The new SB Nation mock draft hit the street a little while ago, and things are starting to come into focus, at least for the Vikings.
The two consensus first round QB picks, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, are off the board in the first five picks, with Newton going #1 overall to Carolina and Gabbert being projected to Cincinnati.
When SB Nation did a mock draft with a blogger from each team making a selection, Chris Gates picked Wisconsin DE JJ Watt. He had sound reasoning, saying two of the other big first round DE prospects, Robert Quinn and Da'Quan Bowers, had a lot of questions that were unsettling. Watt, on the other hand, might not have the natural talent, but makes up for it with a relentless moor and a desire to excel.
Apparently, the folks running the SB Nation mock didn't seem to give as much credence over the lingering questions around Bowers and Quinn, because the latest SB Nation mock has the Vikings taking Da'Quan Bowers. According to Brian Galiford, the author:
12. Minnesota Vikings: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. It's quite possible that Bowers' lackadaisical pro day (as well as continuing knee concerns) cause him to slide on draft day. He's too good a football player to slide very far, however, and he'd be a great value pick for a Vikings team that excels at finding draft-day value.
While his reasoning is sound, what he didn't say is that the Vikings generally tend to avoid guys with more questions than answers, although WR/KR/Superman Percy Harvin was a notable exception. If you're going on nothing but talent, it's tough to argue Bowers, but if you're taking everything into consideration, I can see the Vikings NOT going in that direction. As for Quinn and Bowers, Quinn is projected at 15 ti Miami, while Watt goes to San Diego at 18.
Interestingly, Jake Locker, another QB that might or might not be a first round pick, depending on who you talk to, is projected at 16 to Jacksonville. If Locker's on the board when the Vikings select, I can see them going in that direction as well, but with how unsettled the labor landscape is, and the fact that coaches aren't allowed to communicate with players during the lockout, QB is a HUGE risk in the first round. Heck, it's a huge risk every year, but even more so this year.