Three officials from the Minnesota Vikings descended on Alabama's pro day on Wednesday, giving way to speculation that the club is zooming in on AJ McCarron as a possible answer at quarterback. Not only was general manager Rick Spielman on hand, but new head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner were reportedly there as well.
The trio certainly could have been there to see Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley or safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, as well, but one would think Spielman, Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards would have been the more likely trio on the ground in Tuscaloosa, Ala., if defense were to be the focus of the day. As startribune.com points out, a message of sorts tends to be sent when centerpiece decision-makers converge like that.
McCarron and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio will probably be the first two players drafted from the Alabama offense.
If the Vikings determine McCarron, projected as a second- or third-rounder, is a viable option to fill their quarterback need, it would help free the club to acquire a player at a different position with the No. 8 overall pick. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah sees quarterback, defensive end, offensive guard as Minnesota's top position needs. But those other positions aren't necessarily a good fit for the No. 8 pick. It would be a high pick for a guard, and neither NFL Media analysts Bucky Brooks nor Charles Davis have an offensive guard being chosen in the first 30 picks in their mock drafts. At defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney figures to be long gone, and the next defensive end off the board -- perhaps Missouri's Kony Ealy or Auburn's Dee Ford -- is projected well below the No. 8 pick.
McCarron, for his part, is a cerebral quarterback who reads defenses as well as any prospect in the college game. That would certainly go over well with Turner.
If Minnesota puts itself in the McCarron market by passing on a quarterback at No. 8, it had better have a good backup plan in place. Several of the teams who would employ the same strategy will draft ahead of the Vikings in Round 2 as well.