I know for many its too early to look at next years draft class. Hogwash and Poppycock! If nothing else, its a good way to find some names to watch for the upcoming college season. What helps make this mock a little more interesting is that fans of the other 31 ran their teams, made trades, and found ways to make it difficult to get players you might save (consciously or not) if you made a mock all on your own. These were the stipulations:
- It was a four round mock
- The order was set by Vegas odds, setting the Vikings pick at #13. Seattle was #29 (Vikings have their 3rd round pick)
- My initial strategy going in was to get either NT Louis Nix III from Notre Dame or LB Ryan Shazier from Ohio State. Either would greatly improve the defense: Nix III as a NT that can also pass rush & Shazier as a do-it-all LB.
- Check out the current progress of all the draft picks here
In the 3 picks before the Vikings plans changed. Nix III went to the Chargers at 10 and Shazier to the Rams at 12. Now a real decision had to be made with both top choices gone. Considering the draft position and the talent that was available at the time, I kept coming back to the same guy:
Round 1, Pick 13 - QB David Fales, San Jose State 6'3" 220lbs DraftBreakdown Bio/Video Page
If the Vikings are picking in the top half of the draft, its likely Ponder didn't play as well as we all hope he will. The pick is only two picks different from when Ponder was selected and would signal that the team hasn't really improved since he came on. This is all early and hypothetical, but this also seems like a Vikings situation to be in: Good enough to be far away from having a shot at the top pick and bad enough at the position to need a major upgrade.
Even though there was no chance to draft Bridgewater, Fales is a nice prize and the type of QB I think Spielman would have interest in. He's a very smart QB who makes smart decisions with the football (9 ints in 451 attempts, 72.5% comp) and works in a WCO system at San Jose State. He's made quite a journey through college going from Nevada to a JC to Wyoming, back to a JC, and then finally last season at San Jose State. He has plenty of room to still develop while showing 1st round skills. I like that he has made the teams around him better when he has had the chance to play. He had a OL drafted late day 3 of this last draft, a TE that went undrafted, a WR that might go day 3 in 2014 and not much else of note. Yet he had the single best game of anyone to play QB against Stanford's defense and lead the San Jose State Spartans to an 11-2 record including San Jose State's first bowl appearance/win since 2006.
Fales would fit in well with the talent already on the team. He throws timing patterns well which would fit in with Greg Jennings and Jay Wright's game and he can also throw with anticipation and ball placement down the field for Flash. He does well with ball placement from the pocket and while on the move. If Ponder does faultier, Fales is a great addition to give the team a QB with upside without the team falling behind in it's overall progression.
Round 2, Pick 45 NT Daniel McCullers Tennessee, 6'8" 360 DraftBreakdown Bio/Video Page
On paper, NT is the weakest position talent-wise on the defense and having having a big presence there has proven in the past to be a boon for the Vikings D. McCullers is the new definition of "big presence". McCullers sticks out not just because he is mammoth in size, but he is also very well coordinated for his size. People weighing 360 lbs are generally not as athletic as he is and if you subscribe to Planet Theory, too hard to pass up here. Planet Theory is a draft theory that there are only so many big men on the planet who can play at an NFL level, so getting them should be a priority.
Because of McCuller's size, length and athleticism, its almost impossible for most to handle him one on one. Even double and triple teamed, he has proven to hold his ground. Occupying blockers and letting the talent of Floyd, Allen, Robison, Griffin, & the LBs one-on-one opportunities to make plays would be a huge impact that affects all levels of the defense.
Round 3, PIck 77 LB Yawin Smallwood UConn, 6'3" 244 DraftBreakdown Bio/Video Page
Linebacker has been an issue for a few years now. While Greenway has been a tide that raises all ships, the departures of EJ Henderson and Ben Leber have left starting spots that haven't been up to their previous level of play. Grabbing Gerald Hodges in the 4th round this past draft is a start and he can probably grab hold of the open OLB starting spot by next year. MLB's future is a bit more cloudy with Erin Henderson about to take the reins for the first time. Behind him is Audie Cole, who hasn't played a down on meaningful NFL football, and another 7th round pick in Mauti who also hasn't played and may be an injury issue down the road.
Smallwood has impressive size and speed, but what stuck out to me most is how well he diagnosed and worked through traffic to make plays. I think he has K.J. Wright-like potential where he can not only be effective in a base, 4-3 Cover2 look, but in nickel and sub packages as well.
Round 3, Pick 93 DE Jackson Jeffcoat Texas, 6'5" 245 DraftBreakdown Bio/Video Page
This was the pick the Vikings received from Seattle in the Harvin trade. Since the Vikings already drafted their Harvin replacement in Flash, I thought it would be appropriate to try and replace a different roster member. The top 3 DEs on the roster are each up for contract and its likely they dont all come back in 2014. I still think it most likely 2 stay and one ends up leaving, but I have no way of figuring out how they'd decide on who stays and goes. I would sign Griffin before training camp is over, see if you can get Robison a slight raise during the season, and then try and work something out with Allen. There is a lot of money tied up in Jared Allen and as much as I love the guy, he's A) at a position with good, young talent, B) he commands a ton of cap space, and C) if the team isn't championship quality, he may want to go somewhere else anyway. It would suck to lose him, but the loss of Jared Allen would be mitigated by the freed up cap space, having Griffin/Robison under contract, a top comp pick in 14 (or some nice picks in a trade), and this selection in Jeffcoat.
Jeffcoat reminds me a lot of Griffin. He's got 1st round skills, athletic ability, blood lines, and production, but there is still a lot keeping him from being a top pick. He doesn't have a record of off field problems like Griffin did, but he does have a rep for getting by on his athletic ability and has had a couple injuries. Just like Griffin though, I think if he can be brought in and coached up to use technique along with his natural ability he could be a terror in the NFL.
Round 4, Pick 109 WR Devin Street Pitt, 6'4" 190 DraftBreakdown Bio/Video Page
Just because they have their Harvin replacement doesn't mean they are/should be done collecting weapons on offense. Street is a tall target who has quick short area burst and catches the ball well away from his frame. He can play any WR spot and has shown to be effective catching bubble screens in the slot and turning them into big plays. He's looks very thin and could add weight/strength to really help his game at the next level. That would give new QB Fales a solid corps of receivers with GJ, Flash, Wright, Rudolph, Street and maybe throw Greg Childs back into that mix next year? an improved Simpson? More than enough weapons for a young QB to succeed and he'd have AD on top of that.
That was the end of this mock though if they had gone all 7 rounds, I likely would have targeted another QB, NT, and RB with the final 3 picks. For example: QB Casey Pachall, NT Ryan Carrethers, and RB Alfred Blue Obviously a lot will happen between now and next April/May, but based on the current roster, these are all guys to watch out for this upcoming college season. So, how did I do? What would you have done differently?