Monday Morning Mailbag


Monday Morning Mailbag: Draft Day Nears

Posted May 5, 2014

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Would Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard be the better fit at cornerback for Mike Zimmer’s system?
-- David L.

Both players would fit nicely in Zimmer’s defense. I see Gilbert as more of an outside cornerback with his athleticism, strong ball skills and fluid hip movement and backpedal, whereas I like Dennard as more of an inside/slot cornerback because of his instincts, quickness, tackling ability and toughness.

I saw an interesting mock draft where the Vikings trade back to No. 16 with Dallas because the Cowboys really like defensive tackle Aaron Donald and do not think he will be there when they pick. The trade sent us their first-round pick, their third-round pick and a first-round pick for next season. Do you see this as a realistic type draft for the Vikings this year?
-- Nicholas C.

This would be an aggressive move by the Cowboys to get Donald – probably a bit too aggressive when you factor in value of picks and precedent based on this trade made last year:

St. Louis                                                     Buffalo
No. 8 (WR Tavon Austin)                 No. 16 (QB EJ Manuel)
No. 71 (S TJ McDonald)                   No. 46 (LB Kiko Alonso)
                                                          No. 78 (WR Marquise Goodwin)
                                                          No. 222 (TE Chris Gragg)

As you can see, the Rams jumped from No. 16 to No. 8 (and also acquired a third-rounder) and it cost them a second-rounder and a seventh-rounder (as well as exchanging third-round picks). So to send a third-rounder and a future first-rounder in exchange for a jump from No. 16 to No. 8 is a bit steep. In addition, Dallas likely wouldn’t target the Vikings in a trade if they were intent on selecting Donald because the teams directly behind the Vikings – Buffalo, Detroit and Tennessee – aren’t likely to take a defensive tackle. A trade up for Donald would likely cause the Cowboys to look to jump in front of the Bears at No. 14 and maybe the NY Giants at No. 12.

With all of that being said, the Cowboys may be interested in another player – perhaps a quarterback, outside linebacker Anthony Barr or even tight end Eric Ebron. If that were the case, then a trade up to No. 8 with the Vikings could be in play.

GM Rick Spielman said he would like to have at least 10 picks in this year’s draft. How do you think he intends to get them?  With this year’s draft class being as talent deep as it is, do you see a possibility of trading out of the first round completely for perhaps three picks in the second and third rounds?
-- Dave W.
Albany, NY

At this point I wouldn’t rule anything out, but a trade out of the first round entirely doesn’t seem likely. Having the eighth overall pick or even trading back to the mid-teens gives a team the opportunity to add a blue-chip talent, so trading out of that opportunity – even for a bonanza of future picks – is an uncommon maneuver. The Vikings currently have eight picks, and to get that number to 10 shouldn’t be difficult for Spielman. Teams can pick up an additional pick or two by moving back a few spots in the middle rounds and even in the later rounds if the situation is right.

Historically watching years of the draft coverage, I have never heard so much talk of teams wanting to trade out of the top 10. I wonder if you might explain why so many are wanting to trade back? Is it simply that with all the juniors entering the draft, there is more quality from start to finish?
-- Deanna G.
Bessemer City, NC

Ding, ding, ding! No need for an explanation because Deanna nailed it. A record number of underclassmen declared for the draft this year and that has created an incredible amount of depth at several positions, which has thus given teams the idea that trading back to amass more picks is the route because you can still get a similarly-graded player by moving down a few spots.

I believe the Vikings will again trade up from the second round into the end of the first round. If they take a quarterback with the eighth pick, what linebacker or safety might be available around the 30th pick?
-- Steve T.
Superior, WI

That could actually be no-man’s land when it comes to linebacker and safety prospects. In the space between about No. 25 and No. 32, the top three linebackers should be gone and the top two safeties should be gone, leaving a fairly significant drop-off to the fourth linebacker and the third safety. Teams in that area are probably going to be looking at Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier for a linebacker or Washington State’s Deone Bucannon for a safety.

Are there any players in this year’s draft who clone Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David? This guy was the steal of the draft in 2012?
-- Brad S.

I love the reference to this player. He was one of my favorites a couple years ago because so many downgraded him due to his size, saying he was a ‘tweener – too big and slow to be a safety but too small to be a linebacker. As it turns out and as Brad mentioned, he was one of the best picks of the ’12 draft. I actually see two players in this year’s class who remind me of David – both in terms of the kind of player they are and where they could be selected (David was the 58th overall selection). One is Shazier and the other is BYU’s Kyle Van Noy. Both of these players are in that 6-2, 240-pound range and both can by physical at the point of attack while also being capable in coverage against the athletic, field-stretching tight ends that are now becoming standard equipment in today’s NFL offenses.

This is a trade up scenario vs. the trade down scenarios that have been floated so often for the Vikings. Could the Vikings take the best player available at No. 8 and then target the Redskins pick at No. 34 as a possible trading? Maybe our No. 40, No 96 and No. 148 for No. 34, as an example? They have got to be draft pick hungry because of the RG3 deal with Rams a couple years ago. I know we give up two picks, but we are in a better position to snare one of those second-tier quarterbacks.
-- Dave P.
The Texas Viking

I don’t know that a quarterback would be the target or not, but I like the idea here because it’s not quite as expensive as moving into the back end of the first round yet you’re going to get a player of equal value to those picked in the 25-32 range. Another thing I like about this idea is that the Vikings would have all of Thursday night and Friday morning/afternoon to consider who they might want at No. 34, which would ultimately help them decide if it’d be worth trading a couple mid-round picks for that player.

With all of that said, I think the deal Dave laid out is a bit too rich. I’d offer No. 40 (second round) and No. 108 (fourth round) for No. 34 (second round) and No. 178 (sixth-round)