ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay projects the Vikings will take California defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 12th overall pick in this month's draft, making him one of many who feel Minnesota won't address its need for a quarterback in the first round.
On a conference call today, I asked McShay if he felt a quarterback would be available to the Vikings with the 43rd pick of the second round, if, indeed, the team passed on the position in the opening round. McShay didn't sound too confident there would be much left.
"From everyone you talk to and just the feeling you get with this quarterback class, there's going to be a run," McShay said. "Once the dominoes start to fall, there's going to be a lot of teams scrambling because they are counting on getting a quarterback, whether it's for this year or to start the developmental process for 2012. I just don't know how long they are going to last.
"Let's say Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are off the board in the top 10, feel good about that. Then Jake Locker somewhere in the middle to the later portion of the first round is where he should go. Maybe he goes a little bit earlier because a team is fearful that he's not there and has fallen in love with him. But probably mid to late first round.
"Then you have Andy Dalton from TCU, Florida State's Christian Ponder, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. Those four guys belong in the second round for various reasons but there's a chance one, two, even three of them wind up going late in the first round to teams that move up for them. And when you start to get down to Minnesota at what, 43? Ahead of them Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, but to a lesser degree, I don't think they draft a quarterback, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington and then you get down to Minnesota.
"All of those teams need a quarterback. Now two of them you would assume would have gotten their quarterback in the top 10, but there's still three or four teams ahead of Minnesota at 43 in the second round that could need to draft a quarterback. I'm not sure that any of those seven quarterbacks are still going to be on the board when they get to 43 and, if so, it's probably Colin Kaepernick, who doesn't really answer your short-term needs at quarterback and in my opinion is at least a one-year but probably a two-year developmental project."
Listening to McShay talk about how he expects the draft to unfold, he provides even more reason why if the Vikings are going to take a quarterback they will do so by trading back in the first round and in doing so recoup the third-round pick lost to New England in the Randy Moss trade.
My personal sense is that the target would be Locker, but perhaps the Vikings would try to drop later in the first round and take a guy like Ponder or Mallett, assuming the questions about his character have been answered.
As it stands right now, the Vikings will have only two picks in the first three rounds and seven in the last three. There is no question, the Vikings would like to add a pick in the third.