The upcoming NFL draft, and the Vikes…

I must be one of the least-active bloggers in the universe.

By day (and many evenings), I work as a journalist and between boys and girls basketball playoffs, high school hockey and preparing a spring sports preview, life has been pretty hectic lately. Not to mention that I’m engaged and now only a year away from my wedding. Time flies!

But, one sporting event has me captivated lately and that’s the drama surrounding the upcoming NFL draft… The Vikings have two first-round picks. One is the seventh pick overall and I forget where the other is – 18th, maybe? – but it’s above 20, also. If the Vikes choose wisely, this could be the draft that re-shapes the post-Moss Vikings for years to come.

The most exciting possibility for me, personally, is the idea that one of the top three running backs in the draft will fall to us; yes, the Vikes seem loaded at running back, but here’s the thing: three of them were injured for one stretch or another last year, and none seemed to be the go-to back late in the season.

Sure, Moe Williams is a reliable third-down back. But he’s not a starter.

Yes, Onterrio Smith is a burner. But he’s also a mini-Moss.

Fine, Michael Bennett has all the makings of a superstar. But he hasn’t played a full season yet.

Okay, Mwelde Moore filled in nicely for a few weeks. But he still hasn’t proven he’s capable of being an every-down, every-week, full-timer.

Together, they’re awesome. But who’s the Jerome Bettis of the group? My feeling is, we don’t have one.

So, here’s what I’d do: First, pray one of the big backs falls to the Vikes. Maybe someone goes defense instead of running back ahead of us. I don’t care how it happens.

Any of the three would be fine, although if it were Cadillac Williams, that’d be ideal. I’d settle for Ronnie Brown with no complaints. I doubt Cedric Benson will still be on the board. As long as the Vikes have a shot at one of them, they should take it, then trade away Smith or Bennett for a second-round pick.

Failing the possibility of one of the three big backs being available, then when it comes to receiver, here’s the thing: I doubt Braylon Edwards will be on the board past the third or fourth pick, so forget that. Mike Williams looks good, but he’s a risk. If you can’t get a running back, I say take a receiver with the second first-round pick and go defense on the first pick. My choice? CB Antrelle Rolle, if he’s still on the board. If he’s not, trade down a spot or two, gain extra pickes, and take DE Erasmus James from Wisconsin, to shore up the D-line.

Okay, let’s assume we still only have second pick in the first round remaining. The Vikes pick somewhere around 18. At that point, I’d take a shot at WR Mark Clayton, if he’s still on the board. If not, then let’s not forget that much of the Vikings’ offensive woes last year came as a result of their O-line being decimated by early injuries. Florida State OT Alex Barron would take care of that, if he’s still available.

If he’s not, then I’d again go defense, opting for any of the following, in order of preference: S Thomas Davis, CB Carlos Rogers, OLB Shawne Merriman, or DE Marcus Spears. That’d shift depending on who the Vikes end up with at the seventh pick overall.

Finally, in most of my scenarios, the Vikes would have at least two picks in the second round, as well; either by trading down a couple spots at seven, or by trading Bennett after gaining one of the top three backs. Either way, if the Vikes have two second-rounders, it’s time to solve the kicker position once and for all: take Nugent and be done with it for the next 15-20 years.

In fact, take him even if the Vikes only have ONE second-rounder. It’s time to stop hiring guys older than me to kick field goals, then hiring another guy to handle kickoffs… Take Nugent in the second round, Coach Tice. Settle the position, already.

And if there is a second round-two pick due to trading of some sort, and the Vikes still haven’t taken a receiver… take one then. Or in the third. I’m not as worried as some people about the Vikes receiving corps. The current, free-agency-enhanced crew can get the job done, especially if we have a 25-30 carry-per-game RB.

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