One pick likely altered Vikings' draft

The Vikings' draft may have gone much differently if things had happened another way 10 minutes before their first-round pick was scheduled to arrive. Instead, they traded down, then later traded up and altered the path of history. Only time will tell how it all works out.

A week ago, fans were wondering and guesstimating who the Vikings would be taking with the 30th pick in the draft. Some even went so far as to try to chart out the first three players the Vikings would acquire on the first two days of the draft.

All of that got blown up when the Vikings traded out of the first round. The behind-the-scenes story hasn't been told, but the CSI: Minnesota crew has been at work, dumpster diving with the aplomb of a KSTP TV reporter to piece together the puzzle. You have a lot of time to think in the Sid Hartman Media Center & Sweat Lodge. What follows is a re-enactment of events that may or may not hold water. It's a whodunit and, perhaps more importantly, a whydunit.

Rick Spielman provided CSI: Minnesota with its first clue. When interviewed following the anticlimactic first day of the draft, he was asked if any of the trade the scenarios the team entertained included moving up. He said one did. When pressed if it entailed moving up into the first dozen or so picks, he admitted that it was "around where we were picking."

Teaming up with our friends from CSI: New York, we learned that at the time the call came from the Jets at No. 29 to Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, he was on the phone with the Vikings. The clear indication is that, had Wilson been available, he would have been the Vikings' pick. You don't call a guy at No. 29 to taunt him for his draft-day drop. When the player they wanted was gone, the Vikings had what Spielman said were four players rated essentially the same.

As such, making a trade with the Lions made sense. In many ways, it was a brilliant plan. With the draft coming to a halt after one round, teams have a chance to reassess and restack their draft boards and target players they like that remain. The conventional wisdom, especially in light of Tim Tebow going to Denver with the 25th pick, with a night to think about it, if someone wanted to assure that they would get Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy, they would have to deal with either the Rams at pick 33 or the Vikings at 34. In addition, the Vikings had the foresight to make the deal include the second pick of the fourth round from Detroit. Once again, the pick would come after a night of assessment and reevaluation before the start of the fourth round.

Our CSI: Minnesota team has deducted that making the trade out of the first round was intended to be the first of multiple trades. Ideally, a desperate team looking for a player they covet would swallow hard and make a sweetheart offer. The Vikings ran the clock all the way down to the final seconds before taking Chris Cook. The offer they expected, perhaps from a team like the Patriots with three picks in the round, never materialized.

Without getting the middle-of-the-round bang for their buck they expected, the Vikings now scrambled. The team had targeted running back Toby Gerhart, but figured him for a mid-round pick in the second round. The team tried to get in front of Houston, which it felt was the biggest rival for Gerhart. The Panthers wanted no part of a trade, since they readily gobbled up Clausen with the 48th pick – their first of the draft. The 49ers would hear nothing of it, either, since safety Taylor Mays had fallen into their lap. The Chiefs jumped on Javier Arenas and the Texans were on the clock. In a last-ditch effort to get the player they wanted, the Vikings offered the Texans to move back 11 picks and add the Vikings' third-round pick. It was a gamble, but an offer that Houston couldn't refuse.

What was intended to be a first-round gambit that resulted in the Vikings having four picks in the second and third rounds wound up being two picks. It was a plan conceived with good intentions, but the only failing was that no team was willing to pay something of value (or at least not as much as the Vikings expected) for the 34th pick.

The same happened on the final day of the draft. With the second pick in the fourth round, the Vikings again expected the phone to be ringing off the hook with sweet offers from a team with multiple picks in the fourth and fifth round to take the second pick from the Vikings and a couple of seventh-rounders to set up the Vikings to attack the mid-level prospects. Instead, the offers didn't come and the Vikings took the best athlete on the board.

Left with five picks remaining in the final three rounds, the Vikings fired a scattergun at the talent pool, trying to fill a need for an offensive line swingman, taking a couple of players with special-teams prospects and two more guys who are being asked to change from their college positions. Of the final four players taken, all are long shots to make the final roster.

The CSI: Minnesota team is convinced that, had Wilson not been taken by the Jets, the Vikings 2010 draft would be much different. They wouldn't have traded out of the round and likely would have packaged their mid-round picks (not their third-rounder) with their second-round pick to move up and still get Gerhart.

Spielman prepares a lot of scenarios for draft weekend, but what played itself out was one that he wasn't prepared for – at least not the aftermath once events started taking place and other teams wouldn't help with desired trades.

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • Old Vikings defensive ends never die, they just go to Washington. Fans may recall the Vikings released Erasmus James but then rescinded the release, trading him to the Redskins for a seventh-round draft pick. Apparently not satisfied with the results that move had, Washington signed former Viking Darrion Scott Tuesday.

  • There have been rumors that the Jets might be interested in signing Darren Sharper, but because of the Final Eight rules, as it currently stands, the Jets would have to lose a free agent to sign another.

  • Guard Alan Faneca didn't remain a free agent for long after being cut by the Jets. He was reunited with Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona. The two were together with the Steelers before going their separate ways around the NFL. The Bears were rumored to be one of the teams in pursuit of Faneca, so keeping him out of the NFC North is a plus for the Vikings.

  • Think the Raiders regret passing on Adrian Peterson, Joe Thomas and Calvin Johnson to take JaMarcus Russell? All three are on the fast-track to stardom while Russell is expected to be released before the team's minicamp this weekend.

  • Jay Cutler should learn to shut up. Without a veteran receiver, speculation has led to talk of unsigned vet Terrell Owens being considered. In a newspaper interview in Chicago, Cutler said Owens wouldn't be a good fit in the Bears offense – as if guys like Devin Hester are.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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