This will be my last mock draft before the actual draft. I’ve included several of these in my various off-season plans over the last couple of months, and while I’m sure I won’t please everyone with my selections, this is what I hope the Vikings would do on draft day if they didn’t execute any trades. Obviously, there will probably be some trades (there always are), but they are impossible to predict so I’m not even going to try. This mock is based in part on my Cumulative Ranking 2.0 fanpost that many may have missed, since it stayed on the main page for all of a couple hours after it got shoved down with a flurry of fanposts last week. So, check it out if you want a better understanding of how I chose to mock these players at these positions. I also used a combination of CBS Sports and ESPN player rankings to determine the later rounds.
So, the strategy that I think the Vikings should make on draft day is to address CB and LB in the first round, since these are the thinnest positions of need in the draft. In addition these two positions happen to also be the biggest needs for the most other teams in the NFL. Therefore it is less likely for players at these two positions to fall, so if the Vikings were to wait until the later rounds of the draft to address these two positions, there may not be much left. With that in mind, here is my mock!
Round 1, Pick #23: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
According to my cumulative ranks, Xavier Rhodes (ranked #2) could be there for us at #23, but I like Trufant better as he seems like a better schematic fit. Rhodes is more of a man-to-man corner who does well in press coverage (which we need), but struggles in zone coverage, and with tackling in run support (two other things we need more). Trufant does better with zone responsibilities, although he is also a little weaker in run support too. But I like Trufant’s speed and he comes from an NFL family with the pedigree and potential to succeed. He’s the #3 cornerback on the cumulative board, and I think it’s important that we grab a CB at #23 before the Colts (who also need a CB) pick at #24.
Round 1, Pick #25 (from Seattle): MLB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
I thought about DT here, but based on the cumulative ranks, there isn’t great value. The top 3 DT will all be gone by this point, and the remaining players are all arguably round 2 selections. Manti Te’o is a highly decorated recruit, and a lot has been said about the catfish incident that I don’t need to repeat here. This would be a slight reach as Te'o has a high round 2 grade, but he won't get past the Ravens (or maybe even the Texans) in the 1st round. Bottom line, he’s a good schematic fit as a proto-typical 4-3 MLB. His slow 40-time is a non-issue for me, as is his disappearance in the bowl game. Love it or hate it, not only would I like the Vikings to draft him, I also think there is a very, very good chance the Vikings try to draft him too based on all the extra attention they've been giving him. He’s been a very productive LB for Notre Dame for several years, and he would give us yet another Heisman finalist on the team.
Round 2, Pick #52: DT Kawann Short, Purdue
There’s a very good chance that Short is gone by our pick in the 2nd round, and I wouldn’t be opposed to moving up in the 2nd to get him (our extra 4th from Detroit should be enough to get it done if need be). But if we don’t take a DT in the 1st, it increases the odds that a player like Short falls to us here. Short is a versatile prospect that could help out immediately at the 1-tech spot, and could slide over to be the heir apparent for Kevin Williams at the 3-tech spot down the line as well. He has experience and was productive at both positions during his time at Purdue and would be a great schematic fit for us.
Round 3, Pick #83: WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
I love the measurables and production on Wheaton, and he’s a high character guy too. His height at 5’11” will cause him to fall a little bit. But he’s got 4.4 40 speed, and was the deep threat lined up outside for Oregon State. He broke reception records previously held by Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzedah at Oregon State, and that says a lot IMO. We need an outside receiver with speed more than we need another slot or possession receiver, and Wheaton would fill that role easily.
Round 4, Pick #102 (from Detroit): OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas
He’s a popular pick for us in the 4th round, but his versatility to play on the right or left side makes him a very valuable backup option. He could also be groomed to replace Charlie Johnson, and/or give Fusco some competition.
Round 4, Pick #120: WR Ryan Swope, Texas A&M University
Many think Swope will play more of a slot or #3 role in the NFL, and he doesn't quite play up to his combine speed on the field (4.34). While Jarius Wright and Jennings are projected to be slot receivers for the Vikings, both of those players have experience on the outside, and Wright was actually more productive as a flanker last year. Swope is essentially a Greg Camarillo or Jordan Shipley type of player and would help bolster our depleted WR corp.
Round 5, Pick #155: DE Cornelius Washington, Georgia
Washington may not last this long, but his strength is as a pass rusher, making him a good fit in our 4-3 scheme. His production isn’t quite there in the stat sheet, but he’s got the athleticism and speed to succeed. For a mid-round developmental prospect with athletic upside, we could do a lot worse.
Round 6, Pick #189: OLB Jake Knott, Iowa State
Again, Knott may not last this long either, but he’s got elite production while at Iowa State. Athletically, he measures out as an average prospect, and he’s dealt with a number of injuries, but he was a leader on the Cyclone defense and has good top-end speed. He would need to develop behind Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson, but he has the potential and technique to succeed.
Round 7, Pick #213 (from Arizona): P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
Perhaps this strong-legged kicker can unseat Kluwe?
Round 7, Pick #214 (from Seattle via Buffalo): OT Garrett Gilkey, Chadron State
Here’s a small school prospect with prototypical size for the tackle position. Our depth behind Loadholt and Kalil is suspect, and Gilkey was a standout in division II.
Round 7, Pick #229: TE Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State
Stoneburner is a popular late-round pick by many teams, as his size/speed combination makes him an ideal “joker” TE. His production was only average, but that could be due to usage and scheme at Ohio State. His athleticism is above average and he has a lot of potential.
Love it? Hate it? Think I’m nuts? Tell me in the comments.