I hate this dead period between the NFL Combine and free agency and the draft. I pretty much hate the off-season, but this time of the off season I've grown to despise.
Why? Because of the Mock Draft industry, that's why. And I blame all of you and your insatiable appetite for football stories. And I was all 'I'm never doing mock drafts because they're stupid rawr rawr rawr' for the longest time, but you know what?
You win. I give up. You want mock drafts? Fine, I'll give you mock drafts. You want names of players that have about a 10% chance of ending up on the Vikings, cool. I'll give you names. Oh, in the sweet, blessed memory of Woody Hayes, I'll give you names.
Ohio State names.
That's right, this mock draft is nothing but players from Ohio State. Every player, every round, Rick Spielman picks an Ohio State Buckeye to play for the Minnesota Vikings.
I told you I was going to do this. I am, if nothing else, a man of my word.
BUT TED YOU'RE NOT TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY RAWR RAWR RAWR
You're right. I'm not. There's a 0.0 percent chance that this is how the Vikings draft unfolds...but it's also about as realistic as 99% of the other mock drafts you've read out there. Look, in all seriousness, I appreciate all the hard work and effort that people put in trying to figure out who will end up where, but outside of the first four or five picks, it's all an educated guess, and usually it's not accurate.
So, let's have some silly fun...with a touch of seriousness. This Ohio State class has the potential to set records in terms of players from one school drafted in the first round, and players from one school drafted overall. It really is a uniquely talented group of players from one school, they have quality, NFL talent at every position group, and you can legitimately look at just about all of these Buckeyes and project them to the Vikings, in every round.
So yeah, this will be an all Ohio State draft, but it's also when where I think it's a player that could, potentially, be a realistic option for the Vikings, based both on need and round picked. And I think there's a good chance the Vikings end up with a Buckeye or two coming out of the draft.
Please, just one Rick. Is that too much to ask RHETORICAL QUESTION NO IT IS NOT
Also, if there are THIS MANY DAMN BUCKEYES IN THE DRAFT AND SPIELMAN DOESN'T PICK AT LEAST ONE OF THEM IMMA BE SUPER CEREAL PISSED OFF YOU GUYS.
But hey, at least the Vikings are doing their homework and due diligence on potential Buckeyes, if this picture of awesomeness is any indication:
So, let's get to it:
RD 1 (23): Taylor Decker, T
Rationale: I think right now the biggest need the Vikings have is on the offensive line. A lot of mocks have Jack Conklin of MSU pegged here, but yeah, this is an all OSU draft, so Sparty can suck it here. My preference is LB Darron Lee, but I think based on his strong combine he's an early to mid-teen guy, and will be gone. Decker is a guy that can end up being a solid, 10 year starter in the NFL, and would be a good fit here if Lee is gone. I'd love to see Lee, Joey Bosa, or Ezekiel Elliott, but those guys will probably be long off the board.
RD 2 23 (54): Braxton Miller, WR:
Rationale: There's a decent chance Miller is off the board here, but if he isn't it's almost impossible to look at his freakish athletic talent and not want to make the leap. It's tough for me to be an impartial fan here--I love Braxton Miller, and rooted for him to overcome two serious injuries and succeed at a major college program playing a position he had never played before. When you add in his work ethic, which is as impressive as his raw athletic ability, you look at Miller and think he can be a really, really good WR in the NFL. If Miller is gone, my alternate pick is safety Vonn Bell. Very athletic, hard hitting kid that can come in and start, or add serious depth if the Vikings solve their S issue in free agency. Another guy that I like is LB Joshua Perry here. Very cerebral kid, not as athletic as Darron Lee, but will be a a solid NFL player.
RD 3 23 (86): Nick Vannett, TE
Rationale: The Vikings signed Kyle Rudolph to a big extension two years ago, but Rudolph's performance hasn't lived up to the contract, at least to this point. Rhett Ellison suffered a knee injury in the season finale, and MyCole Pruitt looked good, but inconsistent at times last year. Look, Vannett here is a stretch, I get that. And I'm kind of looking for reasons to take a tight end here, because even though Rudolph's production isn't where it should be, he's still good, and Pruitt is going to be a solid player. So do you take a Vannett as a third string TE? No...HOWEVAH...the potential for a slide by an Adolphus Washington or Bell is possible, and either one of those guys would be a steal here.
RD 4 23 (118): Cardale Jones, QB
Rationale: Cardale Jones, Car-DALE Jones, CARDALE JONES. Let me be clear--I love...LOVE...Cardale Jones, but I'm not drafting him here to be Teddy's replacement. Why? Because I love Teddy more, and Teddy Bridgewater is the once and future Vikings quarterback. Period. Dot. Exclamation point. But remember when Shaun Hill had to play in place of Teddy last year against the Rams because the Rams are bunch of goddamn cheap shot artist bastards? It wasn't pretty, and backup QB is something the Vikings really need to address. Jones is about as raw a prospect as there is, but man...pop in his three game stretch of Wisconsin/Alabama/Oregon during their national title run two years ago (hey, I do about once a week--don't you dare judge me, either) and tell me this kid doesn't impress you with both his athletic ability and his poise in high pressure situations. Jones would be a serious upgrade to back up Teddy, and he's proven that he can fill in well if needed to start.
RD 5 21 (148): Tyvis Powell, S
Rationale: If the Vikings don't address safety in free agency, they have to in the draft. And if they don't address it early in the draft and go after a guy like Vonn Bell, Powell is probably the best late round option available. Powell was inconsistent at Ohio State, but had a penchant for making a big play, sealing the Sugar Bowl/National Semi Final against Alabama with a final play interceptions AND OH HEY LET'S LOOK AT POWELL SEALING A WIN AGAINST MICHIGAN WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
If Powell is available here, I'd consider it a minor steal.
RD 6 23 (180): Jalin Marshall, WR
Rationale: Marshall is kind of a prototypical OSU wide receiver that Urban Meyer has recruited--a little small, a lot fast, and very versatile. Marshall also returned punts for the Buckeyes, only at times, those could be an adventure. For those that are familiar with Meyer's offense, Marshall played the pivotal 'Percy Harvin' position, named after Harvin while at Florida. It's a hybrid receiver, perimeter runner position, and depending on what the Vikings do in free agency, Marshall would be a good depth and potential special teams guy here.
RD 7 19 (208): Chase Ferris, G
Rationale: I am a proponent that if you have a position group that needs a re-tool or overhaul, depending on how bad you think the offensive line was last year, then you can't have enough bodies in camp competing for jobs. When you look at the Vikings offensive line, there's a lot of uncertainty coming off a season of mediocre results. there are rumors that Matt Kalil might be released, and John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt are coming off injuries that caused both of them to miss the entire season. There are a lot of unsettled, moving parts to the o-line, and still two big injury questions that have to be answered. Offensive line depth here is something that would make a lot of sense as the draft winds down.
RD 7 23 (212): Jacoby Boren, C
Rationale: See Ferris, Chase.
So there you go kids, an all Ohio State draft. No, it won't happen, and be glad it won't. Because I'm going to be hard to put up with if the Vikings draft one or two guys. If their entire draft class was all OSU guys? Oh my God would I be insufferable. Like fighter pilot insufferable.
No one wants that.