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Gamble or not, here comes Harvin

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Gamble or not, here comes Harvin
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Let's say you have an itch to buy a new, flashy automobile and found one being advertised for quite a reasonable price.

It's sleek, fast and attractive to drive -- again -- at a cheaper than normal price.


The down side is if you buy it, you can't afford the insurance -- thus a high-risk venture.

The Minnesota Vikings found themselves in exactly this situation last Saturday during the 2009 NFL Draft.

Picking at No. 22, the Vikings had basically two big holes to fill -- quarterback not withstanding  -- at wide receiver and offensive right tackle.

Their fortunes came to fruition when both Florida WR Percy Harvin and Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher both slid to the Vikes at 22.

Both players filled a need and both were basically steals at that position.

The Vikes could go with the reliable and safe pick in Oher or the flashy one of Harvin.

Oher more than likely will be at the very least, a solid offensive tackle for years to come.

Harvin was the sports car pick, one which came with baggage -- the one which insurance could not be afforded.

Basically, Harvin was the pick without the safety net.

The Vikes chose to let it fly, throw conservatism out the window and they went with Harvin.

After three years of playing it as conservative as a Republican Catholic accountant, the Vikings went with their wild side.

And after seeing all those conservative moves, it's finally nice to see them throw caution in the wind and go for the gusto in Harvin.

With the Florida playmaker carrying off the field problems -- i.e. a failed marijuana test before the NFL Combine -- his high reward status overshadows the risk in the Vikes' case.

They needed a player as explosive as Harvin to start opening some breathing space for their stud running back Adrian Peterson.

Harvin alone can make defenses pay for stacking the box with eight to nine players against Peterson, especially if he breaks the second level where he would be off to the races.

His threat of yards after the catch compliments the West Coast offense perfectly and don't let his diminutive stature fool you.

Despite standing 5-11 and 195 pounds, Harvin is hard to bring down with some superior upper-body strength.

His speed and shiftiness will force defensive backfields to respect speed at the slot in Harvin and out wide in Bernard Berrian.

The durability issue also comes up with Harvin, who reportedly has a "hole" in his ankle.

That hole in his ankle and Harvin managed to just go for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the NCAA Championship game against Oklahoma.

The last durability issue raised for a recent Viking draftee came in the form of Peterson -- and we're finding out how that is turning out.

Harvin's addition also takes less pressure of the quarterback position, which everyone from Minnesota to soccer-loving England knows is a Viking weakness.

There have been some comparisons between Harvin and Randy Moss, the last troubled wide receiver who slid to the Vikings at No. 21 in 1998.

But that's where those comparisons end.

Harvin won't make his living going deep down the sideline, but instead of catching a quick pass and making his way through the defense.

He will be used in a variety of ways, including slot receiver, wideout, kick returner and even running back in a possible Wildcat formation.

The NFL is evolving into a league where versatility is becoming as important as speed.

The off the field baggage is obviously a concern. It's a gamble. There will be no insurance on this sports car.

But give credit where credit is due to head coach Brad Childress, who made a special trip several days before the draft to visit with Harvin, the Florida coaches and his family.

The team and Childress did their due diligence in researching that Harvin isn't the next Pacman Jones.

In that regard, fans just have to trust that the work went into researching Harvin's character and his 20-year-old age ripens soon into a mature, professional football player.

After passing on Oher, the Vikes' good fortunes continued through to the second round.

Another falling offensive tackle fell right into the Vikes' laps, one which is a big load.

Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt played left tackle on one of the best offensive lines in the nation last year for the Sooners.

The hefty tackle weighs in at 6-8, 332 pounds and is just massive.

His weakness is his agility to stop faster, quicker defensive ends.

But with the plan of making Loadholt a right offensive tackle, it works perfectly to his weakness. The Vikes also will have the two biggest tackles in Loadholt and Bryant Mckinnie to help clear the edges for Peterson.

The scenarios which could have occurred in the first two rounds for the Vikes could have been dramatically different if they would have gone for Oher.

By the time the second round rolled around, six wide receivers were chosen. So the playmaker the Vikes desperately needed would not have come close to Harvin's value and talent.

On the flipside, Loadholt isn't that much of a dropoff to Oher, at a position which doesn't make as near of an impact -- right tackle.

So in essence, the value of Harvin and Loadholt would have far outshined the value of Oher and a much less of a playmaker to the likes of Juaquin Iglesias (Oklahoma), Mohamed Massaquoi (Georgia) or Pat White (Virginia).

No doubt, neither of these picks can be dubbed as for-sure hits. No pick can.

Imagine the risk level of No. 1 pick Matt Stafford of the Detroit Lions and his $41 million guaranteed contract.

Yes, there's a risk in Harvin, but there is no doubting he can change this offense into a plodding one, into an explosive one whenever he touches the ball, it could go all the way.

And he was perfect value at No. 22.

The pressure now will be on Childress to creatively implement Harvin into the offense -- and not just as a slot receiver.

There's the other risk, since through the last three years, creativity hasn't been a cornerstone of the Vikings' offense.

The pieces are there, despite an elite quarterback to take the helm.

The Vikes went with the flashy sports car, not the safe S.U.V. like Oher -- but then again, they got the S.U.V. in the second round.

This pick also signifies the urgency to win now -- this season -- for Childress.

This team is no longer rebuilding, their push needs to happen now.

That's why Harvin is a Viking today.