Edit: I've been working on this for a few days, and after tonight's news of Wilf being spotted in LA, and the rumor of there maybe being an exemption of the Feb. 15 relocation deadline, all I want to do throw my laptop at the wall. And if we get an announcement the Vikings are moving in the next several weeks, I might just burn all my Vikings gear. I am not in a good frame of mind right now, but since this was already mostly written, I've decided to post it anyway. It could be several days of wasted effort if the Vikings get kicked out of Minnesota by the politicians.
I've written several fanposts about the draft, and the direction we could go already. But, I haven't actually put up a full-fledged, 7-round mock draft yet. With the draft a week from tonight, we're probably never going to know more (or care more) about these prospects than we do right now. At least, not until they take the field and show us what they have. In any case, here's yet another mock draft to slap on top of the over-flowing pile of mock drafts. Since this is my first stab at it, this edition will not feature any trades (even though I think we’ll trade at least once if not twice in this draft...I’m working on another mock with trades for later). I'm using CBSSports overall player rankings, and Mike Mayock's positional rankings as a starting point. Read on after the jump.
Round 1, Pick #3: Matt Kalil, LT USC
No surprises with this pick. He's the top rated left tackle in the draft, and the best player available at #3. He fills a significant need to boot. If we don’t trade down, IMO, this is the pick to make at #3.
Round 2, Pick #35: Harrison Smith, S Notre Dame
Based on the player rankings, my list of guys to target at this spot included: CB Janoris Jenkins, S Harrison Smith, WR Alshon Jeffrey, OLB Zach Brown, and DT Kendall Reyes. Mayock has the group graded almost identically (in a range of 84-86/100). I don’t like Jenkins off-the-field stuff and I don’t like Jeffrey’s weight issues. So that leaves Brown, Smith and Reyes. Since our next biggest hole in the roster after LT is the Safety position, Harrison Smith is the best option here IMO. Smith is an aggressive safety with good hands and tackling ability. He’s smart, and as a two-time captain at Notre Dame, he possesses good leadership skills. I think he would instantly upgrade our secondary as a day 1 starter, and take some pressure off of Winfield and Cook.
Round 3, Pick #66: Brian Quick, WR Appalachian State
Of the WR/CB/DT ranked 66 or later, Brian Quick gets the highest grade from Mike Mayock, rating him right on the border of “eventual starter” and “immediate starter”. I considered AJ Jenkins out of Illinois here, and also looked at a couple CB like Jamell Fleming and Casey Hayward. I really wanted to go for a DT here, but there just weren’t any with a decent grades from Mayock available in the 66-76 range of the CBS player rankings. So, ultimately I went with Quick, because he is a huge receiver clocking in at 6’3” 220 lbs, who can complement our big tight ends with further matchup problems, especially in the red zone. He has decent hands and good top end speed (4.55 40 yd dash) and is a willing blocker. He had 71 catches last year for 1,096 yards and 11 TDs, and is Appalachian State’s all-time leader in each of those stats.
Round 4, Pick #98: Chase Minnifield, CB Virginia
Minnifield is a highly touted prospect that dealt with a knee injury at the end of the 2011 season and didn’t work-out at the combine, and was slowed at his Pro Day. Never-the-less he comes from a football family (his father was a Pro-Bowl corner in the 80s) and is one of Mayock’s highest rated prospects still around in CBS’s rankings at #99. He could stand to bulk up a bit, at only 183 lbs, but he has great awareness, can play man and zone, and is good in run support. He’s a guy that can come in and learn from Winfield, and IMO, this year he could transition his way into the starting rotation and start opposite Cook next year, or at the very least would compete well with Chris Carr and Zack Bowman.
Round 4, Pick #128: Jaye Howard, DT Florida
Howard is a thick DT, but was inconsistent at Florida. He has good agility and footwork for his size though, and has the potential to succeed at the NFL level. Some question his strength and small frame for an NFL DT (and think he has maxed out his weight already), but Mayock has him graded as a “draftable player.” He’s easily the best DT available at this spot in the draft and the drop-off from here is significant.
Round 4, Pick #134: Joe Adams, WR Arkansas
Joe Adams is a small, but explosive playmaker who had a good Senior Bowl. He’s a natural fit for the slot, but also possesses return abilities. I was looking at available players at LB too, but Adams jumped out at me on the rankings list (CBS had him at #142), and Mayock has him graded much higher than any LBs that were available at this spot. Even though we picked up Quick in the 3rd, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spielman and company grab several WR in this draft.
Round 5, Pick #138: Terrell Manning, OLB N.C. State
This is the 3rd pick for the Vikings within a span of only 10 picks. Surely we will trade this one to move up somewhere (since we can’t trade the two compensatory picks above). CBS has Manning ranked #144 overall, but Mayock has him graded a little higher in the “eventual starter” range. He’s young and a bit inexperienced and inconsistent (still a junior), but is a highly touted athlete with upside that is great in run support and can rush the passer. He’s also got prototypical size for an OLB in a 4-3 scheme, measuring 6’2” and 237 lbs.
Round 6, Pick #175: Nate Potter, OT Boise State
With the Matt Kalil pick in the 1st round this may seem like an odd choice, but if Charlie Johnson moves over to Guard, then Patrick Brown and DeMarcus Love are the only two backup tackles on the team after starters Kalil and Loadholt. Potter has great size (6’6” 303 lbs) and versatility as a backup having had some experience also playing guard. This selection is a depth pick, more than anything.
Round 7, Pick #210: Brandon Bolden, RB Mississippi
Bolden has some off-the-field issues (suspensions), but is a talented RB with great receiving skills and decent blocking ability. He’s a powerful and patient runner and could be a good 3rd down back in the NFL. If he falls to us in the 7th, this would be a nice value pickup.
Round 7, Pick #223: Blair Walsh, K Georgia
Walsh is the highest ranked placekicker both on CBS and by Mike Mayock. Longwell has never had great leg strength, and he certainly isn’t getting any younger. He had a down year in 2011 with the lowest field goal percentage he’s had since 2005 (only 78.4% which ranked 27th among all kickers last year). At age 37, he likely doesn’t have too many years left, so now (with 10 draft picks at our disposal) is as good a time as any to draft a kicker with our last pick, and Blair Walsh has one of the strongest legs coming out of the draft.