Inside Our War Room – Round One

Over the past couple days, I have had the honor of representing Vikings Territory and the Minnesota Vikings in #MockThree. For those that don’t know, #MockThree is the best community mock draft online right now. It is all ran using Twitter and a great website created by Brandon Nall (@EmPuLSe). In this particular iteration of the draft (there have been two prior), each franchise has a “war room” with one General Manager and two Assistant Managers. From there, the mock draft acts almost identically to the real NFL draft. Each team has a certain amount of time on-the-clock to communicate within their war room and choose who they will select in the draft. Teams can communicate with each other throughout the draft (primarily through Twitter) to trade picks. The whole thing is incredibly creative and inventive and the amount of time the people responsible for #MockThree have put into the ‘game’ should be applauded.

I have to be completely honest – I was a little intimidated at first to be a part of this thing. The people involved are incredibly knowledgeable draftniks. Seriously, it’s what these guys do. And I’ll be upfront with you, I am not a draftnik. I’m not incredibly knowledgeable of all the college prospects (primarily the later round ones), I haven’t watched tons of tape and I’m not an expert scout. I do understand the Vikings, though. I know what they’ve done in past drafts, I know the teams’ needs and I have a good understanding of what the team could realistically do in this year’s draft. I’m also willing to work my butt off to do the research and make sure we make the right selections.

Currently, the second round of #MockThree is coming to an end. So, I thought it would be a good idea to recap for you all what we did in the first round, provide some analysis (via Adam Warwas) of what some other teams did and get your feedback on maybe where our war room should go from here.

First things first, I want to acknowledge/introduce the two gentleman I’ve been working with on this draft so far. First is Josh Deceuster who is a writer for a great site, which I visit quite frequently, called “Mocking The Draft“. The other member of our team is Kyle Segall who happens to be a writer for the “Daily Norseman“.

Heading into #MockThree, the three of us met with each other and worked to create a comprehensive board with this year’s draft prospects. We also talked about our individual preferences as far as draft strategy and found out we were, for the most part, on the same page (best player available with some consideration of team need).

We knew who the first two players off the board would be – at this point, everyone does (Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III). What we didn’t know was if there would be any opportunity for trade after that. The war room decided that we wanted to put some ‘feelers’ out there to see if there was any interest in the #3 spot. Obviously, we would have preferred to trade with the Cleveland Browns who are at the #4 spot, allowing the Vikings to [probably] still manage to obtain USC’s Matt Kalil. Unfortunately though, no other teams showed interest in our spot so we made the decision to pull the trigger on Kalil.

We’ve beat to death here on Vikings Territory how great Matt Kalil is and what he could bring to the Vikings, so I’ll spare you right now. I will say though that it was a very obvious pick for our war room and I imagine it will be a very obvious pick for the actual Minnesota Vikings war room come draft day.

After the first pick, we really just wanted to monitor what other teams were doing in the first round. After a while, we noticed a couple players that we really liked seemed to be falling further than we anticipated – further than our board suggested they would. We began discussing the option of trading up back into the first round to select one of these individuals. Once pick #18 came around, the consensus of the war room was to get serious about moving back up and contacting some of these teams to see what it would require. We weren’t able to make anything happen at first, but by the time pick #21 rolled around, which belonged to the Bengals, we managed to work something out. We gave up our 2nd, 4th and 6th round picks to get the Bengals #21 1st round pick. The thinking was that we were basically swapping 2nd and 1st round picks while only losing our 4th and 6th (which wasn’t a huge loss considering the two compensatory 4th round picks).

By trading up, we were able to select Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick who could would make an immediate impact opposite Chris Cook in the secondary.  (It should be noted that all of this took place shortly before the Vikings signed cornerback Chris Carr.)

Personally, I wanted us to stay where we were and see what fell to us in the second; hoping we could nab a great receiver since they seemed to be falling in the draft. But, the rest of the war room was adamant about moving up and I wasn’t dead set against it so it was the decision we made. I definitely don’t think it was a bad move though… We still have a good amount of picks even after making the trade and managed to grab, arguably, the second best cornerback in the draft.

Unfortunately though, losing our second round pick means the past day or so we have been waiting for our third round pick to come around. (Talking strategy and targets the whole time, of course!) This draft is a pretty lengthy process with teams in the first round getting 3 hours per pick and 2 hours per pick in the following rounds.

Of course, I wanted Adam’s opinion of how we had done so far so that is included below along with his thoughts on which teams managed to make the biggest reach and get the best value. So, make sure to keep reading and check back in a day or two to see what we do in the third round. If you have any comments, criticisms, suggestions, advice, etc. make sure to leave a comment. Also, you should check out #MockOne to follow the entire draft, see what other teams are doing and view the previous community drafts.

Adam’s First Round Recap:

Vikings Pick (#3 Overall): Obviously Matt Kalil is a popular pick. He is regarded as a fantastic prospect at and important position of need. The offensive line in Minnesota obviously needed major attention following the 2011 season, and nothing they have done will go further towards seeing some improvement as this selection.

Vikings Trade Up To #21: So, the guys in the Vikings war room decided to swing a trade that would ensure they get two first round talents from this Draft class. The Vikings gave up their second rounder (2.03), their fourth rounder (4.03) and their sixth rounder (6.05) to nab the 21 pick from the Bengals. I don’t really have an issue with the trade value, but I just don’t think cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was the guy we wanted to see this team trade up for. He is a fine, fine talent and the Vikings could surely use the help, but they have now left themselves in a difficult position with plenty of very pressing needs still needing to be filled: Safety, Middle Linebacker, and Wide Out. The team now has a long wait until the third round when the pickings will be much slimmer.

Biggest Reach: Really I don’t think there were any horrible reaches in this mock draft. I think the one that sticks out, however, is the Rams selection at number six. David DeCastro is, by all appearances, one of the best guard prospects to come along in a while so it is hard to rag on them too much. However, the fact still remains… they took a guard sixth overall. I do not know if they tried to slide backwards at all, but it seemed falling back again and then targeting DeCastro would have made for the better value.

Best Value: To me, the Cardinals getting Justin Blackmon at the 13 spot is absolutely insane. Pairing him up with Larry Fitzgerald should conjure up memories of the days when Fitz and Boldin were one of the best duos in the league. Hands down, they got the steal of this Draft.