It’s been a while since I last voiced my opinion here on vikings.com, but with the 76th NFL Draft kicking off tonight with primetime, 1st-round coverage, how could one stay away?
After over 2 months of speculation and mock drafts, it’s finally time to turn the mock into reality. And the biggest reality that the Vikings are facing in this year’s draft is the unpredictable nature of what the 11 teams ahead of the Purple will do with their selections. Who will be available at No. 12 and will that prod the Vikings brass to grab “their guy” at that moment? Or will they trade back with the hope of snagging the right player later on while gaining a mid-to-late round pick? Or do they trade up with their eyes set on an immediate impact player?
All of these questions will be answered tonight but the most prevalent question that lingers with the Vikings faithful is what position will be addressed with that first selection.
As Mike pointed out with his No. 1 (out of 7) factor that complicates the 1st round, the labor situation has prohibited free agency to begin before the draft, as it typically does, and this leaves teams with more needs during the draft which would often be addressed with free agent signings. This is certainly the case for the Vikings as nearly every position on offense and defense, except RB, may be addressed with their first selection.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at which players might be available when the Vikings are on the clock at the No. 12 spot.
QB: Jake Locker – Cam Newton is expected by many to go No. 1 overall and if not, it’s likely he won’t make it past the top 10 with teams such as Cincinnati (#4), Arizona (5), San Francisco (7) and Washington (10) possibly addressing the QB position. Blaine Gabbert is next in line for a top pick, leaving Locker as a strong candidate for the next QB to go off the board. But will Locker’s accuracy concerns convince teams to take a pass, or do any of the first 11 teams value him as a top selection?
CB: Prince Amukamara – If healthy, the Vikings core of CBs provides a stable secondary, but with Cedric Griffin coming off consecutive knee injuries, Chris Cook also rehabbing knee injuries and Antoine Winfield coming into his 13th year of service, the Vikings may look to bolster their secondary with the 6-0, 206-pound speedster.
DT: Nick Fairley – Vikings DT Pat Williams may be looking for a new home pending the result of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, possibly leaving a big hole to fill in his place. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has stated numerous times that he wants the identity of his team to focus on establishing the run game and stopping the rush on defense. And the 6-4, 291-pounder out of Auburn is projected to be disruptive against the pass and run, fitting Frazier’s mold.
OL: Anthony Castonzo – I would be surprised to see the Vikings select an offensive lineman with their first pick, but many of the Vikings faithful have expressed concerns with the run and pass protection. Castonzo provides an imposing figure (6-7, 311 pounds) and is said to have the potential to shut down speed rushers with his great mobility.
This list could go on for another 10 or more players, but any one of the four named players could wind up as an immediate impact player for the Vikings in 2011.
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