Doug Wolter: Were the Vikings wise to make six draft deals?
Is it possible the Minnesota Vikings were schooled by division opponents Detroit and Green Bay?
The definition of a nerd, some might say, is the picture of a grown man spending an entire weekend sitting in front of his television set watching every NFL draft pick get chosen in real time. I think that’s what my wife thinks, and it’s hard to say she’s wrong.
There I was Thursday night, and Friday night, and most of Saturday, too, tied to ESPN with invisible strings as famous draft analyst Mel Kiper’s hair stared straight ahead at me.
Sandy obviously doesn’t understand that the great thing about the NFL draft is that everybody is an instant expert.
And why shouldn’t I be? I’ve been checking out the mocks practically every day for the past four months, feeling as if I’ve known the draft pool for about as long as I’ve known my own kids.
Mel knows who he likes. So do I. He’s wrong lots of times. So am I. So in my own football-addled mind, I feel justified in thinking that I can be correct in my assessments about as much as he can.
I still remember watching, in real time, the famous NFL draft dustup between Kiper and Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Tobin in 1994, when Tobin shocked the experts by choosing Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts fifth overall. Kiper savaged the Colts for making such a stupid pick, and then Tobin came on air and savaged Kiper. “Who the hell is Mel Kiper anyway?” he said.
I loved it. At the time, I agreed with Kiper. And we were both proven right. Alberts turned out to be not such a good linebacker.
Of course, looking back, Kiper wasn’t such a genius, himself. He wanted the Colts to select quarterback Trent Dilfer, who turned out to be not so good either.
Immediately after this year’s 2022 draft became history, the Minnesota Vikings were pegged on a scale somewhere between brilliant and brain dead, according to who you listen to. Most times, “experts” give teams the benefit of the doubt in their instant analyses, and there are those who say the Vikes were smart in what they did, which was to make six (count ‘em, six) deals, the most significant which were to move further back in the draft order.
Right or wrong, you’ve got to give first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah some props for being so brave. Typically, when you’re new to a job, you go by the book. But by trading back, Mensah significantly lessened his team’s chances of hitting on a game-changing player.
The Vikings’ first move was to trade out of the 12th overall pick and give it to a division opponent, the Detroit Lions. That allowed the Vikings to draft a good safety from Georgia, Lewis Cine, at No. 32. But then they traded their 34th pick to another divisional rival, the Green Bay Packers.
It takes a lot of chutzpah to deal with divisional foes. And since at 12 the Lions took an outstanding wide receiver talent, Jameson Williams, and at 34 the Packers took another high-profile receiver prospect, Christian Watson, there will be a lot of Minnesota fans screaming at their televisions every time either one of those two pass catchers score a touchdown.
At this point, I’ve read at least a couple of post-draft analysts who said the Vikings did well. There were also a couple who said the Lions played the Vikings for suckers.
It’s quite a shock to read that the Lions may have pulled the wool over the Vikings on this one. The woeful Lions hardly do anything intelligently on draft day, so to think they schooled the Vikings Thursday night should send any sentient Minnesota fan running into the streets screaming.
The truth is, time will tell if those chickens come home to roost. It usually takes at least a couple of years to know who the geniuses and the fools are. We’ll be watching the careers of Williams and Watson much more closely now.