I’m so proud of the Vikings this draft season.
It was rumored by various sources (including, most notably, Paul Allen of AM 1130 KFAN radio and voice of the Minnesota Vikings) that our big pick at number 30 in the first round of the draft would be Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Pardon the pun, but it would’ve put Jimmy in quite the pickle – we already have three quarterbacks: one of them solid (Rosenfels), one of them iffy (Jackson), and one who will most certainly start again this fall (by the name of Brett Favre).
Thank goodness P.A. was wrong. The Vikes went another route, and although it’s true that we’re going to need a quarterback in a couple of years (assuming that the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and the ensuing work stoppage doesn’t destroy the NFL altogether), we need to plug some other holes first – and that’s exactly what the Vikings did with their draft selections this year.
Now, if you’ve read my stuff before, you know I’m not exactly a fan of Brad Childress. I will give him credit the one place it’s due, however – we’ve not had a poor draft since he’s been our head coach. The guy knows how to pick ’em. Even so, I was a little bit surprised to see the Vikes trade away their first round pick for an early second round selection. Yeah, it’s true that Detroit needed it more (those poor souls), but the draft isn’t really a time to be charitable, is it? After all, the other teams are putting together the guys that they think are going to be the most competent at kicking your ass, so it seemed like a weird move to me.
And then, it all became clear: at the top of the second round, the Vikings chose Chris Cook, the 204-pound, 6’2″ monster cornerback from Virginia. I couldn’t be happier, and I doubt you’ll find anyone who will disagree with me. It’s true that Antoine Winfield is one of the greatest corners in the league, but he’s starting to show some wear and tear. Plus, Cedric Griffin is currently injured, so it’s like walking on eggshells talking about the return of those two. That said, what a great move to bring in Cook, who has tons of ability and can vie for a starting position right away.
Then, with their second pick in the second round (at number 51 overall), the Vikes selected Toby Gerhart, the 6’1″, 237-pound load from Stanford. This beast Gerhart will handily replace the recently departed Chester Taylor. As many of you know, I have been lamenting our running back situation ever since Taylor deserted us for Chicago (I’m not exactly sore about it because I completely understand why the very talented Taylor wouldn’t want to play runner-up to Adrian Peterson – who continues to decline in quality – but I like Taylor so much that it was sad to see him go). With the addition of Gerhart, I can breathe again – the guy has shown that he can take huge hits and not drop the ball, which is very reassuring given Peterson’s recent affinity for putting it on the ground.
The Vikings made two other potentially huge picks amongst the later draft rounds: defensive end Everson Griffen (fourth round), and Delano, MN native Nate Triplett (a linebacker drafted late in the fifth round). Griffen, a tremendously talented end, fell from a possible first round pick to the fourth round by widely reported inconsistency in his play-making. Everyone from ESPN to WCCO to the Star Tribune has noted both his abundance of talent and his lackluster play in the past year or so, but they’ve also noted the potential he has to be a huge force on the Vikings defense; I concur. And Triplett is a sweet story, because not only did he show in his senior year that he’s a solid linebacker (according to the Star Tribune, he had two interceptions and five pass break-ups in 105 tackles), he’s from the Minneapolis suburb of Delano, and he played for the Minnesota Gophers. It’s always nice to have a hometown boy on the team (think of Joe Mauer) – and if he can play as well as Mauer can, well, we’ll be pretty darn lucky.
So, with these four picks (plus some other incidentals), the Vikings have cleaned up the weak areas of their defense, plus they found a solid second back for their running game – a back who could probably take the heat if Peterson completely falls apart. Like I said before, I don’t like Brad Childress much. But P.A. may be right about one thing, even if he wasn’t right about our picks – Childress is doing a better job than fans want to give him credit for. I can’t quite believe that I’m agreeing with that statement, but if you look at our record over the past couple of seasons, I guess it’s true. And it’s also true that we’ve never suffered a poor draft during Childress’ tenure.
Now, if he can keep his huddles to under twelve men when it counts, then I think we’re going to be golden.