Last night’s article about my opinion that the Vikings would be a great fit for running back prospect Marcus Lattimore sparked one of the better reader conversations, or debate perhaps, that we have had so far this offseason.

Naturally, I want to give my opinion.

In the discussion, there are two basic schools of thought at play, with one thinking a team should draft for need and the other saying to take the best player available.  Some good arguments have been made, but I think my perspective is a touch different.

In a world where all the stars align, a team’s draft board would align perfectly with their roster needs.  If you desperately need a running back, then you would love to see a running back be the highest ranked player available to you when you are on the clock.

It is the General Manager’s job to try and create that perfect world by moving around during the Draft.  A perfect example of such a move could be from just last year when Rick Spielman, who needed to get his team some safety help, pulled the trigger on a trade that bounced the Vikings back into the first round where they were able to grab Harrison Smith.

It is also possible, last year, that the Vikings had a higher grade on running back Trent Richardson than they did on Matt Kalil which allowed Spielman to move back a spot and let Richardson get picked up by Cleveland, while retaining the ability to still get Kalil.

Sometimes these trades don’t always work out, however, and a team is forced to choose between their best rated player or making a slight reach in the name of filling an immediate need.  I am sure that those decisions are the hardest ones to make when the pressure is on.

If I were in charge of making such decisions (which, of course, I am not) I would see no shame in taking either approach, really, but would have a philosophy that revolves around my roster’s identity.

Let me explain.

There is something to be said for a team that uses free agency and the first round of the Draft to fill immediate needs, while using day two and day three of the Draft to reinforce an already strong part of the roster.  Drafting to get deeper and stronger at an area of your roster that already is a strength, if you will.

For example, the New York Giants in recent history have not been shy about spending early picks on defensive linemen because that was their identity, their pass rush essentially won them a Super Bowl against an undefeated Patriots team, and they didn’t want to take on any risk of losing that identity through injuries.  Their defensive line also played a big part in last year’s Super Bowl run, their second in five years.

The Minnesota Vikings have openly admitted that their offense is “built to win” by running the football.  It is their identity.

Of course, having Adrian Peterson is a huge part of that, and a lot of their future success hinges on his ability to stay healthy and stay productive.  Heck, they even have a decent backup plan in Toby Gerhart, who is a lot better as an every down back than as a player pulling spot duty.

Still, I see absolutely no problem with the Vikings using the NFL Draft to ensure that their identity, being a hard running offense, is maintained and preserved long into the future despite what unpleasant surprises may end up surfacing.

So, to finally get around to the point, that is why I would have absolutely no problem with the Vikings spending a fourth or fifth rounder on a running back.  Or a guard.  Or a center.  It may not immediately improve the running offense, but if it ensures that running game will last for an entire season and well into the postseason then I think it is a pick well spent.

Besides, if we are banking on filling our needs in round four of the NFL Draft, then Rick Spielman has already messed things up pretty bad.

I am a big fan of the Best Player Available approach to the NFL Draft because I just don’t see the downside.  There is no shame in using that player to fill a need or provide depth in an area on your roster that already has a solid starter.

Besides, if the Vikings had always drafted for need, then I don’t think Adrian Peterson ever would have worn a Vikings uniform in the first place.

38 COMMENTS

  1. I believe you should always draft best player available. If you draft for need, you could miss out on a gem. And that gem, could be kicking your ass in the future.

    • always draft best player available? ALWAYS?
      I know the idea behind best player available is very good and well though, gives you the best talent, however, lets assume Loadholt get a new contract, say a 4 to 5 year contract. The highest player on your board drafting at 23rd is lets say OT Lane Johnson. Would you then take him in the first round as a backup for Kalil and Loadholt?

  2. It NEEDS to be a mixture of the 2. Drafting BPA every time will get you in trouble, look at Detroits WR situation from 2000-2008. If we were truly drafting BPA we wouldn’t have Ponder we wouldn’t have Harrison Smith, we wouldnt even have Chad Greenway. Balancing the 2 gives you the best result (look at GB, NYG, NE, SF ect..).
    As for Lattimore I think he is an awesome player and would like him in the 3rd IF we knew he could stay healthy and we dealt Toby and/or Percy. I just don’t think the guy will ever be healthy and we need better players in the 3rd round than a RB who could possibly, maybe, hopefully help us in 2 years. Then again the Vikings are cursed in the 3rd round, luckily we make up for it in the 4th.

    • Hypothetical question. So If AD was on the board as best player available, but the Vikings were loaded at running back at the time, you would say draft for best player available by need? Then we pass up AD, and he is drafted by the Bears, and he goes and beats the Vikings every game for his career.

      Still think you should pass on a gem?

      • Say it was Steven Jackson/Chester Taylor I had, knowing what I know now? No I would take AD and trade Steven Jackson. In 2007 before the draft I would have passed on AD because he wasn’t a sure thing(coming off an injury and ran crazy.) In 2008 he Dolphins also drafted the BPA in Jake Long when they could have drafted Matt Ryan who was a bigger need.
        Like I said, balance.

      • Hypothetically I would hope they would have traded that pick to someone in the AFC that wanted AD and get multiple players out of it while limiting the damage he would do against them in the future. It’s also about trusting your medical staff. The Vikes had no problem trading with the Lions to allow them to take Jahvid Best whose concussion problems in college probably had them figuring Detroit wasn’t getting a long term star. I believe that extra 4th round pick turned into Everson Griffen. You do need to use a mixture of BPA and need in the draft, especially in the opening couple rounds, because you need to balance your roster. The chances of getting an impact player goes down with each round that passes though, so if you have a feeling on a certain player and your’e in the 5th round, I would say it really makes no difference if he plays a position you already have good depth at, you should pull the trigger. Like Adam wrote, a good GM finds ways to move around to make the teams needs line up with value.

    • I like a few but still think thats a pretty awful list. He only has 10 players with first round grades, AND has Terrance Williams as the best WR?

  3. Who is the best Fullback, Place Kicker or Punter in this draft class?

    Do the Vikings draft one of these players just because they are available? …….. Nope

    Certain positions warrant the higher draft pick, QB, D-Line, O-Line. Other positions do not.

      • Yup, but even that is subjective to the individuals teams. Some GM’s won’t touch a punter or kicker in the draft. The Jags used a 3rd round pick on Anger last year because they place a high emphasis on field position and knew he’ld be one of there most valuable players after watching Gabberts turd of a rookie season….I’m only half joking about that…but generally your going to pass on 1 deep positions if your already set, gotta balance that roster. You should still try to trade the pick before moving on to your next best player.

  4. What I like about the new CBA… Teams can trade back easier now if the BPA is not a good fit for them.

    I love seeing teams move around… I hope we see more of it again this year.

    Adam, I agree it is hard to fill a need in the 4th and 5th round. Half of those picks struggle to even make the roster.

    The Vikings are a running team… Ponder is a game manager… he is not a QB that is going to make a living throwing the ball down the field. We need to build around our identity and Ponder’s strengths.

    If a 3rd down back can excell in pass protecting or can slip out and give Ponder a check down that can move the chains… I can’t understand how that would not add value to our team and help develop Ponder.

    We don’t have a player like that now. AP and Gerhart are not much help in the passing game.

    Lattimore can motion wide and go deep against a linebacker all day. He is more than a short yardage threat.

    • carl, don’t ya think if he’s in, the d is in nickel or dime, so who’s going to cover him deep? ponder throws short so often i don’t want to encourage that even more

      • I think a nickle safety or a nickle linebacker is a good one on one matchup with a 6’0 running back that can go up and pluck the ball out of the air with his great body control and natural pass receiving skill set. Lattimore averaged over 10 yards per catch at South Carolina. 74 career receptions.

        Simpson is a deep threat guy. Aromashodu is a deep threat. Harvin is one of the fastest players in the NFL. Ponder is not a deep ball guy. He excells in 3rd and short and in red zone situations! I think it is smart to find player that excell in those situation and build around what he does best.

        The coaches see everyday what these guys can do. If Ponder was hitting the deep ball consistently in practice, we would see it more in games!

    • I think it’s a brialliant idea to utilize a RB speed against a LB, but as Cal said he would most likely see the field on 3rd down since Peterson is in on every single running down and why wouldn’t he be. Then it would be a matchup of a RB versus zone or CB. I don’t think it’s the biggest mismatch..
      – Also I really doubt he will get much if any playing time in the 2013 season. That why i’m against taking him in the 3rd, but if he’s still there in the 4th I would really consider it.

  5. hmm, in a world where all the stars align…
    i’d suggest that we use an overlapping of solar systems, orbiting galactic spatiality interspersed with charmed quarks in dark matter flung violently about by supernovae

    seriously, a mixture, where bpa and specific need together raise or lower a player’s draft position. this is actually harder to explain than i thought it would be. it’s like pushing two circles together until they overlap; those are the guys to target. gotta stay flexible, tho, too, in case a guy that’s just too good to pass up, no matter what, falls in your lap

    ok, i feel like a white dwarf now

  6. the identity thing is cool for character and general philosophy and such, but right now we’re forced to be a running, good defense team, because we can’t throw to win. when we had cunningham and moss, and robert smith, but just an ok defense, we were a screamin offensive terror, with three deep as our mantra, and the games would sometimes be over in the first five or ten minutes. identities change with the players ya have

    we’re going to get some WRs and see if ponder can measure up to his being the 12th pick. it’s a throwing game and ya gotta have a good pitcher and some good catchers

  7. A good GM knows how to balance BPA and fills needs!

    Frazier wants to run the ball and play good D that is his philosophy. We are not “forced” into it… Spielman and Frazier are invested in it. They believe in it!

    Adam, I like the identity angle you took with this blog. Good read!

    BPA must be a good fit with the Vikings Identity!

    I think a big 6 foot RB with great pass blocking skills who has great hands and the ability to pluck the ball out of the air is something we are missing. I also believe a good 3rd down back could help open things up for the WRs. I hope we find one in this draft – 4th round would be ideal!

    • frazier and muskrat have said they want to go deep, but ponder hasn’t found that yet, so yes, we are forced into shorter passes and running the ball

      idk anything about this rb guy, but if we want a guy to catch the ball, get WRs. if anything, ponder has mastered the short passing game. if lattiwhoever is so good, but a risk, he might be taken later in the draft, but rb is not our priority, we need to see if ponder can be our long term answer at qb and we need some good WRs to test him out

  8. calvkg- if you are right about Musgrave and Frazier wanting to go deep more, we will find out this offseason.

    Who will the Vikings bring in to compete with Webb for the #2 job? A big armed guy, or a game manager? Will it be a veteran or a rookie?

    This draft has a couple mid round big armed guys like Tyler Bray and Landry Jones. Colby Cameron is a solid game manager type that can be drafted in the later rounds. Cameron might be a good option if we draft his favorite target Quinton Patton.

    Will the Vikings pass on Tyler Wilson or Barkely if they fall to #23?

    It will be interesting to see what moves Frazier and Spielman make this off season.

    • Good point – my gut feeling is that they already have the perfect number 2 guy . . . they’ve just been using him as the number one. I know they’ve already anointed Ponder as the starter but a lot can happen in training camp.

    • if they don’t pass on tyler wilson and / or barkely should the fall down pass 23 # I think they are sending mixed signals. Speilman and Frazier have said all season, and even postseason that Ponder is their guy. I seriously doubt they will pick a QB in the 1st round. I have been mistaken before but I think the odds are as close to zero as it may come.

      • We’ll see – I agree that it’s not likely that they will draft a QB early but if they bring in a Matt Moore or another decent veteran it will be a threat to Ponder regardless. Webb wasn’t a viable option so they were going to sink or swim with him (Ponder) no matter what but he won’t get the same kind of slack this year. I don’t really put a whole lot of stock in what a coach says to groom his QB’s psyche during the season – especially when he doesn’t have any real options anyway.

        • I agree 100 % with that they should bring in Matt Moore.. That actually the guy I want to most in free agency.. I think he will really push ponder to peform much better.
          Also if Ponder doesn’t respond to the competetion Matt Moore is more than capable of being a game manager (what I think Ponder has been thus far in his career) – a few times he has been the deciding factor in us winning (also a few times the deciding factor for us lossing)

    • IF the vikes get another qb, he won’t be worth a chit. they’re going to protect ponder until he absolutely shows them that he can’t be the answer

      i hope ponder can do it, we dump webb for a decent fa back-up, or mbt steps into the role; don’t want to draft a qb this year at all, unless something crazy happens

  9. Malte- I agree, right now I think Frazier and Spielman are comfortable with Ponder.
    I think Frazier and Spielman also like the game manager type QBs.

    Colby Cameron might be the answer to our backup QB need . We can pick him up at the back end of the draft. He could compete for the #2 job without putting pressure on Ponder.

    Cameron is 6’2 210 and threw for 4147 yards this year with 31tds and only 5 ints. He completed 68 % of his pass attempts.

    Quinton Patton early in the draft… Colby Cameron late in the draft… a 3rd down back in the middle.

    • Was just going to announce the same… Trent Williams was either injuried or something..
      – I feel a little bad for Matt that he didn’t had a chance to go earlier

  10. Matt Moore made 2.7 mil this year as a backup. I think that is more than what Ponder makes??
    I would love to see Moore in Purple, but he wants a shot at starting… and I think the jets have said they would be will to give him that shot. Miami has also said they would like to have him back.

    My next choice is Tyler Thigpen… Or draft
    Tyler Bray
    Landry Jones
    Colby Cameron

    • yes i agree he sure does want a shot at starting.. Vikings might actually be a decent place considering Ponders’ struggle as well as recent injuries.. I don’t know if the jets is a good place for him to go considering what they have to offer at OL, RB or WR.. the only decent weapon they have on offense is D. Keller and / or santonio holmes.
      Vikings have a very decent OL, great RB and will hopefully improve their WR group.
      I prefer that we wouldn’t spend a to high pick on QB that’s why I’ve love if we could aquire somebody via free agency, like Matt Moore. Tyler Thigpen isn’t the worst either.

  11. Hey everybody, I start a new forum topic. We have a lot of new faces here. The Topic is where are u from, how long have you been a Vikings fan, and how long have you been a VT fan? link is here…http://vikingsterritory.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=94&p=740#p740

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