I’d take Johnny Manziel. If the Vikings aren’t going to win a Super Bowl in our lifetime, then give us maximum entertainment.
Of course, the Vikes probably won’t take J.F. So, to be realistic, I believe if one of the potential greats (Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins) isn’t available at 8, the Vikings should trade down and address multiple needs, including quarterback and cornerback. The Seahawks proved you don’t need top-10 draft picks to win big.
Dennis Green took quarterback Daunte Culpepper from Central Florida in 1999 when we all wanted him to take Jevon Kearse, a defensive end from Florida. Green’s theory was when a team with expectations of success has a chance to take a long-term starting quarterback, it has to do so.
He was right. Culpepper prepared for one season behind veterans (Randall Cunningham, then Jeff George), was the starter from 2000 through 2005, and stands as the second-best quarterback in Vikings history behind Fran Tarkenton.
The Vikings will have a chance with the eighth choice in this draft to select another long-term starting quarterback from Central Florida in Blake Bortles, and they should do so.
Bortles can prepare for a year behind veteran Matt Cassel and then be a difference-maker at the most vital position in professional sports into the next decade.
All you geniuses can forget about a quarterback at No. 8. The Vikings’ biggest problem last season was defense. They couldn’t stop anybody. Mike Zimmer’s No. 1 goal is to put out a defense that will cause more turnovers and put pressure on quarterbacks.
In this division, you have Aaron Rodgers with the Packers, Jay Cutler with the Bears and Matthew Stafford with the Lions, and you have six games against those quarterbacks who will beat you if you can’t sack them.
I think the Vikings will take the linebacker from UCLA, Anthony Barr. This is a guy they’ve had their eye on for a long time, and they really like him. He can play defensive end, too.
Besides Chad Greenway, the Vikings don’t have much at linebacker. They have young guys such as Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti who could turn into players, and have Jasper Brinkley back. But Anthony Barr has more talent than any of those guys.
In a fantasy land of mock drafts, the Vikings would be in position to select Johnny Manziel with the eighth overall pick.
Yes, that would require the stars to align and the first seven teams to collectively lose their mind, but as the great philosopher Lloyd Christmas eloquently stated: So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Actually, not likely, but Johnny Football in Purple would be a hoot. Manziel is such a unique talent with his improvisational skills and swashbuckler’s moxie.
Sure, TMZ probably would establish a satellite office at Winter Park. But a combination of Manziel, Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Norv Turner would be something to behold.
OK, back to reality. Manziel is likely gone before the Vikings pick. In that scenario, the Vikings should trade down, grab a defensive player -- Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, perhaps -- and find their quarterback later on.
To read digital sports editor Michael Rand's draft-night scenarios, click here.