EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Sometime around 8:30 Central time Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings will finally be on the clock with the No. 8 overall pick, finally rendering insignificant the months of mock drafts and speculation about who they'll take.
When they do make their pick, general manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday, they could take a player that none of the mock drafts have pegged.
"Everybody reads the mocks, because we're tired of yelling at each other," Spielman said. "At night, I read the mocks and kind of get caught up on things. You guys are missing some names on our spot at 8, I can tell you that."
Spielman said no one in the building knows who the Vikings will take with the eighth pick, even though the general manager has had plenty of discussions about the options at that pick. Many of the media mock drafts (including plenty at ESPN) have the Vikings taking a quarterback, in large part because that's what many pundits feel the team should do, not necessarily what it will do. In light of Spielman's comment, though, here's one name that could be worth a longer look for the Vikings than he's received so far: Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.
The 6-foot-5 receiver has been listed in the top seven picks of many mock drafts, and is seen as the second-best wideout in the draft behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins. The Vikings don't have a big, physical presence at the position, and they only have two receivers who look like sure-fire starters: Greg Jennings, who will be 31 in September, and Cordarrelle Patterson, who is still learning the finer points of playing receiver in the NFL before his second season. Jerome Simpson is on a one-year deal (and was arrested for a second time last November), and third-year man Jarius Wright might not be more than a complementary receiver.
Would it be a bit frivolous to take Evans when the Vikings have so many other needs on defense? Perhaps. But if the Vikings are going to take a young quarterback at some point -- or if they're going to try to win with Matt Cassel for now -- one theory is that they could try to load the offense up with as many weapons as possible. Adrian Peterson, Jennings, Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and Evans would put the Vikings on par with the rest of the high-powered offenses in the division and potentially make things more comfortable for whomever the Vikings' quarterback is, this year or in the future.
And then there's this: The Vikings had at least three wideouts on the field for just 447 snaps last season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Cleveland Browns used at least three receivers on an extra 112 snaps. If three-receiver looks are going to be at least a slightly more prominent part of the offense, and the Vikings have depth concerns about the position, is taking a player like Evans the craziest idea in the world?
"You can look at spots on offense, besides quarterback," Spielman said. "There's no way that's not a need. While that may be a need, that guy can't come in and help this year, but he sure as heck is going to be an impact player for us down the road as well, whether that's receiver or whatever."
It might not be the most sensible, in terms of filling an obvious need, but that scenario would test the Vikings' commitment to Spielman's stated practice of taking the best player available, regardless of position. If Evans meets that description when the Vikings were on the clock Thursday night, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility to think they'd take him.