Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
We're under 100 days to go until the 2013 National Football League Draft, and with so many other folks getting into the act, I wanted to take a stab at a mock draft of my own. Now, I'm only looking at the picks for the Minnesota Vikings in this particular mock draft. . .as we get closer to the draft, I'll probably do the whole first round at least once. . .and I'm going from various sources around the interwebs to see when it looks like players should be available, based on current scouting. Obviously those things will change as we go through the NFL Combine and individual workouts/pro days over the course of the spring. This is just basically a first wag at the entire thing.
So, without further ado, here's my first mock draft for the 2013 Minnesota Vikings.
Round 1 - Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia
Two of the Vikings' three starting linebackers are free agents this season, and if the Vikings want to continue playing their zone-based defense, they're going to need a linebacker that can cover the middle of the field. Ogletree appears to be more than that, however. He led a very good Georgia defense in tackles this past season, despite missing the first four games due to an academic suspension. From everything I've seen of Ogletree, he would be the starter at middle linebacker the minute his name was called, and would be a great fit for Minnesota if they continue to play their 4-3 scheme (and there's no reason to think they won't).
Round 2 - Robert Woods, WR, Southern California
For some reason, Woods seems to be dropping down the draft boards. Part of it might have been the fact that he was overshadowed for the Trojans this past season by teammate Marqise Lee (who might be the best receiver in college football, but isn't eligible for this year's draft). Part of it might be because his quarterback, Matt Barkley, showed an alarming regression in 2012. In either case, if Woods were to make it to this portion of the draft, he would be a very nice get for a receiver-starved team like the Vikings. He runs good routes and has very good hands, and leaves Southern Cal (a year early) as the school's all-time leading receiver with 249 receptions.
Round 3 - Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois
The Vikings could use some shoring up in the middle of the defensive line, as Kevin Williams isn't getting any younger. Spence, another underclassman, was named to several All-American teams as a freshman, and has been very solid for the Illini ever since. He has 16.5 tackles for loss in his career, including seven this past season.
Round 4 (from Detroit) - Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
As we've said before, the Vikings can't go into 2013 with Joe Webb as the #2 quarterback. Jones, much maligned for most of the season, had a pretty decent year for the Sooners, completing 66% of his passes with 30 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. He would immediately be the second guy on the depth chart if Minnesota were to take him. . .and, quite frankly, without him ever having taken an NFL snap, I'd feel more comfortable with him stepping in if Christian Ponder were to get injured than I would with either Joe Webb or McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Round 4 - Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Jackson is what the experts would refer to as a "big boy," weighing in at 320 pounds. With both Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco having had their issues at the guard spot this season, the Vikings could stand to bring in a guy that would have a chance to push both of them, and Jackson would be able to do that. Most of the scouting reports say that he's a much better run blocker than a pass blocker. For a lot of teams, this might be a problem. . .in Minnesota, it would be an asset.
(EDIT: rj-b has pointed out in the comments that Jackson is going back to Mississippi State for his senior season. I must have missed that. . .I thought he was coming out. I will rectify this the next time I do a mock. My apologies for the error.)
Round 5 - Emory Blake, WR, Auburn
Did we mention that the Vikings have some issues at wide receiver? Because they do. Blake is another guy with decent size, and he caught 50 passes for 789 yards and three touchdowns this past season. Auburn's quarterback play. . .much like the rest of the Auburn team. . .was terrible in 2012, but Blake has shown some potential prior to this season as well. He caught eight touchdown passes in 2010 when the Tigers had some guy named Cam Newton at quarterback. He might be a bit of a project, but at this point the Vikings can use projects, too.
Round 7 (from Arizona) - Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame
It might seem superfluous for the Vikings to draft a running back at all, but hey. . .this is the seventh round. Behind Adrian Peterson, the Vikings currently have a couple of bruisers in Toby Gerhart and Matt Asiata. Riddick would be a nice change-of-pace sort of back, and could make a solid mark in the passing game as well.
Round 7 - Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State
I probably should have had the Vikings grabbing some secondary help much earlier than this. Malone had a pretty nice season for the Wildcats in 2012, with 47 tackles, five interceptions, and eight passes broken up. He had a very good junior season as well after transferring to Kansas State from the JUCO ranks.
So, that's what I've got at the present time. Like I said, this is certain to change over the course of the workout season, but since we're flying sort of blind at this point, this is one possible scenario.