clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Vikings 2015 Draft: Consensus Rankings v2.0

New, comments

The Daily Norseman re-calculates the average big board rankings for college prospects at the Vikings biggest positions of need.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The prospect landscape of the NFL Draft has changed dramatically over the past month and a half since I last calculated the Vikings Consensus Draft Rankings.  This is to be expected since the NFL Combine and the vast majority of Pro Days have all taken place since then.  Not only have prospect rankings changed, but the Vikings team needs have shifted ever so slightly as well. In free agency the Vikings basically re-signed their own best depth players, and added a few more backup, depth options with players like Shaun Hill, Terence Newman, Taylor Mays, DuJuan Harris and Casey Mathews.  Of course the big acquisition was trading for wide receiver Mike Wallace.  Before the combine, Pro Days and NFL free agency, I identified four main positions of need for the Vikings with version 1.0 of the Consensus Rankings: wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line and linebacker.  And after all that has transpired since the last version, I'm not so sure those are the top four needs any longer.

It seems clear that after the Vikings pursued Clint Boling and Mike Iupati (to some extent) in free agency that they are obviously in the market for a left guard after cutting Charlie Johnson.  They have also been connected to guards AJ Cann, TJ Clemmings, Shaq Mason, Darryl Williams and Terry Poole.  While they haven't been connected to Iowa guard Brandon Scherff, it seems obvious that they will grab a guard at some point in the draft.  Since most of those names are round 2 or 3 prospects, naturally I would expect them to address guard in the draft with an early Day Two selection.

At cornerback, the acquisition of Terence Newman hasn't stopped them from being very active in visiting with some of the top college prospects like Trae Waynes, Marcus Peters, Byron Jones, Quandre Diggs and Josh Shaw.  The bottom line is that the team appears to be trying to address the cornerback position this offseason after Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson left something to be desired opposite Xavier Rhodes.  If the cards fall right, we could be poised to take a cornerback in the first round or early second.

At wide receiver, the biggest shocker was cutting Greg Jennings and trading for Mike Wallace.  But that doesn't necessarily mean the wide receiver group is suddenly fixed.  The Vikings have since visited with DeVante Parker and Dorial Green-Beckham, perhaps signaling that they are still interested in addressing the wide receiver position early in the draft.  Although, there aren't nearly as many names connected to the Vikings, and they did little in free agency to address wide receiver outside of the trade for Wallace.  With little off-season activity in the wide receiver department, unless there is incredible value I don't see the Vikings the taking a wide receiver in the 1st round.  And frankly, I'd be surprised if they took one in the first three rounds at all.

While the Vikings have not been active in free agency addressing the linebacker position outside of adding Casey Mathews and restructuring Chad Greenway, they have been making the rounds with a laundry list of college prospects being connected to the Vikings.  There is no other position with as many names being reported with connections to the Vikings than the linebacker position.  Prospects like Paul Dawson, Benardrick McKinney, Stephone Anthony, Shaq Thompson and Kyle Emmanuel have all visited with Vikings scouts, or will at some point.  These are all great Day 2 options and it seems likely that the Vikings would look to grab a linebacker in the 2nd or 3rd round as they are clearly doing their due diligence after letting Jasper Brinkley go, and with Chad Greenway poised to have his final season with the Vikings.

If there was one addition to make to the needs list based on activity in free agency and with draft prospects, it would be at defensive end.  The Vikings made a very strong run at free agent Michael Johnson, and signed Ceasar Rayford.  They've also been connected to Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, Randy Gregory, Nate Orchard and Za'Darius Smith as well.  With Brian Robison beginning to age out at 32 (and with a down year to boot last year), defensive end appears to be a high priority for the Vikings.

So with all that being taken into account, I've decided to drop wide receiver from the list of priority needs for the Vikings, and insert defensive end to the mix.  That means this latest version of the Consensus Rankings will focus on the following positions: defensive end, linebacker (both inside and outside), cornerback and offensive line.  Based on free agency and prospect visits so far, my early money is on cornerback or defensive end with the first round pick for the Vikings.  We'll see how it all plays out though, because there's still a lot of time before the draft and a lot can change in three weeks.

So, first up is the new position group, defensive end.  After consulting the huddle report's Top 100 Scores, I have decided to change up my ranking sources a little bit to try to get some of the most accurate big board rankers over the last 5 years.  So this edition will use the following 10 sources: NFL.com, CBS Sports, ESPN, Walter Football, Drafttek, Draft Countdown, Draft Ace, Great Blue North, Draft Board Guru, and NE Patriots Draft.  I included all names that appeared on at least two of the following Top 100 lists, and averaged together their rankings.  If a name did not appear in the Top 100 on at least two sources, they were not included in the Consensus Ranking (this is a change from the way previous versions were constructed!).  In any case, here are the rankings, starting with the defensive end position:

Name and Position

School

Average Position

Rank

Standard Deviation Position

Average Overall Rank

Standard Deviation Overall

1. Leonard Williams DE/DT

USC

1.3

0.7

2.0

1.3

2. Dante Fowler DE/OLB

Florida

2.6

1.7

6.4

5.1

3. Randy Gregory DE/OLB

Nebraska

4.2

2.0

13.5

9.9

4. Vic Beasley DE/OLB

Clemson

4.3

1.6

12.3

8.0

5. Shane Ray DE/OLB

Missouri

4.4

2.0

13.7

8.9

6. Bud Dupree DE/OLB

Kentucky

5.8

2.3

19.2

9.3

7. Arik Armstead DE/DT

Oregon

6.2

2.4

21.6

10.8

8. Eli Harold DE/OLB

Virginia

8.6

2.7

35.8

6.7

9. Owamagbe Odighizuwa DE

UCLA

9.0

3.2

37.7

9.8

10. Preston Smith DE

Mississippi State

10.8

3.4

47.5

11.2

11. Danielle Hunter DE/OLB

LSU

11.0

4.2

49.9

17.5

12. Nate Orchard DE

Utah

11.7

3.8

52.3

6.9

13. Hauli Kikaha DE/OLB

Washington

13.1

4.4

65.1

14.1

14. Lorenzo Mauldin DE/OLB

Louisville

14.9

5.0

76.5

19.4

15. Trey Flowers DE

Arkansas

15.5

5.7

80.0

21.7

16. Mario Edwards Jr. DE/DT

Florida State

15.7

5.2

74.2

11.9

17. Markus Golden DE/OLB

Missouri

16.6

6.2

93.9

35.8

18. Henry Anderson DE

Stanford

17.5

6.0

97.6

24.4

19. ZaDarius Smith DE/OLB

Kentucky

18.3

5.9

102.5

15.0

20. Marcus Hardison DE/DT

Arizona State

18.3

7.2

111.5

37.4

This is a strong draft class for edge rushers and defensive lineman in general with seven prospects averaging out in the top 32 and 20 cracking the Top 100 of at least two big board sources.  While some of the names on the list have position flexibility there is a very good chance that one of the top five names on the list will be available when the Vikings pick at #11.  In looking at the standard deviations, one name to be wary of is DE/OLB Randy Gregory who the sources can't seem to agree about.  He ranks as high as 2nd overall on one source and as low as 35th on another.  Most of this is likely due to his positive test for marijuana at the combine as many sources moved him down their boards after the news broke, but this wide variation is still concerning.  Danielle Hunter is another name with huge variety of opinion, being ranked as high as 15th on one board and as low as 77th on another, which makes him a bona-fide first round pick to one ranker, and merely a third round talent to another.  So while he averages out as a high-end second rounder the huge variety in opinions is something of a red flag.  Still, if NFL teams were to follow these averages, the following guys would all be available when the Vikings pick at #11: Vic Beasley, Shane Ray and Randy Gregory, all of whom got a boost in the rankings thanks to strong combine performances.  If I were the Vikings I would feel pretty good about drafting any one of those three guys with the 11th pick as they could push Brian Robison for starting time this season and eventually take over in the future.  Next up is the corner back position:

Name and Position

School

Average Position

Rank

Standard Deviation Position

Average Overall Rank

Standard Deviation Overall

1. Trae Waynes

Michigan State

1.2

0.5

13.0

3.0

2. Marcus Peters

Washington

3.3

2.0

29.3

10.2

3. Jalen Collins

LSU

3.4

1.6

30.7

10.2

4. Kevin Johnson

Wake Forest

3.8

1.8

34.6

11.6

5. P.J. Williams

Florida State

6.2

2.3

50.9

10.5

6. Quinten Rollins CB/S

Miami (OH)

6.8

3.2

54.8

18.7

7. Byron Jones

Connecticut

7.1

4.1

55.3

21.4

8. Ronald Darby

Florida State

8.4

5.2

66.8

31.7

9. Alex Carter

Stanford

9.3

3.7

73.1

20.9

10. D'Joun Smith

Florida Atlantic

10.8

4.1

82.8

23.6

11. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Oregon

10.8

4.8

83.0

29.1

12. Josh Shaw CB/S

USC

12.6

5.3

95.4

28.4

13. Doran Grant

Ohio State

12.7

4.7

94.6

10.8

14. Eric Rowe CB/S

Utah

12.7

5.4

94.0

24.6

15. Senquez Golson

Mississippi

13.3

5.2

102.0

28.6

16. Steven Nelson

Oregon State

13.4

5.5

102.6

19.7

17. Charles Gaines

Louisville

16.6

6.6

125.6

33.2

18. Kevin White

TCU

17.9

7.9

134.4

45.3

Cornerback is not as deep this year as defensive end, linebacker or offensive guard.  Some of this is due to available prospects (there are a lot less by nature of only having two starters on the field), but even so only three names average out in the top 32 with none in the top 10.  That's not to say there aren't any blue chip prospects at cornerback, because Trae Waynes out of Michigan State would certainly qualify with a strong consensus as a top 15 talent, but it drops off quickly after that.  And speaking of Waynes, he's become a popular choice of mock drafters lately for the Vikings at #11, and was also the choice of the Daily Norseman here in the official SB Nation Writers Mock Draft.  We were presented with a tough choice in taking either Dante Fowler or Trae Waynes in that mock draft, but chose Waynes as he not only has a better chance to make an immediate impact, but would likely be a better fit for our defense.  Still, if the Vikings pass on the cornerback position there could be a lot of options waiting for them in the second and third rounds. The next ranking is for all linebackers:

Name

School

Average Position Rank

Standard Deviation Position

Average Overall Rank

Standard Deviation Overall

1. Dante Fowler OLB/DE

Florida

1.7

1.8

6.4

5.1

2. Vic Beasley OLB/DE

Clemson

3.2

1.0

12.3

8.0

3. Randy Gregory OLB/DE

Nebraska

3.3

1.6

13.5

9.9

4. Shane Ray OLB/DE

Missouri

3.4

1.6

13.7

8.9

5. Bud Dupree OLB/DE

Kentucky

5.1

2.1

19.2

9.3

6. Shaq Thompson OLB/S

Washington

7.4

3.1

34.8

17.2

7. Eli Harold OLB/DE

Virginia

7.4

1.4

35.8

6.7

8. Eric Kendricks ILB/OLB

UCLA

8.7

2.4

40.9

10.9

9. Benardrick McKinney ILB

Mississippi State

9.1

2.5

42.0

15.5

10. Danielle Hunter OLB/DE

LSU

11.1

3.3

49.9

17.5

11. Denzel Perryman ILB/OLB

Miami

11.5

3.3

55.3

19.3

12. Nate Orchard OLB/DE

Utah

11.7

2.1

52.3

6.9

13. Stephone Anthony ILB

Clemson

11.9

2.9

56.9

16.1

14. Paul Dawson ILB/OLB

TCU

12.1

2.7

57.3

12.3

15. Hau'oli Kikaha OLB/DE

Washington

13.8

2.8

65.2

14.1

16. Lorenzo Maudlin OLB/DE

Louisville

15.7

2.1

76.6

19.4

17. Kwon Alexander ILB/OLB

LSU

16.1

1.7

84.3

14.1

18. Markus Golden OLB/DE

Missouri

17.4

4.7

95.0

37.8

19. Za'Darius Smith OLB/DE

Kentucky

19.1

1.8

102.3

14.6

20. Max Valles OLB

Virginia

25.5

11.3

149.3

86.0

21. Zack Hodges OLB

Harvard

28.0

11.0

163.4

74.2

If you include pass-rushing outside linebackers (which I did), the linebacker list looks pretty deep with a healthy number of first round talent.  But when you look a little closer for talent that would fit in the Vikings a 4-3 defense, inside linebackers and weak-side outside linebackers are few and far between, with no pure players of that type garnering an average ranking in the top 32.  With that said, a guy like Benardrick McKinney is the top rated inside linebacker and averages out very close to the Vikings second round selection.  But if he is gone there are two other prospects with nearly identical position and overall average rankings that could be taken by the Vikings in the second round as well: Denzel Perryman and Stephone Anthony.  Of the two, I like Anthony just a little better due him having less variety of opinion, even though Perryman technically ranks higher by a fraction of an amount.  In any case, there would appear to be plenty of choices for the Vikings if they wanted to address inside linebacker in the 2nd round with nine prospects averaging out in the second round.  The last position group is the ranking for offensive lineman:

Name and Position

School

Average Position Rank

Standard Deviation Position

Average Overall Rank

Standard Deviation Overall

1. Brandon Scherff OT/OG

Iowa

1.3

0.6

8.9

2.3

2. La'el Collins OT/OG

LSU

3.8

1.9

21.1

10.4

3. Andrus Peat OT

Stanford

3.9

2.3

21.9

11.0

4. Ereck Flowers OT

Miami

3.9

1.9

22.3

6.4

5. T.J. Clemmings OT

Pittsburgh

4.9

1.4

24.7

5.3

6. D.J. Humphries OT

Florida

6.2

1.8

32.3

9.0

7. Cameron Erving C/OT

Florida St.

6.3

2.5

32.7

11.3

8. Jake Fisher OT

Oregon

7.3

2.7

38.3

12.8

9. A.J. Cann OG

South Carolina

9.6

2.1

51.7

15.4

10. Cedric Ogbuehi OT

Texas A&M

10.7

5.0

56.6

26.0

11. Laken Tomlinson OG

Duke

11.0

1.7

62.3

10.1

12. Ty Sambrailo OT

Colorado St.

13.4

2.3

76.7

10.0

13. Tre Jackson OG

Florida St.

14.2

3.3

79.1

20.9

14. Ali Marpet OG/C

Hobart

15.7

1.8

89.6

10.3

15. Donovan Smith OT

Penn St.

15.8

4.3

84.0

20.2

16. Hroniss Grasu C

Oregon

16.5

4.2

90.8

23.7

17. Daryl Williams OT

Oklahoma

17.4

4.2

98.1

22.3

18. Reese Dismukes C

Auburn

18.6

8.8

104.1

40.9

19. Arie Kouandijo OG

Alabama

19.4

8.6

105.6

40.3

20. Rob Havenstein OT

Wisconsin

19.8

5.5

107.0

32.5

21. Jeremiah Poutasi OT

Utah

22.6

6.5

126.4

36.9

22. Corey Robinson OT

South Carolina

27.6

12.3

162.1

70.8

The last position group I looked at was offensive lineman, of which I grouped together all positions since many prospects had position flexibility.  Brandon Scherff continues to lead the pack by a significant margin and he retains very strong consensus as a top 10 pick.  There are four more names ranked in the top 32, but it's worth pointing out that Andrus Peat and La'El Collins have an unusually high standard deviation for being ranked 2nd and 3rd overall at their position.  Both have rankings that range as high as the top 10 and as low as 40/50 so there is pretty wide variety in opinion about those two prospects.   Ereck Flowers and T.J. Clemmings on the other hand average out almost the identically in both the positional and overall ranks, but have much lower standard deviation (ie, greater consensus).  Therefore, if the Vikings were to maybe trade down in the first round and grab an offensive lineman later in the draft, I would target Flowers and Clemmings over Collins or Peat.  There is a chance that Brandon Scherff falls to pick #11, but I wouldn't count on it.  Barring a trade down scenario, I do not see the Vikings addressing the offensive line in the first round at pick #11, because there just isn't a good value selection at that spot.  There should be several offensive tackle possibilities that could fall into the Vikings lap in the second round, but taking a guard there like AJ Cann, Laken Tomlinson or Tre Jackson would be a bit of a reach.  I would bet that Rick Spielman will wait until a mid-to-late round to address the offensive line as he typically does, and that could be a good strategy to wait for a falling prospect like they have done with Brandon Fusco and John Sullivan in past drafts. To close, here is an overall ranking which includes prospects that appeared in at least two top 20 rankings:

Name and Position

School

Average Overall Rank

Standard Deviation

1. Leonard Williams DT

USC

2.0

1.3

2. Jameis Winston QB

Florida State

2.4

1.9

3. Amari Cooper WR

Alabama

4.5

1.5

4. Kevin White WR

West Virginia

5.8

2.3

5. Dante Fowler OLB

Florida

6.5

5.0

6. Marcus Mariota QB

Oregon

7.7

6.1

7. Brandon Scherff OG

Iowa

8.9

2.3

8. Danny Shelton DT

Washington

11.4

5.6

9. DeVante Parker WR

Louisville

11.6

1.4

10. Vic Beasley OLB

Clemson

12.2

7.9

11. Trae Waynes CB

Michigan State

13.0

3.0

12. Shane Ray DE

Missouri

13.8

8.9

13. Randy Gregory OLB

Nebraska

14.2

10.0

14. Malcolm Brown DT

Texas

17.0

2.6

15. Landon Collins S

Alabama

17.5

2.9

16. Todd Gurley RB

Georgia

17.6

11.5

17. Bud Dupree OLB

Kentucky

19.2

9.3

18. La'el Collins OT

LSU

21.1

10.4

19. Arik Armstead DT

Oregon

21.7

11.0

20. Andrus Peat OT

Stanford

22.2

10.9

21. Ereck Flowers OT

Miami

22.3

6.4

22. Melvin Gordon RB

Wisconsin

22.4

7.4

23. T.J. Clemmings OT

Pittsburgh

24.6

5.3

24. Eddie Goldman DT

Florida State

25.3

4.6

25. Jaelen Strong WR

Arizona State

28.8

7.2

26. Marcus Peters CB

Washington

29.5

10.5

27. Jalen Collins CB

LSU

30.7

10.2

28. Maxx Williams TE

Minnesota

34.1

12.9

29. Shaq Thompson OLB

Washington

35.0

17.5

Compared to the last version, there was no change among the top three selections, although the average values changed slightly.  Leonard Williams slipped a bit in the rankings while Jameis Winston climbed a bit.  It wasn't enough to actually flip positions among the two prospects, but they are a lot closer now than they were before the combine.  The most notable changes are Randy Gregory dropping from 4th overall before the combine to 13th overall, while Dante Fowler climbed from 9th overall to 5th overall.  There was a bunch of other movement in the middle part of the rankings, which is to be expected after the combine and Pro Days.  In the last version, OT Andrus Peat came in ranked 11th overall, but this time CB Trae Waynes comes in solidly at #11 overall.  I find it interesting that not only does Waynes come in at #11 for value in the consensus big boards, but he's the most popular prospect for the Vikings in mock drafts as I mentioned above.  Perhaps it's fate.

In any case, if I were to piece together a quick and dirty mock draft without trades and using these consensus rankings in an attempt to get both the most value per pick and address needs, I would probably go as follows.  In addition, I've tried to not only take players that address a need and represent good value per their average ranking, but who have also been connected to the Vikings in the way of visits and interviews as much as possible.

Quick and Dirty Mock Draft
Round 1 (#11): CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State (13th overall average)
Round 2 (#45): ILB Bendardrick McKinney, Mississippi State (42nd overall average)
Round 3 (#76): OG Tre Jackson, Florida State (79.1 overall average)
Round 4 (#110): DE/OLB Za'Darius Smith, Kentucky (102.5 overall average)
Round 5 (#137): WR Chris Conley, Georgia (n/a)
Round 7 (#228): OLB J.R. Tavai, USC (n/a)
Round 7 (#232): P Kyle Loomis, Portland State (n/a)