Here we are less than 48 hours away from the greatest stretch of three days throughout the entire offseason and I can’t sleep. Obviously, I’m referring to the 2013 NFL Draft which takes place this Thursday evening. And unfortunately, the absence of sleep isn’t due to excitement regarding our two first round picks… It’s due to a nasty case of bronchitis and a sinus infection that leaves me coughing throughout the night. So, bear with me as I walk you through my third and final mock draft of the offseason and attempt to explain some of the decisions I’ve made (of which are bound to make at least a few Vikings fans squirm).

First, yes, I still do have Geno Smith going in the top 5. In fact, I have two quarterbacks being taken in the top 10. Here’s why and I’ve said it before: People can say anything they want about the lack of talent and a true franchise QB in this year’s draft but the truth is that teams over and over again have showed us that, on draft day, they are more than willing to reach on a quarterback that they think even has a remote chance of righting the ship (regardless of how delusional that thought may be).

Geno Smith to the Eagles isn’t that crazy. Their is a new head coach there who is going to be looking for someone that can run his new, fast-pace offense. Michael Vick is past his prime and has become a turnover machine. The Eagles selecting Smith and having the two face off in camp seems to make sense to me (and a few other people).

The next quarterback I have being taken (by the Buffalo Bills) also makes sense. The obvious connection with Nassib and coach Doug Marone is there from their time together at Syracuse. But, more than that, the Bills need to create competition at the quarterback position and it’s not a guarantee their guy (assumedly Nassib) will be there when they select in the second round. It’s possible, yes. But, unless they can somehow trade down, would not be surprised at all with this pick.

Alright, let’s get on to the important part, shall we? Our selections.

#23 – Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

This pick is obviously not going to sit well with a couple people. But, through all the research I’ve done on this year’s prospects, all the film and highlights I’ve watched, all the scouting reports I’ve read, etc. all lead me to believe that Te’o is the best inside linebacker in this year’s draft class.

There are a couple of knocks against Te’o that I want to address here, now, because there is a good chance that this is actually the Vikings’ pick Thursday. First, let’s get the ‘scandal’ out of the way.

As far as I’m concerned, Te’o could have an imaginary relationship with a goat pretending to be a horse that somehow managed to sprout thumbs from its hooves and learn how to use Facebook. I do not care what Te’o does in his private personal relationships as long as he isn’t breaking any laws. His relationships, real or imaginary, aren’t my business, they’re not your business and they’re not the media’s business. Now, some people say, “well, it’s not the relationship that bothers me, it’s that he lied about it.” Well, I don’t know all the details… But if I were to put myself in his shoes just weeks away from the National Championship game and days away from the Heisman selection, I would probably perpetuate this already existing story to the media too. Because I would be embarrassed, humiliated and would not want the media rainstorm that eventually showered all over Te’o and completely dominated the headlines and smeared his name. This ‘scandal’ will not affect the ability for Te’o to be a leader in the locker room. End of story as far as I’m concerned.

Secondly, we have the slow 40 time at the combine. Every year people read way, way too much into the 40 times at the combine. Beside the fact that his forty time was not incredibly slow when compared to the average time of other successful NFL linebackers when they were at the combine but there is a difference between 40 speed and on-the-field football speed. Part of what makes Te’o quick on the field is his ability to read and react to the offense incredibly fast. He has great awareness, a knack for making plays and understands the game. He takes good angles and is able to get to the ball carrier quicker than everyone else usually.

Finally, we have his poor performance in the Championship game after the hell-storm of media coverage the scandal created. People will point to the fact that he got handled by the Alabama offensive line… By a guy named Chance Warmack. Heard of him? This is because the Notre Dame defensive line was completely dominated by a superior, NFL-caliber offensive line and were able to get straight to the second level where they could have their way with guys like Te’o. It’s simple – Te’o is not going to be able to disengage from a guy like Warmack. Most, if not all linebackers are not going to be able to disengage from a guy like Warmack. Te’o had one bad game… Unfortunately for him it was the biggest college game of the year that everyone was watching and significantly hurt his draft stock.

The Vikings should capitalize on this and draft him without hesitation, if available, to fill a major need with the best player available at the position.

#25 – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

I love this pick and have Williams as a close second to Sheldon Richardson in this year’s defensive tackle draft stock. Williams is a smart guy who is very competitive and has no character concerns. He has great short-area quickness, largely due to how quick he can get off the ball, and substantial size. He’s tough, will play through injuries and has the potential to be a leader on the line after losing Kevin Williams.

Plus, his last name is Williams. And I want to see the ‘Williams Wall’ one last time. Don’t you?!


In all seriousness though, this is likely my ‘ideal first round’ scenario for the Vikings. I’m very high on these two guys, which I know may cause me to get some flak around these parts… But I can take it!

Adam and I have a little wager going on who will hit on more selections. He’ll have his mock up here shortly, probably tomorrow. To be honest though, these mock drafts are really just a crap shoot. And, especially this year, what will happen Thursday is anybody’s guess. This year is much harder to predict than last year (and we did horrible at predicting picks last year!).

So, check out the full mock draft here and let me know what you think. If I’m completely off base, that’s fine – I’ll likely just blame it on the bronchitis, lack of sleep and the array of medicines I’m taking.

Hoping to be in good form for Thursday, though. Can’t wait to see you guys then. Almost here!

(Edit: A reader (Skol12) just pointed out that I somehow forgot Sheldon Richardson despite him being #3 on our board. Oops! Now I will need to revise tomorrow… Sorry about that.)