Vikings hold ideal positioning for Donald

The Vikings might just be in an ideal position at No. 8 to either draft a coveted defender or hold a valuable trade position. They have fielded at least a handful on inquiries already and the phone lines will only get busier.

To check out the mock drafts that the largest craniums among the NFL talking heads produced, it would seem that the Vikings are locked into taking Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the eighth pick of today's start to the 2014 draft.

We're no exception. A little over a month ago, we were projecting Bortles to go with the first pick of the draft and none of the top three QBs (Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater) to be available at No. 8. Now the top quarterbacks are getting more bad publicity than the usual honking of tacit approval and projections of NFL greatness.

But the draft rarely falls as "the experts" project it will. In a season where there is minimal consensus concerning who will go where, it effectively has made every pick up for grabs.

Houston has made it known that Jadeveon Clowney can be had for a hefty price. According to the rumor mill, Cleveland may have to trade to get ahead of Jacksonville in order to get Johnny Manziel.

But, at No. 8, there will be one name that is being spoken in hushed tones among three teams in prime position for the Vikings to stroke the war room cat and laugh spooky-maniacally.

That name is Aaron Donald.

He is a three-technique defensive tackle from Pittsburgh who, if the Vikings draft savants believe a quarterback to their liking will be available in the middle of the first round, becomes the focus of their draft.

The stark reality is that Donald's value may be more for what he means to other teams than what he could potentially mean to the Vikings.

As a three-technique DT, Donald has a place within the Vikings' scheme, especially when you know how much Mike Zimmer wants to rotate his defensive linemen. But with Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph slated as starters and Fred Evans in the fold as the rotational No. 3 guy, the Vikes have bigger fish to fry than using the eighth pick on a defensive tackle.

What could be seen as a detriment might turn out to be a huge selling point on Donald. He is strictly a 4-3 defensive tackle. He doesn't have any cache with a 3-4 defense. There are three teams behind the Vikings that run a 4-3 defense and have a significant front-burner need at DT – the Giants at No. 12, the Bears at No. 14 and the Cowboys at No. 16.

For the Viking, the creation of competition among those three picks could be ideal for the layout of the 2014 draft.

At No. 12, the Giants could offer up their first-round pick and their third-rounder (No. 74 overall). In all likelihood, to move up to No. 7 would cost the G-Men their second-round pick, which may be too steep a price to pay. With three picks in the third round, the Vikings could get aggressive on Day 2 if a player they covet is available.

At No. 14, the Bears have a need at defensive tackle and many draft analysts have linked them together. While it doesn't necessarily mesh with the draft value chart, if you're trading the eighth pick to a division rival knowing who they're going to take, their first- and second-round picks need to come back your way. A first, a third and a sixth don't quite cut the mustard on an in-division deal.

At No. 16, Jerry Jones waits impatiently. He needs a defensive tackle like Donald Sterling needs an expensive P.R. guy right now. At No. 16, the value of a first- and second-round pick are not only reasonable but anticipated.

There is smoke in the air and where there is smoke, fire can't be far behind.

In our final mock draft, we have the Minnesota Vikings taking Blake Bortles with the eighth pick. The eighth pick may just as likely be used on Donald – but who makes that pick is up to debate. It might be the Vikings.


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.

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