COMMENTARY: Uncertainty surrounds Vikings coach's first NFL draft

MINNEAPOLIS - After spending weeks reviewing films of last season's Vikings games, coach Leslie Frazier will go into today's first round of the NFL draft knowing why the Vikings are expected to draft the best player available at No. 12 - they are...

Leslie Frazier
Minnesota Vikings interim head coach Leslie Frazier speaks to the media at the Vikings football practice facility in Eden Prairie, Minn. Monday, Nov. 22, 2010.(AP Photo/Andy King)

MINNEAPOLIS - After spending weeks reviewing films of last season's Vikings games, coach Leslie Frazier will go into today's first round of the NFL draft knowing why the Vikings are expected to draft the best player available at No. 12 - they are a team needing help at every position.

"There's a reason that we finished with a 6-10 record," Frazier said. "We want to improve our offensive and defensive line. We'd like to improve, at least upgrade, the quarterback position. But we'd also like to improve our secondary as well. We've got a number of different areas we want to try to address in this draft."

Frazier said he is excited about his first draft as a head coach.

"It's been a lot of work leading up to it," he said. "We've been traveling around the country and visiting with different players and bringing in some to interview.

"We had some of our assistants go out and visit some of the players and work them out on their campuses and try to get to know them a little bit, so we've all been out at some point or another."


Frazier didn't confirm or deny the prediction by many that the Vikings will take an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round.

"We may do that," he said. "I mean, there are good offensive linemen in this draft, there are good defensive linemen in this draft, there's some good receivers. It's a pretty deep draft at certain positions, so we should be able to get some good players from this draft.

"Yeah, I think you still have to always approach it that way. Although we have many needs, as you mentioned, but [we're] still just always looking for the best player available. If you stick by that mantra, usually you do the right thing. You make the right choice for your football team."

Different sort of draft

The NFL labor situation makes this draft different from any in the past because teams will not have the opportunity to fill holes with veteran free agents and unselected college players.

"It's uncharted territory in so many ways, and it makes it a pure draft in that regard because of the lack of free agency," Frazier said. "It's a different twist, and it's something you have to be able to navigate and try to picture what's going to happen after the draft and not just with the draft, so it's a different dynamic all around."

Frazier said he believes this draft is so deep that he might be able to land up to two starters.

"There are enough good players to [do that]," he said. "If nothing else, create some competition at other positions, but we're hoping to find someone in this draft who can make our team better. If you have a chance to fill a hole in the draft you better get it done, because you don't know what's going to happen with free agency, [or] when there will be free agency.


"There's just so much uncertainty with free agency. What will the rules be with free agency? It's a different situation this year entirely, so you have to approach the draft differently, also."

The Vikings will be hurt by not having the third-round draft choice they gave to the Patriots in the Randy Moss deal.

"[We'd] like to have that third-round pick, for sure," Frazier said. "You'd like to have a full complement, especially in a year like this where there's so many good players in this draft, but if we're not able to get a third-round pick, we'll still be able to do well on the back end of this draft. We've got two fifth-round picks, we've got two sixth-round picks, we've got two seventh-round picks, so we're going to still get a full complement of players. But ideally, you'd like to have all your picks for sure this year."

Those late-round draftees might be players who, with a minicamp or two and training camp, could improve and develop and make a great contribution. But right now, no one knows when or if those camps will take place.

"A lot of times you can't judge a draft in that first year; it takes a little time for the players to develop," Frazier said. "And with this year's lockout, the fact that we don't know when we're going to have our rookies in house, it just creates some uncertainty about a lot of things. But we're looking forward to when the lockout is done and the players are here, and we're going forward and starting the 2011 season."

Had there not been the lockout, the Vikings could have added an extra minicamp because they have a new coach. But Frazier said he didn't consider this a big advantage.

"One of the things about the lockout is the fact that everybody is in the same situation, so I don't see it quite as a disadvantage," he said. "If it was us and maybe two or three different teams in a different situation, [but] the fact that we're all operating under the same circumstances, I think we'll be fine. Once we find out what the parameters will be going forward, we'll be able to tackle things the right way. But it's just one of those things that's completely out of my control."

This is the most crucial draft for Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and company. With so many needs, they have to find players to fill some holes. Otherwise the Packers are going to win another NFC North title.

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