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Thursday, December 15, 2011
DraftWatch: The race for No. 2 overall

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

With three games remaining this season, the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams are in a dogfight for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft. It's too early to know whether the winner will be awarded USC left tackle Matt Kalil, who has yet to declare for the draft and might not be on the Rams' radar anyway, but No. 2 is a better spot to sit than No. 3 the last time I checked.

Both teams are 2-11, two games behind the front-running Indianapolis Colts (0-13) and two games ahead of the next group of teams. The NFL breaks draft-positioning ties with reverse order of strength of schedule, and as of this moment the Rams (94-75) have had a weaker schedule than the Vikings (97-72).

(The Vikings can thank the 13-0 Packers for that one.)

The cleanest way for the Vikings to jump into the No. 2 spot is to finish with a worse record than the Rams. But if you watched any part of the Rams' game Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks, you're wondering if it's possible for them to win another game this season.

So if both teams lose out and finish 2-14, the Vikings would need their strength of schedule to fall below the Rams'. That's not totally out of the question. The records of each team's first 13 opponents could change, and more obviously, the Rams' three remaining opponents have a combined record of 27-12 -- six games better than that of the Vikings' opponents (21-18). Details are in the chart.

I know it's a bit morbid to dice through this topic with so many games left to be played, but I get the sense that at least some Vikings fans have moved on to the draft and are salivating over the possibility of locking down the left tackle position with Kalil. That segment of the Minnesota population should be comforted in knowing that the Rams drafted Rodger Saffold in 2010 and appear to be happy with him as their left tackle of the future. So it's possible that Kalil could be available to the Vikings even if the Rams beat them out for No. 2 overall.

I want to smack myself for even considering draft-day scenarios on Dec. 15, but such is life.

Related: ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider both rank Kalil as the second-best potential prospect in the draft after Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Remember, Kalil is an underclassman and could return to school for another year.