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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Vikings

By Ben Goessling

In his third mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has a quarterback -- and a headline-grabber, at that -- sliding to the Vikings at No. 8: He's got them taking Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, as the top three quarterbacks in the draft all slide out of the top three overall picks.

The Vikings would have interest in Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, whom Kiper now has projected to go No. 1 overall to Houston, and with the Matt Cassel signing, they are not obligated to take a quarterback with the eighth overall pick. But if Manziel were still there, it might be tough for the Vikings to pass on him, especially since they could pair him with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Cassel, putting him in a structure where he's able to develop. Manziel wouldn't have to start the first week of the season unless he were good enough to do so, and even if he did, Cassel would give him an experienced quarterback to learn from. It's also worth noting that Turner was the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator when they picked Drew Brees; in other words, Manziel's height won't be a red flag in the coordinator's mind.

Drafting Manziel would mean the Vikings would get all that comes with him, though he seemed intent on distancing himself from the Johnny Football persona at the NFL scouting combine. They would also be passing on potential impact players at linebacker or cornerback. But Manziel would give them a dynamic young quarterback to build around -- and would certainly add a jolt of excitement to a fan base that hasn't had much of it at quarterback lately, save for two years with Brett Favre. All told, it's tough to see the Vikings passing on a chance to get a player like Manziel, should the opportunity present itself.