to go in the top 10 picks – Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Andre Smith. But there is still the question of whether the run will continue, potentially taking Michael Oher and Eben Britton off the board before the Vikings pick at No. 22. Few analysts believed the run of 2008 would be as pronounced as it was, so don't be stunned to see teams stockpiling OTs again.

3. Ride the Slide – While offensive tackles and defensive ends were the positions of choice last year, wide receiver was virtually ignored. Because of the depth of talent, teams felt they could wait on wide receiver and find talent in the second round. The result was that no wide receivers were drafted in the first round and a record-setting 10 were taken in the second. While that isn't expected to happen again, if the rumored meeting between Brad Childress and Percy Harvin took place and the Vikings have the interest that is being discussed that they have, the team may be hoping to see another general drop in stock for the position.

4. Reaching the 'Tween Audience – There was a time not too long ago that being viewed as "a 'tweener" was a bad thing – a player who played one position in college, but doesn't project to that position in the pros and will likely have to move to a new position that he has little experience playing. This year, however, it would seem being a ‘tweener not only isn't a bad thing, it's a positive. No less than six potential first-round prospects are viewed as DE-OLB 'tweeners. In previous years, those questions would make that player drop in value, but this year – with the influx of teams running the 3-4 defense – the 'tweener has his rightful place as a hot draft commodity.

5. Trade Winds Blowing – For all the mock drafts that are out there, one thing that can consistently blow them up is an unforeseen trade – whether moving a veteran player to get a draft pick or a team trading up or down on draft day itself. While there haven't been any trades among the top six picks since 2004, don't be surprised if there are a handful of first-round trades that move some teams well up the draft board and slide other teams down – making it more difficult to accurately gauge who will remain on the draft board when teams like the Vikings make their selection.

One of these will be the dominant scenario that we'll be talking about Sunday. With only a day to wait, the heat will be on for teams to perform and one or more of these potential storylines will be what impacts the draft, who goes where and, for Vikings fans, who becomes the next big thing in purple and gold.


  • What does director of college scouting Scott Studwell think about this year's class of offensive tackles? "Last year I think eight went in the first round. This year there could possibly be five, maybe even six, so it may not be quite as deep as it was a year ago but there's some very talented players at that position," Studwell said. "There could easily be three or maybe even four to go in the top 11 or 12 picks. Obviously it's a position that everybody needs, and they're hard to come by and I think Rick (Spielman) has touched on this: You're not going to sign them as unrestricted free agents because people aren't going to let 'em go. So there's a premium on that position. At least based on the way we see this tackle group in this draft, it's a strong group at the top."

  • Here is Studwell on the wide receiver class: ""There's a lot of different flavors at this position in this draft. There are some bigger, more physical receivers. Obviously there are a couple receivers with marquee speed and playmaking potential," he said. "It's a good group and certainly was strengthened by all the underclassmen that came out. That's kind of an ongoing issue anyway. But it's a good group of players. They all have the potential to be very good pros, but at the same time it's a position where a little bit buyer beware at times, because it takes some time. The receivers, it's hard for them to come in and impact your roster from year one. There are very few who've been able to do that historically, but every year's different."

  • The Vikings haven't received any calls – yet – to move up or down in the draft, Spielman said.

  • As of Thursday, the Vikings had about 500 tickets remaining for their draft party at the Winter Park fieldhouse, starting at 1:30 p.m. Central on Saturday. Walk-up tickets are $20 each. Jared Allen, Sage Rosenfels and other players are scheduled to sign autographs at the draft party. The draft starts at 3 p.m.

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