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Taking An OL At #12 A Mockery?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 10, 2011 – 3:06 pm

It’s a bit early to begin analyzing mock drafts on a regular basis – our annual Mock Madness feature will return in March – but I ran across a few early mocks and thought it might make for good conversation here on the blog during a slow week. I think it’ll spark good conversation because the 3 mock drafts I found project the Vikings to take a player at a position other than QB.

Obviously QB is perceived by many to be the Vikings biggest need during the offseason, so many expect the Vikings will use their 1st-round pick (#12 overall) on a young QB. But maybe they won’t. Perhaps the Vikings QB of the future can be found in later rounds. Only time will tell us what happens. In the meantime, though, let’s take a closer look at whom the Vikings might choose at #12 if that player is not a QB.

The 3 mock drafts I stumbled upon today were on Sports Illustrated’s website (SI.com) and ESPN.com. Don Banks is the Sports Illustrated writer with a mock draft on SI.com and he has the Vikings taking Colorado OT Nate Solder with their 1st-round pick. Solder stands at 6-8, 314 pounds and is very well-regarded in college football circles. He was Colorado’s starting LT and was named the Big 12’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2010. He’s also a consensus All-America and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy (nation’s top lineman).

On ESPN.com, draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. also projects the Vikings to take Solder. “Durable, smart and a guy who sustains his blocks, Solder is my top-rated tackle, a position that usually would be gone before this stage,” Kiper says. Kiper’s colleague at ESPN, Todd McShay, has the Vikings taking an OT, too. But his projection is Tyron Smith out of the University of Southern California. “Offensive line is not Minnesota’s biggest need but Smith is emerging as the top offensive tackle in the class with his natural feet and athleticism, and you can never go wrong drafting good offensive linemen,” McShay says.

So there you have it, 3 football observers who regularly post mock drafts project the Vikings to take an OT with their 1st-round pick. But my question is, would an OT be able to make an impact on the Vikings in 2010? I’m not sure that he could. I believe Bryant McKinnie has actually had a solid past 2 seasons – contrary to public opinion – and I think Phil Loadholt is on the right track at RT with a bright future in the NFL. I’m not against adding more depth along the OL, but I also want the #12 overall pick to be an impact player.

Perhaps the Vikings could take an OT in the 1st round and consider moving him to an interior position, with the intention to eventually move that player back to OT when an opportunity arises? Either way, I thought it was notable to see 3 different mock drafters project the Vikings taking an OT at a time when many Vikings fans perceive QB as the #1 need.

What say you Vikings fans? Let us know in the comments section below this entry.

UPDATE: McShay has issued a new mock draft and projects the Vikings to take DE Robert Quinn out of the University of North Carolina. “Quinn falls here because of the suspension that cost him the entire 2010 season, and the Vikings take advantage,” McShay says. “Their defense is aging, and two of their defensive ends — starter Ray Edwards and backup Brian Robison — are free agents. The team would like to find its future franchise quarterback here, but Locker needs too much time to develop.”


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Some NFL Draft-Related Thoughts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 8, 2011 – 11:15 am

With Super Bowl XLV (finally) complete and the 2010 NFL season officially in the books, it’s time to turn our focus exclusively toward the offseason. The two most significant talking points in the early part of the offseason are the 2011 NFL Draft and the on-going Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.

The CBA issue is paramount because without a new agreement in place between the NFL and the NFLPA we won’t have any on-field or off-field football activities. We won’t get into the details of the CBA negotiations right now, but you can always check out our CBA FAQ page to get some basic questions answered.

Let’s talk about something much more fun and entertaining – the NFL draft. Here are a few notes to keep in mind in the early stages of pre-draft speculation…

– The Vikings hold the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, we all know that by now. But the team also has 6 other picks in the draft – a 2nd, 4th, two 5ths, a 6th and a 7th. You’ll notice the lack of a 3rd-round pick – given up in Randy Moss trade – and the extra 5th-round pick – acquired in Darius Reynaud/Sage Rosenfels trade.

– The biggest question surrounding the Vikings is, what will they do with the #12 pick? Most fans and observers are expecting the Vikings to select a QB with that pick. But if the team’s preferred QB is not available by the time pick #12 comes around or if the team likes a QB but values that player as a later pick, there are several other alternatives. We’ll get into this in more detail as the draft approaches.

– I’ve stated many times both here on the blog and in the Monday Morning Mailbag that Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has seemed committed to finding a young QB in this year’s draft. While that may be the generally preferred route to acquiring a QB, Frazier has also indicated that the team has not decided to use the draft as the exclusive means to finding a franchise-caliber QB. Appearing on Rosen’s Sports Sunday this past weekend, Frazier said: “We have some time between now and the draft to kind of look at some things from a free-agent standpoint and then we’ll look at some college players as well to try to make a determination: Is it better to draft a guy or is it better to maybe bring in a veteran guy to compete in training camp? We do not have our mind made up at all.”

Thanks to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune for transcribing that quote. Zulgad transcribed Frazier’s entire interview with Rosen – check it out by clicking here.

– Once March rolls around we’ll begin our annual Mock Madness feature, where we track on a weekly basis several popular mock drafts. In the meantime, though, I thought it was notable that Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly has projected the Vikings taking Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn. This might come off as a surprise to many at first glance, but consider that both Ray Edwards and Brian Robison are free agents (assuming a new CBA is worked out) and you can see why DE might be the route the Vikings take.

– Speaking of DEs, NFL Network draft analyst and Vikings preseason TV game analyst Mike Mayock says the DE position may be the strongest in this year’s draft. He said on NFL Network’s Total Access that as many as 7 or 8 DEs could go in the 1st round. Click here to watch a video of Mayock breaking down his top 5 DEs.

– Lastly, just wanted to remind you that I’ll be heading to Indianapolis later this month to cover the NFL Scouting Combine. I’ll be there beginning on February 23 and will pass along as much information as possible to you. You can expect to hear from Frazier and Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman at least one time a piece, and we’ll also try to catch up with as many NFL observers and draft-eligible players as possible.


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