Rick Spielman (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Rick Spielman loves to run through the scenarios in his hundreds of mock drafts. This year will be a bit easier, but the Vikings could end up with the second defensive player on the board.
Last year when Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was gushing about defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd being on the board at No. 23 – 20 picks after most analysts projected he would go to the Raiders – he admitted he had conducted 1,000 mock drafts. In none of them was Floyd available at No. 23. There was no scenario in which he fell that far – except for the real deal.
It confirmed what many had speculated before – Spielman reaches a point of near paralysis by over-analysis when it comes to attempting to define all potential scenarios. In military terms, he would be the general who has all contingencies accounted for in advance in case they happen – for better or worse. In British terms, he would be referred to as King Richard the Pragmatic.
This year, unfortunately for Spielman and Vikings fans, the team is selecting No. 8. The potential scenarios for Minnesota’s draft Rubik’s Cube is much simpler. There aren’t that many mathematical combinations available for Spielman to ponder if, in fact, he is willing to sit at No. 8 and wait for the “best available player” to drop.
“Wait…what? We were told there wouldn’t be math.”
Sorry, but it’s “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” type of math. (Editorial Note: John has rarely made it to the winning end game of AYSTFG).
The obvious question is whether one of the top three quarterbacks will still be available at No. 8.
It can be argued that, if the St. Louis Rams can get Cleveland and Oakland into a draft-day bidding war to get into their spot, the top three QBs will be gone with the first three picks. Why not? The Rams inexplicably believe that brittle Sam Bradford is going to be a franchise QB, or at least are stuck with him, and harvested the Redskins for the right to Robert Griffin III for a bonanza of draft picks, including the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.
Even if the Rams don’t make a big move and trade out of the No. 2 pick for the second time in three years and a QB doesn’t go to Houston at No. 1, which is the current conventional wisdom, there is just as likely a scenario that the top three quarterbacks – in alphabetical order Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel – could go 3-4-5 in the draft.
Say, for the sake of over-analysis, that all three quarterbacks are gone. That means there will be only four non-quarterbacks selected before the Vikings’ pick. Where they rank the rest of the Class of 2014 is up to Spielman’s red-flag clustered draft board.
Given the Vikings’ investment in offensive tackle (Matt Kalil in 2012 and the re-signing of Phil Loadholt), the best thing that can happen to them if they’re staying at No. 8 is that Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews come off the board. If the Rams hold tight and take the best fit for their team, Robinson or Matthews is gone. The Falcons have a need there, too, and, in many of Spielman’s scenarios another offensive tackle gets snapped up.
Now we’re down to two.
If Jadeveon Clowney slips to No. 8, he’s an automatic.
If not, we’re down to one.
If one of the top seven teams in the draft (or someone willing to trade up) decides it wants explosive Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, they would do the Vikings a big solid.
At that point, Spielman will have the choice, if he wants to stay at No. 8. The question now is, in 600 of his 1,000 draft scenarios, who will he take? If it isn’t the same guy every time, trade down.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.