For the purposes of this draft I will be assuming that no trades (other than the ones that have already taken place) will occur.
Picks: #23, #25, #52, #83, #102, #120, #155, #189, #213, #214, #229
Rd 1 #23-Arthur Brown—Brown is a guy that has been rising since the beginning of the offseason; and for good reason. Brown has been a great player for K-State since joining them in 2011 after transferring from Miami. His 101 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 INT, and 3 passes defended in 2011 earned him the Big-12 defensive newcomer award as well as first team All-Big 12 and honorable mention All-American. His equally impressive 2012 (100 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 2 INTs, and 6 passes defended) earned him a spot as a second team All-American. He is one of the more athletic linebackers in this year’s draft with great ability against both the run and the pass. He has been widely labeled as too small to play in the middle in the NFL, however most of that speculation came when he was listed at 6’1” 231 in college. His combine weigh in which put him at 6’0” 241 cleared up most people’s worries (although he could still likely put on a few more pounds without losing any of his athleticism). Watching tape of Brown, there is a lot to love and not a lot to hate. He plays strong (although not overly aggressive) against the run. He gets off of blocks well and is a strong tackler. His great athletic ability allows him to take bigger, stronger backs head on while also allowing him to chase down the faster backs around outside. Despite his somewhat smaller size, he holds his own very well against offensive linemen and he does a pretty good job of controlling blocks to clog holes. He also generally takes smart angles to allow himself to make the tackle. Against the pass Brown plays well in both man and zone coverage and uses his speed and intelligence to stick with receivers, running backs, and tight ends. Due to his athleticism, his range is greater than that of many linebackers and he has the ability come in and instantly be the Vikings’ best coverage LB. Brown is not without some concerns however, he will occasionally get sucked in by play action or fakes and be completely taken out of a play. There is also the fact that he is not exceptionally tall or big (as was discussed earlier). He also isn’t an exceptional pass rusher (from what I have seen), but the Vikings blitz the least of any NFL team, so that shouldn’t be a big deal.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUuGUNAIWYw
Rd 1 #25-Johnathan Hankins—Hankins, has the ability to come in and make an impact right away. He is exactly what the Vikings need at the nose: a great run stuffer who commands double teams. He has the ability to anchor against double teams and plug his hole, clogging up the running lanes; he shows a good ability to shed blockers and make the tackle himself. While the job of a NT may not sound all that exciting, it is a very important part of the game as it slows down and confuses the runner and frees up the linebackers to make the tackle by giving them time to react to their reads and preventing blockers from getting to them. Consistently forcing double teams is also helpful on passing downs as it gives our other pass rushers more one-on-ones. If teams don’t double team Hankins, he has the ability to make them pay by overpowering his blocker and getting into the backfield on both runs and passes. Hankins is the second best 1-tech in this year’s draft and the man he is second to (Star Lotulelei) is likely to be drafted as a 3-tech. I know that there are many who think that the depth this year means that we should wait on a DT until the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th round, however, I believe that Hankins is such an underrated talent by so many people and that he is at least a round better than any of the guys who will be available in the 2nd. Hankins would lock down the 1-tech for the future and his presence in the middle (over that of Guion or Evans) would help out every single part of our defense.
Rd 2 #52-Terrance Williams—Depending upon who you ask, Justin Hunter, Quinton Patton, Robert Woods, and Terrance Williams are all players that could be available at the bottom-middle of the second round and at least one of them should be there. At this moment, it seems Williams is the most likely to drop to us here, and I’m fine with that; in fact, I would love that. I was somewhat enamored with Williams earlier in the year, but then I slowly forgot what made him so special in my mind and began to like other receivers more, but now, after having watched some tape on him for this mock, I remember why I loved him so much. Williams is a very good receiver as is evidenced by his NCAA-leading 1,832 receiving yards and average of 141 yards per game. I'm would like to start by addressing some of the perceived concerns with Williams' game. 1. "Williams is pretty much just a deep threat, he doesn't bring much else to a team" This is, I believe, is the most common misconception about Williams' game. While Williams is a very effective deep threat (he uses a good combination of speed and route running to get separation deep), he has also shown that he can be very effective in the short to intermediate part of the field on slants, comebacks, digs, and outs, in fact, he was quite a weapon for Baylor in the short to intermediate range as about 40% of his receptions came between 6-10 yards (according to Second Round Stats). He was also used quite often on little passes out to the flats behind or just ahead of the line of scrimmage because, while he is no Percy Harvin, he has the requisite speed and slipperiness to make something happen. 2. "Williams goes down super easy and will therefore be ineffective over the middle" This, again, is not necessarily true. While it is true that you can't rely on Williams to break very many tackles (although, to be fair, he is a stronger runner than most people give him credit for), he has proven to be an effective receiver for Baylor over the middle of the field as he generally has very solid hands and his average YAC is actually about the same as that of Deandre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, and Cordarrelle Patterson. So as long as Williams is making things happen on par with some of the better WRs in this draft, I don’t see why how easily he is tackled should be a problem. 3. “Williams drops lots of balls” this is another thing that I have heard with some frequency, but it simply isn’t true. Again, according to Second Round Stats, Williams drops 6.06% percent of his passes, that is third only to Tavon Austin and Keenan Allen among the top WRs (they don’t have stats for Woods)and ahead of Bailey, Patton, Hopkins, Patterson, Wheaton, and Hunter. Williams also has very good body control, he is already better on sideline catches than are quite a few NFL veterans, he is good at going up and getting the jump ball, and he adjusts very well to poorly thrown balls. Another aspect of Williams’ game that would be important to the Vikings (especially having lost Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu) is his ability and willingness as a blocker on run plays, passes to other WRs, and screens. I personally believe that Williams could very well become the best WR to come out of the 2013 draft (I don’t think that he necessarily will be, but I think he’s got a much better chance than people credit him for) and that he would be an absolute steal in the mid-to-late 2nd round.
Rd 3 #83-Blidi Wreh-Wilson—It is sort of hard to tell where Wreh-Wilson will go: mocks that I have seen have him from the early second round to the very late third, but it seems that quite a few have him available around where we will be picking; if he was available here I think he’d be a great value pick. From what I have seen of him, he compares relatively well to Chris Cook: he is 6’1” 195 to Cook’s 6’2” 212 and his stats are very similar to those of Cook. He averaged 4.4 tackles per game to Cook’s 4.2, 0.85 passes defended per game to Cook’s 0.76, and he had 8 INTs to Cook’s 7. Stats like that aren’t everything, guys with similar stats could be stars in the NFL while others could be busts, but it does help to set a baseline for comparison. From what I have seen of his play, Wreh-Wilson is a good cover corner (like Cook) with the size, speed, and ability to cover pretty much any receiver (like Cook), but lacking fluid hips and the top end speed to play straight-up man coverage on the NFL's best receivers (like Cook); he is also a willing run support player who sometimes gets lazy with tackling (like Cook). Because the Vikings generally play zone (not all the time, but most of the time) in their scheme, the top end speed concern shouldn't be too big of a deal, therefore the biggest concern that I have seen with him is the occasional missed tackle. I don't think that concern should be too hard to correct either; from what I saw, it seems that most of his missed tackles came about when he would try to lower his shoulder and knock down bigger ball carriers (this would occasionally result in him just bouncing off of them) instead of wrapping them up. If the Vikings are able to bring Antoine back (the situation is beginning to look more optimistic, but I wouldn't say it is a likelihood yet), it would allow Wreh-Wilson to learn from one of the best tacklers ever (regardless of position); this and adding a bit more muscle to his frame would help Wilson a lot. One other comparison between Cook and Wreh-Wilson is that neither are big-play types of corners, they both get by on being consistently solid in coverage; Some may dislike this lack of turnover production, but I personally would rather have two corners who shutdown opposing receivers than two who allow big plays but also make them. One difference between the two is that Wreh-Wilson is not quite the physical specimen that Cook is, he is slightly smaller and a bit less athletic, still I think that he would be able to come in and compete with Robinson and Jefferson for a starting job.
Rd 4 #100-Alvin Bailey-Alvin Bailey has started for three straight seasons (freshman through junior) for Arkansas where he helped his team to great 2010 and 2011 seasons before things fell apart in 2012 (although Bailey himself still played solid football in 2012). Bailey is a solid pass blocker, but his real strong suit is in the run game. He has a great combination of strength, size, and speed that allow him to control defensive linemen, pull effectively, and make blocks in the second level. The drawbacks with Bailey are that he will occasionally make mental errors that cause him to whiff on blocks and he doesn’t have the most refined technique. However, his ability to improve in those areas, his natural talent, his familiarity with Vikings players Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, and DeMarcus Love, and his ability to play guard on either side would likely make him too good of a prospect to pass up at this point in the draft. He could very well come in and compete for one of the starting G jobs right away, and even if he didn’t win it, spending some time refining his technique as a backup could produce a quality starter for the future.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq0_ImCJAGA (Bailey is #67)
Rd 4 #120-Kerwynn Williams—I absolutely love this guy, I think that he has the ability to make a nearly Darren Sproles-like impact at the NFL level. Playing at Utah State, he wasn’t going against the NCAA’s toughest competition, but racking up 1,512 rushing yards, 697 receiving yards (that made him the second leading receiver on his team; only 32 yards behind the team's leading WR), and 20 total touchdowns for his team is never anything to scoff at no matter who the competition. His 2209 yards from scrimmage in 2012 was good for 2nd in the NCAA. Williams is a small guy at 5’8” 195 but he is a stronger runner than you would expect for that size. Still, he isn’t particularly effective going up the middle unless he is given some space to work. He does his best work on the outside where he is a danger to take it to the house every single play, whether it be on a sweep, a screen, an out, or a wheel route. Williams doesn’t cut extremely well, he instead uses a combination of great speed and vision to weave in and out between defenders wasting very little motion or time and keeping his forward momentum going. He has the ability to replace at least most of what we lost in the screen and misdirection game with Percy Harvin. On top of that he also has the ability to be an effective receiver either out of the backfield or lined up wide. This would make him the perfect weapon on third downs, although it wouldn’t be in the Vikings interest to allow him to block in the backfield because, while he is more than willing, he is simply not big enough to hold up against rushers at the NFL level. Williams was also a very, very good kickoff returner for the Aggies. Despite returning only one kick once he became a full time starter in 2012 Williams is the 4th leading kickoff returner (4th in both total yardage and total returns) in the NCAA since 2000; his career average is also higher than all of the players ahead of him on the total returns list and all but one of the players ahead of him on the total yardage list.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4jhiVk1UUw (Williams is #25)
Rd 5 #155-Aaron Mellette is a tall, possession-type small school WR out of Elon who has absolutely dominated the competition at the FCS level. He has had at least 1100 yards on at least 86 receptions and with at least 12 TDs each of his last three seasons. Many (rightly) question the amount of talent that he played against, however, when one produces such dominant seasons as consistently as Mellette did, it seems pretty obvious that he is ready for a move to the next level. Mellette doesn’t quite have the speed to be an elite deep threat in the NFL, but he uses his big body, long arms, and physicality to catch most of the balls that are thrown. Mellette is not excellent either before or after the catch (as is typical of a possession receiver), what he does best is catching the ball. He has a large catch radius and strong hands to hold on to the ball, but his route running and his yards after catch ability could both use some improvement (he’s solid in these aspects just not exceptional). However, like many smaller school prospects, Mellette still has some rawness to him and he has room to develop in both of these areas. While this analysis may not sound like the most glowing endorsement, Mellette does his job (catching the ball) and, while he wouldn’t be the most glamorous receiver, he could come in and be an effective, chain moving, contributor (think of a faster, younger Michael Jenkins with room to grow) which is more than can be said about most 5th round picks.
Rd 6 #189-Quanterus Smith-I’m not all that sure that Smith will be available here, some sites like CBS Sports and Drafttek seem to think that he will be while others like Walter Football and Draft Countdown seem to value him a bit more. However, if Smith is available here, he would be a great pickup for a Vikings team with an uncertain future at the DE position. Smith was an excellent pass rusher for the Hilltoppers and showed a good deal of progress in each of the three years that he received playing time culminating in his senior season where he notched 38 tackles, 18.5 for loss (good for 15th in the NCAA, 12.5 sacks (good for 9th in the NCAA), 1 fumble recovery, and 3 forced fumbles. Those stats were good enough to earn him Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and are made all the more impressive because they came in only 10 games as he tore his ACL in November and had his surgery shortly after the season ended. If you look purely at his box scores, smith may seem like an extremely inconsistent player as all of his 12.5 sacks came in only 4 of his games, however (at least from the tape that I have seen) even in the games where he doesn’t record a sack he is still generally getting very good pressure on the QB. He uses a great combination of speed, strength, and finesse to consistently beat his man and while many may question the level of competition that he faced, that doesn’t worry me too much as he had an excellent game against the NCAA’s best offensive line at Alabama (more specifically he dominated first round prospect D.J. Fluker). The biggest weakness in Smith’s game is his run support where he lets to offensive linemen control him more than you would like to see and he will also throw out very weak tackles from time-to-time; to be clear, he isn’t a horrible run defender, he just isn’t great. However the fact that he has shown great improvement every year at Western Kentucky and has the ability to add quite a bit of weight to his lanky frame without losing much of his athleticism (that could help to remedy his problems against the run) would make this underrated Hilltopper and excellent pickup in the 5th round.
Rd 7 #213-Steve Williams-Steve Williams played CB at Cal across from other NFL hopeful, Marc Anthony. Williams is a great physical talent and he showed that off at the combine (for what it is worth he also looked very good in the position drills there) with a 4.42 40 that tied him for 9th among CBs (he was originally clocked at 4.25 which would have easily placed him first), his 4.10 20-yard shuttle was good for 8th, his 6.89 3-cone drill was tied for 12th, his 10’8” broad jump was tied for 4th, and his 40.5” vertical was tied for 1st. However, he’s not just a physical specimen, in his two years as a starter at Cal he recorded 125 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 21 passes broken up, and 5 INTs; his senior season was especially impressive with 80 tackles, 7 for loss, 10 passes broken up, and 3 INTs. He is a good tackler and plays solidly in run support although he doesn’t fight off of blocks extremely well. His biggest negative coming into the draft seems to be his size, coming in at only 5’9” 181 could scare some teams off of him. At the NFL level he projects best as a nickel corner although I personally wouldn’t rule him out of winning a job on the outside either. Williams doesn’t fit the Vikings scheme extremely well as he played almost exclusively man for the Bears, but for a corner with real starting potential(especially if you consider the slot a starting position) and no glaring weaknesses in the 6th round, I’d be willing to give him time to develop in our zone-based scheme.
Rd 7 #214-Vince Williams— Yes, another Williams, I can’t help it, there’s a good crop of them this year. The Vikings are going to need more than just a starting MLB, they are in need of solid depth as well, and Vince Williams is a good option in the 5th. Williams, like Brown, has been a riser this offseason after good showings at both the Senior Bowl and his pro day. Williams is a fiery, vocal leader in the middle with a fast, aggressive play style to match. While his stats may not be exceptionally impressive (he had 59 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 2 passes defended as a senior) Williams was an absolute force against the run. He is not all that great in coverage and for that reason, I can understand why there are those who don’t really like him, however he did show some improvement in coverage at the Senior Bowl and I believe that he has the requisite athleticism to become a solid player in coverage. Against the run, Williams may be one of the best LBs in this year’s draft. He reads plays very quickly and is often a step faster than everyone else on the defense. He is extremely instinctual and has a great nose for the ball, that plus the fact that he is excellent at navigating traffic means that he is often able to stop read option plays, screens, and misdirection plays in the backfield or just past the line of scrimmage. His speed, while not special by any means is good enough to let him get to the sideline quickly and to chase plays down from behind. He also has the strength and hands to pretty consistently fight off of and through blocks. While rushing the passer, he is generally pretty good at pressuring the QB to release the ball early, but, like I said with Brown, that is not extremely important for the Vikings. His weaknesses (besides coverage) are similar to Brown’s in that he can occasionally get sucked in by play action or fakes (this is likely a result of his heavy So while some may write him off for his unexceptional coverage, I think that the room for improvement there plus the ability to be an exceptional run defender make him a great option in the 7th as a developmental backup.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCLB9SQaEfo
Rd 7 #229-Ray Ray Armstrong-A pick this late in the draft is essentially like getting first choice among the UDFAs and it would be a wise decision for the Vikings to lock up Armstrong before any other team got to him. Armstrong has real first round talent, but has fallen in this year’s draft because he never really got the chance to fully display it. He had his best year as a sophomore in 2010 where, despite starting only three of the 13 games he played in, he was able to get 79 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 6 passes defended, and 3 INTs. In 2011 he was suspended for 5 games for improper dealings with a booster; he came back a bit rusty and struggled some through the last 7 games. In 2012 he was kicked off of the Hurricanes for being dishonest during an internal investigation. He then went to play for the Faulkner Eagles, but was denied eligibility because the NAIA (the athletic association that the Eagles belong to) prohibits players who have been permanently banned from teams at other schools. Still despite some character concerns and the obvious rust that comes from not playing football in a year you simply don’t find first round talent in the late 7th/UDFA very often and when you do, you need to pounce on it (besides, his risk/reward situation can’t be any worse than Tyrann Mathieu’s and people want to draft him in the second or third).
Priority UDFAs: There is so much talent that gets passed over in the draft every year (I’m still not sure how guys like Chase Minnifield and Vontaze Burfict slid completely out of the draft last year). It would be incredibly time consuming to search through all of the college players out there and find ones that I think the Vikings should/will pick up so I am going to include only one player that I have recently become attached to after learning some about him; his name is: Duron Carter-Simply being the son of Vikings legend Cris Carter should earn Duron a tryout with the team, however, as I detailed in a thread about him earlier, Duron has shown real talent when he has had the chance to play. They only time in his college career that he received significant play time was when he was at Coffeyville Community College. While he was there he happened to play alongside one Mr. Quinton Patton, yes Quinton Patton the consensus mid-to-late 2nd round pick that many Vikings fans seem to like. But Duron didn’t just get decent production alongside Quinton “second round pick” Patton (I would really like to stress that Patton must be a very good receiver to be considered a second round pick), he actually outperformed Patton. He had 690 yards in 9 games compared to Patton’s 786 in 11. That means that he averaged 76.67 yards per game to Patton’s 71.45, he also had 10 TDs to Patton’s 6 meaning he averaged 1.11 per game to Patton’s 0.55. While there isn’t any real game tape available on him, I have seen some highlights from his time at Coffeyville as well as some practice tape of 11-on-11 drills at Alabama. So while I can’t make any sweeping declarations about his talent level, I can say that he seemed to show at least solid hands (he made some circus catches and reeled in some tough passes, but it is hard to tell how that would translate on a pass-by-pass basis when it is just from highlights and practice) he also seemed to run solid routes getting separation pretty consistently at the practice (it seemed like they were going 80-100% speed, but there was no hitting), he’s not exceptionally speedy but he seemed to run with a bit of shiftiness and strength after the catch and he used his tall frame to go up and get balls over defenders. Again, take this all with a grain of salt as it was all garnered from community college highlights and practice at Alabama, still Duron has shown enough to really pique my interest and I think he is definitely worth bringing on as a UDFA.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lXXFSvsSy8