With the NFL draft only a day away, I’ve spoken at length with Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman about what he intends to do as the draft unfolds, and specific players he’d like to draft and in what round. He was very candid.
Okay, not really.
But I did listen to his pre-draft press conference, and while not having access to inside information, it helped a little, combined of course with the info already out there in terms of players the Vikings have shown interest. In particular, I noted:
- Not at all likely the Vikings move up with their 2nd round pick - too expensive.
- Having been burnt in the past with prospects having ‘underachiever’ concerns, Spielman now avoids those players
- He remained coy about players with off-field issues, particularly Mixon. I tend to view the recent press reports indicating the Vikings as one of only a handful of teams showing the most interest in Mixon as a smokescreen. Spielman has mostly avoided players with off-field issues in the past. If he is on the Vikings draft board, and he may be, I doubt the Vikings would pick him in the 2nd round.
- He mentioned ‘zone’ and ‘power’ blocking schemes in talking about draft picks and Shurmur’s scheme. I suspect because Shurmur may be moving toward using more zone blocking. Both Reiff and Remmers have experience with zone schemes, and the RBs the Vikings have shown most interest in are seen as more zone runners.
I did a write-up a few weeks ago with players the Vikings have shown interest in, and that list has grown a little- most notably late interest in Dylan Bradley- but otherwise nothing too notable.
With that, let’s get on to some thoughts and predictions....
Second Round #48
As the draft boards have been changing over the past couple weeks, I see an increased likelihood the Vikings trade down a few spots with this pick. Here’s why:
First off, Spielman all but dismissed the idea of his trading up into the first round, and I think it equally unlikely he trades up at all, given it would cost a coveted 3rd or 4th round pick to do so. I don’t see a player so high on the Vikings draft board slipping to them at #48 to make this a consideration.
On the other hand, the way things are playing out, I could see the Vikings potentially wanting to trade up with one of their 3rd round picks, and by trading back a few spots in the second round, they could manage that without losing a pick.
Looking at Drafttek’s final big board, there are a bunch of players the Vikings have shown considerably interest in between picks #47 and #79 - the Vikings next pick. These players include WR/RB Curtis Samuel (#47), G/C Dan Feeney (#54), RB Alvin Kamara (#62), C/G Pat Elflein (#68), S Josh Jones (#70), and DE Tarrell Basham (#74).
Given that grouping, I suspect Spielman may be willing to give up Samuel and Feeney and move down a few spots, if he can still get Kamara, Elflein, and maybe Josh Jones by moving up with the 3rd round picks if possible. In any case, it makes sense given this grouping to look at Feeney and Elflein as comparable values/needs, but Elflein more likely to be available in the 3rd round than Feeney.
Mixon or Kareem Hunt may be the backup plan in the 3rd or 4th round if Kamara doesn’t go to the Vikings.
Third Round #79 & #86
But if Spielman does in fact move down with the 2nd round pick and take Alvin Kamara, as perhaps the least likely to be available in the 3rd round in a position of need, and who the Vikings have shown a lot of interest in, then the focus in the 3rd round may be to potentially move up to get Elflein if necessary/possible, and possibly for Josh Jones as well, depending on how high he sits on the Vikings board, and if Spielman feels it’s necessary/possible to do so. Jones has moved up draft boards considerably over the past month or so, going from a potential 5th round pick to 3rd round. Kamara has slowly trended up in the draft, going from more of a late 3rd round to late 2nd round projection. Elflein has trended up as well, but there are also some rumors that he may go later than expected. Center is perhaps the least valued of the offensive line positions, and Elflein has been pigeon-holed as a center, despite playing more snaps at guard at OSU, as his best-fit position in the NFL.
Fourth Round #120 & #128
It’s not out of the question that Spielman could use one of the 4th round picks to move up with one of the third round picks, if necessary/possible. In any case, here are a couple guys that could be targeted in the 4th round:
Elijah Lee OLB / SS ? Lee could be seen as something of a poor man’s Jabrill Peppers on defense - built more like a big DB at 6’3”, 228lbs, but hits like a LB, he is another of the LB/SS hybrid-type players Zimmer has been contemplating for his defense.
Julie’n Davenport - OT, Bucknell Spielman mentioned that there is position flexibility among the offensive linemen, so just because they acquired two tackles in free agency, doesn’t mean they won’t draft a tackle. I take that to mean that maybe Remmers could move inside to guard if they find another guy to play right tackle. I don’t see Davenport as a rookie starter, but he has potential to become a starter with development.
Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa Another prospect to bolster the interior defensive line, now that Floyd’s future is in doubt.
Fifth Round #160
Jonnu Smith, TE, FIU Smith had an impressive career at FIU until his pregnant girlfriend poured a pot of boiling water on him mid-way through the season last year, ending his career there.
Sixth Round #199
The Vikings have shown interest in Gonzalez, and bringing in competition for Kai Forbath, and I doubt Gonzalez will be there as a UDFA- he might not be there in the 6th round- but if he is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings spend a pick on him.
Seventh Round #232
The Vikings have shown some late interest in Bradley, and I can imagine the comparison as a NFL draft prospect: Geno Atkins. Atkins is Mike Zimmer’s favorite 3-technique from his days with the Bengals, and he has gone on to be an All-Pro in the NFL, so obviously the comparison only applies to their pre-draft profiles. But Bradley has some similar characteristics as Atkins, who was a 4th round pick in 2010. Both Atkins and Bradley were seen as undersized to play the interior line at the NFL level, (Bradley is 6’0”, 286lbs, but played at 265 at Southern Miss), but with high motors, use leverage well, can be disruptive- the comparisons are surprisingly similar. Atkins had slightly better Combine numbers than Bradley at his pro-day, but they’re not big differences. Another comparison to Bradley pre-draft: Vikings HoFer John Randle- who went undrafted- again seen as undersized at 6’1”, 287lbs. - 267lbs when he played at Division II Texas A&M- Kingsville- but with a high motor as the NFL came to find out. Obviously the comparisons suggest a high ceiling for Bradley that may or may not be deserved, but then again... I love this as a 7th, or even a 6th round pick- or a UDFA.
Hard to predict UDFAs, but these are some guys the Vikings have shown some interest and perhaps could add as UDFAs:
Jonah Pirsig, RT, Minnesota - looks as good as Davenport if you ask me, but others disagree.
Kyle Kalis, G, Michigan - Son of former Viking Todd Kalis.
Would not be surprised to see a couple LBs, a QB, more linemen of course, a DB or two, maybe another RB, WR... Spielman said he is trying to focus more on UDFAs in attempt to find more diamonds in the rough like Adam Thielen or John Randle, so we’ll see if the Vikings can hit on another one this year to make up for not having a first-rounder...
Lots of excitement this weekend- although probably not much for Vikings fans to cheer about Thursday night.
What will Rick Spielman do with the 2nd round pick?
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