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Do you think there is any chance the Vikings will spend their first-round pick on a cornerback? Obviously Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner will be gone (by #23), but do you think we could get the second or third best cornerback in the draft at #23? Who would those guys be?
-- Andrew C.
Yes, there is a chance the Vikings will use their first-round pick on a cornerback this year. But remember, teams (at least the Vikings) don't draft for need – that's how you miss on picks. If a cornerback is one of the best available players at the time the Vikings are on the clock, then they may well select that player. The draft is about stocking your roster with good football players, regardless of position.
Andrew is correct that it’s likely the draft’s best cornerback will be gone by the time pick #23 comes around. In last year’s draft, three cornerbacks were gone by pick #23. In the 2011 draft, two cornerbacks were taken by pick #23. If the past two years are an indication, a team can expect anywhere from the #3 to #5 cornerback being available at pick #23. At this point, I'm not sure who the best cornerbacks are behind Milliner. We'll know much more in a few weeks on that front.
What did you think of Manti Te’o’s performance while talking to the media at the Combine?
-- Shelly A.
In my six years of attending the Combine, Te’o’s press conference on Saturday was easily the most crowded. Cam Newton and Tim Tebow both dealt with a packed house for their respective press conferences, but even those two didn’t add up to what the scene was like on Saturday for Te’o. The most anticipated press conference of this year’s Combine was that of Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o. He handled the spot remarkably well, and answered all questions with grace. Te’o even finished his media session with a statement of gratitude to all of those who’ve supported him. It was an impressive display by Te’o.
Ultimately, here’s what I took away from his 14 minutes of podium time: He’s ready to move past the hoax incident but is also prepared to answer any and all questions about it; the hoax is not an excuse for the way he and his teammates played against Alabama in the national title game; he met with 20 teams at the Combine; and he has not been told the hoax will adversely impact his draft stock.
What were your thoughts on the quarterbacks at the Combine? Any guys worthy of a late-round pick? Colby Cameron and MarQueis Gray impressed me.
-- Zach W.
One name that came up during NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s press conference on Sunday was University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. Mayock didn’t shower Bray with praise and dress him up as an elite prospect, but he also indicated that Bray is not just a “throw-in” name at the position. I’m hesitant to throw any more names into the mix at this point because there’s still a ways to go until we know how the quarterback class will shake out.
I believe there will be quarterbacks worthy of late-round selections in this year’s draft, but it’s nothing that happened at the Combine that leads to me to that belief. Rather, it’s more about what each quarterback was able to put on tape during his college career that yields the ultimate determination.
Do you believe that instead of going with wide receiver in the first round we can use one of our extra picks to trade up and grab linebacker Manti Te'o? Then we can go wide receiver in the second round because of the depth at that position this year and maybe get Quinton Patton.
-- Jon O.
I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point, but my sense at this point is that teams in the back half of the first round may not feel compelled to move up into the front half because of the depth of this year’s class. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has said there’s not much difference between the fifth pick and the 25th pick in this year’s draft. In addition to that, Vikings GM Rick Spielman has stated his goal each year is to have 10 selections. Currently the Vikings have nine picks in their arsenal, so it seems at this point that a trade back at some point is more likely than a trade up.
With that said, we have seen Spielman make aggressive moves upward to get a player the team covets. Last year the Vikings moved up from the second round to the bottom of the first round to get
After finishing one game behind Green Bay in the division standings, and splitting with them during the regular season, is there any reason to believe we can't take the division next year?
-- Derek S.
There is plenty of reason to believe the Vikings can win the division in 2013. As you referenced, the margin between the Vikings and Packers was razor thin in 2012 and it’s reasonable to expect many of the Vikings young players to take a step forward in 2013 to help generate improvement for the team as a whole.
I actually asked ESPN.com NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert this very question during the Combine. Click here to listen to his response.