A couple of interesting things to take note of today. Kevin Seifert, the NFC North blogger for ESPN, shared part of Todd McShay’s latest mock draft he had two NFL scouts conduct, and a guy who many projected as the overall #1 pick right after the college football bowls season concluded is projected to the Vikings:
12. Minnesota Vikings
Player: Auburn nose tackle Nick Fairley
Seifert comment: Earlier this year, Fairley was considered the top prospect in the draft. Scouts Inc. now ranks him No. 11 overall. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has made clear that he wants to rejuvenate the defensive line, and the possible departure of free agent Pat Williams would open a hole that Fairley could fill.
Seifert’s right in that Frazier has said he wants to upgrade the defensive line. He’s also been a lot more vocal about quarterback, as well. Is it all just smoke and mirrors right now? Yes.
Elsewhere around the NFL mock draft blogosphere, Don Banks, the Sports Illustrated writer most Vikings fans love to hate, has his new mock draft out. Says Banks:
12. Cameron Jordan, DE, California.
Spoiler alert: I’ve got the Vikings trading back into the first round with No. 28 New England in pursuit of quarterback Jake Locker of Washington. But I don’t see Minnesota passing on Jordan to reach and take a quarterback at No. 12. Jordan meets a need at defensive end and his stock has continued to climb throughout the pre-draft scouting process.
I don’t agree with the pick if the Vikings stay at 12, but I’m in total agreement with Banks on the trade down theory. I hope they don’t drop that far in the draft, and I really hope they don’t trade with the Patriots. No one ever get s the better end of the deal with them, but I do hope they trade down and recoup that third rounder they lost in the Moss deal. If they trade with New England, I can’t see the Pats giving that back, but that’s just me.
Finally, the guys who I think are the most comprehensive mock draft guys out there, Walter Football. Their latest 6 round mock has been updated, and in the first round, they say:
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
It almost pains me to make this pick for the Vikings. A week ago, I would have scoffed at the prospect of Jake Locker going as high as No. 12 in the 2011 NFL Draft. But multiple reliable reports are indicating that Locker will be a top-16 selection and that Minnesota covets him, envisioning the Washington quarterback as the next Brett Favre.
I’d say Jake Plummer is the better comparison. Locker possesses tremendous athletic talent, but his accuracy is atrocious. His decision-making is terrible. His mechanics need work. And his football IQ is pretty low.
But hey, if the Vikings want to take a 2-year project at No. 12, I can’t blame them. They have nothing at quarterback, and they’re desperate. New regimes mean new quarterbacks, so if Minnesota selects Locker, I’ll probably award them a B or a C in my Live 2011 NFL Draft Grades.
Other 2011 NFL Draft Possibilities:
1. Tyron Smith, OT – Tyron Smith has bulked up to 310 pounds. He could be the team’s new left tackle, which would allow Leslie Frazier to move the aging Bryant McKinnie to the right side.
2. Prince Amukamara, CB – Prince Amukamara could be the best player available who fills a need.
3. Aldon Smith or Cameron Jordan, DE – Ray Edwards is a free agent, so the defensive end position will be considered.
Like Banks, they have Locker going to the Vikings, but staying put at #12 to do so. If they’re right and Locker is a top 16 prospect and the Vikings trade dwon to late in the first round, a guy like Ricki Stanzi will be looked at hard by the Vikes.
So bottom line, the closer we get, the murkier the waters become. I still think the Vikings will target a quarterback, and my optimal scenario is trade dwon, get another high round (1-3) pick, and grab a franchise QB.