It’s not often that a team with the third pick in the NFL draft has the toughest call to make but this year; the Minnesota Vikings hold the key to the draft.
Andrew Luck will be first off the board and Robert Griffin will be next. The Vikings will then be called upon followed by the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to round out the first five selections.
Following a disastrous 2011 season, the Vikings are still attempting to recover from their Brett Favre led success, but proved unsuccessful with veteran Donovan McNabb behind centre. Hastily drafting Christian Ponder out of Florida State with the 12th overall selection, the Vikings have no clear positional void to spend their first round draft pick.
USC’s OT Matt Kalil and Oklahoma State’s WR Justin Blackmon continually get mentioned but there is little consensus amongst analysts or fans.
To throw a spanner in the works, further uncertainty around RB Adrian Peterson’s future opens to the door for Alabama RB Trent Richardson.
Beyond an uncertain Peterson, Ponder struggled throughout his rookie season due to a lack of offensive weapons. Throwing to an injury-riddled Percy Harvin during the back end of the season, Ponder desperately desired an outside threat.
Matt Kalil looks to be one of the safest bets in the draft and could team with Ponder for the rest of their careers but the Vikings offensive line ranked 16th in the league for QB hits, far from the worst for a rookie QB. LT Charlie Johnson has been a long term starter shifting between LG and LT for the Indianapolis Colts, where he won a Superbowl, before signing with the Vikings in 2011.
Wide receiver is the greater need.
The Vikings have no recognised receiver beyond Harvin and are certain to draft one, it’s just a matter of where. Joining Blackmon as the top receiver threats, are Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Baylor’s Kendall Wright and Georgia’s Stephen Hill. All are expected to go in the first round with a plethora of WR-needy teams this year.
Following these four, there is a significant gap into the next crop of talent.
Trading down would seem ideal if the Vikings were able to gain another first round pick but the third overall pick is too high for most teams to trade up for. Teams desperate for a WR will look closer at picks 6-12 to draft Floyd.
There’s no doubt that either Kalil or Blackmon will be an excellent selection but the Vikings have remained open to trading down since the beginning of free agency.
With no need at QB, the Vikings have one of those ‘good dilemmas’ where the entire draft is available to them at three. Whatever happens, many teams will be scrambling to reposition their draft boards when the Vikings announce their selection.
With the third selection in the 2012 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings select …… Justin Blackmon, wide receiver, Oklahoma State.