MINNEAPOLIS -- Since February, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has been floating the idea that he might be interested in trading down from the No. 8 overall selection, to help the Vikings get from eight picks to Spielman's customary goal of 10. Count ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay among those who would find that to be a viable option if the Vikings didn't take a quarterback at No. 8.
McShay had the Vikings taking Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles in his most recent mock draft, but said in a conference call with ESPN NFL Nation reporters on Thursday that many of the team's other needs -- middle linebacker and cornerback among them -- wouldn't be worth filling at No. 8.
"I don't think there's a corner worth drafting in the top eight," McShay said. "I like (Michigan State's) Darqueze Dennard. I don't think (Oklahoma State's) Justin Gilbert is there (on his level). You're really reaching for a corner (at No. 8), to me. You're really reaching for a middle linebacker. If they like Gilbert as much as some teams do, they could try to move down a little bit."
Both McShay and ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper have talked about seven players who have separated themselves from the pack -- South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. It's always possible the Vikings could take one of those players if the quarterback they want is gone before No. 8, but Mack -- the one who would fit the Vikings best -- figures to be gone by then. It's also questionable whether the Vikings, who are set at both tackle spots and have Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson at receiver, would find the opportunity to take one of those players more attractive than the chance to trade down, especially when there could be other teams itching for the chance to move up and select one of those players.
The Vikings could always have a player high enough on their board that they'd feel comfortable taking him eighth overall. The depth of the draft, though, might put the Vikings in position to move back, pick up a couple extra selections and still get a defensive player they like. They could then use the extra picks to add depth in later rounds, or move back into the first round and take a quarterback who might be slipping (remember, teams get a fifth-year option and an extra year of control on first-rounders). In any case, not taking a quarterback could open up several options for the Vikings in the draft.