Friday, November 27, 2015

morris claiborne

If you read our comments section and have done so recently, you have surely noticed that a new Vikings site called Vikings Draft Card has a very staunch supporter (highly unlikely to be the writer of the site, right?  Right.) that loves dumping links from that site onto ours.

The site appears to have just been started this month and, by all appearances, has a main purpose of persuading Vikings fans that Matt Kalil is not worth being drafted in the three spot that the Vikings currently hold and should instead draft Morris Claiborne.  I am all about opposing views and going against the grain, so I really do recommend checking out the site.  However, we won’t be adding them to our blogroll until/unless the site owner decides to put his or her name (or any name) to the words they write.

Still, I have to give that site credit (and the person posting links in our comments section) for pointing us towards a report coming out of Green Bay that essentially leaks Wonderlic scores of a number of top prospects in this Draft class.

Much has been made of the reports that Claiborne scored an astonishingly low Wonderlic grade of “4” which would assuredly rank him amongst the lowest scores ever.  Even Vince Young did better.

However, the latest leaks suggest that maybe Kalil isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree either.

The score is lowest amongst the reported scores for offensive tackles, and second lowest of all offensive linemen reported on.  He scored 11 points less than the average score for offensive tackles, but is still 11 points ahead of Claiborne’s score which can allegedly be written off to a learning disability.

So, there you have it, some evidence that might suggest the Vikings should pass on the USC left tackle that yours truly rates as the second best player (yes, including quarterbacks) in this class.  For me, this just more evidence that the Vikings instead should take any trade offers very seriously.

A Wonderlic score may or may not be any sort of indicator of a prospect’s future as a football player, but I still think the Vikings must take Kalil if they remain at the three spot.

I can’t help but notice a trend.

Today, the trend that is glaringly obvious if you are bouncing around Vikings sites and looking at the “Twitter Thing” at the bottom of our page involves the Vikings passing on USC left tackle Matt Kalil.

Morris Claiborne is at the center of the speculation, despite weeks of media types labeling this as “smoke” and dismissing it as gamesmanship.  I, myself, still find it hard to believe that this is anything but “smoke” and still believe that Kalil is the obvious choice if the Vikings stay at the three spot.

I do, however, fully buy into the idea that Rick Spielman wants to trade down.  He wants that right deal to present itself so that he can load up on picks to help expedite his plan to rebuild the roster.  Of late, it seems a trade partner might be more interested in jumping up to snag Trent Richardson at the three spot, and I would recommend keeping an eye on the Bengals who have a clear need at running back and are armed with two first round picks.

In our debate last week, it was clear that most of you sided with Brett’s judgment that staying at three and selecting Kalil was far better than my feeling that trading back for as big of a ransom as possible is the best route to take.  For better or worse, I think Spielman’s thinking is more in line with mine and he will be eager to trade back on Thursday, if even just a few spots.

Regardless, something that has seemed like a “sure thing” since February is no looking iffy.  With local beat writers and connected insiders starting to doubt Kalil as the Vikings prospect of choice, the drama for Thursday night should be through the roof.

The Vikings as an organization are suddenly faced with very limited options when it comes to their future inside the boundaries of the State of Minnesota.

The future of the roster, however, is one week away from getting a facelift and General Manager Rick Spielman admits that his options for the third overall selection have been narrowed to three:  tackle Matt Kalil, receiver Justin Blackmon, and corner Morris Claiborne.

Some might argue that Spielman listing those three players is actually an expansion of options, considering Matt Kalil is largely viewed as the only viable prospect to select at that point.

The Pioneer Press reports that the Vikings have given equal grades to all three of these prospects and have not yet decided on who they would select should they decide to stay put and not trade backwards.

“What you’re saying (to the staff) is, ‘All these guys have equal ability,’ ” Spielman said.  “What do you want? Do you want the receiver? Do you want the tackle? Do you want the corner?’”

The Vikings plan to “run the cards” on Wednesday, which essentially means everyone involved will take part in one giant mock draft and see some of the different ways things could play out on Draft Weekend.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the Vikings would select anyone other than Kalil third overall.  The reason is simple:  a complete lack of red flags.  So, unless Kalil scored a “4” on his Wonderlic Exam or is a closet diva that got his wrist slapped by the NCAA, it should be fairly obvious who the choice is.

Still, there are some (like Adam Schefter) who believe the Vikings will choose someone other than the popular choice that has become Kalil.  If this actually happens, be ready for water cooler chat time at the office to look more like a demolition derby if you work in the Twin Cities.

Spielman did say that he has received some preliminary calls from other teams (which quite possibly means he hasn’t at all) regarding the possibility of the Vikings trading backwards.  Spielman, however, said he would wait until Thursday night to make any sort of decision about that topic.

The public has narrowed down the Vikings options for the third overall selection in the upcoming Draft to essentially two:  Draft Matt Kalil or trade down.

Rick Spielman says he will be open to trading down, according to Pro Football Weekly, even when the team is actually on the clock.

“There are times we have been in (the war room) and we’ve done deals on the clock,” Spielman said.  “It’s an unknown, but you’re prepared for both ways. We’ll be ready and we’ll have a good idea of what we think the value of that third pick is.”

“If we want to get out of that pick, we’ll (determine) what it will take to get out of that pick,” he continued. “Plus you have to be careful of how far you would want to go back (down in the draft). You have to know what you’re looking at, depending on how far you go back. Are you getting yourself out of the (range of) the supposedly blue-chip type of players?”

“I think once we get through our draft meetings and get our board finalized and get the coaches involved, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what we want to do,” he said.

Trade partners could consist of either the Cleveland Browns or Miami Dolphins if either become smitten with quarterback prospect Ryan Tannehill.  However, other teams may be willing to move up and grab a blue chip player such as Matt Kalil or Morris Claiborne.

As much as I would like to see the Vikings turn the three pick into a gold mine of other picks, as we draw closer I am becoming increasingly convinced that they will simply make Kalil their selection and stay put.

Over the last month or so Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman has used the media to suggest he is open to taking LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the third overall selection.

That notion has flown in the face of what almost every draftnik in the world thinks they will do: select USC left tackle Matt Kalil.

It may never be truly known whether or not Spielman’s professed love for Claiborne was a smokescreen or just him telling the truth (my money is on the former), but as we draw nearer to the NFL Draft it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine Claiborne being the selection.

Two red flags have recently popped up that should prevent the Vikings from taking the risk at the three spot. 

First, at his Pro Day, it was revealed that Claiborne’s career in the NFL will start with a surgery.  A torn ligament in his left wrist needs to be repaired and it should give teams pause when considering the young corner.  However, Claiborne did continue to play through the injury in college, so maybe some teams will view his toughness as a plus that outweighs the negative that is the injury itself.  At third overall, however, it’d be a tough sell to select a player that immediately has medical questions.

Second, reports have emerged today that Claiborne bombed the Wonderlic Test with a shockingly low score of 4 (out of 50).  The weight scouts should put into Wonderlic scores, and the validity of the reports themselves, can be questioned and argued.  However, this information cannot be ignored by any front office.

So, while Morris Claiborne has accumulated a pair of troubling headlines over the last month, Kalil continues to be regarded as one of the safest selections in the upcoming Draft.

On Tuesday, offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was asked if he thought Kalil had a ceiling in the NFL.

“Do I think he has a ceiling? No,” he said in response.  “I think he’s a pretty good player. I’m going to leave it just at that.”

As I have been all offseason long, I am convinced the Vikings will select Kalil third overall if they stay put in that spot.

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