After a disappointing 2010 season, the Minnesota Vikings are faced with some important decisions in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Vikings have substantial needs to fill on both sides of the ball, most notably at quarterback, offensive line, and at safety. They could go any number of directions with the No. 12 pick in the first round. But most seem to believe that the two top QB prospects in this year’s draft — Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert — will be off the board early. And most agree that the next crop of signal callers — Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker, Colin Kaepernick — aren’t worthy of being taken in the top-15 picks and can likely be had at some point in the early to middle parts of round two.
So what do the pundits think the Vikings will do in round one if drafting a QB is not a likely or logical scenario? ESPN’s Todd McShay recently filed his sixth mock of the season ($), his annual scenario based mock draft in which he spells out three possible scenarios for each of the 32 selections in the first round. His first scenario has Minnesota drafting Cameron Jordan, a defensive end out of Cal that several scouts believe can play the 4-3, according to McShay.
Here’s what he had to say about Minnesota’s other potential scenarios in round one:
Scenario 2: [Anthony] Castonzo would fill a top need as the top available offensive tackle.
Scenario 3: The Vikings could reach or trade back for a quarterback, and my hunch is that Locker is their target.
If McShay is right about Locker, I think Vikings fans might be pleasantly surprised with the pick, and more quickly than anticipated. Playing alongside a stud running back like Adrian Peterson would be a huge advantage for a guy like Locker, who still needs plenty of polishing with both the physical and mental aspects of the QB position. If utilized properly, Locker could also provide a scary running threat when teams invest too much defensive capital on slowing down Peterson. Finally, Locker would benefit from playing in the controlled climate of the MetroDome. He’s not very accurate at this stage in his career, and I think that aspect of his game was magnified by the fact that he played his college ball in rainy Seattle. Put him in doors however and I believe his accuracy is immediately improved by a noticeable margin.
As for Jordan, I think the Vikings would be wise to pass on him and use that pick on Castonzo were the Boston College OT still on the board. Jordan might be great at the NFL level, but he also might be just okay, if not a disappointment. Castonzo on the other hand is almost certainly going to be a solid mainstay on some team’s offensive line for multiple years. Safer bet from a team that will need to protect a young quarterback and continue paving more consistently big lanes for their All World back.