The first day of the NFL Draft is one of my favorite days of the year. The past few years it’s been my tradition to just park myself in front of the television for hours upon hours just soaking in the analysis from all of the experts at ESPN, and then of course, building up anticipation for each pick that the Vikings made. I’d rank the first day of the NFL draft as probably my 3rd favorite day of the year, right after days 1 and 2 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Roger Goodell just had to go and ruin that for me, didn’t he. The draft begins at 7:30 eastern time on Thursday night, which means that the first round will begin at 3:30 (since I decided to move to Alaska), while I’m still at work. Then, rounds 2 and 3 will begin at 2 o’clock the next day, while I’m still at work. This commissioner just loves to tick me off. I feel robbed of one of my favorite sporting events. It just won’t be the same. All of that aside, the importance of the draft really lies in what the Vikings will do with their draft picks. They have 1 pick in each of the first three rounds, and since these first three rounds seem to produce the best players, and since I’m too lazy to break down all 7 rounds, I’m going to give 3 players at each of their first three selections that I think would make sense.
Round 1 – #30 Overall
1. Mike Iupati – OG – Idaho
Iupati seems to be going before #30 in most mock drafts, but in some, he’s still available at the Vikings’ pick. If he’s still there, I say the Vikings have to take him. He would probably be an upgrade over Herrera after a year or so, and he has been described as a versatile player that could play tackle or guard. Since we just lost Artis Hicks, who was our utility back-up lineman, Iupati would be a really nice back up for a year or two, and then could be developed into one of our better starting offensive lineman at whatever spot needs him the most.
2. Devin McCourty – CB – Rutgers
McCourty also may or may not still be on the board at #30, and he also may not be the “best player available” if the Vikings took him here, but he would fill a need at CB. The Vikings can always use more depth in their secondary, especially when Winfield is aging, and Griffin is coming off of knee surgery. From what I’ve read and determined, McCourty fits the Vikings’ type of cornerback: he’s physical for his size, likes to help in run support, and is a better fit for zone coverage rather than man. Since the Vikings play the Tampa 2, it seems like McCourty could learn from Winfield and Griffin and be ready to be a solid contributor when he would take over for Winfield in a couple of years.
3. Taylor Mays – FS – USC
Mays is kind of all over the place on different mock drafts and big boards, so it’s really tough to know if he’ll be there. I personally like this kid a lot, but unfortunately he isn’t really needed for depth at the safety position with Williams, Johnson, and Sanford all on the roster. The Vikings do, however, need a playmaker in the defensive backfield, and so if the Vikings felt that Mays would be a considerable upgrade over Williams or Johnson, than they should take him if he’s there. That is, along as Iupati and McCourty aren’t there.
Round #2 – #62 Overall
1. Vladimir Ducasse – OT – UMass
If the Vikes miss out on Iupati, Ducasse is another candidate for that utility o-lineman position. Since he’s projected to be a left tackle, he could also be the replacement for Bryant McKinnie, who has left Vikings fans disappointed year after year despite all of the hype coming out of college. Ducasse would be a bit of a project for the Vikings to be a starter, but since McKinnie will still be around for another 4 years, they’d have plenty of time for him to develop.
2. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah – CB – Indiana (PA)
Kind of like Ducasse, the Vikings would only want Owusu-Ansah if they don’t take a CB in round #1. Assuming that they don’t, Owusu-Ansah is another guy that could fit well into the Vikings’ zone coverage schemes. He has good size (6′-0″, 207 lbs) for a corner to be physical, and is projected to be a good route jumper at corner or possibly safety, which is always good to have someone who is versatile.
3. Tim Tebow – QB – Florida
Tebow probably won’t be here, but if he is, I say take him and tell Favre to take a hike because we got our 3 QB’s. Tebow would be great in the locker room, and I’m convinced that he could help this team in more ways than just being the third string quarterback. He’s determined to make it as a QB in this league, and I think his work ethic will get him there. Favre or no-Favre, we’d have guys in front him for a few years still, so there wouldn’t be pressure for him to play right away. He could continue to develop, and I think he’d be too good to pass up at this spot. Of course, that’s why he won’t be there.
Round #3 – #93 Overall
1. Joe McKnight – RB – USC
This guy was ESPN’s #1 prospect in the country 3 years ago, and it just never quite came together for him like people thought it would. Part of that was USC having so much depth at the position, that he didn’t get as many carries as you’d think the #1 recruit in the country would get. He’s a great receiver out of the backfield, and I’m sure he’d need some work learning how to pick up blitzing linebackers in pass coverage, but I like him as third down back to replace Chester Taylor. He won’t be nearly as good as Chester overall, but he has the potential to be more explosive. I hated that people wanted the Vikings to go get Tomlinson when I knew that you can get talented players like McKnight in the second, third, and fourth rounds of drafts. McKnight fills a need, and he’s probably a better player than what he’s ranked as a prospect due to not having a super productive college career. The Vikings have to take him if he’s here.
2. Javier Arenas – CB – Alabama
Can you tell that I think the Vikings need a CB? Arenas was a productive player at a major program that asked him to cover some of the best athletes in the country down in the SEC. If the Vikings haven’t taken a corner yet, they should take Arenas.
3. Ed Wang – OT – Virginia Tech
Similar reasoning as Arenas: Productive player at a successful major program, and the Vikings need more depth at his position. If we miss out on McKnight, then they need to take either of these two guys.
Well, that was about as down to business of a blog post that I’ve ever written. Just my humble opinions, but in conclusion, the Vikings need depth at CB, O-line, and a third down running back. I hope Spielman and Childress come through with another great draft class. That seems to have been their calling card through these past four years.