1. Andrew Luck solidified his standing at the #1 prospect in this draft. Robert Griffin III did the same at the #2 position. I’d argue that in any other year dating back to 1998 (Peyton Manning), RG3 would be #1 player in the draft class, with the possible exception being 2001 (Michael Vick).
2. The St. Louis Rams, who hold the #2 overall pick right now, WILL trade out of that spot, and I think Cleveland is in the best position (#4 overall) to move up and get him.
3. Matt Kalil is the best LT prospect in this class, just ask him. But I do agree, and the Vikings and Vikings fans should be pleased to get him.
4. Might want to scratch WR Pierre Garcon off your free-agent wish list. A prominent ESPN personality predicted to me that he’ll stay in Indy. Also, Peter King of Sports Illustrated suggests Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne might be a package deal in free agency.
5. Expect a large number of teams to utilize the franchise tag to retain their most-valued free agents. This will shrink what appears to be a thick market at several positions.
6. WR Vincent Jackson is not a likely candidate to be tagged, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vikings take a run at him, although the Vikings certainly won’t be the only team interested. Outside of Jackson, though, I don’t think the Vikings will be major players at the top end of the free agent market.
7. It was interesting to hear insiders talk about the significance of schools hosting their Pro Days before the NFL begins its free agency period (March 13). This means that at the start of free agency, most NFL GMs will be on the road scouting draft prospects.
8. Expect a fairly liberal roster turnover for the Vikings this offseason.
9. Interesting to hear Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier explain the team must prepare as if CB Chris Cook will not be on the team in 2012. That’s not Frazier making any prediction, it’s just him simply explaining that the team must prepare for the worst-case scenario. I’d add that regardless of Cook’s status, CB is still a need for the Vikings.
10. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd was a winner at the Combine because he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. That’s quicker than some anticipated, and I think it assures he’ll go in the 1st round rather than the early part of the 2nd round.
11. Other WRs who jumped up during the Combine were Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill (4.36 in 40-yard dash), Wake Forest’s Chris Givens (think: Jeremy Maclin) and Appalachian State’s Brian Quick (played for Vikings staff at Senior Bowl).
12. The “best player available” (BPA) strategy will be in play for the Vikings this year, especially as it pertains to the team’s 2nd-round pick (currently #35 overall). Even if the BPA is a DE, RB or TE, I wouldn’t put it past GM Rick Spielman and his personnel staff to simply select the best football player on the board, regardless of position, when they’re on the clock. That’s a good way to infuse a talent-depleted roster with some talent.
13. An underrated aspect of this year’s draft class is the depth and top-end talent at DT. “I’ve got anywhere from five to seven potential first-round defensive tackles, which is atypical,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said of the DT class during this week’s Wobcast. “Usually in a year you might have three first-round grades. So twice as many potential first-round picks. There is depth throughout the entire defensive tackle class, regardless of position.” Memphis’ Dontari Poe stole the show at the Combine, but he’s not the only talented, potential run-stopping DT out there. I also like Michael Brockers, Fletcher Cox, Kendall Reyes, Devon Still and Jerel Worthy.
14. Speaking of NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, he’s THE best in the business at analyzing these college players and communicating his opinions under the bright lights with the cameras rolling. Truly a treat to work with him.
15. Not one national reporter/personality I spoke with at the Combine was negative on Christian Ponder. Most anticipate the Vikings adding talent around him to put him in position to succeed.
16. CB Janoris Jenkins is an interesting prospect. He’s a kid with clear 1st-round talent, but off-field issues might cause some teams to pause. “I’ve made a few mistakes and I’ve learned from them,” he was quoted as saying by Peter King. As King later noted, the question is, who will take a shot on a very good talent at a vital position, who is such a risk? Maybe the Vikings if he falls as far as #35, or even falls far enough for the Vikings to consider trading up to get him?
17. Indianapolis is a tremendous host city for big events such as the Combine. It’s in the Midwest, the residents are generally courteous, happy people, there’s a brand-new airport close to downtown, there are plenty of hotels and great restaurants, an elaborate skyway system links most of downtown, and Lucas Oil Stadium is a first-class facility.
18. A few small-school CBs to watch in this year’s draft class: Dwight Bentley (UL-Lafayette), Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson (Montana) and Ryan Steed (Furman).
19. I prefer Caribou Coffee to Starbucks. Our hotel had a Starbucks on the 2nd level, which I frequented each day and was satisfied with, but I prefer Caribou.
20. I wonder if hailing from such a great program (University of Alabama) has inflated the draft stock of LBs Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw. I just wasn’t impressed with their on-field workouts, but I’ll also acknowledge game tape means much more than the Combine, plus they still have their Pro Day.
21. This was my 5th visit to the NFL Scouting Combine, but just the first time I tried a pizza parlor called Bazbeaux. Awesome thin crust pizza with a generous portion of toppings, a great atmosphere, a cool bar area and quick seating despite the place being packed to the brim on a busy Saturday night.
22. I thoroughly enjoyed my two days of co-hosting radio Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen’s weekday 9-noon radio show on KFAN.
23. A couple of sleeper picks for the Vikings in the 2nd round: S Harrison Smith (Notre Dame) and DL Nick Perry (USC).
Tags: 2012 Combine, Chris Cook, Leslie Frazier, Paul Allen, Rick Spielman
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