Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Guessing on NFL draft strategies a fruitless exercise

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Vikings draft Updated: February 24, 2012 - 9:50 AM

Some quick advice for draft-obsessed fans of the Access Vikings blog: Have fun hypothesizing about what the Vikings might do with the No. 3 pick and the nine other selections they expect to have for April. But don’t get consumed with trying to solve the team’s strategy. Not yet anyway.

The reality: Round 1 of the draft is still nearly nine weeks away and there are way too many things yet to unfold around the league that will alter the Vikings’ philosophy. For starters, free agency opens March 13. So by St. Patrick’s Day, the draft needs of a majority of NFL teams will have shifted based on all that happens on the open market.

Beyond that, the Vikings’ draft plans will very likely hinge on what the St. Louis Rams hope to do in front of them at No. 2. Assuming Indianapolis is a lock to draft quarterback Andrew Luck with the top overall pick, the Rams will have three likely options:

  • Draft Matt Kalil from Southern Cal, a difference-making offensive tackle who the Vikings could also use.
  • Select Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, another big-time talent who could lend spark to the Vikings’ offense.
  • Trade the No. 2 pick to a quarterback-starved team that is desperate to get its hands on Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
That last scenario is creating the most buzz right now. And new Rams coach Jeff Fisher will speak at the NFL Combine later this morning to perhaps shed more light on his draft wants and needs. But even the Rams are at the mercy of what those quarterback-starved teams do in the coming weeks.
 
One of the more popular trade rumors circulating at present involves a deal in which the Rams would trade back two spots to No. 4 while also securing the No. 22 pick from the Browns. But even that deal isn’t a certainty with new reports surfacing that Cleveland may have serious interest in landing Matt Flynn, the Green Bay quarterback who threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in Week 17 and quickly became one of the hot commodities. (Flynn will become a free agent next month.)
 
And then there’s that Manning kid from Indianapolis. If you’ve been in hibernation for the past two months, let us remind you that Peyton’s future with the Colts is all sorts of iffy. So if Manning’s relationship with Jim Irsay deteriorates to the point that Indianapolis lets him go, a team like Miami may fill its quarterback needs in a headline-grabbing way.
 
Think about that hypothetical: Flynn to the Browns, Manning to the Dolphins. How many quarterback-needy teams would then be left to negotiate with the Rams or even the Vikings with the intent on snagging RG3 within the top three picks of the draft. Washington? Kansas City? The list wouldn’t be long.
 
So then would the Vikings, who are very curious about trading back, be able to demand a valuable deal from a team or two looking to land either Kalil or Blackmon?
 
Head hurt yet? Like we said, have fun with the hypothetical scenarios. But just understand, the draft equation has countless moving parts .

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