The Minnesota Vikings traded away Percy Harvin in exchange for the 25th overall pick in this year’s draft, a pretty good move considering they were not going to be able to sign him long term and Harvin had worn out his welcome in Minnesota. That obviously leaves a gaping hole at the wide receiver position, because Harvin was the leading receiver last year, despite only playing in nine games. Michael Jenkins, who had the second most yards among wide receivers, was released. That leaves Jerome Simpson (274 yards), Jarius Wright (310 yards), and Stephen Burton (35 yards) at the top of the depth chart entering the rest of free agency and the draft. It’s so bad that Yahoo’s depth chart doesn’t even bother listing a second receiver position.
So there are needs for a team, and then there are N-E-E-D-S, like what Minnesota needs to do in regard to its receiving situation. I wouldn’t recommend this as a hard and fast strategy, because you never know who will slip to those picks, or whether a run on receivers will occur, but the Vikings should not shy away from using both picks to address the receiver group. Tavon Austin could be available. Cordarrelle Patterson probably not, but you never know. Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins are in the late first round mix.
[RELATED: 2013 NFL Mock Draft, Post-Combine]
Here is a list of the wide receivers drafted between picks 18 and 30 in the NFL Draft. It is a diverse list, with players ranging from stars among the best at the position to outright failures. Looking over that list and trying to generally place the players in three groups among those since 1980 (stars/#1 wide receivers, starters/#2 receivers, and backups/busts), I get the following:
#1 wide receivers– 28%
#2 wide receivers– 35%
I was probably a little harsh with those ratings, as guys who were the top receivers on their team, but were not Pro Bowlers, I classified as #2 receivers. Conversely, someone like Reggie Wayne is classified as a #1 even though he was the second receiver on a great passing offense with the Colts early in his career. Some of the backups/busts were guys that started for two to three years for the team that drafted them.
Applying those percentage expectations for getting a receiver, we get the following if a team like Minnesota adopted a “draft two” strategy.
- Two Stars = 9% chance
- A Star and A Long Term Starter = 19% chance
- A Star and A Bust = 21% chance
- Two Long Term Starters = 12% chance
- A Long Term Starter and a Bust = 26% chance
- Two Busts = 14% chance
By throwing numbers, and not just late-round, hope-and-a-prayer numbers, at the issue, Minnesota would have about a 50/50 shot of getting at least one star (somewhere on the spectrum from Dwayne Bowe to Reggie Wayne to Randy Moss), and would be very likely to come out with at least one long term starter, at a cheap team controlled cost.
Of course, the concern may be that the success or failure rates are not independent, since the same organization is doing the drafting. No team has used multiple first round picks in the same draft on wide receivers (Matt Millen probably tried), but there have been a few occasions where a team has used a pick in each of the first two rounds on wide receivers.
1980 New York Jets: Lam Jones (2nd overall) and Ralph Clayton (47th overall)
2003 Arizona: Bryant Johnson (17th overall) and Anquan Boldin (54th overall)
1996 New York Jets: Keyshawn Johnson (1st overall) and Alex Van Dyke (31st overall)
1988 Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Cox (20th overall) and Flipper Anderson (46th overall)
The Jets did twice. The first time, neither Jones or Clayton worked out. In the three most recently attempts, all got one pretty good starter out of the deal. For Arizona and the Rams, it actually turned out that the second receiver taken was the best. If they had just stood pat after one selection, they would have been worse off.