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Now that we've answered that question and hopefully avoided a lot of needless comments, the latest mock drafts from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are out.
Kiper, who had Johnny Manziel going No. 1 overall in his first two mocks, now has him falling ... wait for it ... all the way ... hang on ... to No. 8 and the ... you know it ... Vikings.
Writes Kiper: As I talk to teams, I get the sense there's a great deal of uncertainty around the quarterbacks in this draft. But there's a point where uncertainty turns into a reasonable bet, and Manziel at this point on the board is closer to the latter. There are some decent weapons in place in Minnesota for Manziel. There's a great deal of uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball here, but it doesn't outweigh the questions at QB. Manziel could be the solution and, drafted here, there's no question he'd come in with a chip on his shoulder.
Also, for what it's worth, both Kiper and McShay have Gophers DT Ra'Shede Hageman going No. 29 overall to the Patriots.
NFC North teams didn't show they were really serious about trying to cover Randy Moss back in the day until they started throwing two or even three defenders at him.
Should we interpret the Vikings' treatment of Alabama's Pro Day the same way -- particularly as it relates to QB AJ McCarron?
Perhaps it is just due diligence, but they certainly seemed to send a message when GM Rick Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner went to Wednesday's session.
There was plenty of bang for the buck there since Alabama has a ton of talented players -- including linebacker C.J. Mosley, who some mock drafts have the Vikings taking No. 8 overall.
McCarron is a possible second-round pick, and while we certainly don't think he has the same upside as someone like Johnny Manziel, it's also impossible to know when it comes to QBs. The success of non-first rounders like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick in recent years could have the Vikings leaning that way.
The benefit of someone like McCarron in the second round would be his readiness to at least serve as a No. 2 quarterback while he was presumably (hopefully) groomed to take over as the eventual starter.
Our preference would be that the Vikings swing for the fences if a QB they like is there at No. 8 overall, but we could live with a playmaking linebacker at that spot and a quarterback a little later. Who knows? Maybe they were both working out Wednesday in Alabama.
We just met with Linval Joseph, the defensive tackle the Vikings nabbed away from the Giants. Joseph is a big man, he admires Pat Williams and he wants to win a second career Super Bowl with the Vikings. Those are all good things. The proof will be on the field, but he didn't say anything to dissuade us from having a positive impression of the signing.
But the biggest thing on our mind Vikings-wise today is this: Blaine Gabbert was traded about 24 hours ago from the Jaguars to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick.
Gabbert was in the same draft class as Christian Ponder, so they are in similar situations in the final year of their rookie deals -- Gabbert as the No. 10 overall pick in 2011, Ponder as No. 12.
You can argue Gabbert had less to work with in Jacksonville than Ponder has had in Minnesota, and you are not wrong. But we would also argue this: As uneven as Ponder has been -- and that's a complimentary term -- he has had a more successful three-year run than Gabbert.
Gabbert has a career passer rating of 66.4, a completion percentage of 53.3 and a record as a starter of 5-22.
Ponder's numbers: 77.3, 60.2 and 14-20-1, including a 10-6 mark and trip to the playoffs in 2012.
If there is a market for Gabbert, even as a reclamation project with the 49ers, there has to be a market for Ponder as a backup quarterback. Even if you want to argue Gabbert has more upside because his situation in Jacksonville was so bad, Ponder's accomplishments far surpass those of Gabbert.
The Vikings have already signed Matt Cassel, giving him more money than they did a year ago. He's making enough to be the clear-cut starter. Vikings brass has already said they will add another QB in the draft. Our guess at this point is that it won't be with the No. 8 pick, but that's just a guess. We would bet a lot of money on it being someone at least in the first three rounds. That QB should at least be considered the No. 2 guy.
For the sake of everyone -- Cassel after what transpired in 2013, the fans, and even Ponder -- we would hope the Vikings are making every effort to get anything they can for their former first-round pick. If Gabbert fetched a sixth-rounder, we have to think Ponder would at least do the same if not slightly better.
The Giants, aided no doubt by massive nose tackle Linval Joseph -- whom the Vikings snatched away in free agency on Tuesday -- were No. 4 in the NFL in yards allowed per attempt ... at 3.8 per carry.
No doubt, having a stout rushing defense can create an identity. The Vikings of the mid-to-late 2000s were fantastic against the run to the point that teams just flat-out stopped trying. They allowed a paltry 2.8 yards per carry in 2006 and fewer than 1,000 yards rushing for the whole season. By the time the offense caught up to the defense in 2009, they were still quite good against the run, ranking second in the NFL in yards allowed.
By that token, we're all for the Joseph signing. If he can be a run stuffer in the mold of Pat Williams -- a lofty expectation, but let's think big -- it will no doubt help the overall product.
That said, this signing will not mean as much as maybe it would have a decade ago if the Vikings don't also address the secondary in a major way. The Vikings gave up 4,595 yards passing and 37 passing TDs last year. The league averages were nearly 1,000 yards and 12 TDs fewer than that.
Going from middle of the pack to above average as a run defense wouldn't be nearly as meaningful as taking one of the league's worst pass defenses and making it average.
The Vikings haven't signed seven free agents in the past three hours, so clearly this day has been wasted.
OK, no, no. Just joking. Free agency takes time, and we can't forget they already locked up Matt Cassel and Everson Griffen, moves that were made official today. And they snagged DT Linval Joseph.
Outside of the usual suspects we have been hearing about for weeks, the most interesting name at least linked to the Vikings on Tuesday was Darren Sproles, the veteran pass-catching RB who appears destined to be let go by the Saints. Per a tweet from NFL Network's Albert Breer:
The Saints still haven't officially cut Darren Sproles. If New Orleans can't deal him, one team to watch for Sproles -- The Vikings.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 11, 2014
While running back certainly isn’t the No. 1 position on the radar of many when it comes to the Vikings – it might be last, actually, because of Adrian Peterson – the idea of Sproles in purple is intriguing mostly because they haven't had a legitimate pass-catching running back in a really long time. Yeah, they used Percy Harvin some in the backfield, but most of his catches -- even the short ones -- came with him either in the slot or split wide.
Sproles averaged 77 catches a season over the past three years in New Orleans. The last time the Vikings had a running back who caught even 60 passes was Moe Williams in 2003.
Defense remains the top priority, but the notion of one more offensive weapon to fill this specific niche is intriguing to say the least.
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