Over a 48-hour span this weekend, new Vikings general manager Rick Spielman will have 10 draft picks to use and a valuable chance to upgrade the roster and accelerate the rebuilding process. So just what will Spielman do when the Vikings go on the clock at No. 3 on Thursday and then also with picks 35, 66, 98, 128, 134, 138, 175, 210 and 223 on Friday and Saturday? At this point, it’s impossible to tell. As much as Spielman has been available to the media over the past three months, nothing he’s said has provided any strong indication of which direction the Vikings are leaning. After all, this is an NFL GM hesitant to tip his hand to the other 31 teams around the league too early.
So just for fun, we connected with aspiring GM Shawn Zobel, the young and talented draft mastermind who runs DraftHeadquarters.com, and offered him Spielman’s seat for a few minutes. Zobel’s challenge: make the Vikings’ first-, second- and third-round picks, putting together a package that makes sense with the players likely to available and with the needs the Vikings have.
Here’s what Zobel would do early in the draft if he was in charge of putting the Vikings back together again.
No. 3: Matt Kalil, Southern Cal left tackle
Says Zobel: “Without a doubt, this has to be the pick. When you compare him to the stud offensive tackles of the past five years or so, he’s right at the top of the list. He blows a few of the guys from the past couple years out of the water and is right on par with Jake Long when he was coming out of Michigan [in 2008] and Joe Thomas coming out of Wisconsin [in 2007]. You take Kalil and you’re getting a guy who’s going to be a 10- to 15-year starter for a team and will probably make five or six Pro Bowls. When you draft an injury-prone quarterback like Christian Ponder and then cut your left tackle going into Ponder’s rookie season and then you are blessed enough the very next year to have an opportunity to take such a highly-rated and coveted offensive tackle prospect like Kalil, you have to take him. Without hesitation. I understand they’d like to get help at receiver. But with so much depth at the receiver position this year, I don’t see how you can reasonably pass on Kalil and then look yourself in the mirror and take yourself seriously.”
No. 35: Josh Robinson, Central Florida cornerback
Says Zobel: “You may have to go best player available here simply because you have so many needs. I think Robinson would be a great fit. He’s really instinctive and his ball skills are outstanding. He had 46 passes defended in three years in college. He’s just really instinctive. He may not be as big as you’d like. [He’s 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds]. But he was blazing fast at the combine. Just a true athlete, a very talented kid and a guy in my opinion who was under the radar at Central Florida who could be a fantastic pick at the top of that second round.”
No. 66: Tommy Streeter, Miami receiver
Says Zobel: “At this stage of the draft, the Vikings will still need a receiver. And they’ll still need a safety. But here I’m going receiver. I’m taking Streeter. He’s a really big kid, about 6-4, 220 pounds. He’s really lanky with long arms. Admittedly he’s very raw. But he has a ton of upside. He’s pretty much everything you look for with the combination of size, speed, leaping ability. He can catch the ball away from his body and was a legitimate deep threat at Miami. He’s still developing as a route runner, not quite as polished or refined as you’d like to see. But in terms of raw talent, athleticism, potential and upside, he has it all. The only reason he’s not going to go in the first round is because last season was the only season he was productive in college. His first two years he was still developing. He emerged as a junior and decided to make the jump to the NFL. He's a great value in Round 3.”