We mentioned earlier this morning that the conclusion of the2011 regular season cements the identity of each team’s opponents for the 2012 season. The conclusion of the 2011 regular season also cements the positioning of most non-playoff qualifying teams for the 2012 NFL Draft.
While we still don’t know for certain the entire pool of draft-eligible players (the deadline for underclassmen to declare has not passed), and while we still have bowl games, all-star games, the NFL Scouting Combine and college and university pro days to get through, it’s still fun to take a look at how the early stages of the 1st round might transpire, especially when your team has a pick in the early stages.
Coming off a 3-13 season, the Vikings certainly do have a pick in the early stages of the draft. The Vikings hold the 3rd overall selection in the 1st round, putting them in great position to nab an elite player from this year’s class. And, at the risk of speculating too early, I believe the Vikings may also have great flexibility in terms being able to trade out of the 3rd spot to acquire more picks. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 and then I’ll explain what the Vikings might have going on…
2. St. Louis
5. Tampa Bay
When you’re a 3-13 team, you obviously have enough holes in the roster where selecting 3rd overall will allow you to add an immediate impact player to the lineup. So if the Vikings stay at #3, they will get a tremendous player that will help right away regardless of what happens in front of them at #1 and #2. At the same time, when you’re a 3-13 team you obviously have enough holes where acquiring just one player in the Top 3 is not going to increase the entire team’s level of performance. So it might be wise to consider trading back into a later part of the 1st round in order to acquire more picks and fortify the roster with young talent.
More than perhaps any year we’ve seen in quite some time, I believe the Vikings could be in a great position to leverage a certain player at #3 against a few teams within the Top 10 to acquire a handsome package of picks while also still getting a Top 10-caliber player.
It might be foolish to get too far into the speculation when we’re still so far away from the draft, but suffice it to say that Baylor QB Robert Griffin III is whom I believe the Vikings could leverage against other teams to acquire more picks. Cleveland at #4, Washington at #6 and Miami at #9 being teams that could easily be interested in a player such as Griffin, the Vikings might have 3 trading partners with which to work. If either Washington or Miami deems Griffin III worthy of being their franchise QB, then they will likely need to jump ahead of Cleveland at #4 to get him. If the Browns view Griffin III in the same manner, then they will have to jump up 1 spot to the Vikings #3 positioning to ensure that they can select Griffin III instead of either Washington or Miami.
Again, it’s far too early to speculate much further into this possibility, but it’s the very first thing that came to my mind when I saw how the Top 10 shook out for the 2012 NFL Draft. The Vikings could take Griffin III themselves, or they could choose to stay at #3 and grab another player they covet and fear wouldn’t be available if they made a trade and moved back into the later stages of the Top 10.
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