EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In releasing his first mock draft on Wednesday afternoon, ESPN insider Todd McShay had the Vikings taking University of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack with the eighth overall pick. And in doing so, he highlighted an important point for Vikings fans to consider: If the team stays at No. 8 overall -- where it would be if the season ended today -- it might not find a quarterback worth taking at that spot.
McShay's mock is certainly heavy on quarterbacks -- he has four going in the top six picks -- but he has none going in the first round after Fresno State's Derek Carr to the Cleveland Browns at No. 6 overall. While there's little doubt the 2014 quarterback class will offer some depth, teams aren't sure how many sure-fire first-rounders are in it. And with as many teams needing quarterbacks as there figure to be next spring, the Vikings could find the selection a bit picked over if they're choosing in the bottom half of the top 10.
The good news there is that if the Vikings fill another need in the first round (as McShay has them doing), they might be able to come back and get a QB in the second round. This draft could afford them the depth to do that, and if they brought Matt Cassel back next season, they could push back the timetable for when they'd need to get a young quarterback on the field, possibly allowing themselves a chance to develop a player they took after the first round without the same kind of immediate pressure that would accompany a top-10 pick.
Mack might not be an obvious fit for the Vikings' current system -- he projects as a 3-4 pass-rusher -- but McShay compares his talent to Clay Matthews, and the Vikings could certainly be in need of pass-rushing help if they let Jared Allen depart in free agency. And if the Vikings have a new coach, there's always a chance they'd make the switch to a 3-4.
The larger point here, though, is that the obvious quarterback options could be gone by the time the Vikings pick next May. If that happens, they could be better served through a willingness to look in different directions.