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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Analyzing McShay mock: Vikings

By Ben Goessling

In his latest mock draft, ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay made his picks as though he were the general manager for every team in the league. In other words, he's picking the player he thinks the team should take, not necessarily whom they will take.

That's an important distinction to make, because in this particular case, it illustrates how badly the Vikings need to address their quarterback position for the future.

In fact, they've got such a serious need, McShay says, that they should be the first team to select a quarterback in the draft next month.

McShay has the Vikings taking Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the eighth overall pick, as ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. did in his most recent mock draft. The difference here, though, is that no other team before the Vikings should draft a quarterback before they should take another available player, McShay says. In fact, he doesn't have a second quarterback coming off the draft board until the 20th overall pick, when the Arizona Cardinals draft Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Johnny Manziel? He isn't drafted until No. 26 overall, when the Cleveland Browns use the first-rounder they obtained from Indianapolis in the Trent Richardson trade last September.

The most recent mock drafts have reflected a belief that the quarterbacks in this year's class are slipping, at least when compared with the impressive depth available at other positions in the first round. McShay believes the Vikings should pass on players such as Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard -- each of whom he has being selected within three picks after the Vikings' choice -- to take Bortles. If the Vikings did that, they'd be gambling on their ability to develop Bortles and on the quarterback's potential to turn into an elite NFL QB.

That's a gamble the Vikings will eventually have to take again, whether or not they do it this year. GM Rick Spielman has said several times that the Vikings will keep trying to get a quarterback until they've landed an elite one, and though Matt Cassel might get Minnesota through this season, it's safe to say there's not a cornerstone quarterback on the roster. Bortles is ahead of Manziel and Bridgewater in many mock drafts, and if the Vikings do take him at No. 8 next month, instead of drafting a defensive player who might help them sooner, their decision-makers will be effectively stating they're so sure about Bortles' potential that they're willing to stake their futures on him.