Pelissero: Vikings are sold on Toby Gerhart's value
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He's also the only one of eight selections the Vikings wanted so badly they were willing to package two picks and jump up the board to snare him.
Make no mistake -- Gerhart was one of the Vikings' targets entering draft weekend, and not just because they didn't have a viable complement to Pro Bowl halfback Adrian Peterson after veteran Chester Taylor bolted in free agency.
"I thought he was unique," Vikings coach Brad Childress said of Gerhart during this past weekend's rookie minicamp.
After taking cornerback Chris Cook at No. 34, the Vikings quickly tried to get back into the top half of the second round to grab Gerhart, whose 6-foot, 230-pound frame and one-cut style made him a logical fit for their inside zone-oriented running game.
They eventually settled for trading up 11 spots with Houston -- the very team the Vikings feared would steal Gerhart as a complement to undersized Steve Slaton.
By surrendering the Nos. 62 and No. 93 picks for the No. 51 selection -- a net loss of 22 points on the draft-pick value chart, which has been consulted in NFL front offices for nearly two decades -- the Vikings in essence gave up the equivalent of a high sixth-round pick as well to make sure they got the back they wanted.
Asked if that bold move meant anything to him, Gerhart said, "It means a lot. It means that they really believe in my abilities and they believe I can contribute."
Internally, the Vikings justified the move not only based on need and their high grade on Gerhart, but also the previous day's swap with Detroit that allowed them to move up in the fourth round. With players of similar grades likely available at No. 93 and No. 100, the Vikings looked at it as a two-for-one situation and opted to turn their third-round pick into trade ammunition instead.
They were far from the only team to overrule the value chart to grab a targeted player. During the draft, there were 21 trades involving nothing but 2010 picks, and the Vikings-Texans swap was one of 10 (47.6 percent) that failed to line up on the value chart within 9.2 points -- the value of the first pick in the seventh round. Of those 10 trades, seven favored the team that moved down.
The Denver Broncos made four trades within the first round and "lost" value on all four -- including a staggering 56 points on the four-pick swap that allowed them to get into the No. 25 slot and take quarterback Tim Tebow. The Broncos' cumulative loss was 131 points, which translates to a low third-round pick.
On the other hand, the New England Patriots -- run by Broncos coach Josh McDaniels' old boss, Bill Belichick -- made six swaps and came out ahead five times, to a cumulative gain of 90.4 points (high fourth-round pick).
In the end, every draft-day move is about getting good football players, so only time will tell who got the better end of any deal. No contrived "value" will matter if the team that got it ends up drafting a bust.
But it's clear the Vikings are sold on Toby Gerhart -- and he'll get a chance right away to prove he was worth the investment.
"It's a big, thick body," Childress said. "You can see it on film and you can see it on tape. It will be interesting when he gets padded up and see how he comes out the other end."