It may take a former NFL schedule-maker like the late Val Pinchbeck to determine the real number of draft scenarios with 255 picks and more than 100 of them being traded late last week.
Almost one week after the draft, clarity seems a little easier and second-guessing is prevalent. While we won't know for a few years just how good or bad some of the picks made last Thursday, Friday and Saturday were, here is an alternative way the draft could have gone for the Vikings with the benefit of knowing who else ended up being available with later picks.
The Vikings started by trading their first-round pick and moving back from the 30th overall pick to 34th. That move made complete sense, considering they were after Kyle Wilson and the Jets scuttled those plans with the 29th pick. But a different second round could have brought much different results.
In the long run, the benefit of the doubt has to go to the Vikings' draft bunch after the way they've performed the last three years. However, picking a little differently could have yielded more fan-favorite results.
Second round, 34th overall: When the Vikings traded down, if they weren't going to take QB Jimmy Clausen, there was one other pick besides Chris Cook that may have made sense – USC safety Taylor Mays. Mays showed he was physically gifted at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. He is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds with big arms (34 inches) and hands (10 ¼) and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. His instincts at safety are questionable, but if he has good coaching and a willingness to learn (he seemed somewhat aloof talking to him at the Senior Bowl), he has the physical tools to become an excellent safety in the league. Mays ended up being drafted by San Francisco with the 49th pick.
Second pick of the second round: The Vikings then shipped their second- and third-round picks to Houston to move up and select Stanford RB Toby Gerhart. Gerhart said after the draft that he thought he was actually going to Houston, so if the Vikings liked him that much they may have had to make the trade. But what if they didn't and Gerhart was gone by the time they were originally scheduled to select 62nd overall? Frankly, the Jets might have foiled them again when New York selected Massachusetts guard-tackle Vladimir Ducasse, whose somewhat inexperienced skills could quickly develop and vault him into a solid starter with good coaching. But with Ducasse and Gerhart both off the board, there were some options that were selected at the top of the third round that might have proved to be good fits for the Vikings, like South Florida CB Jerome Murphy (selected 65th by the Rams), Illinois guard Jon Asamoah (selected 68th by the Chiefs) or Ole Miss guard John Jerry (selected 73rd by Miami).
Third round, 93rd overall: Without trading up to get Gerhart, the Vikings still would have maintained their third-round presence and had a chance to make another selection. If they would have taken Mays over Cook at the top of the second, Wake Forest CB Brandon Ghee, whom the Vikings showed interested in weeks before the draft, would have made sense here. He ended up being picked by the Bengals at 96.
Fourth round, 100th overall: The Vikings trading out of the first round allowed them to move up to the second pick of the fourth round, where they selected USC DE Everson Griffen. Frankly, the value there was well worth the pick. It's hard to argue the risk-reward they spent on a highly talented but inconsistent player like Griffen.
Fourth round, trade-up opportunity: With eight picks after their first-round trade, many figured the Vikings would use some of their lower-round picks to move up in the middle rounds. They've done that often in the past, but after the move to get Gerhart, they stayed put. Without Gerhart, they may have had the opportunity to use their original fifth-round pick to move up in the fourth round and get USC RB Joe McKnight, who went 112th overall, or without Cook or Ghee may have targeted Indiana (Penn.) CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who had a predraft visit to Winter Park and went 126th, or Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks, who was selected 135th overall.
Fifth-round compensatory pick: Since compensatory picks can't be traded, it wouldn't have mattered how much trading the Vikings did – they still would have had this pick. Hindsight being 20-20 and hearing the Vikings' desire for an inside zone runner, they would have had a chance for a late-round steal. Their compensatory pick was 167th overall, and big Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer went 188th overall to Pittsburgh (we're aware of his positive drug test at the Combine, but we're also aware of the plausible explanation). Other possibilities here could have included Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, who went 181st to Chicago, or Morehouse offensive tackle Ramon Harewood, who went 194th to Baltimore and whom the Vikings showed an interest in.
Sixth round, 199th overall: The Vikings decided to try to convert Alabama-Birmingham QB Joe Webb into a receiver, a position he played at the Senior Bowl, but there were a couple of other intriguing options here. Cincinnati QB Tony Pike, selected 204th overall, or Florida State safety Myron Rolle, selected 207th, were interesting options as well.
Seventh round picks: With a solid roster, it may be hard for the Vikings' seventh-round picks to make the roster no matter who they chose, making their thinking there understandable. Mickey Shuler could be a developmental player to eventually replace Jim Kleinsasser, and trying to get Ryan D'Imperio, a former high school running back turned college linebacker, to switch to fullback makes some sense.
We may not know until two or three years from now how well the Vikings did in this draft, but under this scenario – with the admittedly complete benefit of hindsight and without the knowledge of why some players slipped – the team's 2010 draft board could have looked like this:
2-34: S Taylor Mays, USC
2-62: G John Jerry, Ole Miss
3-93: CB Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest
4-100: DE Everson Griffen, USC
4-trade up with fifth-rounder: CB Dominique Franks, Oklahoma
5-167: RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
6-199: QB Tony Pike, Cincinnati
7-214: TE Mickey Shuler, Penn State
7-237: FB Ryan D'Imperio, Rutgers
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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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