Yesterday, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had his annual pre-Combine conference call, in which he answers questions about the upcoming NFL Draft and numerous other subjects. There wasn't a whole lot of talk about the Minnesota Vikings, but one question did come up about our favorite football team.
Q. I was wondering what you thought would make sense for the Vikings to do with their first-round pick. And second, if they need to replace Petersen, what a logical choice to do that would be?
MIKE MAYOCK: Okay. It's interesting, because Minnesota's sitting there at No. 11 and the whole Petersen thing becomes intriguing because McKinnon's coming off surgery. Asiata was a tough guy. I get all of those kinds of things. But at the end of the day, you're going to have to look for a full-time tailback. I think offensive linewise, left guard, right tackle, corner is still a need. I really like what's happening with Xavier Rhodes, and I think Mike Zimmer's one of the best corner evaluators and coaches in football. So if they win corner at 11, that wouldn't surprise me.
I think running back, you can wait until the second or third round. At running back we start talking about big, strong guys that are the Boise kid, J I or however you pronounce that, he's a solid second round pick. Tevin Coleman from Indiana is a little like a McFadden from the Oakland Raiders. Upright, explosive kid. He gets a gash and he can take it to the house. So it's kind of early to figure out where they're going to go. Obviously No. 11 is too early. Unless they were to take the kid from Iowa who could play guard or tackle, I think it would be too early to go that direction.
As that was a copy-and-paste straight from the transcript I received, let's translate a little bit. The "J I" that Mayock was referring to is Jay Ajayi, the running back from Boise State. Also, the "kid from Iowa," I assume, is Brandon Scherff, who is currently projected to be a top 10 selection.
It sounds like Mayock feels that the Vikings are really in a position to go "best player available" at #11, because the positions they have needs at don't match up with the talent that's going to be available at #11. They certainly don't need to use that first-round selection on a running back, which is something I can agree with Mayock on. There isn't a back in this draft that's worth the #11 overall pick. If the Vikings were to move back in the first round a little bit, maybe down into the 20s, then a guy like Melvin Gordon becomes a possibility, but otherwise I don't see it.
Mayock doesn't sound terribly sold on the offensive line talent that might be available at #11, either, outside of Scherff. The way things stand now, I don't think there's any chance that Scherff makes it to Minnesota's spot, and he might not make it out of the top 5. The Vikings are going to give Matt Kalil another chance to get himself straightened around at the left tackle spot, and Phil Loadholt should be back from his injury in plenty of time to get ready for the 2015 season. That means that players like Andrus Peat or Ereck Flowers would likely not be a priority at that spot, either. Scherff's ability to play guard or tackle would make him worth #11 if he's there, but I don't think any of the other offensive line prospects are at this point.
So, the Vikings appear to have the ability to just sit back and grab whoever they have highest on their "board," whether it's a wide receiver, a linebacker, a corner, a safety, or whoever it might be. It also makes them an intriguing spot for a trade, but that's something we can get more into going forward.