Vikings could be patient players again in draft
With two picks in the first round of the NFL draft, the
Minnesota Vikings are poised to benefit from the potential anxiety
of other teams if they’re willing to be patient again.
General manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings have been
inundated by trade talk for the 23rd and 25th overall selections
they’ll have on Thursday night.
Yes, the phones at Winter Park have been ringing, or vibrating,
”Whether you believe me or not, I’m telling you it’s been the
most active it’s been in a while because of where we’re picking,”
Spielman said Tuesday. ”I don’t know the reason why, but there are
a lot of teams potentially jockeying from the top of that second
round. There’s some teams jockeying potentially in the bottom of
the first round.”
Trading down, particularly given the extra first-round pick that
came from Seattle in the Percy Harvin deal, will be even more
desirous for the Vikings than usual. In 2012, they parlayed
Cleveland’s interest in moving from the fourth to the third slot in
the first round by fetching extra selections in the fourth, fifth
and seventh rounds by simply swapping one spot.
”Because of the depth at the positions of need that we have, we
can still get a very similar player and potentially pick up some
things either this year or next year,” Spielman said.
He was mostly referring to wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker
and defensive tackle, all groups considered to be strong in the
2013 pool of prospects. With four of the first 83 selections and
two of the first 25, the Vikings are confident they’ll find the
necessary upgrades at those positions to build off of last year’s
10-6 finish and surprising playoff appearance. They have 11 picks
The challenge, then, is to maximize that leverage to accumulate
more middle-round and late-round selections while still getting the
players they want and trust.
Spielman said he doesn’t see the Vikings spending the selections
necessary to jump up in the first round, a move that could be
required to snag a player like West Virginia wide receiver Tavon
Austin, North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams or
Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant. The belief, instead, is that
there are enough quality prospects at each of those positions to
wait and not miss much at all.
”The best thing we can do is bring in the best players possible
to create the best competition possible. If you bring that in, then
you have everybody pushing to make the 53,” Spielman said,
referring to the size of the active roster for the regular season.
”You want those 53 decisions to be very hard decisions.”
Gaps at cornerback, wide receiver and linebacker are obvious,
after cutting Antoine Winfield, trading Harvin and letting Jasper
Brinkley leave as a free agent. The defensive line is stacked, but
only for this year for sure. Jared Allen, Everson Griffen and Brian
Robison are all in the final season of their contracts, so bringing
all three defensive ends back for 2014 and beyond is unlikely.
Letroy Guion and Fred Evans ably manned the nose tackle spot last
year, but at the under tackle position Kevin Williams is also in
the last year of his deal.
Spielman acknowledged the strategy this weekend is as much for
2014 as it is for 2013.
”I don’t want to compare any of these players to Kevin Williams
because I think Kevin Williams is one of the greatest defensive
tackles to play that under position,” Spielman said, when asked if
players in this draft compare to Williams: ”I wish I could predict
that. I don’t know that, but I know we feel very strongly about a
lot of these defensive tackles.”
Then there’s wide receiver, where the Vikings have been in
perpetual improvement mode since Randy Moss was traded after the
They’ve drafted nine players at that position since then,
including Troy Williamson, Sidney Rice and Harvin in the first or
second round. They’ve signed all kinds of free agents, from Travis
Taylor to Bobby Wade to Bernard Berrian to Marcus Robinson to
Michael Jenkins. The addition of Greg Jennings last month might’ve
been the best post-Moss upgrade they’ve made, but with Jarius
Wright and Jerome Simpson the only other viable options on the
roster the Vikings are a sure bet to grab a wide receiver on either
of the first two days of the draft.
If Austin is gone, someone like Robert Woods of USC, Keenan
Allen of Cal or Quinton Patton of Louisiana Tech could fit their
need with one of those four top-83 picks.
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