Rick Spielman says the Vikings have four draft prospects targeted for their new pick at 34th overall. With only one team in front of them, that could mean another trade down for a few more spot once the draft starts up at 5 p.m. today.
So who could those four players be? Some believe they have it pegged as Virginia CB Chris Cook, Texas OLB/DE Sergio Kindle, USC S Taylor Mays and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
But there are a couple reasons why two of those guesses could be wrong. With Clausen, the Vikings obviously didn't like him well enough to ensure that he was their pick. By trading down four slots, they risked another team trading into the end of the first round or still being able to trade with St. Louis for the first pick in the second round and taking Clausen. At best, the Vikings didn't like him enough to guarantee they would get him.
There is also the continued analysis of Clausen lacking leadership skills and turning his teammates the wrong way. Having a rookie in the locker room like that under Brett Favre seems like a risky proposition.
Like Clausen, Kindle was also considered a mid-first-round talent. And, like Clausen, Kindle is still available, but a report out of Texas may explain why Kindle wasn't selected in the first round at all.
According to a web site covering the University of Texas, Kindle's knee injury could be more serious than the media and drafniks realized.
"There are a handful of teams who have graded Kindle as a 'serious' medical risk because of his knee, which one team said looks like it could require Kindle to have microfracture surgery," the report said, according to the Boston Herald.
Microfracture surgery can hard, but not impossible, to rebound from. NFL teams have much more medical information on the prospects at their disposal from in-depth testing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and any predraft visits they conducted with the prospects. The report of a serious medical concern would explain why Kindle is still available.
Another reason could be two off-the-field incidents. He was arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2007 and last year ran his car into a building and left the scene of the accident. Those could cause a red flag for the Vikings, even in the second round.
Cook is one of the cornerbacks the Vikings have shown an interest in, but he wasn't overly impressive at the Senior Bowl, where at least one scout saw him as more of a potential safety than cornerback. He has a reputation for physical play, which the Vikings like out of their cornerbacks, but the position still calls for cover skills as well. He showed adequate speed at the Combine, running a 4.46 40-yard dash, but he only bench-pressed 225 pounds seven times, tying for second-worst among any player that lifted in Indianapolis.
Mays makes a lot of sense because of his athletic abilities and the notion that the Vikings need more playmaking ability out of the safety position. He brings all the measurables – at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he is a physical specimen that ran some sub-4.4s at that Combine, did 24 reps on the bench and had a 41-inch vertical jump. Those are numbers that only fifth overall pick Eric Berry could compete with among the safety group.
The question with the USC safety is whether he has the ball-hawking instincts. He tried to dispel that line of thinking at the Senior Bowl with only limited success, so there is also the school of thought that Mays could be considered an outside linebacker at the next level.
So what if there are a couple of other players that should be in consideration for the Vikings early in the second round?
Here are two that should receive a look if the Vikings trade down a little farther:
Massachusetts offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse is a product of Haiti who never even saw a football game until 2003, when he moved to the United States at his father's urging to pursue a better education. His work ethic proved just as valuable, especially on the football field, where he worked his way into a starting role and is now seen as a prospect with high-end potential after more refining of his game. He could play guard or tackle.
Indiana's Rodger Saffold was one of the better tackles in the Big Ten, but there must be some concerns about his ability since he wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl. Instead, he drew the attention of scouts at the East-West Shrine game and began to enter into the conversation as a potential first-round pick in some analysts' eyes.
What counts from a Vikings' perspective is how these potential targets are view in the eyes of Rick Spielman, Scott Studwell and Brad Childress. They aren't saying, but all of them appear to be possibilities in the second round.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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